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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Command Center Honeycomb Walls

Your ironclad boat is sailing in dangerous waters and needs a secure, high-tech command center from which to control and protect it from harsh environments.

Your task is to construct strong walls that conform to the shape of the bow of the boat, always keeping in mind that the scope of the project might change at any minute and that keeping the face count to a minimum is of paramount importance.

In this section, you review the technique of box modeling to build the initial honeycomb walls. Your project director specifies that you will be viewing objects at a close enough distance in the scene to require the detail that you can only get with modeling.

You then deform the honeycomb walls to fit a rough V-shape of the bow of the boat and add curvature from the floor to the ceiling. You accomplish this task with the World-space PathDeform modifier.

Constructing the Honeycomb Wall

In Exercise 9.1, you use box modeling to edit a Box primitive that is converted to an editable poly. Editable poly objects, you will remember, have some unique editing functions (such as Connect and Inset) that are not available in other forms of 3ds max 6 modeling. Each honeycomb panel will be about 2 feet by 2 feet square and 5 inches deep with a slight bevel at the edges. The beveled edges add more faces to the object, but the way those bevels will interact with lighting is well worth the extra geometry.

Remember, too, that although this exercise creates walls, you can apply the methods you learn here to other objects, such as paneled doors, concrete floor systems, waffled surfaces, or perhaps even a golf ball.

Exercise 9.1

Creating Honeycomb Objects

  1. Open the file called Ch09_interior01.max on the CD-ROM. From the File pull-down menu, choose Save As, point to an appropriate subdirectory on your hard drive, and use the plus sign button to save a new file with the name incremented to Ch09_interior02.max. This is a simple scene with a floor, ceiling, storage box, and several 2D shapes that you use to construct 3D geometry. A camera is in the scene, too.

  2. Right-click in the Top viewport to activate it and select the triangular 2D shape called wall_path. This shape defines the honeycomb wall around the control room and to build the wall the right size you need to know the length of the path. In the Utilities panel, click the Measure button. In the Shapes area of the Measure rollout, you see that the Length of this object is 159 feet 10 3/8 inches (see Figure 9.1). For your purposes in this exercise, rounding to 160 feet is fine. This becomes the length of the wall.

Figure 9.1Figure 9.1 Use the Measure tool in the Utilities panel to measure the length of the wall_path shape. Round up to the nearest foot and make note of the number; in this case, 160 feet.

  1. In the Create panel, Geometry panel, click Box in the Standard Primitives, Object Type rollout and drag a box of any size in the Top viewport. In the Modify panel, enter 10 in the Length field, 160 in Width, and 1 in the Height field. In Length Segs, enter 5, and in Width Segs, enter 80. This creates 2 foot by 2 foot polygons. Name the object Wall01.

  2. Right-click the Camera01 viewport label and choose Edge Faces from the menu. From the Tools pull-down menu, choose Isolate Selection. Right-click in the Camera01 viewport and press P to switch to a Perspective viewport. Then, press U on the keyboard to switch to a User viewport, which is nonorthographic but has no perspective. Use the Arc Rotate tool in the User viewport to view the wall from the upper left and click the Zoom Extents All button at the lower right of the display to see the entire box in all viewports. It should look similar to Figure 9.2.

Figure 9.2Figure 9.2 Switch the Camera01 viewport to a Perspective viewport by pressing P, then to a User viewport by pressing U, and Zoom and Arc Rotate to see the Wall01 object that is in Isolation mode.

  1. Right-click the Wall01 and choose Convert To, Convert to Editable Poly in the Quad menu. In the Modify panel, Stack view, highlight Polygon sub-object mode. On the main toolbar, make sure you are in Window selection mode. In the Left viewport, drag a selection window around the top of the Wall01 to select only the top polygons. In the Edit Polygons rollout, click the Settings button for Inset. This insets 1 inch around the perimeter of the selection set. In the Inset

    Polygons dialog, select the By Polygon radio button to inset each polygon individually. Enter 3" in the Inset Amount field and press Enter. This creates a space between each selected polygon (see Figure 9.3). Click OK. Zoom the User viewport to see the results.


On slower machines, clicking OK could result in a few seconds pause while the settings are calculated and applied. Have patience.

Figure 9.3Figure 9.3 Using Inset in By Polygon mode insets each polygon individually.

  1. In the Edit Polygons rollout, click the Settings button for Bevel. Enter –1 in both the Height and the Outline Amount fields. The bevel type is not important now because all the polygons are separated by unselected polygons through which the effect cannot pass. Click OK. This puts a 45-degree chamfer at all edges of the panels.

  2. In the Edit Polygons rollout, click the Settings button for Extrude. Enter –4 in the Extrusion Height field, and press Enter for a deeper-set panel. Click OK. (See Figure 9.4). On the main toolbar, Named Selection Sets window, enter panels and press Enter. This makes it easier to reselect the panels if you need them later.

Figure 9.4Figure 9.4 Extrude the selection by minus 4 inches and create a named selection set of the polygons for later use.

  1. In the Modify panel, Stack view, highlight Editable Poly at the top of the list to exit sub-object mode. In the viewports, click the Exit Isolation Mode button to return all objects to the scene.

  2. Close all windows and dialogs and save the file. It should already be called Ch09_interior02.max.

Bend It, Shape It...Deforming the Wall

You now have a particularly long wall lying flat on the floor, but you want it to be a futuristic curved wall that fits the shape of the boat's bow.

In Exercise 9.2, you learn to use the World-Space PathDeform modifier to use the triangular shape with the rounded corners as the base of the wall. You also bend the wall so that it turns inward as it reaches the ceiling.

The important thing about PathDeform is that the object being deformed has enough segments along the path to accept the deformation.

Exercise 9.2

Deforming a Bent Object Along a Path

  1. Open the file called Ch09-interior02.max on the CD-ROM or from the preceding exercise. From the File pull-down menu, choose Save As, point to an appropriate subdirectory on your hard drive, and use the plus sign button to save a new file with the name incremented to Ch09_interior03.max.


The correct axes to use have been predetermined through some trial and error to make this exercise flow more smoothly. The actual settings depend on which viewports the objects were created in and what reference coordinate systems are in effect; so, the settings might differ if you re-create this exercise on your own.

  1. First, move the pivot point of Wall01 to align it with what will become the bottom of your wall. Remember that the Bend modifier uses the pivot of an object as the default center of bending. With Wall01 selected, in the Hierarchy panel, Adjust Pivot rollout, click the Affect Pivot Only button. On the main toolbar, click the Align button. In the Top viewport, pick Wall01. In the Align Selection dialog, check Y Position, Pivot Point in the Current Object column, and Maximum in the Target Object column (see Figure 9.5). Click OK. In Hierarchy panel, click Affect Pivot Only to exit that mode.

Figure 9.5Figure 9.5 In the Align Selection dialog, check Y Position and choose Pivot Point in Current Object column and Maximum in Target Object column. Click OK.

  1. In the Modify panel, Modifier List, choose the Bend modifier. In the Parameters rollout, enter 25 in the Angle field, 90 in the Direction field, and check the Y radio button in the Bend Axis area. Your wall goes through distortions with each new data entry, but in the end, it looks like Figure 9.6.

Figure 9.6Figure 9.6 In Affect Pivot Only mode, use Align to align the pivot point to the maximum side of the Y-axis of the Top viewport.

  1. Now, deform the bent wall around the path. With Wall01 selected, go to Modify panel, Modifier List, and choose the PathDeform (WSM) modifier in the World-Space modifiers list (see Figure 9.7).

Figure 9.7Figure 9.7 Select Wall01 and apply the PathDeform (WSM) World-space modifier.

  1. In the Parameters rollout, click the Pick Path button and, in the Top viewport, pick wall_path. Wall01 deforms very oddly. In the Parameters rollout, click the Move to Path button. Enter 90 in the Rotation field and check the X PathDeform Axis radio button. This orients the wall correctly on the path (see Figure 9.8).


Do not choose the PatchDeform (WSM) object or the PathDeform further down in the Modifier List under Object-space modifiers.

Figure 9.8Figure 9.8 In PathDeform (WSM) Parameters rollout, click Pick Path and pick wall_path, click Move to Path, enter 90 in Rotation, and check the X PathDeform Axis radio button.

  1. Right-click in the User viewport and press C to switch to the Camera01 viewport. Right-click the Camera01 viewport label and clear the Edged Faces option. The viewport should look like Figure 9.9. The bevel on the panel edges catch the light to enhance the look.

  2. Close all windows and dialogs and save the file. It should already be called Ch09_interior03.max.

Figure 9.9Figure 9.9 Switch the User viewport to the Camera01 viewport by pressing C and turn off Edged Faces by right-clicking the viewport label and clearing it in the menu.

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