3ds Max 2024 is a surprisingly robust update. The combination of a regular release schedule and the fact 3ds Max is over a quarter of a century old often results in a collection of fairly unexciting improvements when it comes to this established Autodesk toolkit. Not this time though.
Autodesk has managed to introduce a range of significant features and improvements that genuinely take 3ds Max to the next level. These include new and improved Boolean and Array modifiers, a reworked and much better Slate Material Editor, and OCIO colour management.
To gauge where things have come, or haven't, in a way, read our 3ds Max review from 2017, it's actually quite eye-opening. If you're new to this 3D modelling software then read our 3ds Max tutorial list to get a good idea of what this industry-standard soften can help you achieve.
3ds Max 2024 review: the big new tool
3ds Max’s Boolean modifier, in my opinion, has something of a chequered history. For a long time it has contained much of the required functionality for artists, but would regularly crash the software or provide unpredictable results. It was therefore difficult for artists to rely on it in a production environment, especially for more complex meshes.
But Autodesk has finally taken the steps to address these major shortfalls and delivered a new, completely revolutionary Boolean modifier. You can now say goodbye to your previous ProBoolean and Boolean modifiers.
Aside from performance improvements, there are also a range of additional features including the Use Live Reference option. By default, the object being subtracted from an object will be removed from the scene and integrated into the Boolean modifier. This means that if you move the object, the Boolean subtraction will move with it.
With the Live Reference feature, the subtracted object retains its independence and can be easily moved around with the operation still applying. If the base mesh is moved then the Boolean object is not moved with it. This introduces great possibilities, especially for animating Booleans.
This all-new modifier also includes an OpenVDB meshing option that converts the meshes to volumes before carrying out the desired Boolean operation. The result is then converted back to polygons. This option is incredibly stable, perfect for complex geometry, and results in beautifully uniform quad-based meshes. An additional neat little feature is the ability to control the voxel size, giving artists the ability to customise the polygon count of the final mesh independent of the meshes that were used for the initial Boolean operation.
The power of this new Boolean modifier becomes apparent when combining multiple Boolean operations in the stack. Complex organic objects can be modelled in a fraction of the time by copying and merging parts of the model into the Boolean stack. This saves time during polygon editing workflows and as it’s all modifier based, the results are non-destructive.
3ds Max 2024 review: small refinements
A new Array modifier was introduced in the second update of version 2023, but has now been improved and extended. Most notable is the introduction of a new phyllotaxis distribution method that can be used to generate the type of distribution of objects seen in nature, for example in flowers.
This method will also be useful when creating abstract arrays that require stylised results. With many of the parameters allowing keyframes, some impressive animations can be achieved. Aside from this, artists now have more control over the allocation of Face IDs in the array; perfect for creating naturally distributed materials across an object.
3ds Max’s interface continues to see improvements as a result of beginning a transition over to Qt in 2017. This is noticeable in the latest Slate Material Editor with the most obvious improvement being how quick it is. The editor doesn’t need to be redrawn each frame, resulting in no lag for users. Qt adoption also allows for the editor to be docked anywhere within the interface, which is ideal for those artists who want to work with multiple windows at the same time.
Artists are also helped with a new Compound node that enables nodes to be grouped together for better organisation. This will be particularly beneficial for artists working on complex materials, or for those wanting to save their compound materials to the editor for other projects.
Finally, inside the Slate Material Editor, artists will find something called a Material Switcher node, making it much quicker to switch between materials on an object; perfect for previewing varying looks.
3ds Max 2024 is a good release that adds genuinely good new features into its established toolkit, and manages iron-out some long running issues. If you're new to 3D art, take a look at our guide to the best 3D modelling software for a comparison and read up on the latest hardware in our best laptops for 3D modelling feature.
This content originally appeared in 3D World magazine. Subscribe to 3D World at Magazines Direct.