Shading Viewport Label Menu
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Click or right-click the Shading label in the upper-left corner of a viewport. The text of this label shows the current shading style; for example, “[ Wireframe ]” or “[ Smooth + Highlights ]”. Shading Viewport Label menu

The Shading viewport label menu lets you choose how objects are displayed in the viewport. It includes options for xView.

NoteYou can customize this menu. In the Menus tab of the Customize User Interface dialog, choose Viewport Menu Label Bar from the menu list on the right. This menu is named “Shading Viewport Label Menu.”


Shading styles

Lets you choose from among the most commonly used shading styles.

  • Smooth + Highlights Displays objects as shaded, with highlights that come from the scene’s lighting.

    In viewports set to Smooth + Highlights shading, you can also display maps on object surfaces. Maps display only on objects that have mapping coordinates. Also, you can enable Show Map In Viewport for each map individually in the Material Editor, or globally using the Views menu Global Viewport Rendering Setting commands.

    NoteThis and other shaded viewport options support self-illuminated materials and up to 32 lights (depending on the display mode and your graphics card).
  • Hidden LineDisplays objects as wireframes: that is, as edges only. In Hidden Line mode hides faces and vertices whose normals point away from the user’s point of view, This mode also hides any parts of objects that are obscured by closer objects.

    In Hidden Line shading, the wireframe color is determined by the Hidden Line Unselected color, not the object color or material color. You can set the Hidden Line Unselected color on the Customize User Interface dialog Colors Panel: choose Viewports from the Elements list, and then highlight Hidden Line Unselected to change its color.

  • Wireframe Displays objects as edges only, as if they were made from wire. All edges are displayed. By default, the wireframe color is determined by the object color.

    The Display Color rollout lets you choose to display wireframes using the material color instead of the object color.

    TipWireframe mode can also display the vertex colors, if any are assigned, of editable poly, editable patch, or editable mesh objects. To enable this, use the Object Properties dialog.
  • Flat Shades each polygon with its raw diffuse color, disregarding any contribution from ambient lighting or light sources. This shading mode is useful when it's more important to see each polygon than to see its shading. It's also a good way to check the results of bitmaps created with Render to Texture.
  • Edged Faces Displays the wireframe edges of objects along with shaded surfaces. This is helpful when you want to edit meshes in a shaded display.

    This option is unavailable when one of the wireframe modes is active. It is independent of the shaded modes: Smooth + Highlights or Flat. For example, when Smooth + Highlights is active and you choose Edged Faces, the viewport displays both surfaces and edges. The Shading label changes to indicate this: for example, “[ Smooth + Highlights + Edged Faces ].” You can also use Edged Faces in combination with the other shaded options available under Other Visual Styles on this menu.

    Edges are displayed using the object wireframe color, while surfaces use material colors (if assigned). This lets you create contrasting colors between the shaded surfaces and the wireframe edges. You can switch these assignments on the Display Color rollout.


Lighting and Shadows

Displays a submenu with options for lighting and shadow previews in viewports.


Sets the quality of transparency display in the viewport:

  • Best Highest quality transparency display; longer redraw time.
  • Simple Less accurate transparency display, however viewport redraw is considerably faster with Simple.
  • None Transparency is not displayed in the viewport.
NoteThe Transparency setting only affects viewport display, and does not affect renderings.



Displays the xView submenu.


Other Visual Styles

Displays a submenu with other shading modes. These include:

  • Smooth Displays smoothing, but doesn’t show highlights.
  • Facets + Highlights Displays highlights, but doesn’t show smoothing.
  • Facets Shades faces, but doesn’t display smoothing or highlights.
  • Lit Wireframes Displays edges as wireframe, but shows lighting.
  • Bounding Box Displays each object as a bounding box only.


Viewport Background

Displays a submenu with options for displaying a background in the viewport.

Lighting and Shadows submenu

Viewport lighting affects viewports only: it has no effect on how the scene is rendered.

NoteIf you are using the software display driver or the OpenGL driver, shadow and ambient occlusion previews are not supported, and most options on this submenu have no effect on viewport display.

Illuminate with Scene Lights

When chosen, the viewport uses lighting from light objects in the scene.

Illuminate with Default Lights

(The default.) When chosen, the viewport uses lighting from the default lights.


The choices that follow are toggles.

Enable Hardware Shading

When on, the viewport is displayed using your system’s hardware shader.

Keyboard shortcut: Shift+F3

Enable Exposure Control in Viewport

When on, viewports display a preview of the active exposure control. Default=on.

NoteAlthough Enable Exposure Control In Viewport is on by default, you won’t see its effect in the viewport unless an exposure control is active: either because you assigned exposure control by using Rendering Exposure Control, or enabled exposure control when you created a photometric light.
Enable Shadows

When on, the viewport previews shadows. See Previewing Shadows and Other Lighting in Viewports.

Enable Ambient Occlusion

When on, the viewport previews ambient occlusion.



Displays the Lighting And Shadows panel of the Viewport Configuration dialog. This lets you turn hardware shading on or off, and change other options.

Viewport Background submenu

Show Background

Toggles the display of any viewport background image or animation.


Viewport Background

Opens the Viewport Background dialog, which lets you choose a background image for the viewport.

Keyboard shortcut: Alt+B

Update Background Image

Reloads the background image or animation. This option can be useful if you have edited the file in an application outside of 3ds Max Design.

This option is disabled if no background image has been assigned.

Reset Background Transform

When Lock Zoom/Pan is turned on in the Viewport Background dialog, choosing this option undoes zooming and panning you might have applied to the background, and restores its original position. This option affects the background only: it doesn’t undo the actual viewport POV changes.

This option is disabled if no background image has been assigned.