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    By Garry Stockton

    Exporting Revit to 3ds Max

    3ds Max is one of the best software applications to get photorealistic renders and animations to show your projects to the client/stakeholders. Therefore, it is an excellent complement to Revit software, for those dynamic visuals.

    The main object of this blog is to highlight the different options of exporting a model from Revit to 3ds Max to do photorealistic renders. While there are several options in the workflow, the user can choose which is the most suitable depending on each project and just as important your hardware set up (please contact Cadline for hardware config).

    Prepping Revit Model for 3ds Max

    Here are some tips for making the sharing of a Revit model with 3ds Max as smooth as possible.

    • Ensure you are using like for like platform (Revit 2019 - Max 2019 etc).
    • Limit geometry by hiding or deleting. Use Visibility & Graphics to control it.
    • Purge unused before exporting. Manage / Purge unused.
    • Apply materials to all the elements in the Revit scene and the elements inside a family. Try to apply specific materials not leaving generic materials without changing them.
    • Light properties are accurately transferred to 3ds Max. Therefore, make sure the lights you have in the current scene possess the properties you want to use in 3ds Max.
    • The environmental settings are also transferred to 3ds Max to ensure that the model is orientated correctly so that solar studies produce the right results.
    • The RPC content from Revit is not supported in 3ds Max. Remove them from the scene before exporting.
    • Section box to control the view or Auto-section Box (add-in).

    Revit or 3ds Max Rendering?

    There are several ways to get renders from Revit models. You can render directly in Revit, render in the cloud with Autodesk 360 or use another software application to render the image.

    Rendering from Revit is good, but not the best option because of the quality of Revit's render engine and the shortlist of possibilities that it offers.  Autodesk cloud is an online render gallery that allows you to create renders quickly and provides access to multiple versions of the renderings on the cloud. This allows you to change rendering quality and applies background environments to rendered scenes and then compare the results.

    Here are some of the main differences between Revit and 3ds Max rendering capabilities.

    Revit Rendering:

    • 16 processor core limitation for rendering jobs
    • Animated solar study
    • Limited effects

    3ds Max Rendering:

    • Unlimited cores for rendering
    • Camera and rendering effects
    • Considerably enhanced quality and lighting controls
    • The powerful Vray rendering engine
    • Batch rendering, to kick off a sequence of images
    • Distributed rendering across multiple servers for when you need to produce many images quickly




    Export Options from Revit

    We have three options for the exporting a model produced in Revit for use in 3ds Max:

    • DWG / DWF for Geometry Information (cannot export materials or lighting information, etc.)
    • Suite Workflows - FBX, which keeps geometry information, material data, lights and environmental settings and links the model directly to 3ds Max.
    • FBX export which keeps geometry information, material data, lights and environmental settings.

    FBX export is the preferred format because it maintains all the metadata and geometry information as well as maintaining a  link to the source Revit model. If you are making changes in Revit they can be reflected in the 3ds Max model without having to go through the full export – import process..

    Importing FBX file in 3ds Max

    There are two options of importing a FbX file in 3ds Max:

    • Import FBX
    • Link FBX


    We can go back to Revit, update the design, re-export the FbX model and replace the file updating in 3ds Max. The import settings we choose in 3ds Max depend on how we have modelled the project and applied the materials in Revit:

    Choose Preset (how to combine objects):

    • Combine by Revit material
    • Combine by Revit category
    • Combine by Revit family type
    • As one object
    • Do not combine entities
    • File units

    3ds Max


    Recent installations of Revit now include Autodesk Material Library, the same  material library that has already been available in  3ds Max for some time. This is arguably one of the most powerful and productive material libraries for use with the mental ray rendering engine in Revit. The advantage of this is that you can transfer materials from Revit straight into 3ds Max without losing any of the quality or appearance. Revit also has many of the same controls as 3ds Max for rendering with mental ray, but this is where the similarity ends.


    Revit can render a walkthrough; however, you have little control over the animation. For more sophisticated animations, transferring the model to 3ds Max is almost mandatory. 3ds Max is a dedicated animation platform giving far greater control over the camera, the lighting, materials and even the ability to animate objects within your scene such as opening doors that you walk through. It also allows you to create and render multiple cameras that can then be stitched together into a single file, a small movie of the project.


    In the end, getting the best results from this workflow requires a certain amount of trial an error. To get started I suggest you should:

    • Understand the tasks needed to prepare the Revit model for exporting to 3ds Max.
    • Test the different options for exporting a Revit model to 3ds Max.
    • Also test the different ways of importing an FBX model into 3ds Max.
    • Start adjusting the characteristics and properties of the imported model to understand their impact.