3DS Max – What is…?

In one of our Technical Production Skills lessons, we were given a handout that had various 3DS Max elements and features, so we can see what things do. Below is a list of various things within the software that I may or may not use during my time using the software.

Diffuse Maps

A diffuse map is used to add colour or a texture to an object that has been created. It is also known as a Colour Map. An example of this could be a wall with a brick texture on it or a floor with a carpet texture.

Specular Maps

A specular map is used to add a shine to an object, the level of white that is there intensifies the amount of shine. You would mainly see this on shiny surfaces, glass, plastic, metal or ceramics.

Normal Maps

Normal maps are used to add finer detail into a model by creating bumps and indents within a map. This will allow the computer to create the illusion of indents. For example, cement lines on a brick wall; If you apply a diffuse map to an object it can look plain and boring, by adding a normal map with that, this will give it a greater level of detail.

Reflection Maps

Reflection maps tell 3DS Max that the areas of your objects have a reflective surface, this works a lot like a specular map; with black spots not being reflective and white spots being very reflective.

Alpha Maps

An alpha map will make a part of the model transparent so you can see right through it.


This stands for Ultra Violet and is what is shown when an object has been UVUnwrapped.


XYZ axis are used for the positioning/scaling/ rotating of an object; with X moving it left and right, Y moving it forward and backward and Z moving it up and down.


A vertex is usually found on a corner, but they are also found when the end of one edge meets another edge.


A polygon is a 2D shape that can have many edges, multiple polygons go on to form a 3D shape. For example, to create a cube you need 6 polygons all the same width, height and length and connecting them together with produce a shape.

Ambient Light

Ambient light is the general light that will light up the entire object, low ambient light will light a small amount of the object and high with light the whole scene.

Ambient Occlusion

An ambient occlusion produces light for an object based on the light and its environment. Parts that have a high amount of geometry will be darker than other places within the shape.


This is used to smooth out any wayward pixels on a model and makes rendered models look less pixelated.


File type used to texture models.


A boolean is used to cut a piece out of an object using another object.


When models are grouped or linked together, the Parent model will be the main model they follow.


Child objects follow the parent model.


Shows where the selected object is, in the scene.


This stands for ‘Depth of Field’ and is used to bring focus to an object.


An extrusion is used to drag in or out a polygon face to create a new shape, adding more polygons as you do it.


The geometry is how the shape is created.


“Short for High Dynamic Range Imaging, HDRI is an imaging technique that allows for a greater dynamic range of exposure than would be obtained through any normal imaging process.”  Source


A material is added to a model and usually consists of many different maps, diffuse, specular and normal maps for example.


The mesh is the wire-frame work of the model, allowing the user to view all the edges and contour lines within a shape.


A camera view within 3DS max that is 2 dimensional and is usually looking at the object on an angle.


A view that shows everything in real perspective.


Four sided polygons.


Three sided polygons.


The process used to make textures look seamless. For example, a brick texture places next to another brick texture will produce a line where they touch, when they are tiled, this line vanishes and results in a more fluid texture.


This is the image file type that has to be used for a texture if you want to export it to UDK.


This is the file type that has to be used for a object if you want to export it to UDK.


~ by reeceharry on April 23, 2013.

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