3ds Max Features
Tell great stories by creating high-quality animated visualizations, animatics, and cinematics more easily and with more camera control. You can cut between multiple cameras, trim, and reorder animated clips nondestructively—leaving the original data unchanged.
Dual Quaternion skinning
Create better skinned characters with more realistic deformations. Avoid “bowtie” or “candy-wrapper” effects in which the mesh loses volume as deformers are twisted or pivoted, most common in characters’ shoulders or wrists. This new option in the Skin modifier enables you to paint the amount of influence skinning has on a surface; use it where you need it, and taper off to linear skinning where you don’t.
The enhanced Populate crowd animation feature offers increased artistic control, better realism, and improved usability. Give characters more convincing walking, jogging, passing, turning, and seated behaviors. Control more aspects of character generation to influence their outcome. Save textures for reuse and customization, and for network sharing and rendering. Customize Populate through an SDK (software development kit).
Populate crowd animation
You can generate believable moving or idle crowds with a high level of control to enrich architectural presentations, or to previsualize a film or video scene. A set of animated characters can appear in common public settings: sidewalks, hallways, lobbies, and plazas. Connect walkways into patterns of pedestrian flow with crowd composition tools.
Character animation and rigging tools
Perform procedural animation and rigging with CAT, biped, and crowd animation functionality. Use the Skin modifier and CAT Muscle for smoother, more precise control of skeletal deformation. Rig complex mechanical assemblies and characters with custom skeletons using 3ds Max bones, inverse kinematics (IK) solvers, and customizable rigging tools. Wire 1-way and 2-way relationships between controllers to help create simplified 3D animation interfaces.
General animation tools
Use a number of keyframe and procedural animation tools for almost any parameter in your scene. View and edit animation trajectories directly in the viewport. Implement custom animation controls by wiring UI elements, such as sliders and spinners, to an object's animatable tracks, and control multiple attributes with a single slider. Use the Dopesheet to edit slide, move, and scale keys or sets of keys in both time and value.
Add life to creatures and simulate fluidic effects. Choose from Freeform, Affect Region, Bend, Displace, Lattice, Mirror, Noise, Physique, Push, Preserve, Relax, Ripple, Shell, Slice, Skew, Stretch, Spherify, Squeeze, Twist, Taper, Substitute, XForm, and Wave modifiers. World Space modifiers operate atop the modifier stack and bind objects to animated world conditions, such as surfaces, forces, fields, and deflections. Use animated deformers on particles, other geometry types.
3D modeling and texturing
Efficiently represent subdivision surfaces using OpenSubdiv libraries, open-sourced by Pixar and incorporating technology from Microsoft Research. Visualize your model interactively without the need to render for a better WYSIWYG experience, greater productivity, and more accurate realization of creative intent. Parallel CPU and GPU architectures offer faster in-viewport performance for meshes with high subdivision levels.
Get more shading options and better shader interoperability between 3ds Max, Maya, and Maya LT. Create a wider range of procedural materials with new node patterns: wavelines, voronoi, simplex noise, and brick. Create normal maps from 2D grayscale images with a new bump utility node. Searchable node browser helps you quickly access shaders.
*This feature is exclusively available as part of the 3ds Max 2015 Extension 1 release to customers on active Autodesk Maintenance or Desktop Subscription.
Point Cloud support
Import, visualize, snap to, and render massive point cloud data sets to create more precise models from real-world references. View point clouds in true color in the viewport, interactively adjust the extent of the cloud displayed, and create new geometry in context by snapping to point cloud vertices.
Easily create advanced HLSL viewport shaders with the ShaderFX real-time visual shader editor. Connect different nodes using an intuitive click-drag workflow. Select from a powerful array of floating-point values, mathematical operations, texture maps, normal maps, and color nodes. Visualize the resulting materials, even those with animated values, in real time in the 3ds Max viewport. Drill down into the inner workings of each basic node in the advanced mode.
Easily position and orient content relative to other content in your scene with new Placement tools. Take advantage of intuitive auto-parenting and aligning behaviors. Move objects along the surface of other meshes as though magnetically attracted. Quickly rotate objects as part of the same option.
Create a chamfered or beveled edge between two surfaces consisting of quads, rather than triangles, to help eliminate pinching.
Mesh and surface modeling
Efficiently create parametric and organic objects with polygon, subdivision surface, and spline-based modeling features. Work with at least 100 advanced polygonal modeling and free-form 3D design tools in the Graphite modeling toolset. Control the number of faces or points in your object with ProOptimizer technology, and reduce the complexity of a selection by up to 75% without loss of detail. Obtain clean mesh topology on Boolean operations with ProBooleans.
Texture assignment and editing
Access a number of texture mapping, baking, and layering options. Perform creative texture mapping operations, such as tiling, mirroring, decal placement, blurring, spline mapping, pelt mapping, UV stretching, and relaxation. The Least Squares Conformal Mapping (LSCM) method enables you to minimize texture distortion. Bake each object’s material and lighting into new texture maps with the Render to Texture functionality.
Shading and material design
Get the look you want for your assets, with tools specifically designed to accelerate the shading and material design process. Extensive libraries of textures, images, and procedural maps in the Slate material editor enable you to design and edit complex shading hierarchies. Paint multiple layers onto any map in any material directly onto 3D objects with the intuitive Viewport Canvas toolset.
Improved ActiveShade rendering
A faster ActiveShade preview rendering workflow supports mental ray, NVIDIA iray, and scanline renderers. Watch the effects of changing lighting or materials interactively, to more easily refine your work. Get finer grain updates with more frequent captures of viewport navigation and switching, adjustments to light parameters, and certain other scene changes.
Accelerated viewport performance
Increase interactivity with substantially faster navigation, selection, and viewport texture baking. See particular benefits with dense meshes and scenes with texture maps. Enable anti-aliasing with minimal impact on performance, so you can work quickly in a higher-fidelity environment.
With the new Stereo Camera feature set, you can create stereoscopic camera rigs to author more engaging entertainment content and design visualizations.
Integrated rendering options
Achieve stunning image quality in less time with powerful 3D rendering capabilities. Generate physically correct lighting effects simulations, such as raytraced reflections and refractions, caustics, and global illumination, with the integrated mental ray renderer from NVIDIA. Get more predictable, photorealistic results using the NVIDIA iray rendering technology. Make interactive decisions in context with the ability to view most texture maps and materials in the viewport.
Render pass system
Segment scenes for downstream compositing with a powerful render pass system. Create render elements for Smoke editing and effects software, After Effects, Photoshop, or certain other image compositing applications. Capture, edit, and save different states for the scene—such as object modifiers—using a state recorder.
Nitrous accelerated graphics core
Iterate more quickly and handle larger data sets with limited impact on interactivity. Accelerated GPUs and multicore workstations offer dramatically improved interactive performance and visual quality. Advanced scene management techniques and multithreaded viewport scene traversal streamline the workflow and make it more responsive.
Slate Compositing Editor
Perform simple compositing operations directly within 3ds Max with the Slate Compositing Editor. Easily wire together rendered layers and passes, and combine them with compositing nodes (like blends and color corrections) in the schematic node-based interface. If required, you can send the resulting composite to Adobe After Effects or Adobe Photoshop for further refinement.
Dynamics and effects
Create sophisticated, realistic effects such as water, fire, spray, and snow. Build customized Particle Flow tools by combining up to 25 different suboperators with the Advanced Data Manipulation toolset. Integrate Particle Flow setups with MassFX physics simulations, using mParticles.
MassFX dynamic simulation solvers
The multi-threaded NVIDIA PhysX engine enables you to create compelling, dynamic rigid-body simulations directly in the 3ds Max viewport with mRigids. Apply the mRigids solver to skeletons for convincing ragdoll simulations. Create realistic clothing and fabric-like simulations with mCloth. Simulate natural and man-made forces, create and break particle bonds, and collide particles with each other and with other objects using mParticles.
Hair and fur
Manipulate hair and fur directly in the viewports with selection and styling tools, such as tools for cutting, brushing, and clumping. Add kinks and frizz to hair and animate frequency and speed. Instance any source object as hair strands. Use Spline Deform to add splines to a set of hairs that can act as control guides; pose, key, or assign a dynamic target to hairs. Create realistic dynamic simulations that include collisions, gravity, stiffness, root holding, and dampening.
UI, workflow & pipeline
Inspired by our years of experience with Revit and Inventor software, the Design Workspace makes the main features of 3ds Max more accessible, so you can work with more confidence. Importing design data to create high-quality stills and animation is now easier than ever, thanks to efficient, task-based workflows. Easily access object placement, lighting, rendering, modeling, and texturing tools.
Easier Revit and SketchUp imports
A tighter Revit integration makes importing models into 3ds Max faster and easier. In addition to the existing Revit File Link workflow, a new Revit importer enables you to import data up to 10 times more quickly and with much cleaner geometry. Import files from SketchUp to take your design further in 3ds Max.
New on-demand templates provide standardized startup configurations, which can accelerate your scene creation process. Share templates across teams and offices with easy import/export options. Create new templates or modify existing templates to tailor them to your workflows. Built-in settings for rendering, environments, lighting, and units offer more accurate project results.
View massive data sets in the Nitrous Viewport, and transfer them more easily through your production pipeline with new Alembic support. Work with production-proven technology, co-developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks, Inc., and Lucasfilm Ltd. Move complex data through a pipeline in a manageable form: the technology distills complex animated and simulated data into a non-procedural, application-independent set of baked geometric results.
Enhanced scene management
Manage complex scenes more easily with enhancements to Scene Explorers. Organize data into nested layers to make it easier to work with large numbers of objects. Support for docking and Workspaces, together with customizable quad menus, enhance productivity.
Extend and customize 3ds Max with the popular and easy-to-learn Python scripting language, and differentiate your 3ds Max capabilities with Python-based extensions. Integrate 3ds Max more easily into a Python-based pipeline. Execute Python scripts from MAXScript and the 3ds Max command line. Access a subset of the 3ds Max SDK (software development kit) from Python scripts, including the ability to evaluate MAXScript code.
Configurable user interface
The user interface conforms to the way you work. You can choose from default or customizable workspaces, depending on what you need to do. For example, you can configure one workspace for modeling and another for animating, with different presets for menus, toolbars, ribbon, and viewport tabs in each.
Flexible camera matching
Interactively match the camera view of a scene to the perspective of a photo background, or use 2D pan and zoom for accurate line placement. Easily place a CG element into the context of a still-frame photographic background for print and advertising composites, and visualize how a CG element will look in a real-life setting to validate concepts.
Data transfer and pipeline integration
Import data from many sources and smoothly transfer data across file iterations, software applications, users, and locations. Enjoy advanced interoperability with Photoshop software. Take advantage of 2-way transfer and synchronization of cameras, lights, null objects, plane objects/solids, footage, footage layering, blend modes, opacity, effects, and text objects with After Effects software.
Enhance your 3D rendered data and combine it with live-action footage using a choice of compositing options. Segment scenes into render elements for downstream compositing in Smoke, After Effects, Photoshop, or certain other image compositing applications. You can perform simple compositing operations directly within 3ds Max with the node-based interface Slate Compositing Editor.
Collaborative workflows with Containers
Containers make it easier for multiple artists to contribute to the same scene. Reference containers created by others into a single scene, and layer local edits on top nondestructively. Improve scene performance and use less memory by temporarily unloading Containers from the viewport display while maintaining scene relationships for reloading. Override object properties for scene organization without affecting layer organization, similar to a nested layer workflow.
Comprehensive 3ds Max SDK
Extend and customize virtually every aspect of 3ds Max with the SDK (Software Development Kit). Access elements such as scene geometry, animation controllers, camera effects, and atmospherics. Create new scene components, control the behavior of existing components, and export scene data to custom data formats. The managed .NET plug-in loader makes it easier to develop plug-ins in C# or other .NET languages. Includes at least 200 sample plug-in projects.