Useful programs tools MaxScripts for a 3D Artist Some of my favourites

Posted on 2013-03-18

I've been meaning to write this post for a while; collating a list of all the little programs and tools that make life easier day to day sitting in front of the computer. These are some of the programs that I find speed up my work flow, processes, automate tedious tasks and generally make it more efficient for me to create. I'm sure you'll know a few of them but there may be one or two that you hadn't heard of! I'll add to this post and keep it updated as new tools and programs surface! Any suggestions are more than welcome too.

Last updated - 21/9/15

Programs/Utilities

QTTabBar: After having issues with Explorer++ and network drive slowness I looked for an alternative and found this! It integrates into the windows explorer shell and it's brilliant. Everything explorer++ did and then some more. Some of the best features include thumbnail preview when you hover over an image and the browsing a folder via a menu.

Djv View: a free and awesome file sequence player, will happily cache .exr file sequences to RAM and has options for various colour profiles and other preview options.

Djv Convert: this command line tool comes with djv_view and will convert a wide range of file formats via command line. Useful when you font don't want to boot another program up.

PDplayer: we have licenses for this at work but it's essentially a more feature filled playback tool. Has a few features missing from djv_view but comes with a price tag.

Direct folders: this is an awesome tool to make navigating in explorer a breeze. Some really useful features like real time syncing between an explorer window and a directory prompt from a program such as Photoshop or Max. Can set fave folders for easy navigating and it has a free version which does everything I would want it to.

Sublime Text 2: my text editor of choice now. It looks great, integrates very well with python and it is "free" essentially as there is no time limit on the unregistered version.

Geany: I no longer use Sublime Text 2 as my editor, the forums seemed to suggest development had slowed to a crawl. I now use Linux as my primary OS at home and Geany is an awesome little editor; lightweight, has themes (Monokai looks like sublime!) and has just enough features to keep me happy.

Deskpins: it lets you pin a windows to the top of the desktop so that every other window will be below. Very handy for when you are moving files around and need windows to stay where you put them!

Irfanview: where would I be without Irfanview. It opens virtually any image file format, does loads of simple tasks like cropping, basic colour correction, has an integrated thumbnail viewer which makes looking through texture folders a breeze. It also has a batch tool; you can rename, convert, resize, sharpen, basically do anything to an image on a batch scale. The batch rename is very robust and can take various arguments, counters, etc. Best of all, it's free.

Snipping Tool: Many people still don't know about this, but in Windows 7 just hit the Windows key and type "snip". Press enter and you have a tool to take screenshots of any part of the screen you want!

PTGui: Forget using Photomerge to create panoramas, PTGui is THE software to use. Fast, and with tons of options to tweak the panorama once stitched after using this at work I can't believe how slow Photoshop's photomerge is.

3DS Max

Project Manager: I purchased this off the back of watching the videos, I'd wanted to code something like this for a while but why re-invent the wheel. This is the best library management tool I've used, if you want a tool to speed up scene creation and asset management when building architectural scenes this is the one to get. So many good features, and they all work! The developer is awesome at keeping it up to date too.

RPManager: I've sung praises for this script many times since staying to use it but it's easily the best pass management system I've used for 3ds max. It looks a little daunting at first but is actually very simple to use, and extremely powerful. It's something that should have been built into max from the start.

Floor Generator: makes creating wooden flooring a breeze, letting you spend less time worrying about a tedious process and more time on what looks good. Very easy to use and free!

Copy/paste objects: something else that somehow escaped being a max feature, this script let's you copy and paste between different 3ds max sessions. That alone is enough explanation.

Relink Bitmaps: the legendary Relink bitmap script. Does exactly what it says it does, lifesaver.

DWG Cleanup: another does what it says script, cleans up the mess that an imported DWG brings. I hope to one day never have to deal with DWG's in my 3d career but I'm not there yet lol

Glue: This is brilliant when you need splines to conform to contoured surfaces. For example: you can have a hilly terrain, draw a path spline in top view and use Glue to create a new spline that follows all the contours. Sweep, extrude, use spacing tool for some trees down the spline etc. it's incredibly useful and a huge timesaver.