Getting Started with 3Ds Max

I recently had to do some work that involved exporting some models into Unreal Engine from 3Ds Max. 3Ds max is a program I had not used before and whilst I only needed to know some of the key principles, it was not as easy as I expected, but I soon was getting to grips with the program and learnt all the key details I required.

For example how to add or remove a material from 3Ds max or how to reset a models scale to 100% on all axis, or joining objects together. All of these I knew how to do in Blender, but not in 3Ds Max, so I hope this starting guide will be of help to those that know Blender, or other 3D software, such as Maya, or if starting from fresh and getting to grips with some key principles of 3Ds Max.

On a side note, I always aim to stay software agnostic, but one thing that was really interesting was that is no way near the same amount of tutorials or info on 3Ds Max as there is for Blender (or Unreal Engine – but I know this is a very different program). Blender has an incredibly active community of users, but 3Ds Max and for that matter Maya have practically non-existent communities (or at least from what I could find).

3Ds Max Key Commands:

Post Content: When working 3Ds Max.

  1. Showing the assigned materials for an object.
  2. Adding or removing materials from an object.
  3. Resetting an objects scale to 100% (or 1 as it is know in Blender).
  4. Manually typing in scale values.
  5. Resetting or adjusting the axis point location of an object.
  6. How to join objects together.
  7. How to change viewport shading.


  1. To show the list of assigned materials to a model.
    1. Press M to bring up the material editor.
    2. Select Scene Materials to show what materials are assigned to an object.
    3. The example below shows a cube with 2 material slots Red and Blue.

  1. Adding or Removing Materials from a model:
    1. Drag a material (from the available list) from the left hand menu on to the graph (see image 1 for example).
    2. Select this material and then select a model and press the assign button at the top panel of the material graph to add it to that model (see assign icon at start of sentence).assign material in 3ds max
  1. How to Remove/Combine Material slots:
    1. If there are multiple materials on the object – Select all the objects (or just the one required) and assign one material to remove all the material slots (as described above).
    2. Or – Select the object and then in the little left hand console box type: $. mat = null
      1. The first material cannot be removed – all others should be removable.


  1. Setting or resetting scales to 100% (or 1 as in blender).
    1. Go the hierarchy tab.
    2. Scroll down to ‘Adjust transform’ and (with object selected) click on scale to reset.

  1. Typing in scale values:
    1. Right click on the object.
    2. Select the little menu icon next to scale and click.
    3. Type in scale values.

  1. Change location of object origin point:
    1. Select the object.
    2. Go to hierarchy menu.
    3. Select Adjust pivot
      1. Affect pivot only option moves the pivot.
      2. Affect object only option moves and can reset object pivot.

3ds max change axis origin point

  1. Join objects together:
    1. Select all objects you want to collapse into a single object.
    2. Go to the Command Panel > Utilities > Collapse
    3. Select the Collapse options, then click on Collapse Selected.
    4. Second way to do this is with an object selected > add modifier > editable mesh > attach and then select another object and it will auto attach.


  1. Viewport shading options:
    1. Press and hold over the text at the top left hand corner of screen to change the shader viewport options.

For further useful tutorials or tips on 3D modelling, texturing or Unreal engine – please see the tutorials page.