Curtains with 3ds Max Cloth

3ds Max Cloth curtain

3ds Max Cloth curtain

Well. Curtains. It takes a whole lot longer for me to explain to you how to create curtains with 3ds Max Cloth modifier than it does for you to actually do it. Once you understand the basics and do a few curtains yourself, you’ll see that it’s really rather easy. I’m going to show you how to create a curtain panel that is gathered as if on a curtain rod, and that puddles on the floor.

Fig. 1: Curtain setup

Fig. 1: Curtain setup

The scene we will use consists of three simple primatives – a plane (curtain), a cylinder (rod), and a box (room).  The plane will be the cloth object and the rod and room will be collision objects. I made the plane for the curtain 60″ wide and 96″ long and gave it 30 Width segments and 48 Length segments. You can make the mesh more dense if you like. The cylinder has a .75″ radius and is 72″ long. The box is 12′ in all directions and the Length and Width segments are set to 1.

I made some modifications to the plane and box primatives. If you want more realism

Fig. 2: Animating the curtain rod

Fig. 2: Animating the curtain rod

for your curtain object, you may want hems or some type of trim. In figure 1, I’ve converted the plane into an editable poly and selected the rows of polys on each side as shown. Then I used the Quickslice tool (with the Ortho snapping tool enabled) and sliced each row approximately in half. Then I selected the top, bottom and two side rows and set them to Material ID 2. By doing this, it will make your job of selecting those perimeter polys much easier should you need to.

Fig. 3: Cloth properties

Fig. 3: Cloth properties

If you are doing a simulation involving wind, you may want to create a simple opening in your box or take out one side completely, depending on the situation you will be simulating for. If you are doing a simulation for a closed window, all you need is a floor and one wall. In my case, I will be using the Wind Space Warp for my Cloth Force and I want it to come in through

Fig. 4: Wind setup

Fig. 4: Wind setup

a window. I converted the Box to an editable poly and, in Polygon mode, selected the side where I wanted my window to be. Then I used the Inset tool set to a fairly high and amount to approximate my opening, and further tweaked the size in Vertex mode. Hide or delete the inner polygon.

Fig. 5: Creating a Cloth group

Fig. 5: Creating a Cloth group

In order to create gathers and puddles in our curtain, we will animate the curtain rod. Turn on AutoKey and set the Max Animation slider to 100 (figure 2). Then select the curtain rod and set the length to 30″ and move it down 10 or 12 inches (or however much you want the curtains to puddle). If you don’t want puddling, leave the rod at the current height. Turn off Auto

Fig. 6: Animating the cloth

Fig. 6: Animating the cloth

Key and set the Animation slider back to 0. Our object is for the curtain object to be attached to the rod and to follow it along wherever it goes in the animation – in this case it will gather and puddle.

Select the curtain object and apply the Cloth modifier. Go into Cloth Object Properties and select the curtain from the list, then set it to be Cloth. I used the Cotton preset and reduced the thickness to 0.1 and Air resistance to 0.01 (hoping to make it more ethereal and billowy. You need to add the rod and the room to your simulation, so click Add Objects… and select them. Enable Collision Object for them and leave the default settings. See figure 3.

Fig. 7: Simulate Local

Fig. 7: Simulate Local

Now we want to set our curtain so that it will stick to the curtain rod during the simulation. With the curtain selected, go into the Group sub-object of the Cloth modifier. You will see all the vertices of the curtain object, and you want to select the ones at the top that you want to cling to the rod. Click Make Group and name it if you want. Then you want to click Sticky Surf and select the curtain rod object. Now when you animate the rod, the curtain will follow it.

To simulate using the Wind Space Warp, click Space Warps in the Creation panel and click Wind. Go to a viewport where your window is in elevation facing you, then click and drag the Wind object in the viewport. For now, just leave the default settings. Select the curtain again and in the Cloth rollout, click Cloth Forces. You will see the Wind object in the left pane – move it over into the right pane and close the dialog. See figure 4.

We are ready to simulate our curtain now. With the curtain still selected, click Simulate and let it go to the end of the animation (figure 6). I like to do a Simulate Local until I like how it looks (figure 7). I let my curtain settle back down for the render at the top of the article. You can also go into

Fig. 8: Live Drag!

Fig. 8: Live Drag!

the Faces level of the Cloth modifier and activate Live Drag! to tweak the look further (figure 8 ). Once you have the curtain simulated to your liking, you can create a mesh copy of it with the Snapshot command from the Tools menu. Add a Turbosmooth modifier to give a nice appearance, and a Shell modifier if needed. If you want to control texture tiling via a UV Mapping modifier, insert it between the curtain editable poly and the Cloth modifier.

Have fun making curtains!

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25 thoughts on “Curtains with 3ds Max Cloth

  1. Doesn’t work for me – what am I doing wrong? The curtain falls down constantly when I hit ‘simulate local’

    Frances Reply:

    Hi D.C. I opened my tutorial scene this morning and changed nothing. When I ran the simulation again only one vertice stuck to the curtain rod. :( I deleted the group from the Cloth Group level and made a new one with all the same settings and it worked again. I don’t know why. Make sure you have your vertices selected and so a Sticky Srf to your curtain rod object.

  2. so i guess the next logical step would be to make a tutorial about pillows?!?! :-)

    Frances Reply:

    That’s the plan Wayne. I just have to remember how I did them. ;)

  3. Just found your site, Frances. Very impressive work. I’ve been wanting to get into 3d illustration but just haven’t found the time yet to tackle the learning curve. I’ll keep on checking in for further inspiration.

    Frances Reply:

    Hi Mario. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  4. sticky surf won’t let me select my rod??

    Frances Reply:

    Hi Dave, make sure the rod is a collision object in your cloth object properties. Also, increase the number of length segments in the rod if it still has trouble sticking.

  5. how do i render an animation of the curtain moving? iv got to the point where i can see it moving in the viewpoint whilst simulating but how do i record it to an avi??

    Frances Reply:

    Hi Sarah,

    When you render out of 3ds Max, go to the Common Parameters section of the Render Setup dialog. In the Time Output section, enable Range. The default range will output frames 0 to 100. If you have more frames or wish to start the output at a certain frame number, edit those values accordingly.

    You can either render to multiple frames or to an animation format. I don’t do animations much, but usually I output multiple frames and put the animation together in Photoshop.

    sarah Reply:

    woot, thankyou thats exactly what i needed :)

    Frances Reply:

    Let me know how it goes!

  6. Fantastic tutorial Frances, somehow I have to make the courtain plane go trough the rod cylinder,it just wasnt stickin, I´m trying the wind now…thanks a lot

  7. Nice and simple tutorial, thanks! Would be nice to know details about the materials and illumination in your beautiful render.

    Frances Reply:

    Hi Polygon,

    The curtain material is just a fryrender single-surface sub-surface scattering material. The lighting is just fryrender physical sky/sun.

  8. this looks like a great tutorial, but for some reason i can’t make it work out. i put in all the parameters the way you did and also changed it and played around, but the results are always pretty much the same. it looks like my “curtain” is stiff, it gets a few big bulges as the rod gets smaller, but the bottom part of the plane basically stays the same, no puddling. also when i try to make it collide with the ground it almost kinda stands on it and then slips and slides at the end, it looks like paper. i don’t understand what’s going wrong here :(

    elixir Reply:

    oi, i finally figured it out :)
    i accidently got the dimensions all wrong. eventually i found out that the cloth modifier only works if the objects have real world size, so i sized it all up and now it works properly

    can’t wait to make my curtains with your tutorial now! :)

    Frances Reply:

    I’m glad you got it working. :)

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