Image courtesy of Michael Khoo.

3ds Max 2020.2 and Public Road map

By - - 3ds Max
13 mins
Last modification: 25 Nov, 2019

We're back to share with you another update to 3ds Max!

3ds Max 2020.2 is focused on providing you more predictive tools that perform the way you expect. With 2020 and 2020.1, we brought you extensive updates to chamfer workflows. In 2020.2, we’re proving our point of bringing incremental and solid improvements: we’re closing out our chamfer work with some wonderful enhancements that we think you will enjoy.

Improvements to Sketchup importer brings things up to par with newer versions of Sketchup and more reliable imports. Viewport enhancements allow you to better see roughness and improve shadows support. With the Python3 alert mode, we want to make sure our development community can get their tools updated to the latest with Python 2 support ending soon.  


Check the What’s New page to see what we’ve been up to since 3ds Max 2016!
Release Notes for 3ds Max 2020.2


Beyond 2020.2 – 3ds Max Public Roadmap

The 3ds Max product team is excited to continue posting updates to our public roadmap. The goal is to further engage with the 3ds Max community and to share direction for the product. The team has been busy pushing as much value as possible to you and we want to provide some insights on what we are working on for the future as there is a lot that we believe you will also be excited to hear about.

Now, some ground rules before we go any further:

This roadmap may make statements regarding future events and development efforts for our products and services. These statements reflect our current expectations based on what we know today. Our plans are not intended to be a promise or guarantee of future delivery of products, services or features and purchasing decisions should not be made based upon these statements. We do not assume any responsibility to update this roadmap to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the publish date of this roadmap.

We believe that to continue to bring value to our users, we need to focus on making 3ds Max more reliable, procedural and scalable. Our roadmap is therefore structured into these three main themes, and this is what you will see in this document.

The list of capabilities presented below is certainly not exhaustive. We have released more than what is showed, and we are working on more than what you will see here. The intent is to give you a good sense of our areas of focus and direction. For a complete list of capabilities shipped in the past, please see the What’s new section.

We are working hard so users get what they expect out of the 3ds Max releases: higher quality, more stability, better performance, but also enhancements to core authoring and modeling capabilities, a faster and better-looking viewport as well as improved rendering capabilities.

RELIABLE: Continuous delivery
Since we’ve adapted how we build and deliver 3ds Max to users, we have been able to deliver more value more frequently as well as been able to significantly increase the quality of the product. The following image shows some of the highlights of the latest releases. Note that the Ideas at the bottom of the image relate to our Autodesk® Ideas site

3dsmax public roadmap 2020.2

RELIABLE: Core 3D Authoring


UV Machine Learning: we are prototyping with machine learning to detect seams and automatically unwrap textures for layout. This would offer great time saving for artists who could rather spend time on creative tasks.

 RELIABLE: Viewport Improvements 



PBR Viewport: we want to offer a full PBR viewport to help users work in the tool with realistic look and feel with additional capabilities such as support for roughness and fast progressive ambient occlusion.

Simpler Viewport Settings: the 3ds Max viewport is extremely capable but had a tendency over the years to become complicated to configure. The team is looking at making viewport quality configuration as simple as possible, especially when targeting industry standards such as PBR preview.

RELIABLE: Rendering



Baking to texture: the Render to Texture tool in 3ds Max hasn’t been updated in a long time. To better support the creation of LODs and repurposing assets in general, we are working at redesigning the baking tool in 3ds Max from the ground up. While leveraging Arnold for the baking process, we will continue supporting third-party renderers while making the entire experience more robust and efficient.

Arnold GPU: we are working hard at making Arnold able to leverage the GPU power when available. For 3ds Max, it would mean faster rendering time, either as a final frame or in the viewport through Active Shade, while allowing to get the very same results on a CPU render farm without having to tweak the content.

Arnold as the default renderer: we are reviewing our rendering settings and experience so that Arnold is always ready to be used in product, right at your fingertips when you need it. We are also reviewing our default settings and parameters to align them to modern standards.

Physical Material as the default: there are many different material types available in 3ds Max®, and as we are exploring to converge toward similar material standards in the industry, we are looking at standardizing our many workflows on the Physical Material to provide better support for the viewport and any renderer.

The modifiers and modifier stack are a core procedural part of 3ds Max, and we are investing to fully embrace them. We are also investing in animation and special effects, leveraging Bifrost, which was recently released as part of Maya. We plan to leverage the work done in Maya with FX in 3ds Max. The goal is to provide portable effects with procedural recipes between both products.




Instance Modifiers: 3ds Max is often used to layout small to large environments but lacks dedicated tools for this workflow. We are exploring building procedural environment layout capabilities based on Bifröst to provide out of the box workflows (Bifrost is our procedural engine used in 3ds Max and Maya).

Automated retopology: we are experimenting with integrating Reform in 3ds Max to provide fully automated retopology capabilities. We are also looking at semi-automated retopology capabilities using artist-driven constraints, such as important edges for UV seams or animation purposes. Combined with new baking capabilities, we hope to use those new tools to constantly improve support for LOD creation and facilitate asset repurposing. 

3D Booleans
: to provide a modernized experience for 3D
Boolean workflows, the team has worked on chamfering to enable complex but simple volume intersection management. Additionally, the team is looking at converging the different Boolean workflows to streamline the experience similarly to the work done with Shape Booleans



Character rig interop and retargeting: with many different rig systems, 3ds Max provides solid foundations for animation, but it is not possible to step out of those rigs without baking the animations, making it difficult to collaborate with animators in other software, or use mocap data easily. The product team is experimenting with live retargeting capabilities leveraging HumanIK, to provide simpler ways to get animation data in and out of 3ds Max, without baking animations to keyframes.

Populate customization: leveraging our research in retargeting, 3ds Max would become capable of retargeting populate animations to any rig, allowing to drive any character from populate, while making those characters able to interact in real-time with dynamic environments, walk on slopes or climb up and down stairs.

Track View Revamp: Animators need to view and manipulate the keyframes in an efficient way to be productive. The current Track View dialog is old UI technology, and in order to both improve animator’s efficiency and continue the modernization of the 3ds Max UI, we are evaluating redoing this tool.


Fire and smoke: after having delivered a built-in Fluid simulation system based on Bifröst and as the Bifröst technology keeps evolving, we are looking at rolling in more simulation tools in 3ds Max offering a more complete cloth solution based on BiFrost in the future.

Though 3ds Max is often use in teams that have to be creative in the way they work to easily adapt to the changing reality of projects, we also want to make 3ds Max suitable for bigger projects, productions and teams as well. In order to help, we are embracing industry standards to help connecting to pipelines, we are partnering with the industry leaders to offer best possible workflows, we fully embrace the value of our developers and 3rd party community, recognizing how important they are to the ecosystem. And finally, we make sure that we offer automation capabilities in 3ds Max so that less time is spent on repetitive tasks.

SCALABLE: Industry standards


  • SketchUp Improvements *New in 2020.2
  • Asset Library
  • New Point Cloud formats

Autodesk® Standard Surface white paper. We work internally and with partners to have a material definition that will support most rendering use cases to maintain a good fidelity level within the various tools.

USD: the open Universal Scene Description standard promises important improvements to collaboration over large content creation pipelines, as well as being an important format for AR use cases. Across different industries, 3ds Max® users are experimenting with USD, and we are experimenting with various workflows leveraging a native USD integration.

MaterialX: material interop is an important bottleneck in constantly evolving content creation pipelines because of the pressure of the increasingly fast iterations needed to preview and review content. We consider the open MaterialX standard a strong option for simplifying interop and preview of materials in a complex pipeline involving multiple content creation solutions.

SCALABLE: Partnership


Unity Partnership: we are working more closely with Unity and users can expect workflows between 3ds Max and Unity to improve in the future.

Nvidia Omniverse: we are also working with Nvidia, another of our partners on workflows between 3ds Max and Omniverse, which is a USD based workflow.

SCALABLE: Pipeline development


Python 3: Python 2 will soon be out of official support, and therefore it is important to provide a Python 3 integration to enable 3ds Max users and pipeline managers to progressively migrate their tools and automations. Both Python 2 and 3 should be supported for a certain time to permit a smooth transition of the different pipelines. At the same time, the 3ds Max team is considering improving support of Python to make the scripting experience more natural and easier to configure with external IDE or extend with third-party Python modules.

SDK consolidation: over the years, 3ds Max has done many SDK additions to expand the possibilities of third-party integration. However, it also became increasingly complex for 3ds Max users to choose the right programming language and for the 3ds Max team to support them all properly. The product team is reviewing the different SDKs being provided and is considering consolidating the offering, possibly reducing it, to focus on the highest quality level for our main SDK. Additionally, the team expects to help developers making better development choices by providing better learning content and support.

SCALABLE: Automation


Forge Design Automation: the demand for building automations with 3ds Max is increasing.  As such, the product team has delivered important improvements to the automation experience and experimented with connecting 3ds Max to the Autodesk cloud platform. Recently, the product team has added beta support for 3ds Max in Forge. Forge is the Autodesk developer program giving access to our cloud infrastructure, making 3ds Max accessible through a REST API called Design Automation. This allows anyone with a Forge developer key to leverage 3ds Max automation for any type of workflows. The product team is planning to leverage this infrastructure to provide 3ds Max desktop users with an easier way to run batch automations.

Get Involved!

We want to connect with you! Here are a few ways you can reach out:

  • Comment directly here on this post!
  • Post on the 3ds Max public forums where you can get support and answers to your questions from the community, our Autodesk support team, and the 3ds Max product team.
  • Suggest an idea on the 3ds Max idea site about what you’d like to see implemented in the product. You can also vote on existing ideas proposed by the community.
  • Join the 3ds Max beta where you can engage with the product team directly and provide invaluable feedback. This engagement level requires a bit more commitment but provides high-touch and direct contact with us.

We hope you find this information useful, looking forward to hearing from you!

The 3ds Max product team

Consult the 3ds Max 2020.2 Release Notes for further information.



Posted By
Published In
  • 3ds Max
  • 3ds Max
  • Film & VFX
  • Games
  • Design Visualization
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| 1 month ago
Thanks, I can imagine your backlog is crazy. I spent thousands of hours modeling on max and within 3 weeks of using blender i don't use max anymore? Good UX thats how, quality of life options that help the UX of the software eg the viewport were i can simply add random object colors with cavity maps, how i can section of workspaces etc etc.. its slick. Don't get me wrong Max has things that are done better, the bend modifier in Blender it is awful And Max chamfers are the best but looking at the whole picture when you use blender for a few hours and go back to Max , it feels like a software from the early 90’s.In our studio EVERYONE on my team has started to use blender in their personal projects over Max/Maya, and all you need to do is look across youtube or any social media and see the same pattern emerging.To sum up my thoughts on the current state of Max it's bigger than just adding X/Y functionality or fixing a bug.. it needs a complete overhaul of its UX its a dinosaur.
| 1 month ago
Hi Alexander and Wes, I am sorry you feel like we don’t listen because I can assure you that we do our best to do so. Hopefully this post (and the others on the various forums) bring some demonstration of this. Now, it is certainly possible that you feel we are not working on the right things, but we must make choices as a product team and sometimes these choices are though ones. We can’t do everything, we are getting so many requests, and there is just a certain amount of things we can deliver on. We have a backlog for the next 10 years of development ideas and it is a question of priority and resources. Now, these priorities that we define are based on 2 main things: demand/need from our user base AND alignment with strategy/direction. I therefore hope that you and others never stop giving us feedback as I can assure you that your feedback is taken into account in the choices my team and I are making. Thanks!
| 1 month ago
max may improve so easily, why dont u listen what users ask? wanna know why blender improves so fast? - it adds what people ask on forum. thats all about this magic - just be users oriented, not searching own way, thinking developers better know...
| 1 month ago
Hey Logan Thanks for the reply, I would have put the request in the idea forum, but sadly i think it will fall on death ears/take 5 years. I have spent the last month using blender and i must say its amazing, the viewport boxcutter/hops/decal machine does everything i need. To start with i forced my self to use blender for small modelling jobs as to speed up my process of learning the software, now when i go back to max it feels like software from the 90's. I thank 3Ds max for many years of fun using the software,and teaching me how to model however I never thought i would say this but adios Max.
| 3 months ago
can we atleast get a pose space deformer?
| 3 months ago
Dont be sorry Nic! i get it sometimes things are being missed out unintentionally, especially when you are doing such a tedious and informative write-up like this one! Thanks!
| 3 months ago
Hi Simon and Wes. Thanks or taking the time to let us know your thoughts on our latest efforts with 3DS Max and your suggestion about Boxcutter. While 3DS Max can do similar output results via Booleans and Shapemerge as what we see with Boxcutter it certainly takes many more clicks to do so, I can certainly see why you would suggest such an expedient workflow should be a part of 3DS max. “Efficiency” and “productivity” are two of the guiding principles that we use when we decide what we should work on while developing 3DS Max today, so your suggestion certainly has not gone unnoticed as one that would not only fit within that mandate and help make a Boolean workflow more efficient and enjoyable. With that said would I be able to ask one of you two to put this request on the 3DS Max Idea forums ( )? This way, it gives more visibility to your idea and lets others lend their voice to it.
| 3 months ago
Hi Michael, Just got to read your post this morning. Sorry about the delay and our sincere apologies for not having credited you on your image! Crediting artists is something we find of critical importance and we just made the required (and well deserved) changes. Thank you and sorry again!
| 3 months ago
Hi Wes, we do have an ongoing effort to improve Max viewport - the viewport is fully PBR capable but currently the experience to get there is a bit clunky. We are looking to streamline this process while also converging to the Physical Material as a new default in Max to provide a full, and fast PBR experience.
| 3 months ago
Hi Tochukwu, We are investing more in character animation and this is an important product track. Above, I talk about the character rig interop and retargeting and there is more coming that I hope to be able to share in coming public roadmap updates. But I want to be honest: there is no plan for facial animation investment for 3ds Max. We can’t do everything, and this is an area we are not planning on pushing. Now I think that the coming work I am eluding to above will move the needle on “making animation more fun”. Thanks!
| 3 months ago
As a Game artist, what i need from max is - A better Veiwport on par with eevee - a Blender-Boxcutter-like system And booleans like modos mesh fusion i Have also started to learn blender
Edited by AkdyZFIF 3 months ago
| 3 months ago
Hey Nic, just an offtopic question and i hope you dont mind. Am just curious as to why all the artwork used in this post are credited at the bottom corner, except the header image(yes... that's mine) at the very top? Happy for your team to use it regardless, as long as I'm being notified and credited somehow !
| 3 months ago
Hi, i think that a Blender-Boxcutter-like system to speed up hard surface modeling will be a god send.
| 4 months ago
Hi Nicholas. would there be anything that makes character rigging or animation more fun?. facial rigging, pose space etc...
| 4 months ago
Hi Tomek, I have to say that hair and fur is not super high on the priority list for now, though we agree that its current capabilities could benefit from a bit of attention. Now, with Bifrost becoming concrete, I am hoping that we could eventually leverage the tech to help in 3ds Max on many fronts, hair and fur potentially being one of them. Regards, Nic
| 4 months ago
Any chance for better hair&fur? It is impossible now to make for example curly hair even if someone is a masochist and try to control hair shape with twisted splines- 150 segments it's just not enough to make curly hair. Also controling cut lenght via map cause render arefacts (mr primitives) straight lines from the root to the tip of the hair. A lot to do with hair system in 3ds max.
Edited by YmLPtTuY 4 months ago
| 5 months ago
Dimitry, Thanks for your feedback with Chamfer. We wanted to get the new chamfer functionality to users as soon as possible, so we decided to first implement the new features in the modifier before bringing these changes to Editable Poly. There is still more work to do with Chamfer workflows – we prefer to deliver improvements incrementally rather than “release and forget”. This way, we can be sure that Max works for you and is a pleasure to use. Using chamfer to create holes/circles is a side benefit of the chamfer algorithms and isn’t designed to create circles with specific edge counts. It is not obvious to me what bias option should exist for edge extrusion – perhaps you could submit this idea to the Ideas page so that you can elaborate on that: Thanks again, Andrew
| 5 months ago
single license sale possible ? like no rental just buy and get 1 years support on purchase ? Ideas max needs :3d printer recommendation's. Also composite rec's Final note that populate on any rig thing sounds like a game changer for animations. .imagining a forest scene with rabbits mice some dear and lots of birds.
| 5 months ago
You've finally added uniform option to chamfer tool, Wow! Now try to apply updated chamfer tool on top of Edit Poly modifier. What do we see? And we see old chamfer tool. Why can't you do a single thing without bugs? Now we can make a circle from vertex using chamfer modifier (finally in 2019), why not just add this function to chamfer tool at the same time? It seems that the development team consists of one and a half people. Why can't I select an odd number of edges in uniform chamfer? This is especially necessary in chamfer for vertex when 8 sides for created circle is not enough, but 16 is too much. For example, in Blender or Cinema I can easily do it. And finally - it's good to have the bias option for extrude tool, but you're going to add it to the extrude for edges? Why don't you see such obvious things? I'm tired of waiting for Max to rise from his knees, went to study Blender
Edited by H0lM6egC 5 months ago
| 5 months ago
Hi Tochukwu and Mark. Thanks for the comments! They are always welcome and appreciated! Yes. I have thought about a Trello board. Though I feel this could help for some things, I find that it would be difficult for others. In any case, I am considering other options for future updates to the public roadmap. I would like to have something a little less wordy and a bit more graphical. I am not ruling out Trello just yet but want to consider other options as well. Thanks!
| 5 months ago
Great work, Dev team, and thanks for keeping the Roadmap up to date as well. I am particularly happy with the Viewport Enhancements. IBL and roughness support makes a HUGE difference. Have you thought about a Trello-like interface for the Roadmap?
| 5 months ago
@Nicholas fontas and the rest of the team, AWESOME WORK!...imagine if we had all these updates and the rest to come this year in one release, as it used to be. it would,ve be mind blowing. so, i understand that this is a lot, and development is much more faster now than it ever was...Great job once again.
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