Todays quicktip is another one that makes my life much easier when dealing with those more ‘challenging’ of clients. We all now the ones; those that cant make decisions, will change their mind repeatedly, and expect those model replacements to be done in 5 minutes.
Luckily we go some way to planning for these awkward days by using a very powerful modifier, and one that should become your new best friend.
Today is time for the ‘Substitute’ modifier to make an appearance. This modest, but effective modifier should make your workflow more versatile on the next project. I tend to use this little chap on projects, where I will need to try out different street furniture variations (for example, street lighting, bins or trash cans!) or complete interior studies where the furniture will repeatedly change. Follow the below steps to see this modifier in action.
1. Create a basic scene, that is similar to the below. Ideally the blue boxes will be instanced geometry within it.
2. Select one of the blue boxes and apply a substitute modifier to it.
3. From within the modifiers parameters, select the ‘Pick Scene Object’ button and then choose within the viewport the object you wish to replace it with. This workflow is enhanced by the ‘Select XRef Object’ button, allowing you to choose objects that may be sitting within a model library. This is excellent for foliage items, or when set dressing. Workflow flexibility is king.
4. The box object should now become one of the cones. The Object name you have selected will now be loaded into the middle text field, as well as its type; instance or copy.
5. Repeat this for the other cones, by simply selecting another object within the modifier. Now also try moving the objects and randomly altering their scale.
Note that if you have added scale or rotation transforms to the original box, then these will be respected. You can disable this via the toggles at the bottom of the modifier. It is also worth mentioning the very top ‘Display’ options within the modifier. These allow you to place low-poly versions of the objects, and at render time use a higher-poly version. This is great when you want the benefits of a fast viewport, mixed with detail at render time.
In the above workflow we’ve used a single object instanced to drive the resultant modifier. As the ‘substitute’ toolset lives within 3ds Max as a modifier this means we can apply it to different objects that have no inbuilt relationship to achieve the same effect. Either apply to one object and drag the modifier onto other objects directly from within the stack, or select and apply all in one hit. This hopefully re-enforces the importance of the modifier stack to all of us, as 3ds Max users.
Hopefully you’ve now seen how flexible the Substitute modifier is to quickly replace an object with another, but keeping the original transforms