Export 3ds Max models into Gmax

Is your 3ds Max Trial running out? You could buy the full version for $4000. But if you can’t afford it yet, why not export your 3ds Max models to Gmax?

You can and it is easy to do. Gmax is an older stripped down version of 3ds Max, but all the modeling and animation fundamentals are the same. So you can export your meshes, UVW maps, bitmaps, and continue modeling in Gmax.

And when you buy 3ds Max, you can easily Import your Gmax models.

In this tutorial, you see how to export 3ds Max models into Gmax. Simply export the model as a .3DS file. In Gmax, import it, and weld all vertexes at 0.01%, then convert to an Editable Poly.

The Material bitmaps and UVW map can all be restored.

Note: 3ds Max .3DS Exporter, exports the UVW map and Texture bitmaps. Also Multiple objects can be exported with their materials as well.


Export model from 3ds Max
Import model into Gmax
Set the Model up in Gmax
Importing Materials
Restore the UVW Map
Bake Maps (Normal, Specular, Diffuse)
Exporting to .3DS Information

Export model from 3ds Max

In 3ds Max select the object(s) to Export. In this example, the 50cal project. In this scene, we will export the two objects (picture background, gun model).


Go to Export / Export. Name it and save it as a .3DS file. Check Preserve MAX’s Texture Coordinates.


Import model into Gmax

Boot your Gmax. Go to File / Import. Open the .3DSfile.


Choose “Completely replace current scene.”


Set the Model up in Gmax

Select each object and go to Vertex mode. There are four vertices for each point. It is just the way .3DS is exported. We have to weld all overlapping vertices into one point each.


Group select all the vertices (2049) and Weld Selected at 0.01. Now there are 702 vertices.


There are four separate Elements in this model. The inner barrel of the largest barrel segment needs to be isolated to get access to those vertices. So go to Element, and select the outer ones and Hide.


Now go to Vertexmode and group select all points and Weld Selected at 0.01. Now the overlapping vertices are welded.


Go back to Polygon mode. Click Unhide all to get the model to show.


Right click Editable Mesh.


Then convert to Editable Poly. This puts us back in 4 point poly mode. Most of the “tri” edges are gone and you can now continue modeling in Gmax.

NOTE: the plane object does not have any overlapping vertices, so it is ready.


Importing Materials

NOTE : Specular maps will not display in the Gmax viewports. There is no Normal Map in the Map rollout, just a Bump Map, but it does not display in the viewports. To simulate a Bump and Specular Map in Gmax read:

How to Bake Normal and Specular Maps into the Diffuse Map

Click the Gmax Material Navigator button on the toolbar. We have two Standard Materials, one for the plane object (01-Default), and one for the gun model (09-Default). The plane Material has one bitmap and the gun model has two bitmaps. They are blank until you reload the original bitmaps back in.


Double clickthe first material 01– Default, go to the maps rollout, and load the original Diffuse map for the Plane object. Click the Show Map in Viewport button. The bitmap should display on the Plane object.


Double click the gun Material 09 – Default.


Do the same thing for the gun Material bitmaps in the map rollout. Load the Diffuse and Opacity bitmaps.


Restore the UVW Map

Add an Unwrap UVW modifier.

Click the Edit button, and you see the UV parts layout the same as it was in 3ds Max.


There may be a bit of distortion on some parts. Go to Map #2 (diffuse). Click the Show Map button. Zoom in and check if anything is distorted against the diffuse background. You may just have to adjust the vertex points around, or in the worst case, you will have to map just those parts again in Gmax.


Bake Maps (Normal, Specular, Diffuse)

Baking Normal and Specular maps is for Gmax only, not 3ds Max. Because Gmax does not handle these maps, then baking them is the only way to simulate Normal Bump and Specular rendering.

Jump to this tutorial to see the Photoshop and Gimp solutions:

Bake Normal and Specular Maps into the Diffuse Map

Original Diffuse and Opacity maps:


Baked Diffuse, Normal, and Specular maps, and an Opacity map.


Exporting to .3DS Format

NOTE: When Exporting a file in 3DS format, some thing are not exported:

– Composite and procedural maps.

For more information on the .3DS file format, please refer to the 3ds Max Online Manual.


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