Modeling a highly detailed Basketball in 3D Studio Max

This tutorial will show you how to model a highly detailed basketball in 3D Studio Max using box modeling techniques. This tutorial is suitable for beginners but assume some basic knowledge.

Step 1.
Create a Sphere on the Top viewport with the following settings:

Step 2.
Convert the Sphere to an Editable Poly:

Step 3.
Go to Edge sub-object level and cut the following edges:

Step 4.
Select the following edges, and press CTRL-Backspace to delete the edges (holding CTRL deletes the vertexes as well).

Step 5.
Switch to Vertex sub-object level and select the vertexes as shown in the image below, and scale them down on the Y-axis to bring them closer together.

Step 6.
Select the two vertexes as shown in the image below, and scale them up on the Y-axis to move them further apart.

Step 7.
Switch to the Left viewport and select the 4 vertexes as shown below, and move them upwards.

Step 8.
Select the TurboSmooth or MeshSmooth modifier from the Modifier List and set the Iterations to 2.

I enabled Isoline display for the TurboSmooth modifier, but that’s not required.

Step 9.
Switch to Vertex sub-object level again and move the center top vertex up just a bit.

Step 10.
Turn show end results on. This will allow you to see if the ball will become round in the next steps. Select the 21 vertexes as shown in the image below:

Step 11.
Scale up vertexes selection on the Y-axis to move them further apart so the ball becomes round again.

Step 12.
The ball doesn’t need to be 100% smooth yet, it may have a small bump or indent as those will disappear later on when we add more details. But make sure the ball is at least round, and not egg-shaped for example. For the best results, you can add a second sphere, of the same size, but with 32 segments, on the same location, as a reference ball. You can skip this step and the following two steps if you can do this “manually”. Create the second sphere on the Left viewport starting from the center of the first sphere and you will see something like this:

Step 13.
Press F3 to turn on shading in the viewport and your balls should look similar to the following image (the green ball is the second sphere we created as a reference):

If you only see one ball, increase or decrease the size of the second sphere until they partly overlap. As you can see in the image above, we need to move down the top of the ball a bit to make it rounder, which we will do in the next step. Use F3 to turn on and off shading while performing these steps so you can see the results in a wireframe and shaded version.

Step 14.
The goal is to make sure the balls overlap an almost equal amount on the top half of the ball. Select Sphere01 again, and press F3 to switch back to wireframe view. Go to vertex mode, select the 37 vertexes as shown in the image below, and move them down a bit.

Step 15.
Select the 21 vertexes as shown in the image below, and move them down a bit, and then scale them up a bit. Toggle F3 to check the results. You should end up with something similar to the following:

Step 16.
When you are happy with the roundness of the top half of the ball select all the polygons of the bottom half of the ball and delete them. Also hide or delete the reference sphere.

Step 17.
Select all the other polygons. Press the Angle Snap Toggle button. Rotate the polygon selection 180 degrees over the X or the Z-axis while holding the Shift button. When you release the mouse button choose Element on the Clone Part of Mesh dialog box and press OK.

Step 18.
Move down polygons to below the top half of the ball. Rotate (the bottom half) 90 degrees over Y-axis (horizontal).

Step 19.
Select the bottom row of vertexes of the top half and the top row of vertexes of the bottom half (see selection rectangle in image below), press the square button next to Weld. Increase the Weld Threshold as necessary until you have a total of 122 vertexes in the model. You should have 32 vertexes selected before welding, and 16 after welding.

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13 Responses to Modeling a highly detailed Basketball in 3D Studio Max

  1. Pingback: Ross’s 3D Modelling Blog » Blog Archive » Basics of Animation

  2. Pingback: Modeling a basketall | Digital Evolution

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  4. imrankhan` says:

    really detailled & superb

  5. arvs says:


    Good to see your tutorial for a basketball.
    it is awesome and very detailed.
    I must try it. talking so, I am new with 3d rendering using 3dmax 9 version.I tried some 3d rendering using scanline and I am now practicing some tutorials from the software itself including mental ray.

    I would be glad if you can help having a tutorial on how to achieve STAINLESS STEEL (mirrorize and satin finished) using mental ray rendering.

    Looking forward for your reply.
    Thanks in advance!

  6. sovietiks says:

    Whery cool stuff!!!!!

  7. kevin says:

    good tutorial 😛 maybe you can add a section for people using V-Ray, because the part where you add the textures is very different in V-Ray 😉 and it turns out so much nicer with a good renderer.

  8. Vishal says:

    Good work ,i am self studying 3D max & i have created a tetrapak using many polygons(with tools like extrude,chamfer etc), Now my problem is i am not able to UV map it properly.Please help me out

  9. Nick says:

    Great tutorial 🙂 I am relatively new to 3D modelling and this tutorial has helped me learn a few new concepts, thanks.
    I have a suggestion for steps 9-16 though: I found that it’s a lot easier to use the ‘Spherify’ modifier to ensure the spherity of the ball.

  10. syLEE says:


  11. sefik says:

    Was a very practical tutorial example…thanks.

  12. Justin Ert says:

    Very good tut. Thanks very much. Been using Max since before it was Max (3dstudio dos) and couldn’t have modelled a basketball as well as this. Superb!

  13. Maxuser says:

    Thanks you man , could not been done better. So original. Thank you again for sharing.

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