Friday, April 25, 2014

Blender to Max - thought conversion

Over the past few days I have been learning 3ds Max. It's definitely a far more powerful modelling suite than blender, the modifier stack is a great method for non-destructive modelling and the tools are far more versatile and just feel really nice. But I just can't get around the interface, and no one will listen to me complain. So I am going to rant about Max today. Just so this isn't an imageless post, here are a few shitty things I made in max for DAB:

I know right? Amazing art!!!

The thing I hate most is all the clicking. I have set up most of my own hotkeys and changed the interface to something more usable for me, but I still need to click on stuff all the time. I have to click the gizmo in order to move rotate or scale something, but the thing is one pixel wide. I am constantly clicking on things in the background and accidentally moving or scaling them, and deselecting what I have selected. To counteract that I always change to the selection tool in order to avoid accidentally click-moving something, and when I want to transform a mesh I lock the selection using the space bar, but that's TWO keystrokes I shouldn't need to do. (three if you count changing from selection tool to transform).

The view align system is nothing short of a brain fart. I hit 'l' to view my mesh from the left and the view snaps back to full view and I lose my pivot point for camera rotation. So I have to hit Z to zoom in on my mesh. This is particularly frustrating in large models with a lot of meshes when I am working on something small and intricate. To counteract that I can click the viewcube, but that means rotating the view and then more clicking on shit. Takes me like 5 seconds just to look at the other side of my mesh. Those 5 seconds add up.

And on the pivot point, I assumed that the camera pivot would default to the center of the scene, but every time I change viewport sides the pivot ends up being hundreds of units behind the model and when I rotate the screen the model just disappears.

Also I now understand why everyone hates unwrapping so much. Max fucking SUCKS for unwrap tools. I know how seams work, I made my model with the seams in mind. I want to lay down my seams and unwrap my model, but max just assumes I am a UV retard and demands I use its over the top oven mitt unwrap tools. So much thought has been put into the unwrap tools it's a fucking joke. There's a bajillion projection options, stitching and uv space manipulation, unwrapping takes so long because you have to filter through a hundred tools to get a result you want. Luckily you can just lay out your seams and unwrap, but the process is a pain. And lots of clicking.

Also the use of the F keys is just unfortunate. My laptop (the workhorse while I travel) has function overrides for all those keys, like change screen brightness, music controls etc. I can hold the fn key to access the F keys but can't toggle them on or off. This is purely a localization problem, but it creates a barrier for me.

All this is just teething problems, I know, but I can't help staring in astonishment at some of the interface decisions. I am sure once I have used it a bit and set up the common tools I'll have no issues. The tools are incredible, I love the shading model they use and the spline system is inspired. The vertex manipulation is kinda wonky but the tools make up for it. Max feels like a program people made after they knew how to model. Blender is more like a program people made and then learned to model, and added features as they learnt that needed them.

Learning a new tool is also teaching me a lot about 3d in general. Seeing the creating process re-imagined is really good for getting a broader understanding of the art. And Max and Blender are about as similar as chalk and orange peel. They don't even have the same reflectance value.

So fuck it, I'm going to keep using max, if only to have that skill on my resume, but until I get it battened down I am going to complain and kick and scream and whinge about it.

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