The enormous complexity and depth of 3D Studio Max
is explored in this instalment in the In Depth
series from Coriolis Press. Written by an experienced user and teacher, 3D Studio Max R3 In Depth
reads like a handbook, course book and reference manual all in one.
The book starts off with a general overview of how the program thinks and a rundown of the interface. "Working in Max", Part II, describes a working methodology for navigating the program, managing the interface, and using Max efficiently. Part III, "Modeling", is the strongest section in the book. Comprising six chapters, this section compares every method for modelling currently available in Max: using primitives, mesh-level control, modifiers, patch and NURBS modelling. There is enough information here to help any beginner get his or her head around Max's modelling philosophy. The remaining sections discuss materials and textures, lighting, camera control and rendering, and animation. The accompanying CD-ROM includes 250 Max scene files that illustrate not only every topic covered in the book but also virtually every tool in Max.
Although a comprehensive book, and one designed to take the novice to a fairly proficient level, it leaves room for a sequel. Some areas not covered include animated texture maps, a deeper look at render effects, and (although the section on animation is good) character animation. The absence of these topics leaves room for deeper coverage of others, though.
An inspiring gallery of colour images includes some artful and abstract work that is almost worth the cost of the book. It is refreshing to see a program like Max used in this way and even more so that the images are given colour press.
It may not be the best choice for a strong intermediate user looking to advance to the next level, but 3D Studio Max R3 In Depth would make a worthwhile addition to the library of any beginning Max user. --Mike Caputo
About the Author
Rob Polevoi is an Assistant Professor, Computer and Video Imaging at Cogswell College in Silicon Valley, CA. He teaches courses in 3D modeling and animation from beginning through advanced levels. Rob is an industry expert on 3D graphics, covering the field for Mecklermedia's Internet.com online publishing empire.