Starting out scripting in 3ds Max

If you’re feeling quite confident with your 3ds Max skills, you may want to start exploring writing scripts. With MAXScript, the powerful toolset for Autodesk’s modelling and animation suite, you’ll soon be scripting your own building blocks, tasks and more…

Many 3ds Max users create their own scripts to help easily tackle the everyday processes they need to achieve in their own workflows. For a few examples (which may also be very beneficial to your own designs), it’s worth taking a look at Jamie Gwilliam’s Autodesk UK blog. He’s collated all the MAXScript recommendations he’s received from leading 3D artists into one place.

The scripts include DIY tools for copying and pasting objects from different open instances of 3ds Max, tools for rendering objects as black/white masks, custom presets for great-looking lighting occlusion and many more.

Starting out in scripting

Before you pick up MAXScript for the first time, it’s worth an introduction to how to use the 3ds Max toolset. Handily, there are a few useful resources to get animators with no prior programming or scripting experience started…

The language was created by John Wainwright, and he’s posted a lengthy video tutorial – ‘MAXScript 101′ – for free here on Vimeo. It’s not exactly new, but the points he presents in these three and a half hours’ worth of bite-sized chunks are great for beginners. The course covers the fundamentals of MAXScript, and includes demos on how to perform tasks including scene generation, animation, material mapping, mesh export, and how to build these into tools with custom dialogue windows.

Also very handy for beginners is a two page ‘cheat sheet’ for MAXScript, which covers the major concepts of the scripting language, and presents them in an easy-to-read chart. The MAXScript Cheat Sheet was created by Markus Boos of 3D Architectural Solutions, and you can download the pdf here.

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