Shader Options in 3ds Max 2020

Autodesk included more than 100 shaders to support OSL since its introduction to 3ds Max®.  The 2020 update comes with 14 more.  These are: Colorspace, Falloff, Halftone (dots), UVW MatCap, Normal, Random Index by Number/Color, Simple Gradient (which is more powerful than it sounds), Tiles, Tri-Tone, Threads, Toon Width, Waveform (animated), Weave, and ColorKey.

Some features users are excited about are displayed in Figure 1.  Using a Falloff map set to face the camera, I was able to imitate a robotic eye.  The toon shader is particularly powerful, although my examples only display the outline (silhouette) feature.  Figures 1 and 2 use the same Toon shader map to trace the silhouette and provide a thickened outline. Halftone dots were stretched to generate a cross-hatch pattern in Figure 1, and an option was selected to adjust the intensity in conjunction with the light.  We can also animate the OSL maps including the new Digital Numbers displayed in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Example of OSL shaders for 3ds Max 2020

Figure 2: Toon shader for blueprint effect

Aside from an extensive library of shaders available throughout the net, OSL is particularly powerful inside 3ds Max because it works with nearly every rendering engine. We can also modify the shader’s code inside of 3ds Max while watching the changes occur dynamically. Mixing OSL shaders with Vray materials while modifying the OSL code gives us an infinite number of possibilities. To modify the script, we have to select the magnifying glass next to the OSL file name as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: OSL code editor 

Figure 4 exhibits using the OSL simple tiles map with a VRAY material.

Figure 4: VRAY material with OSL simple tiles map

Additional Updates

There are numerous updates from 2019 to 2020. Some include improved performance, Revit® import features, improved animated preview system,  faster UVW unwraps, extended point cloud compatibility, improvements to the viewport Activeshade system, a considerably more powerful chamfer modifier, and many more.

Brian Chapman is an Autodesk Authorized Developer and a Senior Designer for an engineering firm located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Brian can be reached at

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