working with 3ds max and blender


I love blender and I am 10x faster modelling with blender than with 3ds max. I want to work someday in the (games) industry so I have to learn 3ds max anyway. My question now is, are there 3d artist that use both programs?

For example, you have a job to do. In the end the client wants a 3ds max file. So start modelling in blender and export it as an .obj file to open it later in 3ds max and fix the bugs.

I just tried to ex/-import a model as a .3ds file… I got some strange effects on the model and as soon as I converted it to “editable poly” in max the model seemed to disappear. With .obj everything worked just fine. Only the face-normals seemed to be inverted. Regarding texturing I didn’t check it for now.

I am just curious if there are people doing it like that out there because unfortunately blender isn’t very implemented in the industry.

Just for fun I did the same model today once in blender once in 3ds max… in blender it took me about 20 minutes whereas in 3ds max about 3h… Ok, it’s not fair to compare it like that, since I have longer experience in blender. but everything seems much faster for me in blender, working with hotkeys instead of using the mouse all the time.
Simple examples are: constrains to axis, snap to grid, pivot points…

just one feature is missing right now for me in blender: is there something like chamfer in blender for the edges? I do not mean the bevel modifier that bevels the whole object, I just need to chamfer a selected loop edge. How can I do that?

Thx for answers!

Hey man actually I can tell you from personal experience when it comes to using 3ds max and blender.

Some small background. I am a Blender Head, I got a job at a studio in anchorage, ak as a 3d modeler. My work I showed was all in Blender. I had to learn 3ds max cause that was the software they had invested so much money into and a standard for what they were doing. So learning max was cake. But honestly I hated it. I’ll explain at the end of my post why. :wink:

So as for using max and blender. If you want to export and have it translate into max unscathed make sure that you export as an .fbx Blender supports this file format, and its pretty universal for anything Autodesk. Plus sometimes exporting .obj depending on your settings will tessellate the hell out of your model. Another thing to note that most Blender heads don’t pay attention to is SCALE! Now I say this cause max is very big on scale. Most 3d apps are. But this doesn’t occur to most until they start working in a semi-professional environment or just start doing work for other people where you might have to share files and such. So make sure that you fiddle around with the scale settings in Blender and export a couple fbx’s to see how it translates into max.

Now as for your problem when converting your Blender files to editable poly’s in max. Here are some tips to solve some common translating problems between these two. (Btw, they don’t like to play well together with out some finessing :wink: Remember DON’T BLEND IN!" haha) Any way onward…

Make sure that if you use the “edge Split Modifier” in Blender to turn it off or remove it from the modifier stack before exporting! Or just use the check box in the fbx exporter settings to “NOT” apply modifiers.

Make sure your normals are all situated… And by that I mean all though it may appear your normals are fine and dandy you should all ways go into edit mode in Blender and all select with “A” and use the Tools (T), (Remove Doubles) and (Recalculate Normals) always before exporting.

These are the main things I have ran into at work.

As for bringing things back into Blender, max has a Blender Preset built into its .obj exporter. And to save you a small amount of time make sure that you export as quads, not tris. But just note that when until Blender implements BMesh any N-sided polys you have in max will be tessellated. But that should be solved soon enough.

If you have any more questions feel free to ask.


Okay, now for my (I’ll make it small) rant on why I am not “fond” of 3ds Max…

Aside from the disclaimer Ton pointed out in Autodesk Liceans Agreement, Since I was little and was interested in 3d art and such I thought that such a high dollar commercial program should run flawlessly, and work for the artist. This I have found out is the exact opposite, and in turn has made me next to near worship and obsess over Blender. (Not like I didn’t before), but non-the less I am unbiased and took in Max like it was an exciting tool to add to my knowledge base.

Well since my time mastering 3ds Max, and using it on a day to day basis now for quite sometime I can honestly say that I believe Blender is a much better, and stable product dollar for dollar… As funny as that is, It is the most truth that has ever left my lips… (not saying I am untrustworthy)…

Using 3ds Max in a production setting is almost painful at times. The amount of times that it crashes during the day on average is 10… 10 times. And that is doing basic work, or as I would like to say at work, “Boxes and Splines” TM Another thing that I can’t get past is how much slower it is modeling things. Some will argue that its because I am not as proficient enough at Max. Well I am very proficient at Max. I even had a small time challenge with a co-worker who has been to college and has been using Max for years… Needless to say I won. Blender in hand btw :wink:

I will stop there. I could go on to weigh out other things like how Blender is better for initial and final cost in a business and professional setting, as well as its expansive toolset in comparison to just about* every 3d modeling suite out there. But that is a beaten horse and I will close here.

So hope my info helped, and as before, any more questions just ask. I will strive to make your life with the boxing match that is Blender and Max playing together a easy road to follow.


Don’t ever use .3ds as a file format. It’s old and shonky and very limited.
Obj is your workhorse for geometry transfer, collada and fbx are your best bet for full data transfers (but be sure to use open collada for both export and import.

I haven’t used max since version 3.5 (ancient) but have used the above methods on many occasions with maya for professional game development.
Beware that for games there are usually a lot of specialist pipelines and metadata that will make io destructive and potentially data lossy.

Be prepared to also do a bunch of scripting in both blender and max to optimise your workflow on a per project basis…

The above may not be an issue in smaller companies, but in the big leagues with multiple versions of a game on multiple platforms you may struggle to buck the trend on pipeline.

Thanks for the answers!
@ncl3rdy2: very interesting, I can fully follow your frustration with 3ds max :slight_smile:
I always told myself that it is just a matter of practice, that I just have much more experience with blender that’s why I’m faster and an expensive industry proven tool used by millions of people can’t be that bad… and the crashes out of nowhere… almost forgot that…

@Michael W: what kind of scripts do you need to optimise your workflow between both programs?

Another question… When saving as an object, the scales are completely off… when I import to 3ds max the object is extremely scaled down, and in blender vice-versa. Is there a way to prevent that?

A game pipeline might have layer requirements, naming conventions, collision data, tags, lods, whatever…

In maya this might mean having a script to rename nodes put stuff in the right layers, hide/unhide, add or remove attributes, maybe freeze transforms and remove construction history…
Materials can be very games specific and so need to be setup with the right shading groups, game specific attributes and tagged so they get the appropriate light baking solution.

This gets compounded when working on multiple platforms as the meta data may need to be tagged several times for each.

If you are working in the app the piping was designed for you only set this up once and it’s not too bad…

Importing data many times and having to setup this stuff burns any speed advantage you had for using your prefered tool.

Depending on the pipeline you may be losing several hours each time you update your scene…
With scripts this can be seconds.

On the blender side I’ve often re produced tools to add meta data and write UI and invented ASCII based intermediate formats so that this custom data can be passed back and forth between blender and maya without getting lost on export.
Sadly whilst all my clients have in house tools performing similar tasks each project is different.

Often with outsourcing the tools you have are cut down from thosecof the full game team too.

Ok, sounds complicated. So I will be warned. Now I don’t bother too much since I have still a long way to go to get there…
But to start with problems importing to blender… Could you take a look at the appended file?
I imported the mesh from 3ds max. It seemed ok, so I continued modelling in blender. Now I realised that the mesh is not shown properly in textured mode. The building is shown as a wire-frame, even when I assign a texture, and the wind-wheel is not shown at all… Furthermore the file is 4,5mb which is quite a lot for such an easy model.

here’s the link:

Edit: I found out, that it had to do with the materials that were assigned. But the textures are still not shown properly…

Hope you can help me out. Thanks!

Here’s the bevel script i use
You can also download a blender version with all the add ons contrib from graphicall.

thanks, I tried it. But it has only the option to bevel it with 1 side. What I was looking for is to bevel it with multiple sides so the edges are smooth. Or did I miss the option somewhere?

Not sure if i fully understand you but have you tired going bevelling in edge mode?

yes, I did it in edge mode… what I mean is: in 3ds max when you bevel (there it is called chamfer) you can bevel with more than one edge… the gap between the new created face will be filled with the amount of edges you typed in. Hard to explain, but that gives a nice smooth corner.
Like in this video:

oh right. Maybe someone could make a script when we get b-mesh.