Showing Maps in Viewports
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(Material Editor): Slate Slate Material Editor toolbar Show Standard/Hardware Map in Viewport flyout

(Material Editor): Compact Show Standard/Hardware Map in Viewport flyout

Compact Material Editor menu bar Material menu Show Materials in Viewport As

Main 3ds Max menu Views menu Show Materials in Viewport As

You can use either 3ds Max software or your hardware driver (DirectX 9.0c and above) to display mapped materials on the surfaces of objects in shaded viewports with the interactive renderer.

Left: Map shown on sample cube

Right: Map shown in a viewport

The control for showing maps in viewports is a flyout with four possible states:

Comparison of Standard and Hardware Displays

The ability to render materials in the viewports using a hardware-based display mode lets you view and adjust certain parameters interactively without having to generate a final render; this can save time when you are editing materials. However, the hardware display does not fully support all material parameters. When considering which display mode to use for a material, take these points into consideration:

Software Display Hardware Display
Supports all materials Supports only Standard, Arch & Design, and Autodesk materials
Supports Diffuse maps only Supports Diffuse, Specular, and Bump maps, as well as Anisotropy and BRDF settings
No reflection Reflects the sky shader
Calculates specularity on per-face basis Calculates specularity on per-pixel basis
Faster, no special hardware requirements Slower but more accurate, requires a DirectX9.0c-compliant video card
Renders faceted display modes correctly Renders faceted display modes as smoothed

The following image, taken from the 3ds Max viewport, shows two spheres to which are applied two copies of an Arch & Design material with identical settings, including texture-mapped diffuse color and bump mapping, a high reflectivity level, and a Checker map applied to the Anisotropy channel. The scene also includes a Daylight system with mr Sun and Sky, with the Environment Map set to mr Physical Sky. The only difference is that the material on the left-hand sphere is set to Show Standard Map in Viewport, while the material on the right-hand sphere is set to Show Hardware Map in Viewport. The latter shows the bump mapping, reflection of the sky, and the checkered anisotropy in the specular highlight. When rendered, the spheres appear identical, and look similar to the right-hand sphere.

Usage Notes

Please observe the following important aspects of using these controls:


For mapped materials to display in the viewport, the following conditions must be met:

3D Maps in Viewports

Show Map In Viewport works for 3D procedural maps as well as 2D maps.

3D map display in viewports is not necessarily accurate. To improve the 3D preview, in the Compact Material Editor you can use the Material Editor Options dialog to set the 3D Map Sample Scale to equal a main dimension of the object you are applying the map to. For example, if you want to use the planet map on a sphere with a radius of 20, change the map scale from 100 (the default) to 20.

Particle Age and Particle MBlur maps do not preview in viewports.

Multiple Maps in Viewports

Viewports can display multiple maps. For multiple map display, the display driver must be OpenGL or Direct3D. The software display driver does not support multiple map display.

The composite map and mix map support multiple map display.

In addition, turning on Show Map In Viewport at the top level of a standard material lets you view maps on both the diffuse and opacity components (though not on other mapped components).


To view maps interactively:

  1. Select an object.
  2. In the object's parameters, make sure that Generate Mapping Coords. is on. (If this option isn't enabled, the object can't be mapped.)

    If the object type does not have a mapping coordinates check box, apply a UVW Map modifier.

  3. In the Material Editor, apply the mapped material to the object.
  4. Turn on (Show Standard Map In Viewport), or with a Standard, Arch & Design, or Autodesk material, turn on (Show Hardware Map In Viewport).

    The map appears on objects assigned the material in all shaded viewports. Now when you adjust a map, the viewports update to display the adjustments.

To turn off interactive texture display: