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FULL-FEATURED 3D MODELING, ANIMATION, AND RENDERING APP

Autodesk 3dsIt’s finally here! When I heard that the new version of 3ds Max was ready, I was very curious to see what the folks at Autodesk had come up with to make us run out and buy it. I was skeptical to say the least, as it seems many of our favorite programs are being upgraded more frequently and some of these upgrades are definitely not worth the cost vs. the new feature benefits. But I have to say that Autodesk 3D Studio Max 2010 hasn’t disappointed; there are quite a few new features (more than 100 new additions to the modeling toolset alone) that make it a robust upgrade worthy of investing. The new features are plenty, so let’s jump in and get right to them.

The first thing you’ll notice after launching the program is that the interface has a fresh new look with a clean color palette that’s much easier on the eyes. This may not seem like a big deal at first, but try staring at your screen for a few hours and you’ll really notice the difference. The next feature that jumps out is the Graphite Tools Ribbon Modeling interface (similar to Microsoft’s). These appear at the top of the viewport and this is where all of the new modeling tools are stored. The Graphite ribbon is an amazing addition to the program. Previously, a lot (if not all) of these tools were available as a plug-in, so it’s very cool that they’ve decided to include them in the new version of Max. This is where the bulk of the tools are and you’ll find there’s more than enough to keep you busy creating for some time.

One really cool addition is the set of Loop tools, which makes it easier than ever to clean up a model. You can select edge loops in one click and easily remove them, as well as add edge loops, making the process much more interactive. The Insert Edge Loop tool has been missing from Max—its counterpart, Maya, has had this function for some time. This helps bring some additional functionality to Max that we’ve all been clamoring for.

Another cool new feature is the ability to optimize your models. Users can now perform intense mesh optimization and mesh-flow tweaking without switching tools. Once this is engaged, you can delete rings, edges, and loops with a single click of the mouse. This is a great tool for those that find themselves with a high poly count and need to get the size down to a more manageable number. The new Topology tool has been integrated into Max this go-around, as well; a very welcome addition, as it allows you to take a high poly model from Mudbox or ZBrush and simply “draw” new low poly onto it creating a new mesh. There are many more new features but I just don’t have the space to cover them all here.

In conclusion, I think that Autodesk has really stepped it up with this release of Max 2010. It seemed as though Maya was getting all of the attention lately, but after seeing this new version and putting it through its paces, have no fear my friends: the Autodesk gang has definitely not forgotten about the Max users and this release proves it.—Bruce Bicknell

Company: Autodesk, Inc.
Price: $3,495 (Upgrade: $895)
Web: www.autodesk.com
Rating: 4.5

Hot: Graphite modeling toolset; render-preview; enhanced OBJ support;
Not: Cost

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