DesignToolBox Reference

refGuides, spatial reference helpers

refGuides plug-in is intended to improve and speed up architecture modeling, or any case where precise measurements are needed. It allows to create construction guides, for accurately position and model objects. This guides can act as rulers, displaying custom measurement units in the viewport.

The main functionality of this toolset consist in the creation of two types of reference objects : linear guides and protractors.

Another feature is the ability to place intersection marks where linear guides intersects in space. Use this feature with the Intersection points option, or holding the ALT key during placement.

rg?tool

Line guides placement

Three creation modes are available:

Free space mode

This mode place a guide by determining a direction from two points.

  1. Pick a base reference point.
  2. Pick a second reference point determining the direction of the guide.

Pressing SHIFT will lock the tracking to orthogonal coordinates.

Orthogonal space mode

  1. Pick a reference point, it will act as a center of the orthogonal space.
  2. Move the mouse around to change the direction or snap to a point.

Press CTRL during axis selection for Z axis restriction.

Polar space mode

  1. Pick base point. A circular gizmo displays in the viewports, representing a construction plane.
  2. Rotation point 1: Pick Z axis gizmo rotation reference point.
  3. Rotation point 1: X or Y axis rotation points.
    • Press ALT while tracking any gizmo rotation to snap angle values.
    • Press SHIFT to change direction, CTRL to change axis.
  4. Rotate the mouse around to select the angular component.
  • “Polar mode angle” option sets the angular increment. It’s accessible from the ribbon, the UI creation mode or the Options dialog.
  • Press ALT during last placement tracking to override intersection points ON/OFF setting.
  • The tools have a “continued creation” mode for placing more than one guide in one action.

rGUImode

rg?protractor

Protractor guide

Tool for displaying and snapping angular values. The same placing methods described for the reference line tool are available for the protractor, a exception of the UI mode, since its included in the guide line UI.

prev?prot

Intersection points

This feature allows to place reference point, acting as a snapping mark, where the reference guide lines intersects in space.

Guides parameters

Line guides have two parameters: Units and Extension.

  • Units provide a subdivision scale for the guide. Used to snap objects to, or as a measure ruler.
  • Extension determines how long the guide will be.

The UI option for the creation modes shows a floater with the general settings for the guides, protractor placement and intersection points option. Right clicking on the dialog pops up a context menu with more options.

refGuides Objects

When using any of the “refGuides” tools, a custom Shape object is created for / Lines / Protractors / intersection points / with options available from the command panel for tunning their settings: Line extension, units scale; Protractor angle marks and radius; Intersection point display style and size.[*]

rg?liveview

Viewport information tools

Use the guides as a ruler display in viewport unit steps

  • Live info: Display units for the current selected guide.
  • Live info+: Display units for all the guides in the current view (skips hidden or isolated guides).

rg?more

refGuides additional tools

  • Delete all guides in scene.
  • Lock guides after creation.
  • Home grid size: Displays a reference gizmo with 3 rules towards the XYZ axes indicating the Active Grid spacing units.

Options dialog

Provides settings to change the guides color, layer name, intersection points behavior and object type.

rGoptions

[*] Custom Object mode (On by default) is only available for 3Ds Max 2016 and up. Smart intersection mode will consider any planar shape on the scene as a guide. While resource consuming, it can place intersection points on imported CAD drawings. for example.

dslogo

Transform tools

ref?rot

reference Rotation

Rotates an object about a direction axis and a reference point

First, select the object you want to rotate.

  1. Pick base point. this point will act as rotation center.
  2. Pick point for rotation axis.
  3. Rotate from line (Pick reference point).
  4. Move mouse to set rotation angle and direction. Snap to point or press SHIFT to lock angle steps.

Reference rotation has two alternative modes: Default mode: The rotation will take place in a temporary coordinate system, defined by a work plane. Free mode: Rotation is not restricted to a temporary coordinate system.

loc?rot

local reference Rotation

2-point CAD-like rotation. Rotates an object about a local coordinates direction axis and a reference direction

  1. Pick base point.
  2. Pick rotate-from point.
  3. change XYZ axis while tracing rotate-from point:
    • X axis: SHIFT</mark>
    • Y axis: CTRL
    • Z axis: Default
  4. Track rotation angle and direction. Press SHIFT to restrict angle steps.

ref?scale

reference Scale

Used to scale an object with a reference length to stretch and a target length; works as a 4-point scale method.

> First, select the object to scale.

The tool works picking two reference distances, one representing a reference length to stretch up or down, and a second one representing the new distance.

  1. Pick Base point. This point will act as base for the operation, also marks the original length start.
  2. Pick second point for the original length line. Note that the direction of the line will be the direction of the operation.
  3. pick Base point for the reference length.
  4. pick End point for the reference length.
  • Pressing SHIFT while tracking second points will restrict the lines to Orthogonal space*.
  • Pressing SHIFT When activating the tool will keep the objects proportion for the scaling operation.
  • The reference scale tools has three modes:
  • Normal: Operation done in world space.
  • In context: Operation done in local coordinates.
  • Xform: Instead of direct transformation, it applies a Xform modifier to the target object.

movealign

Move and align (1D Align tool)

Align objects using two directions from a common base point.

  1. Select a target node. Pick a reference point and a target point to displace the node to a new position. This is a free space operation.
  2. Pick one point to set a reference direction, and a target point to match the original direction to it.
  3. Use Right Click or ESCAPE to end the tool.

redimension

reDimension

Real world units scaling in a direction. Change object’s height, length or width (or proportional length-width etc..) to a desire dimension.

  1. Select the object and pick a base reference point.
  2. Pick reference distance / direction end.
    • Pressing SHIFT while tracking second point will restrict the direction to orthogonal space*.
  3. Set new dimension on the Dialog UI.
    • Incremental option will add / subtract the value form the former distance.

Floater dialog

redimension

offset

Offset (reference move)

Precise referential movement from a target point, and specified direction

  1. Select objects to move.
  2. Pick an Origin point for the movement trajectory.
  3. Pick an End point.
  4. A dialog will open to set the distance. A reference mark will display the displacement from the Base point along the trajectory line. X Y and Z spinners stets the distance by correlated axis increments; enabling “offset mode” will shift the position of the reference mark from the trajectory
  • Incremental mode will change the target point to the Origin point instead of the default End point.
  • You can use this tool in editable poly mode, selecting the sub objects to be moved first.

Floater dialog

offset

move?around

Move Around

Move / Rotate / Clone an object around a reference center object.

  1. Select an object to operate on.
  2. Activate the tool, a dialog will open. Pick a center object.
  3. Clicking on the colored slices of the dial will move the object X degrees around the center object.
  • Rotate itself option will rotate the object over itself the same amount of degrees.
  • The Clone object option can will clone the object with each angular movement, making circular arrays.
  • Use Custom angle and the CW (clockwise) or CCW (counter clockwise) for any custom increment instead of the predefined 45° multiplies of the dial.

LOOK AT Will apply to the object a look at animation constraint, keeping the object always “looking” at the center.

Floater dialog

movearound


Measure tools

divide

Divide distance / clone between

Sets reference points between a reference distance.

  1. Pick distance start point.
  2. Pick distance second point.
  3. Move the mouse towards the start or end point to set segments amount.
    • Press SHIFT while tracking second point for orthogonal mode.
  4. Using “Clone between” mode, pick the object to clone when prompted.

You can use the Divide distance | input mode tool to type the subdivision steps instead of mouse tracking. Note: Orthogonal tracking (SHIFT) has a axis-lock feature: Keep SHIFT pressed, and having vertex snap activated, move the cursor to a vertex and press CTRL, the tracking will be restricted to the nearest axis, and then you can track any point, the line will lock to that specific axis. This feature works in all the tools that has a orthogonal tracking feature.

distance

Distance

Live visual feedback measure tape.

  1. Pick a start point.
  2. Track distance.
  3. Pick an end point to measure again. A tape for each measurement will remain displayed until tool exit.
    • After picking the first point, press SHIFT to restrict the tape to XYZ axes (orthogonal mode).

The result of the last measure will be copied to the clipboard and each measure is traced to the listener after finishing using the tool.

The alternate tool **Distancecontinuous** displays one concatenated tape with all the measures.

Distance measure history dialog

Having the “Distance history” dialog opened while using the measure distance or continued distance tools will record the taken measures, allowing to re-display them and customize the appearance.

distanceDlg

angle

Angle

Measure any angle by 3 points.

  1. Pick angle base point.
  2. Pick first reference point to mark a direction vector. The tool will track the angle comprehended between the first direction vector and the current mouse position or vertex snap (with center at the base point).
  3. Pick second reference point to end.

area

Area

Pick points to draw an a closed polygonal region and measure its area.

  1. Start picking points to draw an enclosed polyline.
  2. Press right click to finish the measure. The result is traced to the listener.

Orthogonal mode is available for the measure tool, press SHIFT between point picks.

volume

Volume

Cubic volume measure tool. It’s not restricted to selected object mass, instead is measured as an empty space container box.

Pick two points representing the start and end point of a box diagonal line. The measured volume of the box will be traced to the listener.


pivot

Pivot tools

Pivot repositioning commands

pivot_tools

While there already are tools available to reposition an object’s center pivot, this one groups them in a convenient UI, that pops down from the toolbar or ribbon button.

LEFT CLICK on any button to keep the UI open, or RIGHT CLICK to instantly close it.

  • CENTER, TOP, BOTTOM: Most common operations, can be used directly from a dedicated macro.
  • Top corners / middle / bottom corners: Box model reference locations. ABCD buttons represents a corner point.
  • 3 PNT: Position pivot from three points (base point > Y axis > X axis) keep SHIFT pressed to flip Z direction.
    • This also can be used to set a Working Pivot.
  • FACE: Select an editable poly face and puts the pivot on its center, aligned to the face normal.
    • This also can be used to set a Working Pivot.
  • RESET PVT: Resets the pivot to its original location.
  • RESET XFRM: Shortcut for the built in reset object Xform.

localisolate

Local Isolate

Isolate / unisolate selected object and set an active work grid with it’s local coordinates.

Note: If more than one object is selected, Local isolate will use the first object in the selection to set the grid.


Eyedropper tools

replicator

Replicator

Replace any node with an instance or reference of another source node.

  1. Pick source node.
  2. Pick nodes to be replaced.
    • DEFAULT: Instance replacement
    • SHIFT while picking objects will create a reference.
  • By Default, replicator will keep the original node material and transformation. to replace the transformation, activate the checkbox in the ribbon or the check button macro. Note that the original position is always maintained.
  • Multitarget toggle will disable multiple targets.

eyedropper

Eyedropper

Properties, modifiers and appearance copy tool, from a source object to a target object or objects*

Note that, Eyedropper will replace any matching or similar property, regardless of the node class. I.E: You can copy the diameter of a circle shape to a sphere object, and so on. UVWmap copy will copy applied UVW modifiers and attempt to copy direct mesh mapping, so if a editable poly or mesh is collapsed, there is a chance their mapping coordinates will be copied.

MultiTool

Will copy the active settings on the filters dialog:

eyedrop?filters

Eyedropper modes

Additional available modes:

Visual appearanceMaterialnon-Topology dependent modifiersStandard transformationsUVW mapping

interactive?array

Interactive 2D Array

Quickly create a 2.5D Array of objects, picking points in the viewport.

  1. Select the object to clone.
  2. Pick start point.
  3. Pick second point to define a rectangular area.
  4. Move the mouse away from the last point to select the amount of rows. Press left click to finish selecting rows.
  5. move the mouse again to define columns quantity. press click to finish.

pattern?array

Pattern Array

Make complex rule-based object arrays; walls, mosaic patterns…

pattern?array

  • Array Dimension
    • Rows and Columns: Set the amount of rows and columns for the array. Array dimension will be nRows x nColumns. (nColumns per row).
    • Checking “Totals” for Rows and Columns separation will use the XYZ values as total distance for rows or columns extension.
    • Interactive mode allows to set the array dimension parameters in an interactive way, from the viewport.
  • Add rules
    1. Set a row number in the spinner to add rules to. Press “update Row” if you change the offset parameters for the current selected row number. unchecking “Enable” will turn off the current row, but it’s still used for calculations.
    2. Set current column for the row. Each added rule will “fill” a cell in the row. 2.1 Pick the node to use. 2.2 Set offset, rotation and scale values. unchecking “Enabled” will left a “hole” in the array, without breaking the rules.
    3. Once you finish to set the new column, or update the current selected row, press “ADD/UPDATE”, check in the listview if the rule was successfully updated.

Note: The preview needs to be updated after making changes to the rules.

unhide

unHide by selection

This tool will temporally display all hidden objects (and hide visible ones). Select the ones you want to unhide and Press “Done” on the floater.

unfroze

unFreeze by selection

This tool will temporally display all frozen objects (and freeze visible ones). Select the ones you want to unfreeze and Press “Done” on the floater.

Transform locks

Convenient shortcuts to enable / disable standard transformations locks on the current selected objects.

  • All: Lock / unlock all transformations (Move, scale and rotate)
  • Move lock
  • Rotation lock
  • Scale lock

Utilities

paneling

Paneling and detailer

Create a grid of panels (boxes or custom geometry) in a planar surface. Originally intended to fast model furniture cabinets and add handles, now is a multi-purpose tool.

Paneling

  1. The first step using the Paneling tool is setting the operation surface. Use the Pick limits button to set a surface with three reference points: Base point > Height Point > Width point
  2. Uncheck “Box” and pick an object if you want to use a custom geometry for the panels. Invert Object H/W flips the front facing side.
  3. Set Grid subdivisions each cell corresponds with one panel.
  4. Set gap between panels.
  5. Specify the thickness for the panel. The checkbox next to the spinner will disable custom thickness for reference object mode and use the original height instead.
  6. Add Chamfer (3ds Max 2016+ version restriction) will add to each panel a Chamfer modifier.

Detailer

Best suited to be used as a complement of the Paneling tool. This utility allows to parametrically place an object over a selection

  1. Select the Panels (or objects) you want to add the features. The list on top will change dynamically showing the selected objects. Use the <- button to reset the selection.
  2. Pick a detail (feature) object.
  3. Offset options:
  • XYZ displacement from base object center.
    • Mirror: Will mirror objects following the selected rule. note that the indexes correspond to the object’s order in the selection list.
      • ODD and EVEN: Mirror odd or even Nth in the list.
      • List: type comma separated individual objects numbering or use score symbol to set a range of objects.
  • Rotate Details.

Re-center pivots is intended to address situations where the detail object has a displaced pivot from its center, or to correct misplaced pivots in the result.

paneling

Utilities

paneling

Paneling and detailer

Create a grid of panels (boxes or custom geometry) in a planar surface. Originally intended to fast model furniture cabinets and add handles, now is a multi-purpose tool.

Paneling

  1. The first step using the Paneling tool is setting the operation surface. Use the Pick limits button to set a surface with three reference points: Base point > Height Point > Width point
  2. Uncheck “Box” and pick an object if you want to use a custom geometry for the panels. Invert Object H/W flips the front facing side.
  3. Set Grid subdivisions each cell corresponds with one panel.
  4. Set gap between panels.
  5. Specify the thickness for the panel. The checkbox next to the spinner will disable custom thickness for reference object mode and use the original height instead.
  6. Add Chamfer (3ds Max 2016+ version restriction) will add to each panel a Chamfer modifier.

Detailer

Best suited to be used as a complement of the Paneling tool. This utility allows to parametrically place an object over a selection

  1. Select the Panels (or objects) you want to add the features. The list on top will change dynamically showing the selected objects. Use the <- button to reset the selection.
  2. Pick a detail (feature) object.
  3. Offset options:
  • XYZ displacement from base object center.
    • Mirror: Will mirror objects following the selected rule. note that the indexes correspond to the object’s order in the selection list.
      • ODD and EVEN: Mirror odd or even Nth in the list.
      • List: type comma separated individual objects numbering or use score symbol to set a range of objects.
  • Rotate Details.

Re-center pivots is intended to address situations where the detail object has a displaced pivot from its center, or to correct misplaced pivots in the result.

paneling

Map tools and multiMap

Texture coordinates related tools

maptools

Map tools

Fit, center, reset UVW gizmos (this tolls are only available by default through the UVWmap modifier in the command panel, they where written from scratch ) and delete UVW or UVWxform modifiers in selected objects from a convenient dialog.

By default, Delete UVWmap removes only the last modifier on object’s stack. Use LEFT CLICK to delete all the modifiers in stack. The same applies to Delete UVWXform.

multimap

multimap

multiMap

Add individual UVW modifiers to a selection of objects, poly elements or faces. Randomize gizmos, transform direct mesh coordinates or add random UVWxform modifiers

multimap

snap?states

Snaps states

savesnapfloater

Save current active snaps as a named set and reuse them from the floater dropdown list

savesnapadd

Random transformation

Tool packed with several options to randomize and clone nodes.

  • Can be used to directly modify the node transform, add a XForm modifier, or transform applied modifiers gizmo’s.
  • Set constant, by range or a scripted list of values to appply the transform.
  • Apply the transform in Grid, Local or a Reference coordinate system. To use the later mode, pick a reference node first.

randomtransform

color?clipboard

Color clipboard

Dockable color swatches bar

colorbar

  • +” button populates swatches with random colors.
    • LEFT CLICK to fill unused slots.
    • press SHIFT + LEFT CLICK for grayscale values.
    • press RIGHT CLICK to replace all samples.
  • RIGHT CLICK on a sample: Copy or paste color.
  • Drag and Drop colors to and form the material editor

UI reference

Viewport elements colors

You can change the color palette used to represent points marks, lines and other kind of visual helpers within the tools. Change the colors in the pickers or use one of the presets.

dstlbx_cfg

Where to locate the toolbar macros

You can find the tools in the customization dialog under the categories of HAG refGuides, HAG DesignToolBox and the extras in HAG tools

Ribbon Tab

refGuides panel

refguides_ribbon

Options not available in toolbars:

  • Int. Points / Protractor / Polar Grid toggles
  • Units, angles (for protractor & polar tracking) and extension spinners.
  • Lock guides after creation toggle.
  • Intersect All / Intersect current creation toggle.

Transform panel

transform_ribbon

Measure panel

transform_ribbon

Option not available in toolbars: reference angle for rotation tools angle lock.

Pivot tools panel

pivot_ribbon

Replicator and Eyedropper panel

eyedrop_ribbon

Options available in toolbars as Checkbuttons:

  • Replicator
    • Replace groups: By default replicator replaces picked objects inside groups and not the entire group.
    • Transforms: Keep the original object standard transformations.
    • Multi target: On by default, enables the tool to pick more than one destination object.
  • Eyedropper
    • Multi target: On by default, enables the tool to pick multiple destination objects.

object_ribbon

Utilities

utilities_ribbon

Combined floater dialogs UI

DesignToolBox floater

refguidesUIfloater

refGuides floater

dstlbxUIfloater


Install folders

  • Main files are installed in 3ds Max’s root directory Scripts (Designtoolbox subfolder) and Plugins folders.
  • MacroScripts files are placed in 3ds Max root directory MacroScripts folder.
  • Icons are installed in the UI_ln folder in 3ds Max root directory.
  • The ribbon extension is language dependent, it will be installed in the corresponding folder for the language selected during installation. I.E. /maxroot/EN_US is the default directory.
  • The Plug-in will create some configuration files in the current user folder under the following paths:
    • ../UserScripts/DesignToolbox (user information)
    • ../en-US/plugcfg (tools saved configuration files)

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