MeshSmooth

My modeling work in 3ds Max

“MeshSmooth” was 3ds Max’s version of subdivision surface technology – released originally in 3ds Max 2.0, and improved dramatically over the following years as subdivision surfaces became well known as an important part of modeling in 3D graphics. MeshSmooth was my work from start to finish; it began with an implementation of the Sabin/Doo algorithm for subdivision, then later adopted the Catmull/Clark algorithm when it became clear that the latter was more practical for textured models.

Seen at right is an example of MeshSmooth in 3ds Max 2013; it’s largely unchanged¬†from the technology I implemented in the late nineties. The value of subdivision surfaces like this is that they allow the user to generate a smooth, organic shape with just a few control polygons. I’m not an artist, but I was able to quickly produce the image at right by creating a box, editing and adding some faces with “Editable Poly”, and turning on “MeshSmooth” subdivision. (The orange lines show the rough polygon surface I created; the blue shape is the MeshSmooth result.)

The combination of these tools – the range of low-level vertex and polygon editing tools in Editable Poly, and the organic surface generation provided by MeshSmooth – were a big part of what led 3ds Max to market dominance in the game industry. Editable Poly and MeshSmooth were entirely my work.

“Polygon modeling is more common with game design than any other modeling technique as the very specific control over individual polygons allows for extreme optimization. Usually, the modeler begins with one of the 3ds max primitives, and using such tools as bevel and extrude, adds detail to and refines the model. Versions 4 and up feature the Editable Polygon object, which simplifies most mesh editing operations, and provides subdivision smoothing at customizable levels.” -Wikipedia entry on 3ds Max

Here’s a beautiful tutorial of face modeling using these tools.