Character Studio was a plugin which since version 4 of Max is now integrated in 3D Studio Max; it helps users to animate virtual characters. The system works using a character rig or "Biped" skeleton which has stock settings that can be modified and customized to fit the character meshes and animation needs. This tool also includes robust editing tools for IK/FK switching, Pose manipulation, Layers and Keyframing workflows, and sharing of animation data across different Biped skeletons. These "Biped" objects have other useful features that help accelerate the production of walk cycles and movement paths, as well as secondary motion.
Scene Explorer, a tool that provides a hierarchical view of scene data and analysis, facilitates working with more complex scenes. Scene Explorer has the ability to sort, filter, and search a scene by any object type or property (including metadata). Added in 3ds Max 2008, it was the first component to facilitate .NET managed code in 3ds Max outside of MAXScript.
3ds Max offers operations for creative texture and planar mapping, including tiling, mirroring, decals, angle, rotate, blur, UV stretching, and relaxation; Remove Distortion; Preserve UV; and UV template image export. The texture workflow includes the ability to combine an unlimited number of textures, a material/map browser with support for drag-and-drop assignment, and hierarchies with thumbnails. UV workflow features include Pelt mapping, which defines custom seams and enables users to unfold UVs according to those seams; copy/paste materials, maps and colors; and access to quick mapping types (box, cylindrical, spherical).
Two keying modes — set key and auto key — offer support for different keyframing workflows.
Fast and intuitive controls for keyframing — including cut, copy, and paste — let the user create animations with ease. Animation trajectories may be viewed and edited directly in the viewport.
Objects can be animated along curves with controls for alignment, banking, velocity, smoothness, and looping, and along surfaces with controls for alignment. Weight path-controlled animation between multiple curves, and animate the weight. Objects can be constrained to animate with other objects in many ways — including look at, orientation in different coordinate spaces, and linking at different points in time. These constraints also support animated weighting between more than one target.
All resulting constrained animation can be collapsed into standard keyframes for further editing.
Either the Skin or Physique modifier may be used to achieve precise control of skeletal deformation, so the character deforms smoothly as joints are moved, even in the most challenging areas, such as shoulders. Skin deformation can be controlled using direct vertex weights, volumes of vertices defined by envelopes, or both. Capabilities such as weight tables, paintable weights, and saving and loading of weights offer easy editing and proximity-based transfer between models, providing the accuracy and flexibility needed for complicated characters.
The rigid bind skinning option is useful for animating low-polygon models or as a diagnostic tool for regular skeleton animation.
Additional modifiers, such as Skin Wrap and Skin Morph, can be used to drive meshes with other meshes and make targeted weighting adjustments in tricky areas.
Skeletons and inverse kinematics (IK)
Characters can be rigged with custom skeletons using 3ds Max bones, IK solvers, and rigging tools powered by Motion Capture Data.