Cloth Modifier in 3ds Max

You’ve modelled your scene, building, product in your chosen design product and now you want to add an extra level of realism in 3ds Max. Imagine you want to model a realistic looking table cloth, or a flag that appears to be blowing in the wind. You may even be looking at creating an animation where you uncover your product from under a cloth as it is pulled clear.

This is where the Cloth Modifier comes in, a simple-to-use set of tools that give you the ability to simulate the movement of cloth using real world forces such as gravity or wind.

cloth modifier 3ds autodesk render simulation parameters

Let’s start with dropping a cloth onto a table. Most geometry can have the cloth modifier added to it, but we need to be mindful of tessellation as this is how are fabric will bend. In my example, we are going to use a rectangle with the garment maker modifier added to it.

cloth modifier 3ds autodesk render piece geometry

Above we have a plane on the Left and a rectangle on the right with the garment maker modifier added to it. Max is only able to deform geometry along edge lines, so the more edges we have the better. If we can randomise these edges, as with the garment maker, then we will get an even better level of realism.

Let’s create a simple scene with our rectangle set above the table. Table model is available from

cloth modifier 3ds autodesk render object flat

Now we can add the cloth modifier and set our object properties. Autodesk 3ds Max comes with quite a few presets for our cloth from fine fabric such as Silk to Heavy Leather.

cloth modifier 3ds autodesk render object properties presets

Once in the Object properties we can select the rectangle object Then click the cloth radial button, a generic set of cloth properties are set for the cloth, but you can select one of the presets from the dropdown, you can also save or load the settings.

Once we have set the clot properties we need to add collision objects to be calculated in the scene, in this case the table. We can click on the add object button and any other geometry in the scene will be listed. Cloth will not interact with any object the is not added here.

cloth modifier 3ds autodesk render object properties collision

We need to click on the collision object radial button and set the depth and offset, these will space the cloth away from the collision object. Depending on the number of verts and edges in the cloth, there can still be some parts of the cloth that will intersect the collision object instead of wrapping around it. We can also set the Dynamic and Static friction; this is very useful it you later want to use the live drag function to pull the cloth of an object.

Once we have set our options we are ready to simulate. You can either Simulate Local which does not record the animation and is great for stills. Or to set the start point of an animation. We can then choose Simulate and this will record the simulation to the time line and allow us to create an animation.

cloth modifier 3ds autodesk render spacewarps wind gravity

We also have the ability to add spacewarps such as wind to our simulation. This is great to get a flag blowing in the wind. Obviously, we also need to have a way to lock the flag to another object to stop it blowing away.

cloth modifier 3ds autodesk render node tool

We can create a group of verts and then using the node tool link then to a static object. Although in this example I am using a flagpole, it could be a curtain rail so I can simulate the way a curtain would hang.
Another tip when using the cloth modifier is to tick the box for Self Collision, this is especially important with the flag otherwise it will blow though itself.

cloth modifier 3ds autodesk render simulation parameters gravity

Happy Maxing! As always, if you would like to learn more advanced techniques in 3ds Max, have a look at the Design & Visualization training courses we offfer. Get in touch with our sales team on 023 8086 8947 for more information or by following the link below:

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