OK, let's begin. We'll be using Figures 1.1 and 1.2 as reference material to create the necessary shapes in MAX. In the best of all possible worlds, we would have three reference images (top, front, and side). However, sometimes you have to get by with less.

Since my reference images have white backgrounds and MAX uses white as its default selection color, the first step will be to change MAX's selection color to red. This is done by going to File->Preferences, selecting on the "Color" tab and changing the "Selection" color under "Main UI" to be red (see Figure 1.3).

Figure 1.3 Click for larger view
Figure 1.4 Click for larger view
Figure 1.5 Click for larger view
Figure 1.6 Click for larger view

Now we create the reference objects within MAX. The reference objects will be boxes to which the front and side views of the Fambaa lizard have been mapped. First create a box whose width and height are the same as the dimensions of the image you're mapping to it. For instance, if you're mapping a 640x480 image, then create a box whose dimensions are 640x480x0 (i.e., set the "height" value to 0). Do this for each texture you're going to map.

Next, make the boxes the same "width" (i.e., if you're looking at them in the front viewport, the top edges and bottom edges will be aligned, see Figure 1.4; you and I would call this the box's "height" but "width" is the MAX setting we're interested in). You can achieve this width equality by either: scaling the images so that they share the same height; use uniform scale in MAX to modify the reference boxes once you've created them; or figure out the length and width mathematically and enter the correct values in MAX.

I should take this moment to point out that all of this assumes that the object being referenced is the same height in each image. This is CRUCIAL. If this isn't true, then assuring that the boxes are the same "width" won't help. Use PhotoShop (or the image editor of choice) to copy one image into the other to make sure that the object is the same height in each one (see Figure 1.5). If they aren't the same height, then scale one of the images until they are.

You should also take this time to name each box appropriately. In my case, I have one box named "Reference: LEFT SIDE" and the other named "Reference: FRONT SIDE." Why do this? Several reasons.

First, it is a nightmare to navigate complex scenes in which each object has retained its default name. Which BOX out of 100 is the correct one? Naming the bjects makes navigation simple.

Second, it makes it easier to later reuse items from a project when the items have meaningful names. While you're working on a project you will probably remember that BOX05 is the stage on which your character is placed, but will you remember it if you visit the project in a month or two?

Third, if you name similar objects with similar names, it is easy to select all via "Select by Name." You may have noticed that each of my objects has "Reference:" at the beginning of the name. When I go to Select by Name, I can now type "reference:" and know that I've selected all of them.

I use this same naming scheme for materials. For instance, the material for "Reference: FRONT SIDE" is name "Reference: FRONT;" (ideally, it would be called "reference: FRONT SIDE," but the length limit of a material's name is short than the length limit of an object's name.)

Once your reference objects have been created, right click on each one and select properties on the pop-up menu. On the resulting Object Properties dialog uncheck "renderable," "cast shadows" and "receive shadows." Now the reference objects will not show up in any rendered output but are still visible in shaded preview mode.

Next, open up the Material Editor to create the necessary textures. The textures should have Shininess set to 0, Shin. Strength set to 0 and Self-Illumination set to 100% (you'll probably need to experiment with this value until you find a value that allows you to see the reference texture and the object's mesh comfortably). Assign one of your reference images to the diffuse map, click "Show Map in Viewport" button for the map, and then assign it to the appropriate reference box. The final reference objects can be seen in Figure 1.6

NOTE: if the texture doesn't appear correctly on your reference object, right click on the name of the viewport (the text in the viewport's upper left corner) and select "Texture Correction."

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