So I've had a load of notes lying around from various lectures and demo's for a while now and being the clean-freak I am I thought I'd write them up so I can finally chuck them away without feeling like I'll lose that information forever (even though I've memorized most of it).
It's gonna be pretty random stuff so I'll try group it as best I can.
Handy 3DS Max Keyboard Shortcuts (the ones I use the most anyway):
1 - Vertex Selection
2 - Edge Selection
3 - Border Selection
4 - Polygon Selection
5 - Element Selection
Q - Selection Tool
W - Move Tool
E - Rotate Tool
R - Scale Tool
M - Material Editor
H - List of objects in the scene
P - Perspective Mode
U - Orthographic Mode
Alt + W - Fullscreen/Collapse the current viewport
Alt + X - Display see-through toggle
Ctrl + Z - Undo
Alt + MouseWhl Clickdrag - Rotate around object selected
Alt, Ctrl + MouseWhl Clickdrag - Smooth Zoom
Z - Snap zoom to selection
Space Bar - Lock/Unlock (pretty useless, but if 3DS Max has seemingly froze, you probably pressed this)
F1 - Help
F2 - Toggle Shaded Faces
F3 - Wireframe
F4 - Edged Faces
In UVUnwrap Freeform:
Ctrl + Dragging a corner - Scale in proportion
Ctrl + Dragging the rotate icon - Snap to angle
Also remember to prioritize polygons; if the budget is tight only used what is essential to structure or the silhouette, and remember that smoothing groups are your friend when used right!
Quick Basics on Composition:
Composition is arranging various elements of a picture into a pleasing manner.
The most important basics to remember on composition comes down to the following things:
Line - How the eye will be influenced to move around the image.
Shape - What is created by the positive and negative elements interacting, repeated geometry etc.
Colour - How colour is used; greyscale, complimentary, gradients, chaotic etc.
Texture - Affects the mood of the image, e.g. soft textures with smooth colours/rough textures with harsh contrasting lighting.
Form & Value - The depth of the image, how the lighting and values affects the ability to detect 3D space.
Space - The use of positive and negative space, e.g. a low horizon line with a cloudless sky conveys a sense of emptiness within the landscape.
Framing - using objects within the scene to frame other objects, another way of showing depth and scale.
Other things to remember include stuff such as:
The difference between organic and constructed objects - organic tends to be very chaotic whereas constructed is more formulaic and ordered.
Using differential focus and depth of field to draw focus to a particular person or object in a scene. The Rule of Thirds and Fibonacci Sequence also allow a more subtle approach to this.
Rules on Vehicle Design:
Functionality should always comes before form; it doesn't matter how interesting the aesthetics may be, if it doesn't look like it should work in real life, or at least within the confines of the Universe it's set in, then a large level of immersion is lost. For example, a plane's body is always placed above or below one long wing piece. The wings are what keep the plane up and one solid piece is stronger than having two bolted on either side of the body.
A similar point is that it should have a believable and noticeable form of propulsion or movement, with some indication of an engine of some kind powering the vehicle.
The primary function of a vehicle should easily be reflected in its design. If it has been designed with the common intent to carry someone from A to B as effectively as possible, but later kitted out for protection against a zombie invasion say, then it should look like its been shoddily made into a defensive vehicle, not as though the occupiers had prepared for it in advance (unless of course they had, in which case we shouldn't really be mocking them).
Design/Character/Story should be added afterwards through things like weathered effects, stickers, vinyls etc.
Documentations & Presentations
Things to remember:
A plan of action so you always know what you're doing. (Time management)
What the limitations of the brief/hardware are and how the art style and assets are affected by it (e.g. why 90% of games on the Wii have a strong focus on art direction and simplistic detail; the hardware isn't good enough for high-poly/texture assets).
A strong pitch consists of a good mix of words and pictures, but leaning more towards pictures as this is a visual topic and therefore the easiest way of sharing your idea clearly. A strong opening is important too to grasp the audience and their interest, which should be followed by a clear and strong explanation to sell it to them. Backing up claims with stats and reliable information is also key.
Also have more than one idea to show you're open to variation, but keep it concise (6-10 slides).