I’ve discovered a couple of gotchas while trying to model a toy wooden airplane using 3D Studio Max 2012. In order to give the wooden pieces a rounded look, I was looking to use MeshSmooth. In fact, there’s a good example of using MeshSmooth here. However, my models always came out far too round. Playing […]

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I’ve discovered a couple of gotchas while trying to model a toy wooden airplane using 3D Studio Max 2012. In order to give the wooden pieces a rounded look, I was looking to use MeshSmooth. In fact, there’s a good example of using MeshSmooth here. However, my models always came out far too round. Playing with MeshSmooth’s parameters didn’t help at all.

As it turns out, MeshSmooth is not a catch-all solution to round off your models with no further work. I ended up experimenting with Editable Poly to get more hands-on experience.

Important tip: Editable Poly is not the same as the Edit Poly modifier. The Editable Poly structure gives you a Surface Subdivision rollout, while Edit Poly does not. It’s this Surface Subdivision rollout that gives you a chance to subdivide your polygons and get a smooth look, so don’t forget to actually convert your objects to Editable Poly if you need this.

Here is the inspiration I used to model my plane:

Wooden toy plane, used as inspiration for 3D subdivision modelling

Wooden toy plane, used as inspiration for 3D subdivision modelling

An easy to understand example of controlling how your surfaces are subdivided is the airplane’s wing. It started out as a plain box, which I created using 3×3 segments on each side.  When you subdivide this mesh, you get a much too rounded shape. The trick is to move some of the interior edges more to the sides, thus influencing the subdivision and rounding.

The result:

Rendering of wooden toy plane model

Rendering of wooden toy plane model

 

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