How to Model a Car Interior in 3D Max

Written by darrin koltow
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How to Model a Car Interior in 3D Max
Make 3D car model (car image by Warren Millar from

3ds Max is an application for creating virtual three-dimensional objects. The application's variety of tools makes several approaches for modelling a given object possible. But some guidelines pertain to all strategies for modelling complex objects, such as car interiors. One of the most helpful is "divide and conquer." Break up the complex object into simpler components; build the individual components, then assemble them to form the complete object.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Get the front, left and top orthographic views of the following parts of a car's interior: front seat, passenger seat, rear seat, dashboard, steering wheel and central hump. Put these views into JPEG, PNG or BMP files. (Orthographic views are those where the object's lines don't converge with distance from the viewer, as they do in perspective views.)

  2. 2

    Open 3ds Max and create projection planes to display the set of views for the driver's seat: in front view, select "Plane," which is under the "Standard primitives" item of the "Create" menu. Enter the dimensions of the image file for the seat's front view (e.g. "200 px by 320 px") in the "parameters" rollout of the 3ds Max Control Panel.

  3. 3

    Load the file for the front view of the driver's seat onto the plane: press "M" to enter the Material Editor, then press the "Diffuse" button and load the file after double-clicking the "Bitmap" item. Drag the image from the sphere onto the projection plane, then press the Material Editor's "Show Standard Map in Viewport" button to display the image.

  4. 4

    Create display planes for the side and top reference images using the previous three steps, and align the three planes to each other. Position each plane to be at 90 degrees from each of the other planes.

  5. 5

    Begin making the bottom portion of the front seat: Select "Box," from the "Standard primitives" item under the "Create" menu. Use the "Length" and "Width" controls to size one of the box's faces to match the dimensions of the front view of the seat. Resize the box's left side the same way, using the dimensions of the seat's left view to change the "Height" parameter.

  6. 6

    Begin shaping the box into the front seat by right-clicking on it and selecting "Convert to Editable Poly." Select the box and press "Alt-X" make the reference images visible through the box.

  7. 7

    Select the "Vertex" sub-object item from the 3ds Max Control Panel. Select "Left view," then click and drag vertices to align with the reference image. Drag the corresponding vertices on the right side of the box, so they coincide, in "Left view," with the left side's vertices.

  8. 8

    Round the top front edge of the seat: select the "Edge" sub-object level from the 3ds Max Control Panel, then click the front top edge of the box. Press the Control Panel's "Chamfer" button and drag on the selected edge until two edges emerge. Return to the vertex sub-object level and move the new vertices to align with the reference image's rounded front edge.

  9. 9

    Continue shaping the seat's vertices to the reference view. Use the "Chamfer" and "Cut" tools to create new vertices as needed. Press "Alt-W" to toggle between single and multiple views of the seat.

  10. 10

    Complete the other parts (i.e. dashboard, passenger seat, et. al) by following steps 2 through 9. Shape each part to match its front, top, and left reference images. Assemble the parts, then add colour and texture to each with the "Material Editor."

  11. 11

    Render the assembled car interior by pressing "F9."

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