In the field of three-dimensional (3D) design applications, a vertex is the smallest piece of an 3D objects that you can manipulate. Having a thorough understanding of how to manipulate your objects' vertices is essential to becoming a proficient 3D craftsman. The 3D design program 3ds Max provides many tools for vertex manipulation, including the basic ones for moving, rotating and scaling (sizing) vertices. Use these tools, along with 3ds Max's selection tools, to shorten the time between 3D scene conception and realization.
Learn the Basic Operations
1. Learn the basic operations possible on vertices before tackling the more complex ones. Begin by starting 3ds Max and pressing "Alt-W" in the "perspective" window, which is in the screen's lower right corner. The "Alt-W" shortcut will fill the screen with the perspective view.
You'll need some object with vertices to practice with, so create one as your next step. Find the primitive objects--cube, box, cone, sphere and others--under the "Create" menu item and the "Standard Primitives" sub-menu item.
Once you've placed the object, expose the editing tools by clicking the "Graphite Modeling Tools" item under the "Tools" menu. Click the new "Polygon Modeling" menu item, then select the "Convert to Poly" item under it. To display the vertices for editing, click the three-starred icon in the upper left corner of the drop-down window.
Look closely to notice the blue points representing your object's vertices. Click any of these points to begin shaping the 3d objects.
2. Single-clicking on one vertex is only one way of selecting, but the complexity of working in 3D space requires knowledge of several selection methods. Click and drag the mouse to outline a selection area that includes one or more vertices. Notice that the vertices inside your selection area turn red, indicating that you can now manipulate them. De-select the vertices by right-clicking on a blank area of the screen.
Note that you can add to a collection of selected vertices: press "Control," then click on a vertex to add it to the current selection.
3. After selecting vertices, learn to move, scale and rotate them--the basic transformations in 3D space. Right-click on a vertex, then select the "Move" item to display the 3D movement manipulator. Click any axis of that manipulator to move the vertex in that axis' direction. Click the space between two axes to move the vertex in the plane defined by the two axes. Left-click on a blank area of the screen to end the "Move" operation.
Try a rotation next, which requires selection of two or more vertices. Once you've made the selection, right-click on it and select "Rotate" to expose the rotation manipulator. Similar to the movement manipulator, you can click on any colored circle to rotate the vertices around the circle. Left-click a blank area to end the rotation mode.
Scale the Vertices
4. Select a new set of vertices, then right-click and select the "Scale" menu item, to work with the sizing transformation. You can scale along just one axis, or through two and three axes. To do so, first click inside the manipulator, near its corner, then drag in any direction.
Continue expanding your modeling knowledge, not just by a regimented reading of the 3ds documentation, but by freely exploring the vertex and other tools in the program's interface.