Max Efficiency

Properly managed libraries in 3ds Max® empower users to create with freedom and without distraction. In order to understand how to create a professional library for content used inside 3ds Max, the functions of a library should be reviewed. In this article we’ll review some of those functions and how they relate to creating libraries for content used with 3ds Max.

Function One: Collect, Save, and Cultivate Knowledge

I believe success is based on a single factor: being a student for life.  As digital artists, one of our greatest resources for learning is the Internet. Unfortunately, we can neither study nor collect the vast amount of resources available.  The key is to sift through the litter and find what is essential, unique, and specific to our goals. For example, if we wish to pursue a path in architectural visualization using 3ds Max it would make sense to study and understand how Roman architecture influenced modern society rather than collecting one of a hundred likely tutorials describing how to create a classical style column in 3ds Max. Storing a professional library for reference remains essential to providing content with greater understanding and competency.

Figure 1: Roman architecture photo by Pedro J. Perez

Function Two: Document Unique Items to Preserve Significance

An asset library consisting of a random toy truck model may not be the most efficient use of hard drive space.  There are thousands of models available online, many for free.  To create a professional library, focus on unique items with exceptional quality that you would be excited to use in future scenes. 

Figure 2: Example high-quality model of a cat

Function Three: Provide Proper and Reasonable Access to Content

A catalogued and sortable library allows artists to free their mind and work seamlessly.   Having to search for content creates unnecessary disruption of the creative process.  On the other hand, going overboard with cataloging data can serve as an equal distraction.  For example, creating separate folders for interior scenes and exterior scenes is a good idea. To expand further, one might create subfolders for commercial scenes versus residential scenes, but to expand further may become too distracting to navigate and may break the creative process.  The key is to confine your categories to the essential items and utilize additional tools to add information. This can consist of a PDF document, word document, notes within the files properties, or tools and plug-ins available online. 

Figure 3: Example of a file structure for 3d models

Function Four: Play a Central Part in Providing Content for Specific Areas of Expertise

I’d recommend not downloading every script, model, or material available online. Focus on what you enjoy doing in 3ds Max (or do most often) and start collecting information related to it. Treat it as though you wish to specialize in that particular function.  Based on that, store the best content you have created or found. Eventually you’ll find you’ve developed a professional library of content particularly catered to skills you’ve specifically honed.

Function Five: Promote Thought and Creativity

It’s my opinion that libraries serve to promote thought and creativity. A library in 3ds Max should do the same. Weed out junk from libraries until all that’s left are objects you are searching for reasons to use.

Function Six: Serve as Infrastructure for Study, Review, Research, and Presentation

Finally, 3ds Max users should be as proud of the libraries they have created as they are of the content created with them, whether it’s a library for models, materials, lights, scripts, or anything else they can collect, preserve, and use. With these libraries we should have the ability to consistently refer to them for notes as well as to use or present them with future work.


By understanding some functions related to libraries it should become clear how to categorize and store information and assets used while creating content with 3ds Max. With hope, this will free up time for the creative process while making it simpler to provide a high-quality product that artists can be proud of. 

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