Guide to Interior Rendering in 3DS Max

Hello Friends,

People working in the field of interior design or architecture, which involves artist renderings of exterior or interior spaces, must be aware of 3ds Max. This amazing tool is offered by industry leader Autodesk.

3ds Max is considered to be an ideal tool for such type of work. However it does not mean that you cannot do it in any other 3D program. It is possible to accomplish this task in various other 3D programs, but 3ds Max is more preferred because of its integration with other AEC industry and architectural packages, like Revit and AutoCAD, which are considered leaders in their respective markets.

Many methods can be adopted to create the interior of a room in 3D. However, the steps it involves are usually the same, irrespective of the program in use. These steps are modelling, building a scene – including lighting and texturing and final image rendering, which is usually done prior to post production.


In this step you create a room, as well as all the furniture. The things created at this step often leave many people amazed as they look at the models which make up 3D illustration. Very simple and easy 3D geometry is involved in creating a room. This is almost like an empty box which can vary in shape. For dining area you can add an L-shape, doors and windows can be made by adding holes. You can also add a hole in ceiling where stairs can be created later on. Besides these a lot of other features can be added in a highly simple and easy way.

Creating the geometry and architecture of a room is very easy and you can easily do it by using 3ds Max even without much practice or training. This is possible as the interiors of a room generally consist of simple shapes and straight lines.

Take a look at the 3D illustration given on this page which has a room which appears just like a usual box. For making a window, in the back we have added some setback area, as well as the window. Besides, even the furniture placed in this room is quite simple, consisting of straight lines and box like shapes.

This can seem a bit complex when you add furniture and other such items which make the room appear more real. In 3ds Max you have all the tools which can help you create these models. However, learning to use these and in accordance to one another for creating different shapes can become a bit complicated.

The model of crib placed in center can get somewhat complex. The trim placed on top needed a wave shape, which was created with Boolean and lofting tools. Other items placed there, such as curtains, toy duck and rocking horse also require different toolsets for creating them.

It can take time to learn to model items in 3ds Max. However you can always use shortcuts. One option is to spend money on buying models or downloading these for free, which will save your time which is otherwise spent on modeling every object on your own.

Looking for Freebies

Many models commonly used in interiors, such as appliances, furniture, window dressings and doors can be easily downloaded from online resources free or by paying a small cost. However, when using free models you might need to rescale them to make them more appropriate according to your specific room dimensions. On the other hand, paid models are considered in terms of quality, but this might not be the case always. You can also go as far as buying finished rooms, ready for you to set up and animate or render.

Scene Building

At this step you turn the assembled raw models into an actual room. You need to start by scaling and putting the models and objects in their actual place. Then you need to add textures and this can be done by using any of the two methods mentioned here.

Usually images based on pixels are used and applied to models, such as an images showing wooden texture can be applied to floor. This is done using a flat projection map suitable for floor texture. This way, various texture maps are applied in sphere or cylinder patterns for different model shapes.

Material Editor

Another method involves the use of procedural textures. These patterns are generated in the software, having various modifying attributes which make it easy for you to modify the image considerably. It is possible to animate these, unlike images which are pixel based. Max includes marble, wood and various other usual textures, as well as a lot of other features.

Procedural Material Editor

Adding Light to the Room

Adding light is a crucial step of the scene building process. If you have some experience of photography, stage or film lighting, then you can do it more easily. Max offers you various lighting styles similar to the ones which we use in actual world.

These can include point lights – type of bare bulb lighting where lampshades are applied generally, directional lighting – also known as the sun, tube lighting – fluorescent and many more. The option to incorporate IES lighting data makes it possible to create simulations and imperfections just like actual world.

Adding light to a scene can be fun. Besides doing those things which can be possibly done in the actual world, you can also attempt the impossible. For example, light can be subtracted from some areas, while you can render various passes for lighting and create a final set up after compositing renders in Photoshop.


The steps you have applied till here are all used in the rendering process for creating a final rendering of file. It combines texturing, lighting, as well as geometry datasets. However, it is hard to image a scenario which involves just a single rendering. You will always find something which does not seem right or needs a bit of modification. In that case you will be required to re-render it after fixing. If you have not used 3D before, then it might take some time to master it.

Render Setup

A prime reason which has made 3ds Max such a preferred choice in the architectural domain is its vast range of rendering options, such as mental ray engines and radiosity. V-Ray a rendering engine provided by third party is another popular option, used in various type of architectural work.

Post Production

Post work is a crucial step which cannot be overlooked. Irrespective of how proficient you are or how well you know the 3D processes, post work is involved in every 3D work. This might involve using Photoshop and After Effects for stills and animations, respectively. In most of the cases making changes in post-production is quite easy and fast.

Doorways and windows can be composited here using background imagery

The rendering of your scene is possible in many ways, while making it easier for you to get rid of complicated decision making process, as you can try different options much faster here.

For example: you can consider doing different rendering for every light or lights present in a group, which are added in a scene. For this resulting images can be stacked in Photoshop, generally using the lighten or screen Blend Mode and you can build the lighting of scene in post-production. This is especially useful while rendering the interiors which depend on lighting for making or breaking their chances to succeed.

One Final Tip

While creating interior masterpieces remember to keep the field’s depth in mind. In case you require sharp image, CG can be spotted easily if you use infinite DOF. It is better to spend some time rendering a depth map pass as using this will add more realism to the shot.

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