19/10/20154 Comments

Udemy 3ds Max & Vray Arch Vis course coupon for FREE access

The guys over at Udemy have given me 50 free coupons to allow my lucky followers to receive this course for free!


The course is aimed at beginners, but as always there might be some tips and tricks even the seasoned pro's might have missed.


To receive the coupon, all you need to do is subscribe to the ard Digital newsletter, and in the comments section of the sign-up form type "free course", and I will then email the coupon code to the lucky first 50 subscribers!


02/09/2015No Comments

The Blanks ready to download and 3D print on Thingyverse

As part of the constant tinkering and testing with 3D printing, I have released a free download of 2 little characters I have created. "The Blanks", as I've named them, are two little characters, 10cm in height, with no real distinguishable features, perfect for a blank.

The 3D models have been uploaded to Thingiverse, click to go to the website to download them for free.

But what is a blank? MakerBot released Zee Blank, and the concept is to 3D print your own blank, and modify it however you please. Some of the creations on the Makerbot site are brilliant! The concept behind The Blanks is the same, print the 3D models, and then modify, paint, customize to your hearts content, then share your creation with the world.

The Blanks, 3D printed and awaiting customization.

I wanted to create The Blanks as an alternative to Zee Blank, as I felt Zee Blank is just too big, and very masculine in form. I created the couple as a male / female combination, but either could be modified to what ever gender you like.


The 3D model is set-up ready to print.

The Blanks are printed in several parts, which then fit together perfectly without the need for glue. Ideally the prints need to be sanded first, then painted to give a nice finish, or alternatively you could use a high build-up primer to give a smooth finish. The choice really is yours, and I can't wait to see how The Blanks will be modified. I will be having a go myself very soon, please don't laugh at my below average painting skills, I'm far more capable with a mouse and keyboard than a brush and paint!!

In the future I plan to release "add-ons" for The Blanks, maybe some new shoes, different heads, and possibly other props too. Let me know what you'd like to see added, and of course let me know if you have any comments! Follow me on Thingiverse here and of course sign up to the mail list to hear of the latest releases and info.

Also send me pictures of your creations, I'd love to feature them on the blog too!





18/07/20123 Comments

Effect ID Changer Script for Vray

Hello again!

I have been working on a new script for some time now, and it's finally ready to be shared!

The script is called Effect ID Changer, and like my other scripts, it does exactly what it says on the tin!

First, you'll need to download the script from here.

Before installing the script, open the script in notepad or similar, and read the notes / disclaimer / credits at the top of the script. If you are unsure about using this script, or unsure as to it's effect, please do not use it. Also, always test this script on none important and none production work before including it into your workflow. Sorry to be pessimistic, I just have to cover my own arse sometimes!!

Anyway, to install the script in 3Ds Max by going to MAXScript, Run Script. Once you have done that, assign it to your UI. I personally prefer to add it to my tool bar for quick access.


If you then open the script, you will see the interface -


You will see there are 30 mask buttons, well 31 if you include the reset button, and two buttons at the bottom, which I will explain in a bit.

Firstly, let me explain what this script does. In Vray 2.2 (possibly earlier versions too), in the vray

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materials, options, there is a tick box called "Override material effect ID" and the Effect ID value is greyed out. By ticking this box, and changing the ID number, you can generate masks at render time by adding the MultiMatteElement to your render elements passes.


This script automates this process, and makes the task very quick and very efficient. It might sound a little complex, but bare with me! This script removes the need to have a wire colour pass, or the need to generate mask after the rendering is complete, thus saving quite a chunk of time, and we all know how unreliable the wire colour pass can be. Also the wire colour pass will only give you a selection of an object, not the material. For example a car has many materials, and if the car is one collapsed mesh, the wire colour pass will only allow you to select the car as a whole, where as with this script you can give the glass, paint work, tyres, etc all different masks, even for collapsed meshes!

The key thing to remember when using this script is is that it works on a material level, not a object level. If you have two different objects with the same material, they will appear on the same mask. This is my preferred way of working, as it makes sense to adjust the materials rather than the objects. You can have more than 1 material on a mask, for example you might have the grass and roof tiles on the same mask, as you know the grass and roof tiles will never overlap (OK maybe on aerial shots!), but you get the idea, right?

OK so that's the principles behind the script, but how does it work? Simple, select the object that has a material that you wish to mask, and click on the mask slot / button that you would like to use. The script will find the vray material, even if it's inside multi sub, blend, two sided, etc and change it's ID.

The only slight downside to this is that if you have a multi sub material, such as a car, when you click for example on mask 10, all the vray materials inside the multi sub material will change to ID 10. Sadly the only way to control this is to manually edit the vray materials inside the multi sub material to a different ID.

And now for the really good part. I bet some of you are wondering how on earth you keep track of the masks you have just assigned. Well this script has a little trick up it's sleeve. If you right click on a mask button, you can edit the text!


This script also saves the button text when you close the script window, and saves the data to a .ini file inside your 3Ds Max temp folder. On my PC it's saved to c:\Users\Dean\AppData\Local\Autodesk\3dsMaxDesign\2012 - 64bit\enu\temp\ so as long as you installed 3Ds Max to the default location, the file should be stored here.

Knowing where this file is saved could be very important, if you change PCs just copy and paste this file and the script will read it. Also, if you are in a studio, and you want everyone to be using the same ID numbers for the same masks, you can drop this .ini file onto each users PC.

So now to the bottom two buttons. The Select Unassigned button simply selects objects that have materials applied to them that haven't had any mask ID assigned to them. It's just a pretty quick way to see what has and hasn't been assigned a mask.

The + Render Elements button is the last part of this script, and this adds the correct render elements to your Render Elements tab in you render settings dialogue. Click this button once (clicking more than once will only add duplicates and is very pointless), and the script automatically creates 10 new render passes, and configures them to that when you render you image (or animation) the correct passes are rendered.


Each MultiMatteElement will contain 3 mask. MME1 contains mask 1,2,3, and when rendered mask 1 will appear as red, mask 2 as green, and mask 3 as blue. This is repeated through the other MultiMatteElements, thus having 30 masks in total.

So all that's left to do now is to render your scene and open it up the RGB and MultiMatteElements in Photoshop. The easier way to extract each map from the MultiMatteElement is to hide the channels you don't need, and simple select all , and copy.



Then paste the mask into your RGB file. You can then use this pass as a mask for any post-processing adjustments or masking.


As you can see here I used the mask as a Layer Mask to badly adjust the grass! You would then repeat the process for any mask.

I think that's just about covered everything, and if there's anything I've missed, or if you experience any bugs please let me know. Also it would be great if you do use it, and it works OK, please let me know which version of Max and Vray you are using.



14/07/20122 Comments

Two Simple Workflow 3Ds Max Scripts


Sorry I haven't blogged in a while, things have been a wee bit busy!

Anyway, I thought I would share 2 small scripts I made and use on a daily basis. Both are very simple, but both are real time savers.

OK so the first script is "Reset Material Editor". This script does exactly what it says on the tin. Run this script, assign it to your UI or shortcuts (you will find it under the catagory "Ard Scripts"), and when you click the script, all slots in your editor will be reset with blank vray materials.

This script doesn't remove any materials from the scene, so as long as your materials are assigned to an object you wont lose any materials.

I find this script useful when you either quickly want a clean material editor, or very occasionally when you either have a corrupt material, or a very slow loading material. The material editor can be closed when running the script, hence why it is very useful if you have a corrupt or slow loading material.

And the second little script is the "Find Undefined Materials". Again, the title pretty much gives away the scripts function! Run the script, and assign it to your UI in the same way as the first script.

When you run the script, it will select all objects that have no material assigned. This is especially useful if like me, you prefer to model your scenes first, and then material everything afterwards. This script makes selecting all objects without materials very quick and easy, and means when you come to render your scenes, you avoid that horrible colour bleed from some un-textured part.

OK so that's it, and here's the download links -

Reset Material Editor

Find Undefined Materials






21/05/201222 Comments

Remove NoteTracks from 3Ds Max Scenes

Recently, I have been struggling with some weird issues with 3Ds Max, mainly some stupidly long load and save times on very small files. Even if I merged in the objects into a completely empty file, the problem would occur on the new file. This was not only a problem for opening and saving files, but also it meant some files were timing out in Backburner, so I had to render locally.

The other problem was that 3Ds Max would not close properly, and I would have to kill 3Ds Max via the Task Manager, not ideal at all!

Initially I suspected that maybe there were a corrupt piece of geometry, but deleting the entire contents of the file, and saving would make no difference. I also tried changing the save location, different drives, moving maps, merging into a new scene and pretty much every other trick I could think of. I then suspected it might be a RAM issue, so I upgraded from 8gb to 16gb, and although this helped with the loading of the files, it made no difference to the saving or rendering of the files.

After sometime searching the web, it appeared that I wasn't alone, and although it wasn't a common problem, some other people were having the same hard time as myself!


What the problem actually turned out to be was that my files had millions of NoteTracks hidden inside them. I have no idea how they were generated, but I know I didn't put them there! The easiest way to check for note tracks I have found is to run the Cleaner2 script from http://www.scriptspot.com/3ds-max/scripts/cleaner

When you run the script, it will show you how many NoteTracks, and other info which can probably be "cleaned". You can click "Clean all selected" which will remove the NoteTracks and other info, but I have found this to be very slow, especially if you have over 10 million NoteTracks.

The other solution I came across was found here on the CG Architect forum. Using 2 lines of code the NoteTracks are very quickly removed. To do this open the MAXScript Listener, and type / copy and paste -

trackViewNodes[#Max_MotionClip_Manager].track = copy trackViewNodes[#Max_MotionClip_Manager].track

Hit enter, then type


And hit enter again. Now if you run the Cleaner2 script you should see you have no NoteTracks in your file.


A word of warning, only run this code / script if you are

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I have put this code inside a script file in-case anyone wants to add it to a short-cut or button.

Click here to download. Once downloaded please open the file in Notepad or a similar program and read the disclaimer before running the script.

If you have found this useful, please let me know!



13/04/2012No Comments

Auto shutdown PC after rendering with Backburner

Recently I have been rendering images over night. I have been submitting jobs after I have finished work for the day, and then leaving the PC to do it's job. The only problem was that the PC could be sat idle for hours at a time after rendering has finished, especially if I didn't have too much to render. In the past I have used Team Viewer to remotely log in, and shut down the PC, but this relied on 2 things, me knowing approximate when the renders would finish, and me being awake to log in!

This was far from ideal, so I started searching around, and found a solution, which after some time tweaking, has become a real addition to my work-flow.

This solution is dead easy to use. I use 3Ds Max 2012, Backburner and Windows 7 64 Pro, and so cannot guarantee it will work on anything else, but it probably will!


1. Download this script shutdown.ms (you might have to right click, save as)

2. Copy the file to your 3Ds Max scripts folder (this isn't essential, but it's where I keep it)

3. Edit / open the script using either the Max Script Editior, or just note pad.

4. Where is says YOURCOMPUTERNAME, delete this and replace it with your computer name. You can usually see this in My Computer. Save the file, and close.

5. Open 3Ds Max, and open the Render Set-up window. Scroll down to the Scripts Tab.


6. In the Post-Render area, click File... and select shut-down.ms

7. Tick Net Render, and hit Render. Submit the job as you would normally, but assign a priority higher than your other render jobs (by higher I mean lower priority, usually above 50. I use 99 just to be safe!)

8. So when you have submitted the shut-down job, and all your other jobs, you should have a Backburner which looks like this -


Notice how "shutdown" is the last job, so your PC will only shut-down after each job has rendered.

And that's it! The reason why I use this technique is because I can re-start the shut-down job every time I need to use it. I know I could apply the shutdown.ms script to the last job, but if I needed to restart the job then the PC would shut-down every time that job rendered, and there's no way to stop it once that script has been run!

I should also note that this method came after reading a post by Sergey Pogosyan, sadly my scripting knowledge isn't brilliant, but I get by!

Anyway, I hope this is useful to someone!

Happy Friday!



07/02/20121 Comment

What do to for a first blog post? Give stuff away perhaps?

OK, so I have done the introduction post, but that doesn't really count as a blog post does it?

So that leaves me with a challenge, what should the first blog post be? I've always thought that I want the blog to be a mix of 3D, photography, videos, tutorials, news, interesting things, funny things, and anything in-between, as long as it's kind of related to the 3D and CGI industry!

So where should I start?!

Well, after some thinking, I thought it would probably most fitting to start by giving something back to the community. I have always found the generosity and willingness to help others from within the 3D communities quite heart-warming, and they have certainly helped me out when I have become unstuck! So I thought it was about time I gave something back!

Below you can download a few models I have created (I created these for use in my kitchen images in my portfolio). These include storage jars, storage tins and a spaghetti measurer.

I hope they are of some use to you, and please let me know if you actually use them! The models are, in my opinion, good enough for anything from close-ups to distant shots. Feedback is also welcome!


The models be used in any personal or commercial use, I only ask that you do not resell them, or claim credit for creating them! Also instead of passing on the zip file to others, please direct them to this page.

The models are in 3Ds Max format with Vray materials.

In the future, I plan to add more free downloads, so keep your eyes peeled!





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