More info: Proxy Textures
Get it here: Q-Proxies
Q-Proxies comes with 8 useful Presets that help you quickly setup the main parameters for generating proxies, according to the type of objects you are working with. They cover the general categories of : rocks, vehicles, vegetation, sculptures and characters.
Before digging more into how the presets work and how to use them properly, it’s better to know which are the type of meshes this plugin can generate to use for proxy objects.
Proxy Mesh Types
The plugin gives you 5 different alternatives that you can use as a proxy mesh:
- From Source (also Lowpoly): uses a copy of the original mesh. If you set Use Polygon Reduction on, then you will get a lowpoly version of the source object.
(This works generally good for most cases, except for those objects that contains a lot of submeshes o tiny faces, like vegetation, wire fences, nest-like shapes, etc.)
- Convex Hull: creates a mesh that wraps the original mesh, with a very low resolution. In the last version of the plugin, this mesh can also be concave.
(Recommended for extremely highpoly meshes that don’t require a very accurate proxy representation in scene. Very useful for cars, rocks, vegetation and many others)
- Box: creates a box mesh from the local bounding box of the object.
(Useful for objects whose shape resembles a box and they don’t have a main role in the scene, like very distant buildings, packing boxes, containers, etc.)
- Vertex Cloud: shows only the vertices of the original mesh. If you activate Polygon Reduction, you can control the amount of vertices shown.
(Very useful for vegetation, wire fences, nest-like shapes, etc.)
- Custom Mesh: lets you pick a custom mesh for your proxies.
Make sure the object you pick has no transforms and its pivot is placed according to how it is set in the objects you are going to replace.
As you see, there’s a wide range of options to choose from, to cover all your needs. Some are very lowpoly and lightweight, but just give you a very raw representation of the original object’s shape. Others look very similar to their reference but having much more polygons or take more time to process.
The fastest methods are Box, Convex Hull and Vertex Cloud. Using From Source can take from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the amount of faces and objects to process.
Generating animated proxies requires always more time than static proxies, and depends on the amount of faces, objects and animation lenght.
It is about you to pick the better option for what you need. And there are also the Presets to help you.
There are 8 default presets to make a quick setup for creating proxies. These presets were thought based on different categories of objects, but every option may be suitable for other type of objects too. They are just generalizations.
Although Q-Proxies can process many different kind of objects together at once, if you plan to create proxies for different type of objects at the same scene, it is advisable to work them separately, in steps. That way you will ensure to process every type of object in the most appropriate and efficient way.
Each preset configures the options that mainly define:
to treat an object as static or animated; to apply polygon reduction or not (and how much); to bake the object’s animation or not; to turn grouped objects into a single proxy or not; what type of proxy mesh is better to use.
These are the presets, with a little description of what they do:
- Deafult: suitable for most cases. Uses original mesh with a moderate polygon reduction.
- Rocks/Stones: makes a quite lowpoly version.
- Vehicles – static: uses Convex Hull as mesh type and turns grouped objects into a single proxy.
- Vehicles – animated: makes a lowpoly version, keeping all objects separated to handle animation.
- Vegetation: uses Convex Hull mesh type for fast processing of millions of polygons.
- Vegetation – animated: ideal for plants and trees being moved by the wind, or deforming objects/characters with a slight animation.
It uses Vertex Cloud and Animation Baking with a step of 5 frames.
- Sculptures/Statues: creates a lowpoly version, with enough vertices to preserve some detail. Also suitable for still characters.
- Animated Characters: it bakes the character/vertex animation to a lowpoly version, attaching all character parts.
The recommended procedure is to firstly choose the preset that better match the type of objects you want to replace, and then adjust the parameters if necessary.
Apart from using the default presets, you may want to create your own presets. For that porpose, there are the Load and Save options, which let you store preset files to disk and reuse them later.
People who usually work with heavy 3dsMax scenes, with a great amount of objects and polygons, often have to struggle against 2 factors:
- Low viewport performance, wich makes scene navigation and manipulation a real pain.
- Giant file size, wich causes very long loading/saving times.
These problems result in frustration, wasted time and a low productivity.
Q-Proxies helps you quickly downsize your heavy scenes through the automatic creation of proxy meshes, amazingly improving the viewport performance and reducing the loading/saving times. It’s an extraordinary timesaver that will greatly speed up your workflow and make your life much easier.
How it works
Q-Proxies helps you identify meshes in your scene with a high number of faces, through the use of object filters. Then, automatically replaces them with proxy meshes, wich are generally lowpoly versions of those objects, and stores the original ones (called references) in separate 3dsMax files. When you make a render, the high-resolution references are temporarily brought back to scene, aquiring the changes you made to their proxies.
This way you end up with a lightweight scene, with smooth viewport navigation, that loads and saves much faster, so you can work comfortably and efficiently.
The main difference between Q-Proxies and other proxy objects (created with third-party render engines or plugins) is that the proxy creation process here is automatic. You don’t need to manually build your proxies one by one, or plan how to optimize your scene before you actually create it. Q-Proxies can generate multiple different proxies at once, fast and effortlessly. And the best of all, it’s compatible with all render engines and third-party proxy objects, because it works independently from the current renderer and uses 3dsMax standard Editable Meshes, wich you can edit at any time.
The general procedure is:
- Set wich objects to convert to proxies / Configure Object Filters.
- Select the Preset that best match the type of objects you are targeting.
- Optionally, adjust a few proxy creation parameters (like mesh type, polygon reduction, animation baking, etc.)
- Press ‘Generate Proxies’.
The plugin’s UI has 5 different sections. The 3 main sections are the ones initially visible when you run the plugin:
- Object Filters
Include options for filtering your scene meshes by number of faces, size, static/animated, and others.
- Create Proxies
Here you setup the parameters for creating the proxies: type of proxy mesh, amount of polygon reduction, bake animation, etc.
- Display/Render Options
Controls to set how to display proxy meshes in scene and whether to activate or not the replacement of proxies during render.
There are 2 more tabs at the middle, with advanced options and help (Manage/Tools and Help/About), wich are not covered by this introductory tutorial.
Quick Starting Example
Let’s pretend we have an architectural interior scene: an art gallery. For simplicity, this sample scene will contain just 2 elements of the art gallery: columns (cylinders) and sculptures (teapots).
So first, we are going to build this simple scene with high resolution meshes to make it heavy, and then we will use Q-Proxies to reduce it to a very lightweight scene.
- In a new 3dsMax scene, create a cylinder to represent a column. Give it 5 height segments, 1 cap segment and 24 sides. The radius and height don’t matter.
- Make 6 instances in total and arrange them like the image above, to place our sculptures in the center, surrounded by the columns.
- Create a teapot to represent a scuplture, with about 1/3 the height of a column. Give it 64 segments and add a TurboSmooth modifier to it, with 1 iteration. Convert it to Editable Mesh.
So now it will have more than 1 million faces. This will be our high resolution mesh.
- Now make 10 copies in total (not instances). Arrange them the way you like, in the center of the scene. Save your scene.
You have now a scene with more than 10 million faces (triangles), with a file size of about 452 Mb. Check it out.
Supposing this is a very complex scene, with lots of objects, polygons, modifiers, textures, etc, you would be probably experiencing a low viewport performance and waiting too long for saving and loading the scene. So we’ll use Q-Proxies plugin to solve this problem.
- Open Q-Proxies. (If it was already open, please close it and re-open it, so it resets to default values)
- Let’s assume that the objects in our scene are hard to identify and select. So, let’s use Q-Proxies filters to identify the high resolution objects, so we can replace them later with proxies.
- Go to Objects Filters section (at the top) and check the radio button called All Geometry, instead of the default Selection. This tells the plugin to operate on all geometry in scene, not only on selected objects.
- Leave the other options by default and press the ‘Select‘ button at the bottom right of Object Filters section. This selects filtered objects.
A message appears: “No objects found after filtering”. That’s because the ‘Max. num. faces’ value is too low. Our teapots have more than 1 million faces each one.
- Increase this value to 2,000,000 (2 million). Press ‘Select‘ again.
The 10 teapots are now selected.
- Go down in the UI to the bottom of Create Proxies section and locate Presets. Choose the option ‘Sculptures / Statues’.
These presets help you quickly setup the main parameters for the proxy creation process.
- Press the big button ‘GENERATE PROXIES’.
- A message will show up, asking you to confirm the action. Go on.
- In this case, another message will show up: “There’s a lot of information to process. […] Continue anyway?”. (If you process more than 500 objects or 1 million polygons, this additional warning will appear). Confirm again.
- Q-Proxies will start processing the objects and generating the proxies.
It should take no more than 10 to 30 seconds in this simple scene.
When the process ends, please save the scene with a new name to compare it with the previous.
Now you will notice some incredible things in your scene:
- If you deselect all and see the scene in shaded mode, there’s almost no difference. The general look of the objects was preserved.
- Every teapot is now a lowpoly mesh, with about only 1,300 faces.
- All teapots are now instances of each other.
- Every teapot is an Editable Mesh with a modifier applied, called ‘Proxy Attributes‘. This means that object is now a Q-Proxies proxy mesh.
- The whole scene has now less than 15,000 total faces!
- The scene file size was amazingly reduced to just about 650 kb.
This is the magic of Q-Proxies! 😀
Now zoom in to one of the teapots, place a camera and render a very close-up shot. Use any production renderer.
You will see the high resolution mesh at the render!
Now, while you easily manipulate a very light scene, with low resolution proxies, everything looks great and polished in the final render.