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How to Speed Up Your Workflow in 3D Studio Max Using Hotkeys

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Hey Guys, today I’m going to tell you about some important shortcut keys in Autodesk 3ds Max. There are many shortcut keys available in Max, some are common and very useful to everyone. When we do 3d modeling, lighting, animation or anything else, we should use shortcut keys because it not only saves time, but also gives our working speed a boost. So let’s see some very useful shortcut keys in 3ds Max.


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Step 1

At the time of Character or Vehicle modeling, you may have to setup blueprints in the viewport. So how can we set blueprints in the viewport? Just press 'Alt+B'. This opens the Viewport Background Window immediately on the screen. Now you can click on Files button to browse to the blueprint or reference image on your computer.

You can also choose the specific viewport where you want to display the blueprint. To change the viewport, look at the bottom of the Viewport Background Window and you will find the various viewport options to choose.

Autodesk 3ds Max Tutorial - Keyboard Shortcuts: Modeling, Navigation, Rendering, Blueprints

After clicking on the File button, select the image you want to bring into the viewport and then click on the Open button.

Autodesk 3ds Max Tutorial - Keyboard Shortcuts: Modeling, Navigation, Rendering, Blueprints

Now the selected image is opened in the preferred viewport.

Autodesk 3ds Max Tutorial - Keyboard Shortcuts: Modeling, Navigation, Rendering, Blueprints

Step 2

During Character Modeling, we tend to use the Cut Tool very often. There are two ways to access the Cut Tool after converting the object into Polygon mode. First, Right-click on the viewport and choose Cut Tool.

Autodesk 3ds Max Tutorial - Keyboard Shortcuts: Modeling, Navigation, Rendering, Blueprints

Alternatively, just press 'Alt+C' to access the tool and create cuts wherever you want.

Autodesk 3ds Max Tutorial - Keyboard Shortcuts: Modeling, Navigation, Rendering, Blueprints

Step 3

If you have any problem with the grids in the viewport, you can always Hide and Unhide them by pressing 'G' on the keyboard.

Autodesk 3ds Max Tutorial - Keyboard Shortcuts: Modeling, Navigation, Rendering, Blueprints
Autodesk 3ds Max Tutorial - Keyboard Shortcuts: Modeling, Navigation, Rendering, Blueprints

Step 4

Now I’ll tell you how to quickly jump into Vertex, Polygon, Edge, Border and Element sub-object modes. First, Press '1' to jump into the Vertex mode.

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Press ‘2’ to quickly access Edge mode.

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Press ‘3’ to jump into Border mode. Boarder is just like Edge, but there is slight difference between these two modes. Where an Edge can be found anywhere in the mesh, the Boarder is always found around open areas (holes) of the mesh.

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Press ‘4’ to quickly jump into Polygon mode.

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Press ‘5’ to quickly access Element mode. In Element mode, all the polygons of an object get selected together.

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Step 5

There are two ways to Zoom In and Zoom Out in the viewport. The first way is to just scroll the Middle mouse button. Secondly, hold 'Alt' and Drag up and down with the Middle mouse button.

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Step 6

If you want to zoom in on a particular object, then select that object and then press ‘Z’ to zoom to that object. To zoom in all viewports, just press 'Ctrl+Shift+Z'.

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Step 7

Sometimes during the modeling of an object, we need to select the Edge Loop and Edge Ring. Knowing the shortcut keys of these operations will certainly speed up the workflow, rather then doing this by going to the selection parameters every time. So if you want to select an Edge Loop, then select an Edge and press 'Alt+L'.

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You can see in the image that after pressing 'Alt+L', the entire Edge Loop is selected.

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Now if you want to select an Edge Ring (circular), then select an Edge first and then press 'Alt+R'.

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After pressing 'Alt+R' on the keyboard, the entire Edge Ring is selected.

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Step 8

How do we render the current frame without going into the Rendering Menu? There are two shortcut ways to render the current frame. The first is 'Shift+Q', and the second is by pressing the 'F9' key.

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Step 9

Sometimes we have too many objects and elements in the viewport, and it becomes quite difficult to find a particular object in the scene. So in this case, press ‘H’ on the keyboard. This opens the ‘Select From Scene’ window.

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Step 9

If you have given proper names to your objects, then you can find them easily. Like if I want to select the Rim which is the part of the wheel, then I will type "Rim" in the Find Box. As soon as I write the name in the box, the Rim gets selected in the list. Similarly you can find many other things in the scene by their type, like Geometries, Shapes, Lights, Cameras, Bones etc.

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Step 10

Sometimes we need to create a camera in the scene. To create the camera, first go to the Perspective view, set your desired angle and then press 'Ctrl+C'. The Perspective view becomes the Camera view. Now again if you want to return in the Perspective view, simply press ‘P’.

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To jump back into the Camera view again, simply press ‘C’.

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Step 11

There are two shortcuts to make a Clone of an object in Max. If you want to make a clone of the side view mirror of a car for example, then select the mirror first and then while pressing the 'Shift' key, drag the mouse. Alternatively you can press 'Ctrl+V' also. This will open the Clone Option window on the screen. Here you will find two major things: Copy and Instance.

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If you make a clone as a Copy, both objects will be independent from each other. But if you make a clone as an Instance and then if you want to make some changes to any one of the clones. Then the other one will also change automatically. See in the image below, I have moved the vertices of the cloned object, and the original object’s shape has also changed.

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Step 12

If you want to see your model without Edged Faces, then press‘F4’. Press 'F4' again to re-activate Edged Faces view mode.

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Step 13

Press ‘F3’ to view the model in Wireframe mode and press ‘F3’ again to turn it off.

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Step 14

Sometimes we need semi-transparency in our models. This can be done in X-Ray mode. We can turn on X-Ray mode by pressing 'Alt+X'. And to turn off X-Ray mode, press 'Alt+X' again.

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Step 15

Some people like to work in Expert Mode. You can jump into Expert Mode by pressing 'Ctrl+X' on the keyboard. In Expert Mode all tool bars are hidden and gives you more space on the screen.

You can work in Expert Mode easily if you know the shortcut keys very well. That’s why working in Expert Mode is not always comfortable for Beginners. However there are some Plug-ins which work only in Expert Mode, like Glu3D, a fluid plug-in for 3ds Max. You can always jump into the Normal Mode again by pressing 'Ctrl+ X again'.

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Step 16

If the Pivot is hidden and not visible in the viewport, chances are that you might have pressed the 'X' key on the keyboard accidentally. So, to unhide the Pivot just press ‘X’ and the Pivot will be visible again. ‘X’ is the shortcut key to hide or unhide to the pivot point.

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If you feel that the Pivot is too small or too big in size, then you can Increase or Decrease the size of the Pivot by pressing the ‘+’ and ‘-’ keys on the keyboard.

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Step 17

As you can see this car has lots of separate parts. If you want to edit and see only a particular part, you can go into Isolation Mode. First select the part which you want to edit and isolate, and then press 'Alt+Q'. This way that particular part is isolated in the viewport from rest of the parts.

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To exit out of Isolation Mode, just click on the 'Exit Isolate Mode' button which I’m showing below with the red arrow.

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Step 18

Press ‘F10’ to quickly open the Render Setup.

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Step 19

Press 'Shift+F' to show the safe frame in the viewport. When we take a render, safe frames help us to render according to the output settings we have setup in the render setup. And give us a perfect render. Press 'Shift+F' again to disable safe frames.

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Step 20

Lots of people press the 'Delete' key on the keyboard to delete a selected vertex or edge, which is quite a wrong way of deleting that vertex or edge. If you simply press the 'Delete' key, the conjugated (joined) polygons get deleted also. See the image.

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So the best way to delete the selected vertex or edge is to press the Backspace key on the keyboard. This way the conjugated polygon will be preserved.

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Step 21

Press ‘7’ to show or hide the total poly counts in the scene. Remember, this will show the total number of Polygons and Vertices of all objects in the scene, not just for a particular selected object.

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If you want to count the Polygon and Vertices number of a selected item, then first click on the ‘+’ sign on the top left corner of the viewport. Then go to Configure Viewports > Statistics and turn on the ‘Selection’ option, and click OK.

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Now if you select any object in the scene, you will get the personalized statistics of that object only. Here I have selected only the Teapot and by pressing ‘7’, I can only see the statistics of the Teapot.

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Step 22

To Show or Hide the Main Toolbar, just press 'Alt+6'.

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Step 23

Sometimes we need to Hide or Unhide the camera. You can hide or unhide the camera by pressing 'Shift+C'.

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Step 24

Press the 'End' key to go to the end of the animation timeline. And press the Home key to go to the start of the animation timeline.

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Step 25

Press ‘/’ to Play or Stop the animation time slider.

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Step 26

By default, the animation timeline length is set from 0 to 100 frames. Use CTRL+ALT and Right Mouse button drag on the animation timeline, to increase the number of frames beyond 100.

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Use CTRL+ALT+Left Mouse button in the animation timeline to start with negative frames.

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