Side Table Modeling

Follow along in the creation of QSI1833

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 this tutorial you can download the final model to compare against your Work. Note that the model is grouped!

02. Collect Product Reference

We rely on product images to accurately create our models. The more images and information you can get, the better. We have provided several reference images 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 other options can have additional shots or better angles, 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, the Saddle Brown option didn’t have a front facing image, but the Farmhouse Gray did.


b. If the supplier images show the inside of something, we are starting to model these parts as well. So, for this example, we have enough information and images to model the interior of the drawer.

c. Get the overall dimensions of the product, and additional dimensions if available. For example, this product conveniently had a dimension drawing that specified the size of the shelf, and the area it sits in. This helps significantly when trying to get the proportions right.

03. Additional Reference Locations

For this exercise and future assignments, you will be provided with all the necessary reference to model the product accurately; however, in the future you will use out tools to provide you with the proper information. Additionally, the product pages on can be useful as well since the information found there isn’t always coming from our suppliers.

Note that our product pages are subject to change in appearance.


a. The Product page contains all the information for a product, but you can also find some other useful information in the Customer Reviews and the Specifications sections.

b. Specifications section for this SKU actually has an installation guide that can definitely come in handy. Not all SKU’s have this, but it’s good to check just in case!

c. The Customer Reviews section can have additional images. Since customers are able to upload their own photos of the product, it can provide us with a different angle of the product, or lighting scenario that we didn’t have before.

Although we don’t have any for this specific product, there are usually some images in this section.


04. Preparing 3ds Max

Before we jump in, I like to set up 3DS Max in a way that helps me; when you open the software for the first time, it should look something like the image below, but there are a few things I want to move/remove from the interface to simplify things a little.

During the modeling process I’m going to do the following:

  • Hide the Viewport Layout Tab
  • The V-Ray Tool Bar: Usually I leave this docked under my Ribbon, but we don’t really need it until later
  • I will also be working in a single viewport layout. I like switching between views using the keyboard commands that were mentioned in previous documents. For example, (F) for front orthographic and (T) for top orthographic views.

This is the workflow that I use. You should feel free to test out different workflows and find what works best for you.

05. Reference Preparation 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
For the box, click and drag to set the length and width, then let go of the mouse to draw the height. Remember that creating primitives can be a multi-click process.
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 and Name it Overall_DIM


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

With the object selected, activate the ‘Select and Move’ tool by clicking the icon the top of the screen, or by pressing the W on the keyboard.
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

In the Front Orthographic, create a plane with dimensions that are the same aspect ratio as the the reference image. You can check image sizes by right clicking on the file and going to Properties > Details Tab – The front angled image is 3000×3000 pixels, so we just need to make a square plane.

Make it somewhere around the size of the product. Let’s do 20” x 20” – This doesn’t need to be perfect because we will be scaling the plane to better match it up anyway.
Drag the image JPG file from windows explorer right onto the plane in 3DS Max.


In the Front Orthographic view, position and 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 and RMB > Freeze Selection so we don’t move it by accident. The plane will turn gray because of a default setting, so you will have to:
RMB > Object Properties > Uncheck Frozen in Gray
In the end, it should look something like the image to the right.


06. Blocking out the model – Creating the basic shapes using more primitives

a. Start with the top of the nightstand since it’s the same length and width of the overall dimensions. Create a box with the same overall length and width of the product. According to the sites product description the table top is ¾”, so set the height 0.75”

b. From there, it’s pretty easy to duplicate the next dividing piece that’s below the table top. Since we already know the length and width of the shelf at the bottom, and it looks like the 3 pieces like this are all the same.

c. With the tabletop selected, hold shift and drag the object down using the y-axis handle on the Gizmo. Choose to make it a copy. Skipping the drawer, make two more copies of this piece for below the drawer and bottom shelf.

d. Copy one of drawer dividing objects and place it at the base of the drawer accommodating slightly for the gap. Judging from the dimensions we already know, and the reference image I would say the drawer front has a height of 3 ⅜” – Set the height to 3.375”


Note: You can type any dimension into these fields and 3DS Max convert it for you!

3ds Max Conversion

e. I’m also going to accommodate for the gap on the left and right side, so I’ll set the width of the drawer front to 14.875” – This gives us 1/16” on each side. Leave the length for now, for we will flesh out the rest of the drawer details later.

f. Now we have the basic core modeled! Let’s move onto the legs. I will draw them in the Front Orthographic view and determine their dimensions since it isn’t available.

g. Draw the basic shape in for the left leg, and make your adjustments. Keep the right side butt against the drawer dividers, and the top butted against the table top.

h. I came to the decision that the legs were 1.75” x 1.75in x 19.25 – For the positioning, pay close attention to the reference image. There are two key indicators of how far they are from the dividing sections and the drawer front.

i. To make it easier, lets convert this to an Editable Poly, so we can instance the leg for future edits. If we leave these as boxes, we would have to select all 4 legs to convert to Editable Poly otherwise they wouldn’t all be converted.

j. Once you have one in position, we can use a trick to quickly place the other 3 legs in the correct position and orientation. Note: There’s more than one way to do this, but we will cover those methods in later examples.

k. Select the leg you created and go to the Hierarchy tab and turn on Affect Pivot Only. This will allow you to manually change the pivot of the select object. You’ll notice that there are giant arrows stemming off your Gizmo, this is the indicator that this feature is activated.

l. At the top of the screen, turn on Snaps. By default it’s set to grid points, which works for us in this situation since the middle of the product is in zero world space.

m. Grab the X and Y handle by selected in between them both and drag the pivot to the center of the product. It will snap to the grid once you’re close then turn off Affect Pivot Only.

n. Now turn on the Rotate Snaps. Note: You can right click on these menus for settings. Like you can set the degree snap angle, but I usually leave mind set to default of 5°

o. Hold shift and rotate the leg 90° – Set it to Instance and 3 copies to get all 4 legs in.

p. Now lets create the base of the crossbars on the side. For this, I duplicated the bottom shelf and I changed the dimensions to 15” x 1” x 1.25 through educated an guess.

q. To make it flush with the top of the shelf, we can use Snaps, but we will have to change some settings first. Right click on the snap icon and check Vertex.
With that menu still open, go to the Options Tab and Enable Axis Constraints. Without this setting, we are only aloud to freely snap in all axes and it gets out of our control.

Grab the y-axis handle and drag. Now the axis is locked, so we can LMB (hold) one of the vertices and drag your mouse to the corner vertex of the shelf. See the above GIF.

r. Now copy the piece using shift and dragging it to the other side of the nightstand. Toggle snaps quickly by using the (S) key. Note the legs were hidden temporarily.

s. Copy these pieces for the top of the cross bars as well. Then copy (not instance) them on more time to make the side walls near the tabletop. Make them a little thinner to create that small lip.

t. Now let’s continue moving down to the cross bars. These are similar the base part we just made, so I’ll work from that and make it a little smaller. This will be easiest to make from the side view.

u. I’ll start by copying the base piece and snap it where corners where the leg and the shelf meet. Snap the pivot (INSERT) to that corner. Rotate the bar until it lines up with the top. To make more precise rotations hold ALT while dragging the slider. See GIF above.

v. RMB > Convert To: > Convert To Editable Poly Use slice plane to to cut the top and bottom, delete the extra parts then bridge. Adjust the width of the cross bar.

w. Center Pivot on the crossbar
Tip: The (X) key brings up a search bar that allows you to search to tools! This can be easier at times especially when learning the software.

x. Use the Mirror tool to make a copy for the other side in the x-axis. We will cut this later when we go to add detail.

y. Now let’s create the handle. Hide the drawer block so we can see the reference image behind the model. Draw out a box with the general size of the handle. Make just the front part and Convert to edit poly.
My dimensions came out to .65” x 5.75” x .25”

Select all the edges from top to bottom and use connect to make segmans for the support of the handle. Move the handle object in position. Select the two back outside faces and extrude them to the drawer.

z. The drawer handle looks like it’s 1” total, so adjust the faces of the extrude until it looks a proper distance from the drawer.

aa. Let’s work on the drawer interior now.

We can start by selecting and isolating  (ALT + Q) the drawer face and the handle. Change the drawer face to be ¾ inches in length, and move it back into position. Make a copy of the front and change the dimensions to be the inside of the drawer to give us a template. Now we can model around this and snap to the corners.

I copy the front face, changing the thickness of it to ½” and depth of the drawer to 13.7” to accommodate for the half inch of the back piece. 2.6” is the height of all these parts.

Duplicate one for the other side, then one more for the back. Change the width fit in between the two sides, 12.6”and rotate it into place.

For the bottom panel, just take the template and make the height ⅛” (.125”) This isn’t written anywhere, but it’s safe to assume this is a thin insert.

It should end up looking something like the image on the right.

bb. Now, let’s move on to blocking out the basic hardware of the drawer. We aren’t going to be able to model every component, but we can at least make this model look good if the drawer was opened slightly.

Lets block out the two screws real quick. Create a cylinder but turn on AutoGrid, so we can draw them right on the side of the drawer. A radius of .3” looks about right. Height doesn’t really matter since these will end up inside a whole of the drawer, but I’ll make them ⅛” (0.125”)

For the blackout of the slides and the bottom metal part of the drawer, just duplicate the sides of the drawer and make thin boxes in their rough position.It should end up looking like this:

Select the four objects Group > Group > Name it DrawerHardwareBlockout then mirror to the other side like we did before. That looks like all the parts we need to model, so let’s name some of these pieces.

Name the drawer pieces and group them together, for easy isolation later.
Note: To open a group, go to Group > Open (or Open Recursively if you want to open all nested groups)

Give objects logical names and be sure to use either
CamelCaseNames or Name_stuff_with_Underscores, but you should get in the habit of not using spaces now. Spaces notoriously break scripts which is something we want to avoid at all costs. Scripts make our lives easier!

You can rename selected objects in the modify panel, or in the Scene Explorer window. If you closed it by mistake, you can get it back by clicking this icon:

If you select multiple objects, you can right click on them in the Scene Explorer and rename multiple at once through the dialog that comes up. The options are pretty self explanatory.

07. Rename All the Parts

a. Group the entire drawer and toggle isolation to start naming the rest of the of the SKU. You can easily do this by keeping the Rename Objects window open and renaming groups of items. In the end it will look something like the image to the right.

Note: The amount of objects will decrease once we start attaching pieces together.

b. We aren’t done yet, but we’ve gotten a lot done. Be sure to periodically save your scene and even save in iterations. If a scene becomes corrupt, it’s good to have another version to go back to. I’m saving my current scene out as OSI1833_Blockout.max and then I’ll save another version with a new name. This way I can always return to the blockout and I won’t keep overwriting it.

08. Adding Detail to the Shapes

a. Chamfering all the edges for a nice round look – One of the worst things things you can do is leave the edge of a model sharp. It’s the biggest indicator that something is 3D. This is why it’s important to chamfer edges.

For some of these objects, they just need a general chamfer on all edges; other pieces will need more detail first. Let’s start with an easy one.

Select the table top, I named mine Top and look closely at the corners of it in the reference images. Now, RMB > Convert to: > Convert to Editable Poly so we can start to edit the edges of the geometry. With the top still selected, Select Edge mode (2) in the modify panel.

Drag select all the edges > Chamfer (option box) – A dialog will pop up in the viewport with all the options for this tool. It will look pretty odd with the default settings, but we adjust. These are the settings we will be changing:

  • Chamfer Type: Standard & Quad -For most examples, I use Quad because of the added level of control, and it doesn’t create triangles. When Smoothing your mesh, triangles can cause undesirable effects.
  • Edge Chamfer Amount: This is how large the chamfer is. The edges on the tabletop are a little smoother around the edges, so I’ll set it to .06”
    *Remember, for fine adjustments hold ALT when interacting with the sliders.
  • Connect Edge Segments: How many semants, or how smooth you want the edge to be. Since we don’t want to apply anymore smoothing to a simple shape like this, we can raise the segments up to 3.
  • Edge Tension (Quad Chamfer Only): This is a really useful feature. In this example, we want it to be .5 so the chamfer is nice and round. Since we are able to set the chamfer to have a hard bevel or act as supporting edge loops for future smoothing methods. We can touch more on this in later tutorials.
  • Smooth Chamfers Only: This setting can come in handy when we are working with shapes like this because smoothing of the entire object can make it look like flat surfaces are warped.

b. Chamfer Modifier – There is also a chamfer modifier which can make it easier to apply the same settings to multiple objects. The settings are all the same. Select the shelf and create a Chamfer modifier. The settings I used can be found on the right.

c. Copy the modifier by right clicking on it in the the modifier and past it in another objects stack. If you paste instances, you can change all of them universally.

Note: You can always make a modifier unique for individual adjustments. You can tell a modifier is instanced when it’s italicised.

You can copy the modifier to most of the basic wood parts, but keep in mind we need to add more detail to the legs, one of the cross bars.

Cut the middle section of the cross bar out to turn it into two pieces. The crossbars a technically three pieces. Right now, we just have the blockout with the two pieces intersecting. Instead of using the slice planes again for this, we’re going to use a different method.

Select the crossbar that’s angled from the top-front to the bottom-back; grab the four edges on the longest side.

Open the Connect tool option box and set it to 2 segments. Adjust the Pinch distance until each edge has one point on the intersection.

Activate Edge Constraint, under Edit Geometry. This will allow us to slide the vertices along the existing edge without having to worry about maintaining a consistent straight edge.
Drag the set vertices for each edge until it matches the intersecting geometry.
(See the GIF to the right.)

Delete the faces that intersect with the other crossbar. Select two adjacent edges on one side of the gap and use bridge to close the hole. Do this for both ends. Instead of doing the same for the other side, we will attach all of the cross bar pieces together and mirror them to the other side.

d. Make sure you’ve applied a chamfer to the two crossbars, as well as the base and top. Select one of the pieces, convert to Edit Poly.

Use the Attach tool in the Editable Poly panel to select each of the crossbar objects and attach them into one object. Note: Since these objects are still their own elements (not welded geometry) we could still detach these at any point. This will just keep the object count lower.

Just like before, adjust the pivot and mirror the cross bars to the otherside of the nightstand. Now let’s focus on the leg details. The image to the right is what the basic geometry will have to look like.

e. Turn your reference back on if you had it hidde, and in the front view, move your reference slightly to the left. We want to be able to see where the edge detail is so we can add some edge loops.

Now, select the leg and go into edge mode.

Select the horizontal ring of edges and use connect to create 2 edge loops close to each other near the top of the leg. Position them at the top and bottom of the transition to the bevel. Do this at the bottom of the leg as well. We are trying to make the geometry to look something like the image to the right.

Next, select the edge that runs in between the two inner edges and Chamfer (image to the right) it until it matches closely to the reference. Creating this chamfer has created a polygon with more than 4 sides, also known as an NGon. This is not ideal in most scenarios; adding a chamfer to that edge will create a bad looking result.

I will easily fix this issue by using Target Weld to weld the vertex at the top of the triangle to the one above it. Go into vertex mode > turn on Target Weld > LMB on the vertex you wish to weld > LMB on the vertex you want to weld it to. (image middle right)

Next we need to smooth the transition to better match the reference image. I want it nice and smooth, so I’m going to go into Edge Mode and give it a Chamfer with 5 segments and adjust the Amount until they are evenly spaced. In the end you should end up with something like this. (image bottom right)

Finally, apply a chamfer modifier to the to it with similar settings as the other pieces of wood. A chamfer amount of .02” looks good with the segments set to 3. Smooth the Entire Object is on by default, so be sure to select Smooth Chamfers Only and Smooth Adjacent Edges. If the entire object is smoother, we get an pinching look on the side of the leg. Since the legs are instanced, all of the other legs should look exactly the same. The legs are done for now.

f. Let’s move onto the drawer handle. We need to do this in a series of specific steps to prevent too much manual editing. The series of images below are each step of the process from the Left Orthographic:

  • Add a chamfer modifier with the typical settings we’ve been using.
    • Type: Quad
    • Amount: 0.02”
    •  Segments: 2
    •  Tension: 0.5
  • Add an Edit Poly Modifier > Connect an edge through the middle of the handle
  • Pull all the front vertices toward the back of the handle (left)
  • Select the edge you just created and Chamfer it. Adjust the amount untilt the spaces between the edges are equal. (0.16”)

g. Finally, collapse the stack and create a Turbosmooth Modifier create nice smooth geometry.

h. Let’s isolate the drawer and wrap up the details on the interior of it. The screw can be a little tricky, so let’s start with that. Select one of the screws and lower the sides down to 12 and Cap Segments to zero.

  • Convert to Editable Poly > Select the back cap polygon and delete it.
  • Use the cut tool and snaps to cut across the cap to turn it into polygons and tri’s
  • Select the middle edge loops that are both horizontal and vertical > Chamfer them.
  • Select the verts for the ends of the philips head and scale them outward to make the inside edge more circular.
  • Select and extrude the phillips head pattern inward, and delete the face.
  • Add a Chamfer modifier with
    • Type: Quad
    • Amount: 0.005”
    • Segments: 1
    • Tension: 0.5
    • Min Angle: 40

i. The chamfers on the inside corners will create Ngons on the surface, so use the cut tool, and vertex snaps, to connect the points like the image on the right. To finish it off, add a Turbosmooth.

j. Next let’s take a look at the drawer sides. We need to make the wholes fore the screw to fit in. This will take a little bit of manual edge creation and cutting to get the proper look with nice edge flow.

Start by isolating just the screws, the drawer front (for reference) and one of the drawer sides. Now convert the drawer side to Edit Poly. Make two edges on each side. One edge just above the top screw, in between the two screws, and at the bottom of the lower screw.

Select the faces and Inset them until the edges are roughly the hugging the screws. Add a vertical loop through the middle of the two insets you just made. Then add two loops through the middle of both insets horizontally. Adjust the vertices to be closer to a cylindrical shape to match the screws.

Take the innermost faces that outline the screws, extrude them back about half way, then delete them. If you look closely at the imagery, these holes have a much tighter chamfer for the edge. Add an edge loop on the inside of the holes to make sure when we add the turbosmooth, we get a nice hard edge. This will complete the hole for our two screws.

k. Before we move onto adding chamfers and for the whole piece, add one more edge to the left side of the holes that’s about equal distance from the drawer front. This will undesirable edge flow when we smooth the entire piece.

l. Add a Chamfer Modifier:

  • Amount: .06”
  • Tension: 0.0
  • Segments: 2
  • Minimum angle: 60° – We don’t want the edges that make up the inner circle to be chamfered because it will cause it to maintain the low poly look.

m. Add a Turbosmooth to with 2 iterations to finalize the drawer side. Position the screws in the holes a little and now we can move onto the drawer slide hardware.

After looking at another image, I realized that it’s one piece (makes sense) rather than two. This image provides a better shot of the hardware. I deleted the top piece and started adjusting the size of the bottom box. From there, I converted to Edit Poly and deleted all the faces except for the front.

This makes it easier to create the geo for the cutouts. Start with the circle by creating it just like we did earlier for the drawer.

The only difference is the sight bevel before the hole extrudes in.
Next, let’s focus on the U shape to the right of the screw hole. Follow along with the GIF below; add an edge to the right of the hole, from top to bottom using the Swift Loop Tool. This tool is just an alternate way of placing an edge loop in a specific place.

Select the horizontal edge between the end and the edge you just created and chamfer it. This will be the rough opening. We can adjust the size of it after it’s placed.

Select the edge loop of the chamfer, and chamfer this again. Take note that in the GIF, Quad chamfer is used and it creates 2 segments, but you really only need one additional to support this edge on the outside. So, you can either use Standard, or you can delete the middle edge once you’re done like I did.

Put an edge at the triangle end of the chamfer and snap it to that vertex at the tip; weld the two together. Delete the inner faces and extrude them back and support loop on the inside to five it a sharper edge.
Now let’s put a supporting edge loop [ 1.] just past the U shape ; as well as, another one half way down [ 2.] the cutout. Put three edge loops [ 3.] at the end to create the round off at the end and the slight raise in the shape [ 4.] before it.

Let’s finish off the top of this piece. Grab the top edge and hold shift to extrude up slightly to give us a supporting loop, then Extrude out in the negative x-axis, up in the z-axis, and finally back in the positive x-axis. (see GIF below) – Don’t forget to Bridge the end

After adjusting some of the proportions, put a Turbosmooth on it and add some supporting edge loops to told the form together on the top. The edges that are highlighted in red are added supporting edge loops. To the right shows what the mesh looks like with and without those supporting edge loops.

This wraps up the hardware for our drawer. It should look something like this when you’re finished.

Now let’s group the whole side together and copy it over to the other side using Mirror. Don’t forget to change the pivot point to 0 world space to get it to end up in the same spot on the other side.

09. Grouping

a. Since this SKU is pretty simple, tt looks like we can group this into a couple major pieces. Be sure to rename the different parts as you group them together.

To the right you can see we have 4 total groups.

  • Main Product Group (SKU NAME)
    • Drawer_Whole
      • Drawer_Lside
      • Drawer_Rside

b. The group Hierarchy for this SKU is simple, but others can be more complex. Sometimes you will need to make decisions on what parts should be attached together, similar to the way we attached the crossbars together.

As I mentioned before, attaching pieces together isn’t destroying the ability to move/select these elements separately.