3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 114: New Polygon Modeling in Max 4 | 2 | WebReference

3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 114: New Polygon Modeling in Max 4 | 2

Lesson 114 - New Polygon Modeling in Max 4 - Part 2

The Editable Mesh object addresses quad-based modeling methods by allowing you to organize triangles into functional quads (and n-gons) for modeling purposes through a concept of visible and invisible edges. An Editable Mesh quad is, under the surface, two triangles. But if the diagonal edge between the two triangles (which are always called "faces" in MAX's unique lingo) is made invisible, the unit looks like a quad during the modeling process and the two triangles can be selected as a single polygonal unit. Moreover, the subdivision surface algorithms in the MeshSmooth modifier will honor the unit as a true quad. But the unit still remains two triangles, with a real diagonal edge, for many critical purposes, which complicates modeling considerably.

It's against this background that we must try to assess the value of a new, alternative mesh object offered in Max 4 – the Editable Poly object. Let's cut to the heart with some side-by-side comparisons.

Two identical parametric cubes (Box objects) have been collapsed into editable versions. The pink cube on the left is an Editable Mesh. The green one on the left is the new Editable Poly.

They look identical. Both are displayed as quad meshes, even though we know that both must be triangulated under the surface.

The first hint that there is a difference between these two object occurs when we go to the Display Properties menu and remove the "Edges Only" checkbox for both objects. This should reveal any invisible edges in the mesh as dotted lines. When we do so, only the Editable Mesh object displays the invisible diagonal edges that divide the quads into triangles.

Hmmm. A quick look at the Edge sub-object menu in Editable Poly confirms that there is no reference to "Visible" and "Invisible" edges at all. This is a big difference between Editable Mesh and the new Editable Poly because the use of invisible edges is central to organizing Editable Mesh objects into quadrangular units. So something significant has changed.

Yet we know that there must be triangles in there somewhere. Where are they hiding?

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Created: March 12, 2001
Revised: March 12, 2001

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