Modeling a low-poly LCD monitor in 3D Studio Max

This tutorial will show you how to model an LCD monitor in 3D Studio Max using basic of box modeling techniques. This tutorial is suitable for beginners and shows exactly how to perform each step.We won’t be using a background image/picture to model an existing monitor, instead we’ll create our own original LCD monitor. Once you learned to apply the techniques in this tutorial, it will be a piece of cake to adjust/extend the model to create your own unique monitor. With 3D modeling, there are many different ways to reach a similar result. Some of the tasks described in this tutorial are the things ‘I’ do, which doesn’t mean it is ‘the’ way to do it. Although this tutorial is written primarily for 3D Studio Max users, the same techniques apply to many other packages as well. You could even use the free modeler Wings 3D.

Phase 1. Create a new scene

Let’s start by creating a new empty scene and set some basic options:
- Select New from the File menu, choose New All, and click OK.
- Right-click Top and select Smooth + Highlights (see Picture-1a below).
- Right-click Top again and select Edged Faces (see Picture-1b below).

Picture 1a

Picture 1b

Phase 2. Create the initial box

Now we are going to create the initial box from which we will build the entire model. First select the Top view window by clicking on it. Next, click the Box button on the Create tab of the Command Panel as depicted in Picture-2a below.


Picture 2a

Now draw a box of any size on the Top view, we’ll give it the correct dimensions in a bit. Note that when you click and drag your mouse to create the box, you first create a plane. When you release the mouse button, you need to move your mouse upward and click again to complete the creation of the box. To see what you are doing, make sure you look at the front, left, or perspective view while you create the box. When you created the box, you should have something like in Picture-2b.


Picture 2b

Next, we are going to give this box the dimensions we want it to have and convert it to an Editable Mesh. To change the dimensions for the box, click the Modify tab on the Command Panel while the box is selected. See Picture-2C below. Enter 0.7 for length, 45 for width, and 35 for height, below Parameters.


Picture 2c

As you can see in the picture above, I use centimeters, but it doesn’t matter which metric system you use, you can scale the entire model when it is finished. If the box becomes so small you can hardly see it any longer, press the Zoom Extents All button at the bottom-right of the screen:

If your results are similar as depicted in Picture-2d below, you are ready to convert the box to an editable mesh.

Picture 2d

To convert the box to an editable mesh, right-click Box on the Modify tab of the Command Panel and select Convert To: Editable Mesh as depicted in Picture-2e below:

Picture 2e

Phase 3. Extruding the front of the monitor

Ok, now the fun part begins. By the way, did you save your work yet?

Now that we converted the box to an editable mesh, we can change and expand it by working on a sublevel. An editable mesh has 5 sublevels: Vertexes, Edges, Faces, Polygons, and Elements. In this tutorial, we will be focusing on Vertexes and Edges, and mostly on polygons. To select one of these sublevels, click the + sign in front of Editable Mesh on the Modify tab of the Command Panel and select the desired sublevel. When you select one of the sublevels, you will have a huge set of options on the scrollable bottom half of the Modify tab.

Picture 3a

We are going to start with the front side of the monitor by extruding and scaling some polygons. It may seem a lot of work at first, but once you get the hang of it you will be doing similar stuff in seconds. First, make sure you select the sublevel Polygon as depicted in Picture-3a above. Next, select the polygon on the front of the box. You can do this in the Front view, or in the Perspective view as displayed below in Picture-3b.


Picture 3b

At the bottom of the Modify tab, scroll down below and select Local and click the Extrude button as depicted in Picture-3c below.


Picture 3c

Now notice that the mouse pointer changes when you move it over the polygon. Click the selected polygon, hold down the mouse button, and move up to extrude the polygon. You should have something similar as depicted in Picture-3d below. It doesn’t matter how far you extrude, because we are going to move back the polygon that is now selected.


Picture 3d

Click the Select and Move button on the toolbar and move back the polygon as depicted in Picture-3e below, to get the results as in Picture 3f.


Picture 3e

Picture 3f

It may look like we have the same box as we started with, but the additional polygons we created by extruding are still there, as you will see in our next step. Important: instead of manually moving the polygon back to the place we extruded it from, you can move it back while you extrude it. For example, in the above example you moved up to extrude the polygon, if you move down again (while still holding down the mouse button) you can move the extruded polygon back to its exact original place.

Click the Select and Uniform Scale button:

and scale the extruded polygon as depicted in Picture-3g below. You can do this in either the Perspective or Front view. How far you want to scale it depends on how big you want the screen and the frame to be, just keep it realistic.

Picture 3g

Click the Extrude button again (see Picture-3c), and extrude the polygon inwards as depicted in Picture-3h below by moving down while extruding.

Picture 3h

Now right-click the Top on the Top view and select Wireframe as depicted in Picture 3i below.


Picture 3i

Click the Select and Move button again, and move back the polygon we just extruded to almost its original place, as depicted in Picture 3-j below:

Picture 3j

Unless you have a big screen monitor, you probably need to switch to maximum view for the next step. You can do this by clicking the Min/Max Toggle button on the bottom right (see Picture-3k below). You should do this while the Front view is selected. Press the Min/Max Toggle button whenever you want to return to the 4 views.


Picture 3k

Click the Select and Uniform Scale button again and make the polygon just a little bit smaller by scaling it down as depicted in Picture-3l below.


Picture 3l

Now extrude it inwards just a little bit. You may need to change to the Top view and use the Min/Max Toggle button again to switch to maximum view, and/or zoom in on the Top view. You should end up with something very similar to Picture-3m below:


Picture 3m

Phase 4. Extruding the back of the monitor

Now we’ll start on the back of the monitor. Right-click Front on the Front View and select Back from Views as depicted in Picture-4a below.


Picture 4a

Select the polygon on the back of the monitor, extrude it, move it back to its original position, and use Uniform Scale to scale it down as depicted in Picture-4b below. If it seems like I’m going to fast here, take a look at Picture-3d, 3e, 3f, and 3g, as we are doing the same thing on the back as we did on the front, except for the scaling part. When you scale down the extruded polygon, scale it only a little (see Picture-4b), not as far as we did on the front.

Picture 4b

Now extrude the polygon again to make the model about three times as thick as it was (see Picture-4c below).


Picture 4c

Scale it down a little (on the Back view) to end up with something similar as depicted in Picture-4d below:


Picture 4d

Repeat the last step, but this time extrude it less far and scale it down only a little. You should end up with something very similar to Picture-4e below.


Picture 4e

Extrude it again, and move the extrude polygon back to its original place again, and scale it down as depicted in Picture-4f below.


Picture 4f

Extrude and scale down the polygon one last time to get something similar as depicted in Picture-4g below.


Picture 4g

Now we are going to create the polygon to which the monitor’s support/foot will be attached. Select the polygon on the bottom that is closest to the last polygon we scaled down in the previous step, as depicted in Picture-4h below.


Picture 4h

Extrude the polygon and move it back to its original position and use Uniform Scale to horizontally scale down the polygon as depicted in Picture-4i below.


Picture 4i

Now click on the Vertex sublevel of the Editable Mesh on the Modify tab of the Command Panel, as depicted in Picture-4j below.


Picture 4j

Select the lower two vertexes of the polygon we just created. Use Uniform Scale horizontally (on the axis which I indicated with a blue arrow in Picture-4k below) to move the vertexes closer together to make the polygon a decent rectangle. You may need to zoom in a little to make sure the edges are straight.


Picture 4k

Phase 5. Extruding the foot/support of the monitor

The foot of a monitor is one of the elements that allow you to give the monitor a unique design. We will be creating a rather simple one, but as you will probably notice, it is easy to create something original. Before we are going to start with the foot, we are going to rotate the monitor so it will lean back a little.

If you are still at the Vertex sublevel, click Editable Mesh on the Modify tab of the Command Panel to select the entire model. Next, switch to the Left or view in any of the view ports and rotate (Select and Rotate toolbar button) the monitor so it leans back a little, as depicted in Picture-5a below.


Picture 5a

Switch back to the Perspective or Back view (or the one you prefer modeling in) and select the polygon we created for the foot in Phase 4. Click the Extrude button and extrude the polygon as depicted in Picture-5b below.


Picture 5b

Now extrude it again but this time only a little, to get something similar as depicted in Picture-5c below.


Picture 5c

Now we need to set some things straight. You will notice some light blue lines in some of the following pictures to indicate which line should be straight.
Switch to Vertex sublevel. On the Left view select all the vertexes of the part we extruded in the previous step. Instead of holding the CTRL button to select the vertexes (which would require you to rotate the view to select all the vertexes), select the vertexes by dragging a selection rectangle around the vertexes you want to select, as depicted in Picture-5d below.


Picture 5d

When you successfully selected all those vertexes, move them to the right as depicted in Picture-5e below.


Picture 5e

Now Zoom in on the Left view to get a close-up of the vertexes you just moved by using the Zoom button on the bottom right of the screen:

Zoom in until your Left view looks similar to Picture-5f below:


Picture 5f

Now click the Select and Move button on the toolbar again and select only the 4 vertexes of the bottom polygon (again with dragging that selection rectangle to select also the 2 vertexes you can’t see on the left view) and move those to the right as depicted in Picture-5g below.


Picture 5g

Now select only the 4 vertexes on the left (with the selection rectangle again) and move them down until the bottom line becomes flat as depicted in Picture-5h below.


Picture 5h

You probably noticed that the bottom part of the ‘leg’ we are working on became a bit thinner when we moved those vertexes down so we need to move them a little to the left. You may need to zoom out and switch to maximum view to make sure you end up with similar results as depicted in Picture-5i below.


Picture 5i

Now switch to Polygon sublevel again, select the lowest polygon on the front of the foot, and extrude it so you get something similar as depicted in Picture-5j below.


Picture 5j

Now zoom in on the Left view again, to get a close-up of the area around the polygon we just extruded, switch to Vertex sublevel and select the 4 vertexes on the right as depicted in Picture-5k below.


Picture 5k

Now move up the vertexes so the bottom line becomes straight/flat as depicted in Picture-5l below.


Picture 5l

Next, select the 2 vertexes on the top-front of the foot and move them to the left, and if necessary a bit down to end up with something similar as depicted in Picture-5m below.


Picture 5m

Switch the Polygon sublevel again and the select the polygons on both the left and the right side of the bottom block. You can do this by selecting the polygons on one side, rotate the view, and hold the CTRL key when you click the polygons on the other side. Extrude them as depicted in Picture-5n below. You can do this in the Perspective view and look at the Front view to see how far you want to extrude (which just depends on how wide ‘you’ want the foot to be).


Picture 5n

You can leave the foot as it is, but if you learned anything from this tutorial it should be easy to improve the design of the foot. For example, you could scale down the side polygons using uniform scale on the Y-as to get something as depicted in Picture-5o below.


Picture 5o

Phase 6. Adding some details

During this phase we are going to make it just a bit more realistic by adding some buttons. If you want to use a model for a game or just want to keep it as small as possible, you could add such details by textures and bumps maps. There are endless possibilities to model such details but in this tutorial, we are going to create them mostly in the same way we created the monitor: by extruding and scaling polygons. For this reason, we are going to speed things up a little. Additionally, we are going to use the Chamfer option in the Edge sublevel.

On the Front view, select the polygon below the display, extrude it, move it back to its original position, and scale it down, as depicted in Picture-6a below.


Picture 6a

Switch to Vertex sublevel and select the 2 lower vertexes of the polygon we just created and use uniform scale on the X-as to make the polygon a straight rectangle again as depicted in Picture-6b below. You may need to toggle to maximum view to make sure you get the lines straight.


Picture 6b

Now switch the Edge sublevel mode and select the edges as depicted in Picture-6c below. (Again, hold the CTRL key to select more than one edge or polygon, vertex, mesh, etc, etc.)


Picture 6c

Click the Chamfer button, you can find it below the Extrude button if you are in Edge sublevel. Chamfering works similar as extruding, when you clicked the Chamfer button and you move the mouse pointer over one of the selected edges, the pointer will change. Click on one of the selected edges and drag to the right to chamfer the edges to end up with something similar as depicted in Picture-6d below.


Picture 6d

Switch to Polygon sublevel again and select only the polygons as depicted in Picture-6e below.


Picture 6e

Now to create the button (and to see if you learned anything from this tutorial ;) ) follow the steps below.

- Extrude outwards so the button comes slightly out of the monitor. (Note that if you extrude one button while the other is also selected, they will both be extruded.)

- Extrude one more time just a very little, and scale down the polygons just a little.

You should now have something similar as depicted in Picture-6f below:


Picture 6f

Texturing the monitor is beyond the scope of this tutorial, but let’s use some basic materials to give the monitor some color. First, select the polygon that represents the actual display as depicted in Picture-6g below.


Picture 6g

Open the Material Editor by choosing it from the Rendering menu, or by pressing M. Click an available spot (i.e. the top-left ball). Set the Specular Level value to 30 and set the Diffuse color to nearly black as depicted in Picture-6h below.


Picture 6h

Drag the material we just created to the polygon to assign it. Now press CTRL+I (or choose Select Invert from the Edit menu) to select all the polygons except the one we had selected. In the Material Editor, create a new material with the color you want to use for the remaining part of the monitor and drag it to the selected polygons.

Instead of using simple colors, you can also make a screenshot of your own display (with your favorite program, website, or background for example) by pressing the PrintScreen button on your keyboard. Paste this screenshot in Paint, PhotoShop, MS Office Photo Editor, are any other software that allows you to save the screenshot to a .BMP file. Click the empty square button next to the Diffuse color, and select Bitmap, click OK, browse to the location where you stored the screenshot, select the .BMP file, and click OK. You will need to add a UVW Map and to fit the screenshot on the display.

This tutorial is created originally by 3Dvalley.com. You are not allowed to redistribute this tutorial in any form.

This entry was posted in Tutorials and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
Share/Bookmark

3 Responses to Modeling a low-poly LCD monitor in 3D Studio Max

  1. Pingback: 3D Studio Max - Page 5 - XboxRepublika Forum

  2. tom says:

    Brilliant tutorial!!! :)
    Very good for beginners!!!!!!!! :)

  3. Happy to see this nice and walk through tutorial
    Thanks for share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>