There are many ways to get appealing spline curves to work with in 3ds Max.
Here’s a bunch of ideas to boost your imagination:
3dsMax parametric shapes
The standard parametric shapes of 3dsMax are generally not interesting enough to make nice splines for animation. However, with a little of creativity, you can get very nice-looking curves from them.
For example, a combination of overlapping circles or concetric circles arranged to fit a specific design or porpose can make an outstanding animation with very little resources.
Another powerful method is to use text shapes with interesting typography. Just convert them to splines and add some fillet on the corners to get a smooth deformation when using TurboSplines.
Import them from vector software
You can design your curves using a 2D vector software such as Adobe Illustrator and then import them into 3dsMax.
If your splines are imported with a lot of unwanted knots, gaps and other common errors, you can use our great Spline Cleaner to clean and repair them easily.
Natural and harmonic movement is an amazing source of beautiful splines. 3dsMax comes with a tool to convert any trajectory to a spline (see the Motion Panel). So if you already have animated objects or characters in your scene, use them as your source of splines.
If you want a tool capable of extracting trajectory splines from many animated objects, bones or even particle systems, try our free script called Trajectory to Spline.
Meshes with a smooth surface and clean topology are also a good source of splines. You can select edge loops that surround the mesh and use the Create Shape from Selection tool from the Editable Poly parameter interface.
Some 3dsMax primitives, such as the Torus Knot (in Extended Primitives) can produce mathematically perfect and beatiful intricate splines.
Another way of extracting splines from meshes is to perform a cross-sectional slice through them, using 3dsMax’s Section Tool, located at the Splines creation section.
Plugins and scripts
There are a lot of nice plugins and scripts for making gorgeous splines. Many of them are free.
Go to Scriptspot.com and make a quick search in there. You will find plenty of useful spline generators.
A great tool for this our SuperHelix Free. Try it!
Draw your own splines
Of course you can draw your custom splines directly in 3dsMax. Just make sure they flow smoothly through your scene’s space.
You can use the Array tool to make interesting arranges of splines if you need to.