Importing AutoCAD files into 3ds Max – Part 1


If you use AutoCAD to create your 3D parts or assemblies you have 2 options to insert your models, link or import.

The difference between the 2 is one has a “live” link where you can edit the original model and it will update in 3ds Max whereas the other does not.  With import, the link gets severed when the file is imported.

In this blog, we are going to take a look at how to import the file so that applying materials and rendering is as painless as possible.

When importing or linking the DWG you get this import dialog box.  The most important part of this process is how 3ds Max translates the objects to be able to interact with 3ds Max materials and renderers.

First order of business is to make sure that you get the scaling right.  At the top of the Geometry tab take note of what the resulting model size is.  If it looks very large select the Rescale tickbox and if necessary change the incoming file units.

A neat trick after importing the file is to model up a block the approximate size of a person to quickly gauge if you have  the scaling correct.

If the AutoCAD file has been created on only one layer you may have difficulties when trying to apply materials in 3ds Max.  The wrong setting and you will only have 1 object to select.

If you have already setup a render in AutoCAD with all the lights and cameras in the correct place do not fear, 3ds Max has the ability to import all of those objects so as not to doube up your workload.