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3ds Max Tutorial - Index
3ds Max Tutorial - The User Interface
3ds Max Tutorial - Working with Files
3ds Max Tutorial - Object and Transformation
3ds Max Tutorial - Modeling
3ds Max Tutorial - Materials and Textures
3ds Max Tutorial - Basic Animation Techniques
3ds Max Tutorial - Lights
3ds Max Tutorial - Cameras
3ds Max Tutorial - Rendering
3ds Max Tutorial - Scene Creation

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  Home > Courses, Tutorials & eBooks > 3DS Max Tutorial > The User Interface

3DS Max Tutorial - The User Interface

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3DS Max interface can be classified into five elements. These elements can be grouped under various sub-elements. The following are the main five elements of the max interface.


Menus hold most of the 3ds Max commands. These menus are found along the top edge of the Max window.


There are a number of toolbars containing icon buttons that provide single-click access to features. These toolbars can float independently or can be docked to an interface edge. By default, the main toolbar and the reactor toolbar are visible.


There are four separate views into the scene show. They are- Top, Front, Left, and Perspective.

Command Panel

The command panel is located to the right of the four viewports. It contains six tabbed icons at its top that can be clicked to open the various panels. Each panel includes rollouts containing parameters and settings. These rollouts change depending on the object and tab that is selected.

Lower Interface Bar

Along the bottom edge of the interface window is a collection of miscellaneous controls.


                        Figure1-1: Max Interface

In the following section, the usage and functionality of each element will be given in detail.



The menus at the top of the Max interface contain most of the max commands. There are toolbar buttons and keyboard shortcuts corresponding to many of the menu commands. A menu command can be executed by selecting it with the mouse cursor. The same command can also be executed by clicking its corresponding toolbar button if there is one, otherwise its keyboard shortcut has to be pressed.

Figure 1-2: File Menu 

The main menu includes the following options:
File, Edit, Tools, Group, Views, Create, Modifiers, Character, Reactor, Animation, Graph Editors, Rendering, Customize, MAXScript, and Help.

You can also access the Menu by pressing the Alt key on the keyboard. This selects the File menu. Arrow keys can be used to move between the other menus. With a menu selected, you can press the keyboard letter that is underlined to select and execute a menu command.


The main toolbar is by default placed at the top of the max interface under the menus. The reactor toolbar is placed along the left edge of the interface. Toolbars can be used conveniently to execute commands with just a single click of the mouse.

A docked toolbar can be converted into a floating toolbar by clicking and dragging from the two vertical lines on the left or top of the toolbar. After separating it from the interface edges, the floating toolbar can be re-sized by dragging it from the edges or the corners. A floating toolbar can be docked by double clicking on the title or taking it to the closest edge by dragging it from the title.

Figure 1-3: Main toolbar in Floating mode

When in the by default docked position, the main toolbar is too long to be completely visible. Your monitor’s resolution should be atleast 1280 pixels wide to accommodate the whole toolbar. You can scroll the toolbar on a lower resolution screen by positioning the cursor on the toolbar away from the buttons, such as, below one of the drop-down lists (the cursor changes to a hand), and then clicking and dragging the toolbar in either direction. You can easily scroll the main toolbar by dragging with the middle mouse button.


The viewports cover over the largest area of the user. They are used to view the objects within the scene and can be configured to view the scene in different modes.

Front, Back, Top, Bottom, Left, and Right are the orthographic viewports available in Max. By default, the three of the four viewports show Top, Front, and Left orthographic views and the fourth viewport shows the perspective view. The top-left corner of the viewport displays the viewport name.

Orthographic views are displayed from the perspective of looking straight down an axis at an object. This reveals a view in only one plane. Because orthographic viewports are restricted to one plane, they show the actual height and width of the object.

Isometric views are not restricted to a single axis and the scene can be viewed from any location, but all dimensions are still maintained.




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