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3D modeling and animation tools

3ds Max® features offer powerful capabilities for creating professional-quality 3D animations, renders, and models. With an efficient creative toolset, 3ds Max helps you create better 3D content in less time.


Desktop Subscription gives you access to the latest updates and releases, 1-on-1 web support, priority support in the forums, flexible licensing, and more.

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    3D animation

  • Text tool New


    Add data-driven information to your scenes. Choose the level of control you need for your work: edit entire paragraphs and words, or individual letters. 3ds Max also retains information such as font theme, font style, and glyphs when you copy text from Microsoft Word documents, simplifying your 2D-to-3D workflow.

  • Geodesic Voxel and Heatmap skinning New


    Generate better skin weighting at a fraction of the time. Run Geodesic Voxel and Heatmap skinning outside of the bind pose, and even on selected areas, to refine your weighting in particular spots more easily. Geodesic Voxel Skinning can handle complex geometry that’s not watertight and can contain non-manifold or overlapping components—as is frequently the case with real-world production meshes.

  • Max Creation Graph animation controllers New


    Author animation controllers in MCG, using a new generation of animation tools that you can create and modify, package and share. Extension 1 includes 3 new MCG-based controllers: LookAt Constraint, Ray to Surface Transform Constraint, and Rotation Spring Controller. Create physically based simulation controllers with MCG and the Bullet Physics engine sample integration.

  • Camera Sequencer New

    Tell great stories by creating high-quality animated visualizations, animatics, and cinematics more easily and with more camera control. Cut between multiple cameras, trim, and reorder animated clips nondestructively—leaving the original data unchanged.

  • Dual Quaternion skinning New

    Create better skinned characters with more realistic deformations. Avoid “bow-tie” or “candy-wrapper” effects, in which the mesh loses volume as deformers are twisted or pivoted, which can commonly occur 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.

  • Populate crowd animation

    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, such as sidewalks, hallways, lobbies, and plazas. Connect walkways into patterns of pedestrian flow with crowd composition tools.

  • Populate enhancements

    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, customization, and network sharing and rendering. Customize Populate through an SDK (software development kit).

  • Character animation and rigging tools

    Perform procedural animation and character rigging with CAT, biped, and crowd animation tools. 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 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.

  • Animated deformers

    Add life to creatures and simulate fluidic effects with 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 and other geometry types.

    3D modeling and texturing

  • OpenSubdiv support New

    With new support for OpenSubdiv, first introduced in 3ds Max 2015 Extension 1, you can now represent subdivision surfaces using the OpenSubdiv libraries open-sourced by Pixar. The libraries incorporate technology from Microsoft Research, and are designed to take advantage of both parallel CPU and GPU architectures. The result is faster in-viewport performance for meshes with high subdivision levels.

  • Enhanced ShaderFX New

    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, including wavelines, voronoi, simplex noise, and brick. Create normal maps from 2D grayscale images with a new bump utility node. Quickly access shaders through the searchable node browser.

  • 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.

  • ShaderFX

    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 viewport. Drill down into the inner workings of each basic node in the advanced mode.

  • Placement tools

    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.

  • Quad chamfer

    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 more than 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 a loss of detail. Obtain clean mesh topology on Boolean operations with ProBooleans. 

  • Texture assignment and editing

    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. Use up to 99 UV sets for texture layering. Load vector graphics as texture maps for rendering at dynamic resolutions.

  • 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.

  • Vector map support

    Load vector graphics as texture maps and render them at dynamic resolutions. Zoom in as needed, and graphics remain crisp and clear. Create richer and more dynamic CAD illustrations with support for AutoCAD PAT Hatch Pattern files. Create textures that change over time, with PDF support that includes animated page transitions. Supports AI (Adobe Illustrator), SVG, and SVGZ formats.

  • Polygon, spline, and NURBS-based modeling

    Unleash your creativity with more than 100 advanced polygonal modeling and free-form 3D design tools in the Graphite modeling toolset and the powerful ProOptimizer. Efficiently create parametric and organic objects with polygon, spline, and NURBS-based modeling features. Articulate minute details and optimize meshes for both interactive manipulation and rendering using subdivision surfaces and polygon smoothing.

    3D rendering

  • A360 rendering support New


    Using the same technology as Revit and AutoCAD, 3ds Max 2016 features Autodesk A360 rendering support for Subscription customers. A360 uses cloud computing, so you can create impressive, high-resolution images without tying up your desktop or requiring specialized rendering hardware. Create solar study renderings, interactive panoramas, and illuminance simulations. Rerender images from previously uploaded files. Easily share your files with others.

  • Physical Camera New

    Co-developed with Chaos Group, the makers of V-Ray, the new Physical Camera has Shutter Speed, Aperture, Depth of Field, Exposure, and other options that simulate real-life camera settings. Enhanced controls and additional in-viewport feedback make creating photorealistic images and animations easier.

  • Support for new Iray and mental ray enhancements New

    Rendering photorealistic images is easier now, thanks to a number of supported Iray and mental ray enhancements, such as extended Iray Light Path Expressions, support for the Iray irradiance render element, and Light Importance Sampling. 

  • Improved ActiveShade rendering

    The ActiveShade preview rendering workflow supports mental ray, NVIDIA Iray, and scanline renderers. Watch the effects of changing lighting or materials interactively to refine your work. Get finer grain updates with more frequent captures of viewport navigation and switching, adjustments to light parameters, and other scene changes.

    Iray and mental ray are registered trademarks of NVIDIA ARC GmbH, licensed for use by Autodesk, Inc.

  • Accelerated viewport performance

    Increase interactivity with fast 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.

  • Stereo Camera

    Create stereoscopic camera rigs to author more engaging entertainment content and design visualizations with the Stereo Camera feature set.

    Note: The Stereo Camera feature set is fulfilled through the Autodesk Exchange application store ( English language only.

  • 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. Create render elements for Smoke, After Effects, Photoshop, or certain other image compositing applications. Use a state recorder to capture, edit, and save different states for the scene, such as object modifiers. See how compositing and render elements connect to create the final result in a visual interface. Set up and execute multiple render passes from a single file, and modify individual passes without rerendering the whole scene.

  • 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 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. You can send the resulting composite to Adobe After Effects or Adobe Photoshop for further refinement.

    Dynamics and effects

  • Particle Flow effects

    Create sophisticated, realistic effects such as water, fire, spray, and snow. Combine up to 25 different suboperators with the Advanced Data Manipulation toolset to build customized tools. Use mParticles to integrate Particle Flow setups with MassFX physics simulations. Iterate more quickly with 2 Cache operators: Cache Disk offers the ability to precalculate and store Particle Flow simulations as separate files on disk, while Cache Selective enables you to cache only certain data types.

  • MassFX dynamic simulation solvers

    The multithreaded 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 effects

    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.

  • Exposure lighting simulation and analysis

    Simulate and analyze sun, sky, and artificial lighting in 3D architectural design with exposure lighting analysis technology. Measure light at a location by generating light-measurement grids of a shape. Generate evaluations of light intensity and indoor environmental quality, such as those required for LEED EQ Credit 8.1. Achieve more sustainable designs by better predicting how light will interact with buildings.

    UI, workflow & pipeline

  • Game exporter New


    Transfer data from 3ds Max (such as models, animation takes, character rigs, textures, materials, LODs, lights, and cameras) into game engines (such as Unity, Unreal Engine and Stingray). It’s made possible with FBX interchange technology.

  • Live link New


    Download Stingray to take advantage of a new live link between 3ds Max and the Stingray engine. Stingray offers a level of tool interaction that greatly reduces time spent in scene creation, iteration, and testing.

  • Better support for Stingray shaders New


    Gain better support for physically based shaders when working with Stingray through ShaderFX enhancements. Easily transfer materials created in ShaderFx into Stingray and enjoy visual consistency in both tools.

  • Integrated Creative Market 3D content store New


    Creative Market is an online marketplace where you can buy and sell assets to use in your projects. Now you can browse for high-quality 3D content directly from the 3ds Max interface.

  • Max Creation Graph New

    This new, node-based tool creation environment is a top request in User Voice, our forum in which customers suggest and vote on features. Extend 3ds Max with geometric objects and modifiers by creating graphs in a visual environment, similar to the Slate material editor. Choose from hundreds of node types (operators) that can be connected to create new tools and visual effects. Create new node types by saving graphs, called compounds, package and share new tools, and help other users expand their toolset.

  • XRef renovations New

    Collaboration across teams and throughout the production pipeline is now easier, thanks to new support for nondestructive animation workflows in XRef and improved stability. Externally reference objects to your scene and animate them or edit material on the XRef object in the source file without the need to merge the objects into the scene. Local scenes automatically inherit changes made in the source file.

  • Scene Explorer and Layer Manager improvements New

    Working with complex scenes is now easier thanks to increased performance and stability improvements in the Scene Explorer and Layer Manager.

  • Design Workspace New

    The Design Workspace makes the main features of 3ds Max more accessible, so you can work with confidence. Importing design data to create impressive visualizations is now easier than ever. Following a task-based logical system, the Design Workspace provides easy access to object placement, lighting, rendering, modeling, and texturing tools.

  • Easier Revit and SketchUp workflows New

    Import and file link Revit .RVT files into 3ds Max directly using a new, tighter Revit integration, first introduced in 3ds Max 2015 Extension 2. Bring Revit models into 3ds Max up to 10 times faster than before. The new integration provides enhanced features, such as improved instancing, additional BIM data, and multiple cameras. SketchUp users can now take their design further in 3ds Max by importing SketchUp 2015 files.

  • Template system New

    Accelerate your scene-creation process with new on-demand templates that provide standardized startup configurations. Share templates across teams and offices with easy import/export options. Create new templates or tailor existing templates to your workflows. Built-in settings for rendering, environments, lighting, and units offer more accurate project results.

  • Alembic support New

    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, and 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.

  • Autodesk Translation Framework New

    Autodesk Translation Framework (ATF) simplifies data exchange of both Autodesk and third-party file formats, including SolidWorks. With the ability to import Inventor constraints and Joint Drive animation into 3ds Max as baked keyframes, you can create high-quality mechanical design animations without having to rig in 3ds Max.

  • Multitouch support New

    3ds Max 2016 features multitouch 3D navigation, which offers even more freedom when interacting with 3D content. The software supports the Wacom Intuos 5 touch tablet, Cintiq 24HD, and Cintiq Companion, as well as touch-enabled Windows 8 devices. These devices enable natural interactions with a pen in one hand, while the other hand simultaneously performs multifinger gestures to orbit, pan, zoom, or roll a scene.

  • Small user-requested features (SURFs) New

    Small changes can make a big difference in the everyday life of a 3ds Max user. We address up to 10 workflow obstacles identified as high priorities by customers in 3ds Max 2016. Among the user-requested features are a new Viewport Selection Preview, Cut Tool Improvements, and the ability to visualize hard and smooth edges. Request features and vote on current suggestions in the User Voice forum. 

  • 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, along with customizable quad menus, enhance productivity.

  • Configurable user interface

    The user interface conforms to the way you work. 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. Easily create and switch between several tabbed viewport layout configurations to access to the views required for a particular task. Save time and maintain focus on the creative task at hand with the Caddy in-context UI for polygon modeling tools.

  • 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.

  • Compositing integration

    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.

  • Python scripting

    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.

  • Civil View feature set

    Turn complex civil design geometry into precise and compelling 3D design visualizations more quickly and efficiently with the Civil View feature set. With simple, style-driven functionality and an extensive library of parametric civil-oriented objects and materials, Civil View helps you achieve stunning results, even if you have little or no detailed knowledge of 3ds Max.

  • AutoCAD and Revit interoperability

    Take advantage of more efficient data exchange with AutoCAD and Revit software. Import Revit files (.RVT) directly into 3ds Max. Enjoy support for lights, daylight system, and exposure control in the importer for AutoCAD files.

  • DirectConnect support

    Use the Autodesk DirectConnect family of translators to exchange industrial design data with engineers using CAD software. Exchange data between AutoCAD, Inventor, Alias, Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks and Catia system, PTC Pro/ENGINEER, Siemens PLM Software NX, JT, and certain other applications. For some systems, you must have the CAD product installed for it to work. 

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**Monthly value represents Autodesk SRP based on an annual purchase. Actual retail price is determined by your reseller. Annual Desktop Subscription plans may not be available through all resellers or in all countries.

This feature is exclusively available to current Maintenance Subscription or Desktop Subscription customers as part of Extension 1 for 3ds Max 2016 software, expected to be available on or after August 11, 2015.