Basic polygonal modelling (3ds Max): Small planter

In this tutorial, I will show and explain the process of making a 3d model of a simple planter for an office desk or kitchen counter. This model can serve as an enclosure for a small hydroponic device, that could eventually be able to inform you of many different parameters throughout the plant cycle.

The model can be 3D printed, and .STL file for printing is attached in the additional information.

I will try to cover different modelling methods and a number of modifiers and tools. Even though there are countless ways to model something, you can use these basic moves later in some of your more complex models.

Step 1

What you will be making

Rendering of a finished model (plant and environment added later).

Step 2

Spline modelling: Basic

Create a rectangle from Shapes menu, or by going to Create-Shapes-Rectangle.

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Step 3

Copy tool

Copy the rectangle (Ctrl+V).

Make sure to use Copy option, instead of Instance or Reference.

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Step 4

Move (offset) tool

Offset the new rectangle by - 1mm on Z axis. You can use Move transform Type-In option. Do this by right-clicking on Select and Move button.

Step 5

What your top view is looking like at the moment

Change the parameters of the new rectangle to 79mm x 79mm, with a corner radius of 11,5mm.

Your Top view should look similar to the picture.

Step 6

Slowly forming

Copy the first rectangle once again, this time offseting it by 50mm on Z axis. Use the same method as in Step 3.

Select any of the rectangles, right-click and select Convert to - Editable Spline.

Step 8

Adding surface to the model

From Modify menu select Cross Section . (Modifiers - Patch/spline editing - Cross section).

After that, from the same menu select Surface. Set threshold to 0,0mm. For patch topology Steps, set the amount to 16.

Make sure you check Flip normals, to avoid flipping the faces later as I did in the timelapse.

Step 9

Editable poly: Basic polygonal modelling

Convert the object to Editable Poly.

Do this by Right-clicking and selecting Convert to- Editable poly.

Step 10

Cap tool

Use Border as your selection option (keyboard shortcut: 3), press Ctrl-A to select every available Border and click on Cap.

This will close all of the borders.

Step 11

Inset tool

Using Polygon as your selection option (keyboard shortcut: 4), select the top polygon.

Click on Inset, set amount to 1mm, and repeat this once again. This way you will have two rows on the rim.

Step 12

Extrude / Bevel tool

While top polygon is still selected, go to Extrude and set the dimension to -48mm.

With the same selection, go to Bevel and set both amounts to -1,0mm.

Step 13

Almost there

Select the inner part of the rim, go to Extrude and set the dimension to 4mm.

With this step, we finished our bottom part, the water tank.

Step 14

Top lid

For the top lid, you can do the exact prior steps, only instead of offset value of 50 mm in step 6, do an offset of 20 mm.

When selecting the rim, this time select the outter part of the rim and extrude it by 4 mm.

This way, we have two overlapping objects that can easily be set together.

In the next step, I will show another method of creating the top lid.

Step 15

Step 15

From the Create menu, select Extended primitives and create a Chamfer Box.

Set the dimensions as follows: Length: 80 mm Width: 80 mm Height: 44 mm Fillet: 12 mm

Step 16

Delete sides

Convert the Chamfer box into an Editable poly. Select filleted polygons on both sides and delete them.

Step 17


For your selection method pick Border. Press Ctrl+A to select all of the borders and click on Cap.

Step 18


Select the top polygon. Do Inset function twice, both times with the amount of 1 mm.

Step 19


With top polygon still selected, click on Extrude. Set the amount to -18 mm.

After extruding, click on Bevel. Set the amounts like on the picture.

Step 20

Base is done.

Select the outter polygons and extrude them by 4 mm. With this step, we have our base done.

Step 21

Creating a hole

To make a holder for the plant cup, we need to make a hole in our base. To do this, we will start with creating a Rectangle. Set the dimensions like on the picture, and after, convert it to Editable poly. Select the newly created polygon and extrude it by 10 mm.

Step 22

Intersect the objects

Place the new object like on the picture. Make sure that the new object and our base intersect.

Step 23


After setting our objects correctly, go to Create- Compound objects- ProBoolean. Click on the 'Start Picking' button and select the rectangle. This will make a hole in our base where the object was standing.

Step 24

Connecting the edges

Convert our base again into an Editable poly. For selection method, select Edges and click on one of the vertical edges on the rim of the hole. Click on the Ring button. This will select all of the edges in the ring. We will want to connect our edges, so click on the Connect button. Choose one segment and click OK.

Step 25

Deselecting bottom part

Switch your selection method to Polygon. This will select of all the polygons in the rim. Deselect only the bottom part (to do this hold Alt and click on all of the polygons you want deselected.)

Step 26

Holder is done.

Click on Extrude. Make sure that you have selected Local Normal. Extrude by 1,5 mm.

Step 27

Second part done

We have created a top lid with the holder for the plant cup.

The part of the lid that we left flat can be used for different purposes. It could hold electronics (you should close it and make it water-proof so that sensors don't get ruined), a small light indicator, different buttons on sides or, like in this simple device, a small holes that act like pen holders.

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