July 26, 2011, 8:52 a.m.
posted by nuclear
There is a vintage science fiction book written by Peter Lindsay called Voyage to Arcturus. In the story, the hero hugs other characters and completely absorbs them into his own body. In a sense, this is what you do when you perform a Boolean Union on objects, melding them together. There is another process that you can use in 3ds max to blend objects together, and it will allow you to get formally acquainted to a vital object modification alternative: the Edit Mesh Modifier.
Okay, formal introductions first: “Edit Mesh Modifier, this is (insert your name here).” The Edit Mesh Modifier allows you to get down to the polygon level of a model to create modified forms. The quickest way to locate the Edit Mesh Modifier is to find its icon on the Tab Panel.
Selecting this modification tool after selecting an object in any viewport will bring up the Edit Mesh Modifier Command Panel rollout. See Figure.
In this chapter, I cover just one of the options in the Edit Mesh Modifier. At different parts of the book, I return to other options offered here. Every possible operation in the Edit Mesh Modifier will not be covered in this book, but you will become familiar with many of the options. We are interested in the Attach option. The difference between using Attach in the Edit Mesh Modifier as compared to doing a Boolean Union is that standard Booleans work on entire objects, while functions in the Edit Mesh Modifier allow you to select parts of the object’s polygon mesh. Place a sphere in a scene; it serves to illustrate the basic mesh-modification editing commands in the next section.
Here’s how to select parts of a model’s polygon mesh:
Place a model or object in a scene.
In this case, use a Standard Sphere Primitive.
On the Main Toolbar, click and hold on the Selection Region option tool; then choose an option to use from the drop-down list.
Figure shows what to look for.
With the object still selected, click the Edit Mesh Modifier icon in the Tab Panel under the Modeling Tab.
In the Command Panel for the Edit Mesh Modifier, select the quadrangular polygon icon under Selection to highlight it.
Figure shows what happens.
Select part of the polygon mesh by clicking and dragging over your object in any viewport.
The selected polygons change color.
Just to prove that you have selected just a part of the sphere’s polygon mesh, click the Hide button in the Command Panel.
Your selected polygons vanish from view. You now have the power to select a defined part of the polygon mesh. Check your results against Figure, and allow yourself a mad-scientist laugh.
When you’re comfortable using Edit Mesh Selection to select just those polygons you want to modify, the Attach operation makes a lot more sense. The Attach command does somewhat the same thing as a Boolean Add does, but
the attached objects can no longer be addressed as separate forms. To take a crack at attaching an object, follow these steps:
Create a new scene with two overlapping Standard Primitive Spheres in it.
Work in any viewport you like.
Select one of the spheres, and activate the Edit Mesh Modifier.
Make sure you are in the Polygon sub-object mode. Use the quadrangular selection option, and click and drag a marquee with the Select and Move tool so that the marquee encompasses the entire sphere.
Under Edit Geometry in the Edit Mesh Modifier’s Command Panel, click Attach.
Click the other sphere in any viewport.
Right-click Edit Mesh at the top of the Command Panel.
A menu of choices appears.
Choose Collapse All.
A warning panel appears.
Click Yes to set the object as completed.
Congratulations! You have successfully created a single object from the two spheres. Note that the Pivot Point of this new unified object remains at the center of your initial mesh object; you may have to move it. Pat yourself on the back with both hands and shout, “Horatio! I have reached land!” (Amaze your friends. . . .)