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Best Way to Render Wireframes in 3ds Max


Published on - Learn the best way to render a wireframe for your 3D model in 3ds Max. Get $50 trial credits to test the 3ds max render farm service with all features enabled without any commitment.

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Best Way to Render Wireframes in 3ds Max

  1. 1. Best Way to Render Wireframes in 3DS Max Whether creating your demo reel or adding some unique look on your model, wireframe rendering is something you will want to learn and apply to your projects. Showing off the clean topology of your 3D model is usually the main reason for wireframe rendering. This article will guide and show you the simplest way to render a wireframe for your 3D model in 3ds Max. The best thing about these methods is that they’re very easy to follow and once you figure out what look you’re trying to achieve it’s just up to you to decide which will work best. Rendering Wireframe with Standard material This method is faster between the two but will require some compositing using Photoshop or other similar application to put together the final render. The first thing you’ll want to do is open up the Material Editor by either pressing “M” on your keyboard or clicking the icon in the upper right corner of 3ds Max.
  2. 2. Make sure you’re working in the Compact Material Editor if you want to be able to follow along a little easier. Now select one of the default materials in the material window.
  3. 3. Under the Shader Basic Parameters check the Wire box. If you look at the material you’ll see that it’s now a wireframe.
  4. 4. Select your 3D mesh and the newly created Wire material and select the Assign Material Selection Icon, or you can simply drag the material directly onto the model. You should now see similar results in the viewport as shown below.
  5. 5. Next select the Rendered Frame Window button in the upper right corner of 3ds Max. This will open up the rendering dialogue box.
  6. 6. Now press the Render button. And you should see similar results as shown below. With the wireframe material applied to the model it will render just the wireframe. This method is best when you only want to display the Alpha channel. So turn on just the Alpha channel in the render settings. You should now see the wireframe turns complete white.
  7. 7. If you want to have more control over how your wire looks, simply go back to the material editor and under Extended Parameters you can lower or raise the thickness of the wireframe.
  8. 8. Once you have your desired wireframe, save the image and load it to your favorite editing software like Photoshop and finish the compositing there. The best thing about this method is that you’ll have complete control over the wireframe once you bring it into Photoshop. There you can change the color and use any blending mode you prefer to achieve the look you want. Rendering Wireframe with Mental Ray This method is very similar to the first one, but will allow you to do everything in 3ds Max. This is great if you want to do something like an Ambient Occlusion render with a wireframe overlay. This first thing to remember using this method is that you need to use Mental Ray in order for the wireframe to show up properly. So open your Render Setup.
  9. 9. Make sure you’re under the Common tab and scroll all the way down until you find the Assign Renderer and open the drop down as shown below: Press the icon from the very right of the Production settings.
  10. 10. Select NVIDIA Mental Ray renderer. With your render settings now established, load material editor by pressing the “M” key on your keyboard or clicking the icon in the upper right corner.
  11. 11. Similar to the first method, select one of the default materials. But instead of checking the Wire box, select the Standard button.
  12. 12. This will open the Material/Map Browser. Scroll up until you find the Composite material and select it then press OK. The composite material allows you to combine multiple materials together. You should now see a dialogue box that says Discard old material? Or Keep old material as sub-material? Either one is fine; in this case we’ve just discarded the old material.
  13. 13. Under the Composite Basic Parameters drop down in the material editor you should now see you have several materials that can be plugged into this single composite material. Under the Mat. 1: select None. This will open up the Material/Map Browser again. This time you want to scroll down until you find the Standard material.
  14. 14. This will create a Standard material within the Composite material. In the Standard material options, open the Blinn Basic Parameters drop down and select the Diffuse color. You can change the color to whatever you like, currently its dark grey.
  15. 15. Now select Go to Parent. This will bring you back to the Composite material options.
  16. 16. Under the Composite Basic Parameters, add another Standard material into Mat. 2. In this new Standard material you can check the Wire box. If you notice the dark grey material you set for the first Standard material is still visible, and the wireframe has now been applied as an overlay.
  17. 17. Apply this new material to your 3D model, you should see similar results as shown below. Notice that the grey material isn’t being displayed, but don’t worry, it’s only that way in the viewport.
  18. 18. Once you render the project, you should see similar results as shown below. The grey material is applied as the base color for the axe. You can create any lights you want for the scene. You can also experiment with different colors for your wireframe. While the Mental Ray method doesn’t provide the flexibility as the first one, it’s a great way to quickly create a nice looking wireframe render without having to bring it into a compositing application. Both these methods should provide exactly what you need to create a nice looking wireframe render. It really comes down to which method you think will work best for your particular project.