Taking Your Civil Designs to 3ds Max

When you want to give your civil designs much more visual impact, one option you have is to take them in to Autodesk’s 3ds Max software. 3ds Max is a 3D modeling, rendering and animation software for design visualization, games and animation which will allow you to produce stunning images and videos of your design. You can also take your 3ds Max project to Virtual Reality for even more impact.

The first step in leveraging the power of 3ds Max is to bring in your design data. There are two main sources of design information for civil based projects; Infraworks and Civil 3D. I will go through both processes below.

From Civil 3D

Once you are ready to export your design, on the Civil 3D Output tab select Export to 3ds Max


This will bring up a dialog box where you can choose what to export. All of the Alignments, Corridors, Pipe networks and Surfaces are available to be selected individually or as a group. On the right-hand side of the dialog box are the Alignment options which lets you set intervals for points on tangents, curves and spirals.


When exporting from Civil 3D, only export what you need. Exporting extra objects will slow down the performance of 3ds Max. You can always export additional items at a later date.

Once all the objects have been selected click Export and choose a place to store the file. This will produce a .VSP3D file which will be imported in to 3ds Max.

If it isn’t already, start 3ds Max and navigate to the Civil View tab in the top menu bar. The first time you open it you will have to select Initialize. This will open a dialog box which allows you to set the system units, country resource kit and start mode. It will also require a restart of 3ds Max.

Upon restarting, select Civil View again and in the dropdown, select, Geometry Import > Civil 3D (VSP3D) file…


In the Civil 3D Import Panel click Open and select the .VSP3D file. Once loaded, all of the Civil 3D objects will be listed. Select the objects to import and select OK. This will import the Civil 3D objects in to 3ds Max.


The other option is to import from Infraworks

Open the Infraworks model you want to export and change view to conceptual. Under Setting, Export 3D Model


In the Export to 3D Model file dialog box, select the model, or area of the model to be exported. Define the coordinate system and set the offset to User Defined. (Note: 3ds Max does not use the decimal places in the offset values so delete the decimal and any numbers to the right.) Select the radio button for Multiple files and set where to save the output files.

This will export individual .FBX files which can then be imported in to 3ds Max.

In 3ds Max, select Import in the File dropdown menu and choose one of the .FBX files to import. Keep all the defaults and select OK. This will import your .FBX file, repeat the import for the other .FBX files you wish to import.


Those are two of the ways to bring your Civil projects over to 3ds Max to give them great visual impact.

About the Author

James Branagan

Civil Solutions Applications Expert<br><br>As a software applications expert I provides knowledgeable and competent support and training, specializing in AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Infraworks, Advance Steel, ReCap, Pix4D and Leica's suite of point cloud tools including Register 360 and Cyclone Model.

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