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[Video] 5 reasons why 3ds Max is Still the Best ArchViz Software

Okay, I know there is a lot of other software out there these days, and a lot people come at me in the comments and say "3ds Max is dead", or even that the 3ds Max + Vray workflow is not the best way to do things anymore. Well…I disagree, and I am going to give you my top 5 reasons why.

I understand that many of you might disagree, and that you have other workflows that you prefer, or think are better. Maybe this is because of price, speed, overall capabilities, whatever. Remember, I also have courses on various other software, like Twinmotion, SketchUp + Lumion, Unreal Engine, and all those software are good for what they do. I also understand that my needs and my workflow might be different than someone else's, and there are many different levels of visualization that may be needed, but for highly realistic, professional architectural renderings and animations, I choose Max as my CORE software.

I am going to make my case for why using 3ds Max is still the best way to go, and if you think my points suck, then come at me in the comments on the video.

And if you want to know the ultimate reason why I think Max is the best, or if you want to get a screaming deal on learning Max yourself, stay tuned until the end. Watch the video below:

Pricing Options

This may seem like a strange one, because 3ds Max has seemed way overpriced to me for a very long time. However, with the introduction of the indie license, it actually became a REALLY good deal. Mind you, this price does not apply to everyone, so if you are a big company you can just ignore this one, but for indie users, 3ds Max is an amazing value. Let’s compare:

  • 3ds Max Indie = $305/year 1875/year if you don’t qualify for indie license.

  • SketchUp Pro = $299/year, but 3ds Max capabilities are much more akin to SketchUp Studio, which is $699/year

  • Revit = I’m reluctant to call this an archviz software because it is definitely made for specifically for a different purpose, but it costs $2805/year

Of course, 3ds Max includes full rendering capabilities built-in with a high end render engine (Arnold) and that is certainly worth something as well. For example V-Ray costs $466/year for the most basic license.

Real time archviz software can also be super expensive, and it doesn’t even include the modeling capabilities. Lumion all by itself is $749/year for the standard license and $1499 for the real license – the pro one.

Point is, considering all the things 3ds Max can do, the price is comparatively pretty good, and if you qualify for the indie license it is VERY good.

On this point, though, it will never beat Blender, which is FREE, so we’ll have to look at some other advantages it has.

Modifiers and the modifier stack

So, spline modeling leads me to another point, and that is modifiers. Of course, 3ds Max is kind of known for its modifier stack, which is extremely useful for archviz. This is because so much of and archviz artists work involves iterating. Changes to your model are just a fact of life in archviz. The fact that 3ds Max allows you to keep a history of your work via the modifier stack, and you can go back and adjust any of your previous steps at any time – that is huge!

Not to mention that fact that the enormous amount of modifiers adds huge amounts of capabilities to any spline, standard primitive, polygon model, or anything else in your scene. The process of starting with simple shapes and modifying them to become extremely complex organic objects becomes very evident in 3ds Max with its modifiers.

Just as an example, the UVW and UVW unwrap modifiers offer all the control you need over the mapping of any object down to the minute details. This is an extremely useful and necessary capability that is highly lacking in some other software packages.

This is just one of the many examples of very powerful modifiers, but also just being able to lay these out in a modifier stack is extremely helpful, IMO. It’s a huge advantage for 3ds Max, specifically when it comes to archviz.

Industry Standard

Okay, this might seem like a lame reason to like a software – maybe it just started sooner, or has better marketing – but IMO, being an industry standard actually has some really important benefits. The first thing is that as an archviz artist, on a daily basis I get asked “can you open this file,” or, I just have to start every project by opening a model from somewhere or someone else. The fact that 3ds Max is powerful, and an industry standard, means that it has a really good chance of being able to open files from elsewhere. If you’re really lucky, whoever is sending you files may also be using 3ds Max.

This brings up another point to…if you are buying models, there is a REALLY good chance they are available in 3ds Max (especially high-end models because Max is awesome at modeling stuff). There is absolutely no shortage of assets made specifically for 3ds Max, and a lot of this is because it is an industry standard and lots of people use it.

This is true for internet forums too, and this is another really important element. Software needs to be so widely used that a simple google search will bring up forums where very specific, very niche questions are being asked and answered about your software. Let’s face it, this is how we all figure stuff out. Since 3ds Max has been around a really long time, and has been widely used within archviz, all the answers you seek are out there already on forums or youTube tutorials. Please subscribe! 😊

Overall, industry standard software has its benefits.


And this brings me to my final point. Because 3ds Max is a popular software for archviz, there are a lot of very high-end archviz plugins that are developed specifically for 3ds Max. The ultimate plugin for me, of course, is Vray. I love the way it perfectly integrates with, and extends the capabilities of 3ds Max. Now, it can actually even act as my asset library with Cosmos, and even my scatter tool with Vray scatter, but beyond that it already handles my lighting, materials and rendering in a very streamlined and highly photorealistic way.

Personally, I think 3ds Max + Vray (or similar) is still the killer combo when it comes to a full blown professional modeling & animation tool, and professional rendering tool to go with it. Most of the super high-end, highly photorealistic renderings I see online are still created with 3ds Max + Vray or 3ds Max + Corona.

Another plugin I use extensively is Forest Pack Pro, but really the possibilities with plug-ins are endless. There is not shortage of plug-ins that can increase the power of 3ds Max even further, again making it a great solution for a program with virtually no limit to what it can create.


3ds Max is The Best software out there for archviz because:

  • It is actually pretty competitive in its pricing, and if you qualify for indie licensing it is an amazing deal

  • It can model absolutely anything, and it has some specific tools that make modeling for archviz really good

  • It has the modifier stack with is very archviz friendly because of frequent changes that occur in a typical archviz workflow

  • It is an industry standard software, so there are tons of resources available for it

  • There are also tons of plugins available for it, which can make it even more perfect for archviz

So there you have it, I have made my case, but if you want to know the REAL reason why it is the best…

It’s because I have used it forever, I am comfortable with it, and I like it! 😊

Seriously though, I am really glad I put in the time to learn 3ds Max well at the beginning of my career, because I have NEVER felt limited by it since then. Animations, special effects, particles, camera tracking, crazy huge and complex models…it has handled it all either on its own or with a plugin.

I realize there are other software out there that perform well in multiple of these areas, but I do feel like Max truly hits on all the things I mentioned the best.

As an example, a lot of people use SketchUp to great effect, and it has a lot of the things I mentioned, but personally I feel like it is lacking in the hardcore poly modeling tools, which I need on so many projects for custom, organic models.

Maybe if you’re a big time SketchUp user you disagree with me? Let me know in the comments of the video!

I see more and more people using Blender now, which is definitely a very powerful software. I wouldn’t call it an industry standard yet, and I think I would find it lacking in the modifier stack and in the spline modeling which I love for archviz.

Again, maybe I’m wrong about this, but Blender users can yell at me in the comments.

I’d love to know what software you are using and why. Let me know in the comments, and if I have sold you at all on 3ds Max, check out my 3ds Max Mastery course HERE.


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