What's New in Autodesk 3ds Max 2013


Continuing to push limits with its Rendering Revolution and Smart Data initiatives, Autodesk® 3ds Max® 2013 software offers a powerful interactive rendering experience that simplifies iterative look development with ActiveShade support in the NVIDIA® iray® renderer; offers a new render pass system, State Sets, with integrated node-based compositing; and provides industry-leading interoperability with Adobe® After Effects® and Photoshop® software.

In addition, new motion graphics, animation, and simulation tools empower artists to focus more of their energy on creative, rather than technical challenges, while flexible new customization options enable them to easily configure and switch between interfaces that are optimized for the way they work.

Finally, enhanced interoperability with Autodesk® Maya® 2013 software, Autodesk® MotionBuilder® 2013 software, and Autodesk® Revit® Architecture 2013 software helps make sure that 3ds Max 2013 integrates efficiently into modern pipelines.

Auto Club Revolution®

Image courtesy of Eutechnyx Limited

NoteThis topic lists all significant new features, but does not include every change in 3ds Max. As you proceed through the documentation, keep an eye out for the icon, which indicates a new feature.

You can also use the index in this help to find topics that contain information about new features. For topics that describe new program features, check the index entry "new feature." For changes in existing features, check the index entry "changed feature."

Limited language support in Windows XP: The XP operating system runs 3ds Max / 3ds Max Design in English only. To use 3ds Max / 3ds Max Design in another language, you must also use Windows 7.


Modeless Array Dialog

The Array dialog is now modeless, which means that you can navigate viewports while the dialog is open. For example, if the array exceeds the viewport boundaries, you can pan and zoom the viewport so the entire array is within view.

Egg Spline

The Egg spline lets you create splines that are shaped like a chicken egg.

The Egg spline is provided in part to support the Autodesk Civil View Pipe Network feature. Civil View is available only with 3ds Max Design.

Egg modeled using an egg spline

Hair And Fur

In Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 Hair And Fur has been improved in a number of ways. Improvements include better viewport display, better efficiency with tile memory usage, new material options, and new Flyaway, Clumping, and Multi-Strand features.

Autodesk Civil View for 3ds Max Design

Autodesk Civil View is provided with 3ds Max Design only. For 3ds Max Design 2013, Civil View is installed along with 3ds Max Design. You don't need to install it separately; however, to run it you must initialize it and then restart 3ds Max Design.

Traffic model created with Civil View

The Civil View help has been incorporated into this help document, and the Civil View feature includes a variety of improvements.


MassFX Enhancements

Artists can now enjoy a more integrated and accurate dynamics toolset, thanks to a wide range of enhancements and additions to the MassFX unified system of simulation solvers. Highlights are the new mCloth module with tearable fabric, plus support for dynamic ragdoll hierarchies. In addition, improved constraints, better handling of pivot points, and enhanced UI readability help improve overall workflow.

gPoly Format

Speed your character-animation workflow by leaps and bounds with the new gPoly geometry format. gPoly produces objects in the hardware mesh format used internally by 3ds Max, eliminating the need for conversion from editable format to the internal hardware format. The result is faster animation playback when deforming high-resolution meshes (for example, using the Skin modifier).

gPoly delivers accelerated playback in cases where mesh deformation does not change topology.

Retime Tool

Animators can now retime portions of animations to increase or decrease their speed. There is no requirement to have keyframes present in the portion to be retimed, and no extra keyframes are created in the resulting high-quality curve.

Track View Makeover

To make the 3ds Max Track View animation editor conform more closely to suitemates such as Autodesk Maya, the menu layout has been redesigned, producing a more-compact interface. See Track View Menu Bar.

Animation Store

Included with Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 is Animation Store, where you can preview hundreds of motion clips on your Biped or CAT characters with automatic retargeting prior to purchasing the motion data. To use Animation Store, click the Autodesk Animation Store command on the Animation menu.

QuickTime Support for 64bit

We have added support for Apple's QuickTime in the 64bit versions of 3ds Max and 3ds Max Design.

Skin Modifier Improvement

For more efficient management of bones attached to a Skin modifier, you can now sort the list of bones in ascending or descending alphanumeric order. Searching the list also saves time by showing only matching entries, rather than simply highlighting matching entries in the list. See Parameters Rollout (Skin Modifier).

Scene Management


A single 3ds Max session can now host multiple workspaces: different user-interface arrangements. Switching between workspaces is as simple as choosing a name from a drop-down list, and creating new workspaces is just as easy. See Workspaces.

State Sets

Thanks to the entirely new State Sets render pass system, you can now create render elements more efficiently for Autodesk® Smoke® 2013 software, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop software, and other image-compositing applications. The state recorder enables artists to capture, edit, and save the current state, while a visual interface shows how compositing and render elements are wired together to create the final result. Artists can more quickly set up and execute multiple render passes from a single file; individual passes can be modified without the need to re-render the whole scene, enhancing productivity.

Also part of State Sets is the new Media Sync functionality, which provides two-way transfer of cameras, lights, null objects, plane objects/solids, footage (including footage layering), blend modes, opacity, and effects. With it, artists can iterate more effectively and reduce rework to complete projects in less time.

Additional features include:

  • Custom render element pathing.
  • Custom file type pathing including EXR. This tracks parameters for output file formats, as well as formats, and, in the case of EXR, includes render elements, gbuffers, bit depth, color channels, and more.
  • iray and Quicksilver render parameter tracking.
  • Better UI interaction through render-dialog refreshing.
  • Tracking of viewport layouts.
  • MAXScript exposure.
  • Object and solid scale tracking to After Effects.
  • Ability to copy state sets.
  • Tracking of V-Ray object properties.
  • Tracking of V-Ray cache.

Viewport Layouts

The new Viewport Layouts feature enables storing multiple viewport setups, including extended viewports (showing Track View, and so on), in a single scene, and switching between them with a click of the mouse.

Shortcut menu for viewport layouts


For Skylight objects you can assign Sky Color maps, including high dynamic range (HDR) maps, that provide illumination for all renderers. They also provide lighting levels and shadows for Nitrous viewports. Unlike releases prior to Autodesk 3ds Max 2013, Sky Color maps do not require the Light Tracer.

Skylight color and levels from an HDR image


Gradient Background

Viewports can now have a vertical gradient as a background. This is the default for Perspective viewports. You can set custom colors for the gradient by using the Customize User Interface Colors panel. In addition, viewport background controls have been consolidated in a new Viewport Configuration dialog Background panel, with corresponding options on the Views menu and the Shading Viewport Label menu.

Nitrous Viewports

The Nitrous accelerated graphics core has received a number of enhancements. Artists will enjoy the increased drawing performance on large scenes, together with new support for image-based lighting (see Skylight), depth of field, accelerated particle flow display, and new Facets and Clay shaders. In addition, the ability to change the bokeh shape via MAXScript, support for shadows in large scenes, and improved workflows for interior scenes extend the Nitrous functionality.

Slate Material Editor Improvements

The Slate Material Editor interface has been updated in a number of ways to improve usability. New features include enhanced right-click-menu functionality, the option to get a node view of materials applied to selected object, new material library options, and special highlighting of the node whose parameters are visible.


Render Setup Dialog

A new drop-down menu on the Render Setup dialog lets you choose among production, iterative, and ActiveShade rendering. This menu also lets you launch Network Rendering, which is now an action rather than a toggle.

This menu is also extensible, allowing third-party developers to add new rendering modes.

iray Renderer

The version of iray provided with Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 has been upgraded to iray v2.1.

You can use the iray renderer as the ActiveShade renderer. A new Hardware Resources rollout lets you manage the processor resources assigned to rendering, whether ActiveShade or Production.

The iray renderer now offers support for motion blur, helping artists create more realistic images of moving elements. Also, the Production iray renderer now performs Area to Render more quickly. In addition, a large number of improvements have been added: support for "no diffuse bump," the round corner effect, and more procedural maps; improved sky portals, glossy refractions, translucency, and IOR (index of refraction); faster exterior scene convergence; and the ability to handle larger output resolutions.

iray rendering of a freeway, with motion blur

mental ray Renderer

The "mental images" library has been renamed the NVIDIA ® library, and the path to these files is now the \NVIDIA folder in the 3ds Max root folder. The set of shaders is the same as for previous releases, and scene-description files retain the MI file name extension.

The version of mental ray provided with Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 has been upgraded to mental ray 3.10. You can access the mental ray help from the main menu Help Additional Help.


Enhanced FBX File Link

The File Link Manager can now directly import Revit Architecture (RVT) files. File Link options now appear in the Application menu Import group for greater ease of access.

Enhanced Geometry File Support

New support for the Autodesk DirectConnect family of translators enables Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 users to exchange industrial design data with engineers using CAD (computer aided design) products: AutoCAD® software, Autodesk® Inventor® software, Autodesk® Alias® software, Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks® and Catia® system, PTC Pro/ENGINEER®, Siemens PLM Software NX, JT, and others. A wide range of file formats is supported (see Geometry File Formats); for certain of these a license is required. The data is imported as native solids Body Objects that can be interactively retesselated as needed.

DirectConnect is now used for IGES import, so IGES geometry imports as Body Objects rather than as NURBS.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 can now directly export meshes to WIRE format, as well.

Send To Options

The Send To sub-menu now provides one-click support for Autodesk Maya and Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler.

Sending to or from Autodesk Maya or Autodesk MotionBuilder can convert a Bipedal CAT rig into a HumanIK skeleton, or vice versa.

Maya Interaction Mode

Artists familiar with using Autodesk Maya software will appreciate the new Maya interaction mode that enables them to navigate viewports using the same mouse and key combinations in 3ds Max as they would in Maya. The ability to use a unified style when working with both packages helps save time and reduce user frustration. In addition, the interaction modes are customizable according to personal preference.

Discontinued Export Format

Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 no longer exports JSR-184 (M3G) files.

Internal Improvements

.NET Exposure of the 3ds Max SDK

The Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 SDK (software development kit) offers improved exposure to .NET, making it accessible from .NET-aware languages. Garbage collection and reflection are provided by the .NET framework and help accelerate software development. The built-in .NET libraries also help facilitate common tasks: building user interfaces; connecting to databases; parsing XML and text; numerical computation; and communicating over networks. See http://www.autodesk.com/me-sdk-docs.

Multi-Language Deployment

Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 now uses the Unicode standard, facilitating shipment in multiple languages within a single executable. This enables facilities to offer their artists the ability to run the software in a choice of languages without the requirement to reinstall.

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