3ds Max & AutoCAD Interoperability - Part 2 - Importing to 3ds Max

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Last modification: 26 Feb, 2018
  • Design Visualization
  • Animation
  • 2012
  • Media Management
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
8 min

3ds Max & AutoCAD Interoperability - Part 2 - Importing to 3ds Max

In this tutorial, you import your 2D CAD drawing as a blueprint into 3ds Max. You'll then use some basic modeling techniques to turn simple 2D entities into fairly complex 3D volumes.




  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2012, AutoCad 2012
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2012 or higher.


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Now that you cleaned up your CAD drawing, it's time you send it to 3ds Max.

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Before you do, notice the units of your CAD drawing.

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This one was drawn using the Decimal system with the millimeter as a base unit.

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In 3ds Max, your default System Unit is set to Inches.

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So, some scaling is needed between the Metric system from AutoCAD and the default Imperial system in 3ds Max.

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Of course you can set your System Unit in 3ds Max to match that of AutoCAD, but leave that alone for now.

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You'll do the appropriate Scale conversion at import time.

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Your Display Units however, can be set to your liking. In this tutorial. Use the US Standard set up with the foot as a base unit.

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To import the AutoCAD drawing, you can use either the Import command or the File Link command.

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The File Link command has the advantage of keeping a live link to AutoCAD.

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If you make a change to the drawing in AutoCAD, you can update that change in 3ds Max.

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There is a separate tutorial on this subject named "Using File Link".

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In this case, you'll simply use the Import command.

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Locate and select the Condo-3D.dwg file you saved earlier.

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In the Geometry tab, enable the Rescale option and ensure the Incoming file units are set to Millimeters.

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As you recall, that was the base unit for the CAD drawing.

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In the Derive AutoCAD Primitives by list, choose the first option: Layer, Blocks as Node Hierarchy.

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This option doesn't take into account AutoCAD materials.

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That's fine as you'll be creating materials in 3ds Max.

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Leave all other options to their default values.

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In the Layers tab, enable Select from list.

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Choose only those layers you identified as 3D layers. That's all you'll need in this case.

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In certain situations, you may opt to keep other layers that may help you as reference.

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Click OK when done. All closed polylines you created on the 3D layers now appear in the scene.

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Select an exterior wall section. Notice that all entities on the same layer are recognized as a single object.

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This is the default conversion method between the two applications and actually works well in most situations.

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In this case, all exterior wall sections are recognized as one Editable Spline that you can now extrude to a height of 10' (feet).

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This works nicely but leaves a few gaps above the doors.

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Press F4 to see the underlying geometry.

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To create the door headers, you need a horizontal slice through the walls, positioned 7' high, which is a standard door height.

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With the outer walls selected, add a Slice modifier.

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Expand the Modifier and choose Slice Plane.

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Using the Move tool, set the Slice plane at 7' high, using the Transform Type-ins.

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You can see how this affects the structure of the wall.

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Right-click and convert the object to an Editable Poly.

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Using Polygon mode, select two polygons facing each other above a door opening.

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Use the Bridge tool to create the header.

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Repeat the procedure to create the three other headers but leave the openings to where the curtain wall should be.

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Exit Polygon mode when done.

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Extrude the Interior walls by a value of 9' (feet).

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Add a slicing plane set to 7' high as you did earlier.

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Convert the walls to an Editable poly and create the headers above the door openings.

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In some cases, you may need a bit of a clean-up before you use the Bridge tool.

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Notice the extra vertical segments on this part of wall.

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They serve no purpose and should be removed.

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In Edge mode, select a vertical edge and then choose Loop to select the whole vertical line you wish to remove.

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Hold the Ctrl key and then press the Back Space key to remove the edges.

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It is important to hold Ctrl to delete any vertices associated with the removed edges.

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Repeat the procedure to remove any unwanted loops on the wall.

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Go back to Polygon mode and bridge the remaining gaps after that.

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The partition separating the kitchen area from the living room also needs a bottom bridge.

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Select all the polygons that make that partition and choose Slice Plane.

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Set the plane height to 3'6" and then click the Slice button.

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Exit Slice Plane mode when done.

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Select the appropriate polygons to bridge the lower part of the wall.

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For the fireplace opening, select the front face and use the Poly Inset command.

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You can then adjust the edges to create an opening of acceptable size,

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and then use the Poly Extrude command to punch in a hole.

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Finally, select the floor and give it a negative 1 foot extrusion.

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Do the same for the balcony.

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In very little time, what was a 2D CAD drawing only a moment ago is starting to take the full shape of a 3D environment.

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In the next movie, you'll get pointers at creating some basic materials for the walls and floors.

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  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • 2012
  • Media Management
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