Autodesk 3dsMax tutorial by Saud-Animating Rollercoaster in 3ds Max

Autodesk 3dsMax Tutorial

Requirements: 3DS Max (v 6.0 or higher recommended)
  3DS Max 7 or higher is required for using files provided for download
  Basic knowledge of working in Max
Special Notes: I used 3DS Max 7 (in 1024x768 res.)
  I leave space b/w text lines because it make reading easy
Tutorial Type: Basic

Technique will be used in this tutorial:

    1. Working with splines (Vertex weld etc)

    2. Path constraints animations

    3. Lofting

    4. Using cameras


I will try to teach you or try my best to teach you how to create a rollercoaster scene using powerful and versatile 3DS Max (Autodesk didn't make me to say that)

Lets suppose that you own a amusement park and you want to launch a new TV commercial but you want to use Max to create the scene why, I don’t know just suppose it please

Lets get started….

Start 3DS Max, don’t skip this step :)

First of all we make a track for our rollercoaster, for this we will use geometry objects

Click on Create Panel > Shapes >and click on Ellipse

Set the creation method to Center and in Interpolation rollout set the steps value to 15

On the Top viewport create a Ellipse of any size and then go to modify panel and set the Length to 200 and Width to 80 points

Now we center our Ellipse01 to the top view port we use the Transform type-In .by this utility we can move / rotate /scale the selected object more precisely.It shows us the different values if we use it with different transform gizmos….

Select the ellipse and then move command.Now you can see the exact location of the Ellipse in the X Y Z fields of Transform type-in

(Note: There are two modes available of Transform Type-In, one is Absolute and second is Offset

In absolute mode it show the current location /position of the object in the 3D space while the offset modes just assume the current size/position as the zero point for X Y Z fields useful in case

where we want to increase /move / scale object by our desired units…)

Enter a big zero in every field…or just right click on the up/down arrows called "spinners"

Now we going to add another circle to give our track an exciting roll.

On the Left viewport create a circle (Create > Shapes > Circle) with the radius of 22 points

Now we want to position the circle on the right side of the ellipse, this can be done easily using our I.Q.

Now as we centered the ellipse to zero point in X Y Z axes, if we want to center the circle to the ellipse we simply set the circles Y field to zero.

And to set the circle on the right center tip of the ellipse we enter X value to 40(as we created the ellipse with the width of 80, zero value will center it to the ellipse and 40 will move it to the

right tip and –40 move it to left tip.(Top Viewport)

Now we align our circle to the Z-axis by entering the 22 in the field (because our circle got radius of 22 points ,and circle pivot point is in its center by dafault)

Now creation of ellipse and circle is complete and we are ready to join both and make a single object.and if your work is successful you see this….


1) On the Top viewport create a Ellipse with these settings Steps 15, Length 200 Width 80

2) Select the Ellipse and choose move tool now enter 0 in X Y Z fields of Transform Type-In

3) Then create a circle in left viewport with the radius of 22 and steps of 15

4) Select the circle and select the move command, Enter these values in XYZ fields of Transform Type-In X=40,Y=0,Z=22

Adjusting vertices…

We connect both objects to make a single track, to do this we convert both to editable splines.

Select the ellipse and right click and choose "Convert to: > Editable Spline"

By doing this we can easily access/select its points or vertices.

To select the vertices of the ellipse click on red dots. Select the ellipse vertex where circle is on top of it ,then right click and select Break Vertices, this will break single vertex into two

vertices.As we splited the vertices but both are on same point so its very difficult to select the single vertex of our choice , so we simply click on these and move them to see which is selected :).If

both are moving then undo the move by CTRL+Z and try again..

Select the Top viewport and move left vertex (as seen from the top viewport) to 35 and right one to 45 points in X axes field of Transform Type-In, and enter zero in Y Z fields of both vertices.see screen shot below


Now break circle's bottom vertices (Left Viewport) and move one to 35 and second to 45 so its go to same position of ellipse vertices. Be sure not to confuse the direction

Make something like this or download this file.

(Right click and select Save Target as)

As we successfully aligned the vertices of both objects we can now connect both ellipse and circle

Click on spine and (unselect the vertex selection by clicking the red dots button) Go to Geometry rollout and click Attach button, move to Prospective viewport and select the circle.

That’s it now circle object became a part of the ellipse and no longer exist as separate object, but we still need to join the all four vertices which are connecting both ellipse and circle,we use

vertex weld.

Select the Vertex sub-object level or click the Red dotted button.In the weld field you should see 0.1 value already inserted ,change it to 1.

Now select 1st set of vertices by dragging a square on them and click the weld button, do the same with the other set (Note: Vertex weld won’t work until you attach both ellipse and circle)

Rename the Ellipse as "main path"

That’s the basic path we use to create the loft object. Loft object depends on two shapes one for path and second for shape ,

We already got the path we need is a shape. To create a shape select the Front viewport use Min/Max Toggle button to maximize it and create a circle about radius of 1 point.Select it and

choose move tool ,make its copy by holding down shift key and moving the object,click OK on the dialog.Now make another copy, and repeat the steps an gain and make the 3rd and last copy

…..arrange these circle as follows….

Now select any of one of the circle and convert it to editable spine. Now go to Geometry rollout and select Attach and select two other circles…. When all three circles become one object.

Rename it as "Loft Shape"

You can download this file with the main path and LoftShape objects.

We are ready to apply the loft modifier

Select the track object and Click Create panel > Geometry > Compound Objects > Loft.

In the Creation Method rollout select the instance radio button.

Move:    If we use this than the loft object will be created and Shape Object (Loft Shape in this case) will be removed

Copy:    In this the loft object is created and Shape Object won’t be removed

Instance:    This is most useful. The loft object will be created and Shape object will remain and if we modify the shape o Object it will effect the shape of the loft object as well

Click on the get shape button, and select the shape, which is "Loft Shape"

Now you sure see something like this if you not made any mistakes…


Its quite basic track but I want this tutorial is as simple as possible…

Press H to bring the Select by Name dialog and select the loft01 from the list and click the modify panel…

Go to "Skin Parameters" rollout and experiment with the Path step settings …the higher the values more smooth the loft

Set it around 15 points or whatever you like.

Modifying LoftShape

Now we slightly alter the shape of the "LoftShape"(circles we used to create loft object)

Click on "Select by name" or press ‘H" on the keyboard and select the "LoftShape" from the list

Goto to Modify panel and click on the Editable Spline’s "+" symbol to open the subject selection list and then select Segment.

Segment is defined simple as "The line between two Vertices".

Select middle circle's bottom segments.

Now move both little bit in up direction and make something like in picture.

Notice that our loft object shape will change as well.

We will add a coaster (or train whatever) to the path …(we will use simple box with some vertex adjustments because I am getting late)

Select the Top view port and then create a box of any size, then goto the modify panel and insert these values…

Now to get a better view we use the hide the other object by using the display panel.

Select the newly created box and then goto display panel and scroll down to Hide rollout and click the hide unselected button…

This will hide everything except the box...rename the box to "coaster" or any name you like…Click the zoom extents all button.

Convert the box to EditablePoly simply right clicking on the box and selection the "Convert to: > Editable Poly"

(Be sure to uncheck the Ignore Backfacing checkbox)

In the Left view port select the Vertex selection level…and select the Top left vertices and move them in right direction to make something like this:

This will be enough for modeling the coaster….

We will give make it to roll on our path, but before we do it we will increase our animation length..

Click the time configuration button lower-right corner of the 3ds max main window

Time configuration dialogue will appear, In the Animation group enter 250 in the Length box.

Close the dialog box.

Now go to the "Display Panel" and click on the "Unhide All" button.

Animating the box on the path

Now select the box (only box not any sub-object selection) and click on the Animation menu > Constraints > Path Constraint

Now you got to select the target path, press H and then select the "main path" from the list.

As you see that the box or the coaster jumped on the track, this mean success in animating the coaster.

Test the animation by clicking on the play button on the lower right corner on 3DS Max window.

Now you notice that the animation isn’t real…we need to adjust these settings.

Go to the "Motion Panel" and under the "Path Parameter" check Path follow…play the animation…hmm its not moving correctly, more adjustments required.

In the Axis setting click on the Y radio button…Your settings should look like these…(don’t change %Along Path)

Feel free to experiment with these checkboxes and for more details use max Help.

Adding a Camera….

Click on Create Panel > Camera and then in the Top view port create a Target Camera.

Target cameras got two objects, which we can move, one is camera itself and second is its Target.

We set its target to move with the box or coaster,we perform two steps 1.Seting camera target with the box and then Linking it with the box so It can move with the box.

Press H and select camera01 Target

To align its Target with box we use Align with utility, from the Tools Menu select Align, or you can press ALT+A shortkey.

You’re in select target mode, Max is asking you to pick a object which you want selected object align with.

Choose moving box or press H and pick its from the list.

Check all three X Y Z boxes and also examine the results I hope that camera’s should align with the box perfectly.

To make the camera’s target to move with the box as well we use select and link utility.

When camera target still selected click on select and link button and then again you have to choose the object which you want selected object move with or link with,select the box or use Select by name button.

Now it’s enough for the camera adjustments, on any View port press C to get the camera view, Play the animation.

You can download this final file and/or you can view this rendered movie in flash.


There’s a jerk in the movement of the box,can any one fix it then please tell me

It’s the end of the Tutorial… I hope that you successfully completed the scene. Well I provided the step by step download file where possible.

When I did my first flash tutorial I received plenty of thankful emails, and that’s gave me enough courage so I am doing another tutorial.

And tried my best to keep this tutorial as Understandable as possible but if you found anything which you cant understand and require more information, then check the MAX built in Help

If you like this 3ds max tutorial then you can try these tutorials written by me: