Top 10 plugins for 3ds Max

3ds Max expert Paul Hatton gives a rundown of the top ten plugins he recommends for creating your works of art...

3ds Max expert Paul Hatton gives a rundown of the top ten plugins he recommends for creating your works of art...

As great as 3ds Max is, finding plugins to make your life easier is a no brainer. This applies to most parts
of your workflow including creating things like vegetation. © Itoo Software

Following on from my previous article looking at Maya plugins, today we'll take a look at what's on offer for 3ds Max. Autodesk is constantly improving its offering for 3ds Max, and at times making certain plugins a little redundant. Quad chamfer is a perfect example of this which was originally provided as a great plugin but then got integrated into the main package and thereby making the plugin obsolete. However, there will always be a requirement for innovative developers to release plugins that will enhance 3ds Max. We're going to take a look at 10 plugins which you really should check out. Hopefully you'll find a good mix of options here.

Forest Pack

This is one of the best solutions for creating huge surfaces of trees and plants. Traditionally, creating large amounts of vegetation was laborious, memory intensive and nigh-on impossible to carry out effectively. Forest Pack does away with all the hassle by providing not only the scattering tools, but also large libraries of photorealistic trees and plants.

Itoo Software are regularly releasing tutorials with tips, tricks and workflows

Floor Generator

It does what is says on the tin. This plugin will let you create individually boarded floors, perfect for wooden floors or similar. There are plenty of customization tools that allow for inserting randomness to the geometry. Using this plugin alongside MultiTexture will let you create realistic and randomly placed textures to your floors.

Create incredibly realistic floors in a fraction of the time


It's surprising how many of our scenes benefit from parametric solutions and that is where Railclone comes in. If you can define your objects by a set of mathematical rules, then this plugin will do the rest for you. But don't be fooled, it's not just for railings! They have shown that it can be used for other things like placing books or chairs in a stadium for example.

Create parametric geometry with a few construction rules

Maxwell Render

3ds Max ships with mental ray as its primary rendering solution, but there are others out there! Maxwell is an excellent option. It's been around for years, is incredibly stable and will deliver beautiful results with its physically perfect materials and lights. A very trustworthy plugin.

New features are regularly being added to Maxwell making it a very appealing rendering solution


This is a serious heavy-weight in the rendering market. I started off visualizing using mental ray, but once I gave V-Ray a go, I never looked back. I found it intuitive and quick. Chaos Group are constantly improving their offering as well which means I can rest assured they'll stay ahead of the game in terms of speed and features.

VRay is easy to use yet has a huge number of features. The support community is also excellent

Corona Renderer

Aside from V-Ray and Maxwell there is also the Corona Renderer. It is an unbiased renderer and has been in circulation for well over 5 years now. It's starting to get real traction in the 3D community, and I'd highly recommend checking it out. Its feature set is being constantly improved and updated so it's no risk adopting this into your workflow.

Corona is definitely picking up some plaudits as it improves with each release


If you need a web friendly solution to showcasing your 3D models then SketchFab is potentially for you. It gives you the capability to export your 3D models and for users to interact with them in a web-based environment. No plugin for your web browser is required.

Publish and find the best 3D content for free with Sketchfab


Augmented reality has been around for a few years but it is becoming increasingly accessible with the release of apps such as Augment. This plugin lets you publish your models to the Augment app with a single click, and it even lets you bake in your lighting and textures. Users with the Augment app can then view your models.

Simulate your 3D models in real world, real size and real time

Laubwerk Plants Kit

This plugin enables you to quickly and easily add Laubwerk content to your scenes. They have extensive plant libraries which enable you to add that natural touch to your scenes. Vegetation can be a challenge but Laubwerk have done the hard work and provided you with an easy to use solution.

Laubwerk plants are even customisable for that added functionality

Book Manager

If you've ever worked on interior visualizations then you'll know how painstaking it can be to create and place books on bookshelves! Model+Model has wonderfully provided a solution which enables you to clone, scale, align and place books in an array or on polygons. Random adjustments can also be made to add that natural look.

Take all the hassle out of placing books with Book Manager

Plugins not to be missed

Hopefully you found these recommendations helpful. The key is to keep on the constant look-out for new plugins that you've not seen before. There are lots of bloggers out there who are excellent and sharing their latest workflows, and opening you up to a new world of software and plugins. If you're able to keep abreast of these things then you'll find your workflow getting smoother and smoother. And if there isn't a plugin to solve your requirements, then why not think about creating it yourself!

Related links

Top 10 plugins for Maya
Check out 3ds Max
Download the 3ds Max app
Take a look at the arch-viz tools of the trade
Head over to Itoosoft's homepage
Latest news for 3ds Max plugins

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