Bar Stool Modeling Tutorial

Follow along in the creation of SKU

01. Overview

In this tutorial, we will be showing you step by step how to model this product. We will be taking this product model from start to finish. At the end of the tutorial you can download the model file here to check against your work.

02. Collect Product Reference

We rely on product images to model accurately create out models. The more images and information you can get, the better. We have provided images for this tutorial which you can download here.

a. Collect all images. The images needed to create this model are located in the reference folder. Keep in mind that many detail shots of the product can help to model smaller parts of the stool, so be sure to check them. At times, product images can be limited, so it’s good to even check customer photos.

In this case, there was an ample amount of imagery for this product on-site.


b. If the supplier images show the inside of something, we are starting to model these parts as well.

c. Get the overall dimensions of the product, and additional dimensions if available.

03. Reference Prep in 3ds Max

This usually depends on your workflow and the images you’re able to get for a product. For this example, I’m only going to load the front facing image to make sure I’m getting my proportions right. I will probably bring another image in later.

a. Start by creating a box with the overall dimensions of the product

  • Go to the Create Menu > Box
  • From the Top Orthographic View, begin drawing your box shape.
    • You can switch to the Top view by hitting (T) on the keyboard
    • Remember that creating primitives can be a multi click process. For the box, we have to draw out the length and width with LMB then we need to draw out the height using LMB again.
    • Before you complete the shape, you can adjust the dimensions for the product in the lower part of the create panel.
      • If you already completed the shape, you can just go to the modify panel and adjust the same settings there.
    • Use the RMB to complete the shape
    • Name it Overall_DIM

b. Set it’s transforms to be in zero world space.

Since the pivot is set to the base by default, it puts the box right where we want it.


c. Now let’s make it the object easier to see through since we will be modeling within these constraints.

Right Click on the box > Object Properties > View As Box

d. Create a plane for our reference image

i. In the Front Orthographic, create a plane with dimensions that are the same aspect ratio as the the reference image. Copy the displayed values below in the Modifier stack exactly.

ii. Drag the image JPG file from windows explorer right onto the plane in 3DS Max.

iii. In the Front Orthographic view (F) position, scale the plane so it’s roughly the same size as the dimension box you just made. Finally, move the plane behind the dimension box.

iv. Repeat this process for the Left view (L). Move the plane to the left of the dimension box.


Be aware that these images are more of a guide as opposed to being hard-set rules.
Constantly switch between Orthographic View (U) and Perspective View (P)
as you model to get an better idea of your model’s depth and proportions.


Orthographic View (U)

Perspective View (P)

04. Blocking out the model

a. Creating the basic shapes – The Stool Legs

  • In Perspective View, create a Box. Convert it to Editable poly and delete the top polygon.
  • Press 3 to switch to Border selection. Select the Border where you deleted the top face. In the Left View, hold Shift and click on the Z-axis of the transform gizmo to drag out new faces from the border while referencing the Left View image. Perform this again, only dragging down on the Y-axis. Cap the Border.
  • Press 1 to enter Vertex mode. Manipulate the vertices to the shape of the chair legs as pictured below.
  • Select the vertical edge loops in the middle of the chair leg. Chamfer them to make the leg match the bends in the leg better. Adjust the new vertices based on the Left and Front Views.
  • Go to Hierarchy Panel > Affect Pivot Only > Reset the transforms to 0,0,0. Toggle off Affect Pivot Only.

Here is our current result in Front and Right View

  • Apply a Symmetry modifier to the leg to create a second, mirrored leg. Flip the axis if needed.

b. Creating the basic shapes – The Seat (Wood)

  • Create a box to start. Add an Edit Poly modifier to the stack.
  • Using the front view, manipulate the vertices (1) to match the general dimensions of the seat in the Left and Right View. Keep in mind that the seat is distorted in the reference, so pay attention to the Overall_DIM to keep your proportions correct.
  • Reset the pivot to 0,0,0 like the stool legs. Apply a Symmetry modifier.
  • In the Edit Poly mod, select the middle edge loops. Use Connect to create new edges that will be used to better shape the chair.
  • In the Front View, adjust the vertices to better match the bend of the seat.

c. Creating the basic shapes – The Seat Back (Wood)

  • Create a box to start. Use the pictured dimensions.
  • Reset the pivot and apply Symmetry like the other pieces.
  • Get the basic shape of the back of the chair by manipulating the vertices. Make sure you don’t go outside the bounding box while adjusting the shape.

It’s okay if the mesh is slightly off from the reference photo.

  • Select the horizontal edge loops. Apply Connect to make more support geometry for the shape.
  • Get the basic shape of the back of the chair by manipulating the vertices. Make sure you don’t go outside the bounding box while adjusting the shape.
    • As a guide, try to keep the back piece of the seat the same width as the bottom piece. Be sure to change between Perspective and Orthographic Views to see these changes take effect.
  • Move the vertices to provide a better shape for the back of the chair.

Here’s the result.

d. Creating the basic shapes – Metal Bars

  • Navigate to the Shapes rollout in the Create section of the Command Panel. Select Line. In the Left View, trace out the general shape of the metal bar that goes under and behind the chair.
    • Be sure to toggle Make Visible in Viewport to see the Spline’s thickness.
  • Use the Front View to move the Spline points into place to fit. Convert to Editable Poly. Set the pivot to 0,0,0 and apply a Symmetry modifier. (You might have to set it to the Z-axis for the mirror settings.)
  • Create another Line Spline in the Top View (T) to create metal bars near the bottom of the stool legs. Have the points intersect with the corners of the chair legs.

Toggle between Shaded View and Wireframe View (F3) to better see where the points should intersect.

  • In the Front View, move the Spline to right above the bar as pictured in the reference image. Convert to Editable Poly and add a Symmetry modifier.

Here is what your model should look like so far. Now, time for the details!

05. Adding detail to the shapes

a. Detailing the Stool Legs

  • Apply TurboSmooth. Use Show End Result to quickly toggle between true geometry and smoothed geometry.
  • Quad Chamfer vertical edges to work with TurboSmooth. This will smooth facades and keep the corners sharp.
  • Perform Quad Chamfer on the lower edge loop separately to give it a larger chamfer.
  • Press 2 for Edge mode and navigate to a button called Flow Connect in the Graphite Modeling Tools.

Flow Connect creates more geometry while also retaining the flow of the edges.

This is the end result with TurboSmooth applied.

b. Detailing the Seat Sections

  • Apply TurboSmooth. Use “Show End Result” to quickly toggle between true geometry and smoothed geometry
    • Like the previous section, your model will look distorted until you add in the required edge loops into your geometry. Once they are applied, your model will start to display sharp corners.
  • Create supporting edge loops using Swift Loop close to ends of mesh to work with TurboSmooth.
  • Select the edge rings closest to the ends of the mesh. De-select unnecessary edges.
  • Flow Connect top and bottom rings on stool piece to prep for creating poles.
  • Use Cut tool to create edge from center of edge to corner of seat piece. Do this for the remaining corners.
  • Move vertices to make geometry flow more naturally with shape of seat piece.
  • Apply a few Swift loops for some final support geometry.
  • Use these same techniques to detail the rest of the seat pieces (TurboSmooth, Swift Loop, Cut tool, etc.)

Here is our final result for the bottom wood piece of the seat.

c. Creating the basic shapes – The Seat (Fabric)

  • Clone the bottom seat.

Be sure to change the color of the new seat piece so that it can stick out compared to the old seat piece.

  • From the Top View, adjust the corner verts to help give the model a rounder shape.
  • Use Connect to add 11 additional loops.
  • Adjust vertices to create overall shape of the fabric portion of seat. Be sure to follow the curvature of the model from reference while also using Perspective View to ensure that the model looks accurate.

Your seat piece should look something like this.

  • Apply new support geometry to the back section of the chair as was done for the bottom piece.
  • Perform similar Swift Loops to the back section of the chair. Turn on TurboSmooth to ensure it looks correct.

Here is our final result of the back wood part with TurboSmooth visible.

  • Duplicate the back piece and adjust the geometry to fit a similar rounded profile of the bottom Fabric piece. Refer to the techniques covered in that section for further guidance.

Here is our final result with TurboSmooth visible.

  • Chamfer the edges of the bottom metal bars to give them a better looking bend. Adjust the vertices to have small hints of welding to make the model feel more realistic.
  • Apply similar chamfers to the corners of the metal bars connect the bottom and top parts of the seat.

This is our current result with TurboSmooth on all pieces. Almost there!

d. Detailing the Hardware – Screws

  • Start by creating a sphere. Use the values pictured below in the settings.
  • Convert to Editable Poly. Select the back edges and Connect them.

Ring Selections don’t work on triangle polygons, so you will have to select the edges by other means.


  • Delete the center polygons. Select the Border and Shift+Drag out new polygons.
  • Use the Cut tool to create the central shape on the front of the screw. Refer to the image below for edge flow guidance.
  • Copy and place the screws near the connections where the metal bar runner and wooden legs meet. Also make sure to add the screws to the bottom of the seat.
    • Be sure to copy any screws applied to one side of the chair to the other side as well.
    • Ensure that the screws aren’t too far into the geometry of the metal bars. The visible sides of the screws should not be touching anything!

The model is complete! It’s time to clean everything up.


06. Cleaning Up

a. Attaching by Material

  • Save your current file. Then, save the file again as a different filename (ex: “BarStool_Collaped”).
  • Delete all of the TurboSmooth mods except for one on a wood piece, a fabric piece, and a hardware piece.
  • Attach all wood pieces together and name it “BarStool_Wood”, all Fabric pieces named “BarStool_Fabric”, and all hardware piece and name it “BarStool_Metal”.

You should now have 3 separate objects made from the attached subobjects.


b. Grouping Parts

  • Select all pieces and from the Max Main Menu, go to Group > Group…. > Name the group “CSTD4951”.

All done!