Partnering with 3ds Max

Companies utilize 3ds Max® for visual effects, game development, cartoons, animations, visualization for building/land development/transportation/products, movies, book illustration, and more. In addition, many applications developed around the world maintain a symbiotic relationship with 3ds Max to allow us to generate higher quality content quicker than ever before.  Here, I present a few favored by 3ds Max professionals.

3ds Max with Lumion

Real-time rendering for visualization is simple if you can afford it. For the highest quality, users rely on 3ds Max with extensions such as Vray or Redshift, but for daily tasks and quick, high-quality concepts, Lumion has dominated the arena. Lumion imports files from 3ds Max and Revit®, which allows us to populate our scenes using an extensive library of assets, easily add mass movement for people, vehicles, and animals while adding vegetation and furniture. It also gives us the ability to manipulate textures/materials of our objects inside the software, which means we only have to construct the bare necessities in 3ds Max and apply basic UVs.  With Lumion, we import the scene, then apply and adjust the scale and materials from the Lumion library.  Also, the software lets us add tons of different effects, adjust visual styles, and much more.  See Figure 1 for an example of images generated using Lumion.

Figure 1: Lumion examples

3ds Max with Twinmotion

Epic Games’ Twinmotion was dismissed early by critics who hadn’t quite explored its full potential. Even in its early stage, I believe it’s a very powerful competitor in the visualization market. Twinmotion imports files from 3ds Max and has many of the characteristics needed to provide high-quality, quick visualization for daily production tasks.  With a plug-in to link directly to software like Revit, simple interface, and decent asset library, it may replace Lumion completely for many studios (depending on the final price).  See Figure 2 for an example of images generated using Twinmotion. 

Figure 2: Twinmotion examples

Refer to Figure 3 for my rendering. It’s not perfect, but generally acceptable, and I was able to produce the rendering in roughly 15 minutes after importing only the base building components without materials from 3ds Max.  There are extremely powerful components inside Twinmotion that provide for a robust workflow between 3ds Max and Twinmotion that I’d like to point out. 

  • Dynamic vegetation reacts to weather setting (green during spring and leafless during winter).
  • Easy-to-update user library through Windows Explorer.
  • Easy to manage scene and user files on any computer drive.
  • Visual effects including built-in color gradients and filters.
  • Minor UV adjustment tools.
  • The asset library (geometry and materials) is professionally developed and will continue to grow.

Figure 3: 3ds Max with Twinmotion scene

LetsDesign Studios shared a comprehensive comparison between the two different programs here:

3ds Max with Flowscape

Finally, I want to talk about Flowscape by Pixelforest. Flowscape is a procedural landscape generator that produces extremely interesting visual content and animations. For $10, it’s extremely powerful.  The developer continues to work hard on the software, and each update provides something new and interesting. One of the more recent updates should excite 3ds Max users. The developer provided us with the ability to import obj files from 3ds Max, which means we can use the software to present incredibly interesting illustrations in a very short time.  It is the perfect tool for generating background, concept, or context material. 

Figure 4: Flowscape example

Brian Chapman is an Autodesk Authorized Developer, Digital Artist, Designer, and a CAD Application Specialist for an engineering firm located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Brian shares tips and tricks at with a portfolio of digital artwork and renderings at Brian’s email is

Appears in these Categories