Creating text with a beveled edge in 3DS Max

Creating simple unbeveled text.
Dismantling a line of text into words/letters.
Creating beveled edge text in Max.
Experimenting with different edge profiles.

This tutorial explains how to use the bevel function when creating text in 3DS Max. We've used Max 5 in this tutorial, but users of Max 3 and 4 will probably still find it useful, even though the interface varies.

Simple, unbeveled text. (Fig 5) You probably already know how to create simple 3D text in Max: Create | Shapes | Text. (fig 2). Click on the Front viewport and your text appears. Scroll down the panel to adjust the font, size, wording etc. Then Modify | Extrude (choose this from the drop down modifier list in Max 5 - fig 3) | Amount: you'll need to increase this from the default of 0.0 (fig 4) by pressing the top arrow spinner and watching the depth grow in the side viewport.

Later, if you want to change the wording or text specifications, go to the Modifier panel again, click on Text in the Modifier Stack and the creation parameters will be open again.

Dismantling a line of text into single words or letters
Figs 6 & 7..

When you first create your text it is a 'parametric object'. This means that in the Max Modify panel, you can go back to each step of creation, adjusting the font, wording etc. Only when you are totally happy with your result should you convert it from a parametric object into an editable mesh. This is like a chicken-wire sculpture that looks like text but can't be edited as to its font, wording etc.However it does gives you access to other editing options. Right click on the text in the front viewport and select Convert to | Convert to Editable Mesh

You can now choose the Element sub object level and select one or more of your letters or words using the usual selection tools. With elements selected (they are hilighted in red) you can locate the detach button in the modify panel and detach the selected elements as words or letters (fig 7).

They now become separate objects which can be moved, resized and animated individually. When you have finished dismantling your logo, you need to exit sub object mode. Click back on Editable Mesh rather than Element - the yellow hilite disappears to show you are back in normal editing mode.

Naming your objects. It is a good idea to give each detached object a meaningful name: you can do this by selecting it and going into the Modify panel. The object name is at the top of the panel.

Creating beveled edge text
(figs 1 & 10).

Nearly every object that you encounter in the real world is beveled. Because it is difficult and expensive to manufacture a perfectly sharp edge, most objects are created with chamfered, filleted or eased edges. Use Bevel deformation to simulate these effects. Bevel values are specified in current units:

• Positive values reduce the shape, bringing it closer to the path.
• Negative values add to the shape, moving it away from the path.
fig 10.

1. Create your text object. Use the minimum number of characters and choose a simple smooth typeface if possible. Overly complicated shapes will cause the beveling operation to go horribly wrong!

2. Create a single vertical line (using Create | Shapes| Line) which will be the path used for the depth of the lofted text. Make sure that the grid snap is on otherwise your line won't be truly vertical.

3. Select the text object. Open the create panel and choose Geometry | Compound objects | Loft. Fig 11.

4. You have the text selected which is going to be the cross sectional shape for the lofted object. Now click the Get Path button (fig 12) which is next to the Get Shape button and select your single vertical line. The lofted object should now be created: the text has depth.

5. Scroll down to the skin parameters panel and set the path steps to about 25 (fig 13). This gives lots of intermediate vertices along the length of the text.

6. Scroll down tot the bottom of the Modify panel to locate the Deformations section. Click Bevel. Fig 14.

The Bevel deformations window opens up (samples in figs 15-17). The horizonal axis is labelled in % along the lofted object. The vertical axis is in current units which are set in Customize | Units Setup.

Experimenting with different edge profiles

Try experimenting with different bevel profiles. Note that at some settings your letters will break up with holes appearing in faces. This problem is particularly severe with complex typefaces with lots of sharp corners. In this case you need to reduce the size of the bevel (vertical setting) or change to a simpler typeface.
Try adding an additional control point and changing the bevel to a curve (right click the intermediate control point and change it to bezier smooth - fig 15).

For more information about bevel deformations look up Bevel | types of beveling in the Max Help system.

If you have no luck with this then look up the bevel mofifier in the 3DS Max Help system. This is a modifier that is attached directly to a 2D shape.

Thanks to Rob Manton for the use of much of his original tutorial copy; 3DS Max Image examples and web page created by Marcia Kuperberg.

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text with sharp, bevelled edge Fig 1 Text with a sharp, beveled edge
(see fig.16 for the bevel profile)

creating text and extruding Figs 2 & 3 Creating text and extruding with drop down modifier in 3DS Max5.

setting the extrusion amount Fig 4 Extrusion amountunbeveled text Fig 5 Simple, unbeveled text

letter 'a' is shown detached Figs 6 (above) & 7 (below) The letter 'a' has been detached as an element from the main word

panel showing the selection subobjects of an editable mesh
Fig 7 Detaching an element

Bevel button in the Deformations section Fig 8 Clicking the Bevel button after selecting the text object, opens up the Bevel Deformation panel where you experiment to achieve the type of bevel you want (also see fig 10).

bevelled text effect using bevel profile shown in fig 10
Fig 9
The bevel seen here - curved outside edge with inwardly curving depth (seen most clearly on the letter 'i') was achieved using the bevel deformation curve shown below in fig 10. Follow steps 1 to 6 to create beveled text.

bevel profile for effect shown in fig 9 Fig 10 Bevel deformation curve to achieve the look shown in the text above: Fig 9.

creating a lofted (compound) object Fig 11 To create beveled text with this method, you create a compound object by lofting along a a straight path and then using the bevel modifier.

Get Path button for path of lofted object setting number of steps along the path Figs 12 and 13 Getting the path for lofting and then setting the number of path steps.

Bevel button in Deformations panel
Fig 14 Bevel button to enable you to set the bevel deformation - see below.

Bevel profile showing Bezier Smooth curve for edge Figs 15, 16 & 17 Experimenting with different edge profiles radically alters the bevel on text.

Bevel profile showing sharp corner beveled edge

Bevel profile showing inside and outside curved bevel