By Dennis Collin
Best Practice Tip for managing 3ds Max 2017 data - Project Folders!
Max project folders have been around for a few years now and provide a simple way of keeping all of your project files well organised.
Initially when you start 3ds Max, the default project folder is set to your local /3dsmax folder. The path for this depends on the operating system used but typically;
You can use Set Project Folder function to specify a different location. As per the image below:
Alternatively set the project folder from the Asset Tracking interface. (SHIFT+T)
When you set the project folder, 3ds Max automatically creates a series of folders within it such as scenes, meshes and render output. Saving or opening files from the browser uses this location by default. Using a consistent project folder structure among team members is good practice for both organising and sharing files.
A typical folder structure looks like the image below with the highlighted folder being the project name / number.
3ds Max creates an MXP file with various paths that are relevant to the project and stores it in the new project folder. It is just a simple text file that can be viewed in a Notepad application or similar. A 3ds Max external path file
In addition to the executable and plug-ins installed along with 3ds Max, there are a number of material libraries as well as procedural and texture maps used by these libraries. These files are placed by default in the program folder, within the \material libraries and \maps sub paths, respectively.
If you wish to use specific material libraries for a project, it is recommended that those library files are copied into the project material libraries folder. Use the External Path Configuration feature to add the maps path along with its sub paths (enable Add Sub paths when adding the maps path to include nested folders) within the Customise dropdown menu. Alternatively, you could edit the MXP file with notepad, but it is easier to use the former.
Editing an MXP file in notepad
Should you need to submit your job to a render farm, or upload to the Cloud via Autodesk Vault or similar, it makes it an easy job to collect all the relevant scene, meshes and textures that the project needs either for archiving, issuing, processing or rendering.