Modelling CGI Assets In 3ds Max : 5 Tips To Create Your Best 3D Models Ever

Quick Summary

Here is a quick summary of what my blog post will cover so you can decide if this article is for you.

These are the tips in no particular order.

  1. Shapes From Lines. Extract edges from a mesh to create complex seams.
  2. Wire Volume Box. The best way to model to scale.
  3. Add Noise To Everything. Nothing is really flat, so it shouldn’t be in CGI.
  4. Drop Cushions. Use the cloth modifier to drop soft objects.
  5. Create Easy Rotations. Use Select and Link for hinges.

Do you want step-by-step instructions to implement all these tips?

Alright, but before that let’s see what 3D Modelling is, here is a video from the 3D Modelling Course.

The Tools

The tips I am going to show you are from the 3D Modelling with 3ds Max course, but don’t worry about that just yet, check out the tips and see if you like them, because if you don’t like them then the course definitely won’t be for you ..

These are a few of the things I personally do to speed up my 3D modelling and add that extra level of realism.

After you’re done reading and watching, you’ll have new techniques to use when creating 3D models. My objective is to provide you with techniques so that you can start replicating the results in your own models for your own work.

The tips I am going to share are going to save you buckets of time in the long run and improve your models, so invest in yourself now and learn these techniques. I’ll now go into details of my favourite tips using 3ds Max. Apply whats good and ditch what’s not.

If you have not got 3ds Max installed you can find the trial version here (3ds Max)

1. Shapes From Lines

How to extract edges from a mesh to create complex seams. To add seams to a pillow is rather simple when you know what you are doing. It looks great and adds that extra level of realism to your 3D model.

Once you have your pillow modelled, using cloth and noise to give that killer finishing touch, grab the edge loop.

To Select an Edge Loop

  1. double click the edge.
  2. or click Loop under Selection in the edit poly.

With our edge selected click Create Shape.

Your edges now become a new object. (the pivot will stay relative to the original object so a quick, Hierarchy> Affect Pivot Only and Center to Object would not go a miss.

Now we have our edge all we need to do is add thickness by enabling Render in Viewport and Render.

We can choose from Radial or Rectangular and select the thickness.

Here’s a video of it in action from the course.

2. Wire Volume Box

When I started 3D, one of the hardest things for me to grasp was the idea of building in three dimensions. I remember on my first day at University being told to model a car from blueprints. I was stumped, I couldn’t understand the idea of modelling in 3D space.

To ease this I started to create and use ‘volume boxes’ to get a better understanding of the scale and how an object would sit in 3D space. This helped me tremendously compared to using just blueprints alone.

It’s really easy to set up a volume box, and when you add a wire material rather than just making it See-Through in the object properties. It is much less intrusive.

Let’s take a look at how we can create a volume box as reference to help us with modelling in 3D.

  1. The first thing you are going to need are dimensions for your object. In this example, we can see the dimensions on the manufactures website.

2. The next step is the create a box the height, width and depth of our object. So now we can see the overall size of our sofa.

3. We can add in the armrest height, seat height and the legs as edges on our box.

4. Add a Standard Material to the box and enable Wire. Change the opacity to 0 to hide the triangles that are shown and now you should only see the wireframe in your viewport.

5. Finally, turn off ‘Show Frozen in Grey’ in the Display Properties and freeze our box so it doesn’t get in the way.

Here’s a video that might help,

3. Add Noise To Everything

Nothing in real life is actually flat, so it shouldn’t be flat in CGI. When you see light bouncing off of a surface it is never going to bounce perfectly. This is the number one give away that an image is computer generated. It looks too perfect. The edges are too sharp or everything is perfectly flat.

I would suggest adding noise to a model using the noise modifier. Adding a noise map to the bump is cool, but for me subdividing the mesh and adding a noise modifier is the way forward. Here’s a quick demo of what I mean.

4. Drop Cushions

I struggled with this for ages. If you want to make cushions and make them look realistic then you need to be using the cloth modifier.

  • Your model can be pretty basic.
  • Add the cloth modifier you can drop your cushion model onto a collision object. In this case the sofa.

Here is a full video on how it’s done.

5. Create Easy Rotation Points with Select and Link

Pivot points and rotations can start getting messy. Especially when you want to start rotating something like this lamp.

Luckily we can use Select and Link to define the relationship between two objects by linking them as child and parent.

Have a watch of the video below to see what I mean…

Your Next Steps ..

I hope you enjoyed this article and learned a thing or two .. :-)

If you feel like upgrading your “skills” you can check out the full 3D Modelling Course.

If not, I hope you have enjoyed the article. I would love to hear your modelling tips and if you have any suggestions for new articles, please put them in the comments below.

Render On!




I help aspiring CGI Artists create photo-realistic images | Official V-Ray Mentor.

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Jake Denham

Jake Denham

I help aspiring CGI Artists create photo-realistic images | Official V-Ray Mentor.

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