The Meshtools / csPolytools Installationguide and quick overview
by Michael Plaengsken (01.Sep.2003 / last update 03.Jan 2006)

I wrote this little Tut, because very often on boards all over the internet I heard questions like:

"Hi, can anyone here help me and make a very, very short guide in how to set up the polytools and meshtools that I recently downloaded and put in my 3dsmax folder?
I don't know which are the new tools... "


At first I have to say, this is MY way to use the Meshtools, It's not THE way, you know!
At second, english is not my mother tongue, you will fast recognize that. ;P So corrections in grammar, verbalization... are welcome :-)

Important infomation for 3dsmax 8 users: There is a version 3.0 available for max 6/7, which works for 8 too. you can find it here: Meshtools 3.0
Most features are in max now, but not all. Solid chamfer is one of the coolest features, but it gives an error when using it under max 8:

"Argument count error: chamferVerts wanted 4, got 3"


To solve this, just replace the marked line in the maxscriptwindow, that appears behind the errormessage with this:

thisObj.editablePoly.chamferEdges 0.001

Save the script. Restart max. It should work now.
(credits forthis tip to "Zbuffer" on cgtalk cg-talkthread )

 

How to Install the Meshtools

Since version 4 of 3dsmax, editable polys are implemented, but what are polys?
In an editable poly, a face can have more than 3 sides. The polygon suboject in an editable mesh is only a fake, where a poly is generated by hiding edges. Working with this fake polys, leads for instance to additional vertices, if you slice through a mesh-poly. Faces become deleted, if you delete an edge...

Real polys work much nicer!
Cut and slice them very easy, create extra edges without a painfull hide/ unhide/ turn edge operations. Just create a new edges by clicking corresponding vertices and and and...
Unfortunatly 3dsmax 4 doesn't contain powerfull tools to handle editable polys.
To work the right way with polys in max you have to install two musthave scripts!

1. Laszlo Sebos "meshtools". Everybody heard about max should heard about meshtools ;P
you can find it on: http://www.scriptspot.com (search: "meshtools")
Last version so far is 2.5.
Official homepage: http://www.s21net.com/meshtools/ (watch the Videotuts of Irvan Celik and Tamás Varga!!!) hmm,the website is offline :(

2. Christopher Subagios "CSPolytools". This script is only working with installed meshtools.
It contains some real musthave features. It's on: http://www.3dluvr.com/subagio/scripts.html
Christopher is also author of the famous HDRlightdome script.

Ok, To guarantee a good workflow, it's very important to implement the scriptfunctions into the GUI in a useful way.
I prefer the maxquads, but there are some features that work much faster as shortcut, or button.
One important thing:

MESHTOOLS WORKING WITH EDITABLE POLYS ONLY!

Installation: With the scripts come readme.txts, that show you what file you have to put in what folder. If you're done with that, go on with customizing the GUI.
1. Open the Customize User Interface via Customize > Customize User Interface
2. open the Tab Quads, choose "Meshtools" under Category. Now you should see all Meshtool functions into the Action window.


Meshtools functions are in the pulldown, under category
3. Rightclick in the Menue window > New Menue opens a popup.
(Meshtools are in general keeps two fuctiongroups: selection- and modification tools.
I personally prefer, to seperate the functions into two menues, just to keep track.)
So generate the menues "Meshtools SEL" and "Meshtools MOD".

Creating two new Menues
4. On the right side of the Customize window, you can see the Quadbox. A click onto the downer left box makes the contextsensitve Quadmenues accessible. Context sensitive means, the menue only appears if the corresponding object is selected.
5. Click on the plus symbol infront of "Context Edit Poly Tools 2" and the functiontree becomes visible. In the box upper left, there is also a "Context Edit Poly Tools 1" you can use if you want.
6. Now drag & drop the just created Menues "Meshtools SEL" and "Meshtools MOD" into the tree. A blue line will guide you. If you have a Poly already in your scene, you can istantly test the Quad. Select the poly and rightclick to see the new Menues.

Via drag & drop, we can place the menues into the Quadtree
7. Now drag & drop the corresponding Fuctions from the Action window under the new Menues. To find out what function is SEL, and what is MOD, visit: http://www.s21net.com/meshtools/


Now drag & drop your Meshtoolfunctions


Sorted Selectiontools...


Sorted Modificationtools...
Do the same with Cspolytools. The Category is named: "csPoly Tools".
I didn't generate an extra menue for them, just put them together with the Meshtools.
Installation finished!

Meshtools, a short look

In the following I want to give a short overview over the features and workarounds with the tools we just installed.
One of the strongest features of meshtools are definetly the selectiontools. Compared to meshmodelling, you will get the most time advantage in the selection issue. In fact, selecting is almost the first step before doing any operation. According to this, fast selecting means fast working!

Selection Features
The most important selection features are "Edgering" and "Edgeloop", that can even use with more than one selected edge. Edgeloop and -ring depend on a certain meshtopology. Some operation may change the topology so that a selection is only possible with some holes.
Very cool is switching change the selection into another subobject selection. E.g. an Edgering is easily converted into a Polygonselection and extruded.

Powerful Selectiontools enhance your workflow a lot!
Another very useful selection function is definatly "Shrink" and "Grow". Here is an implementaion as button clever. A finger of a fist easily becomes selected, by selecting a face on the tip a just click on the "Grow" button several times.

Modification Features
"Connect1" does an exact cut through Edgering selected edges. You can very easy controll the tesselation of special regions of your mesh. Connect 2 and 3 generating, according to its names 2 or 3 parallel Subdivisions.

With "Connect" you can very fast subdivide geomerty
Also interessting is "Solid Chamfer". With this function, you can chamfer an edge, but keep the original Edge. In combination with Meshsmooth you get very fine, but round edges. Unfortunatly Solid Chamfer works hardly i small dimensions. While you have only the mouse to adjust, and no spinner, the chamfer often jumps in to big steps.

Solid Chamfer, great for fine detail with meshsmooth
A short sentence to 3 featrures of the Cspolytools. First you have a function, called Csslide.
With this, you can shift an Edgeloop parallel toward its neighbour Edges, a very powerful function, that reminds a bit of NURBS modelling.

Edge selection, via Edgering

Selection will be divided via Connect...

...and then positioned via CSslide.
Cspush is nice to move a vertex selection along its normals. Very useful after a Connect oreration.

After the connect operation, the edges are divided, but not arched.

With CSpush we get a final shape into the eyes region. In this case it works better than just moving the verts.
Csdissolve is a function to delete edges but keep the mesh. You can e.g. use it as opposit to Connect, to very easy delete Edgeloop, you've just created.
There Are many other functions, you have to discover by yourself ;P
Hope you understand the stuff
greetz, and have fun with the best tool for max4!
Michael "DerPapa" Plaengsken

www.ground-studios.com