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3ds Max Free Download – Is There a Free Full Version?

Picture of Max von Übel
by Max von Übel
Apr 24, 2018

Looking for "3ds Max free download" and don't want to commit to buy the full version of the popular 3D modeling software? Here are the best answers to the question: Is there a free full version?

The correct answer to the question if there is a full free version of 3ds Max would be “Yes, but …” or “No, but …” depending on your point of view.

3ds Max is a commercial software used for 3D modeling and 3D animation. It is famous for its powerful modeling tools that enable users to create complex geometries in a clear cut workflow. In addition, some professionals consider it easier to learn than Maya, the other 3D modeling software by Autodesk.

Its vast feature set makes 3ds Max an industry standard. As such, it is used by diverse groups of professionals like architects, engineers, game developers, and VFX artists. Hence, it comes as no surprise that the full version of 3ds Max is not free.

Luckily (here’s the but), there are fully functional 3ds Max free trial versions for you to test before you buy it. Also, if you are a student, you are eligible for an educational version that runs for three years.

Just in case the price tag of the commercial version is out of your budget, check out the best free 3ds Max alternatives.

3ds Max Free Trial Versions

3ds Max Free Trial Versions Full Version

Image of 3ds Max Free Trial Versions: Full Version

Interested users can get a free one-month trial version from Autodesk’s website. The process is refreshingly straightforward:

  1. Click DOWNLOAD FOR FREE.
  2. Read the system requirements notice. Click NEXT.
  3. Choose “Individual or Business User” from the list. Choose your language. Click NEXT.
  4. Enter your personal information to create an Autodesk account. Alternatively, sign in to your existing Autodesk account.
  5. Read the Trial Notice and click BEGIN DOWNLOAD.
  6. Install, and start using the free trial of 3ds Max

3ds Max Free Trial Versions Educational Version

Image of 3ds Max Free Trial Versions: Educational Version

Autodesk offers educational licenses of 3ds Max that are valid for three years. They are available on Autodesk’s website.

  1. Click SIGN IN to use your existing Autodesk account, or click CREATE ACCOUNT to create a new account.
  2. Enter the required information on your educational institution and select your field of study.
  3. You can now access the Autodesk Education Community.
  4. Select the desired version, your operating system, and your preferred language.
  5. The displayed serial number and product key are sent to your email address. Click BROWSER DOWNLOAD.
  6. Install the free version of 3ds Max.
  7. When installing the 3D modeling software the first time, enter the serial number and product key to unlock it.
  8. When you start 3ds Max the first time, activate the license.

3ds Max Free Download Available Features

Image of 3ds Max Free Download: Available Features

3ds Max is a 3D modeling software classic by Autodesk. It brings all the high-end features like particle and light simulation, cloth-simulation engine to the table that video game developers, and visual effects artists need to create entertainment content.

Also, 3ds Max is beloved by architects and engineers because it is designed to interface with CAD tools like AutoCAD. This makes it the go-to solution for high-quality architectural visualizations.

Regarding 3D modeling itself, 3ds Max is capable of creating parametric and organic objects using polygons, subdivision surfaces, and spline-based modeling.

Designers will be interested in the NURBS-based modeling tools in this 3D modeling software that allows for both organic and mathematically precise meshes. Among the other techniques is the ability to create models from point cloud data.

The newest release of 3ds Max offers support for the Open Shading Language (OSL). This effectively extends the range of possibilities for physically-based renderers (like Arnold) inside 3ds Max that support ray tracing and global illumination.

What is more, 3ds Max is also picking up the trend to integrate procedural workflows. Specifically, it is now possible to create wood texture using a procedural node system.

3ds Max vs Maya

Many people rightly wonder why Autodesk offers two 3D modeling softwares. As usual, the devil is in the detail. So, how does 3ds Max compare to Maya? That largely depends on your own set of skills as a 3D artist.

Maya boasts its own scripting language MEL that is a huge favorite among professionals in the effects industry. They love MEL, as it allows them to create bespoke tools for their projects that can speed up the workflow of repetitive tasks and thus accelerate the overall turnaround.

Another selling point are Maya’s 3D animation tools. Character rigging and animation are famously robust. Therefore, this 3D animation software is one of the go-to suites in the games and effects industries.

However, 3ds Max shines in other areas. It is famous for its powerful modeling tools that enable users to create complex geometries in a clear cut workflow.

A big chunk of 3ds Max’s audience is made up of graphic artists and designers who leverage the 3D modeling software’s strengths in this field. In addition, some professionals consider it easier to learn than Maya.

You should also consider that 3ds Max is only available for Windows, while Maya also runs on macOS.

3ds Max Free Download System Requirements

Image of 3ds Max Free Download: System Requirements
  • OS: Windows 7 and higher
  • CPU: 64-bit processor
  • RAM: 4 GB RAM minimum, 8 GB or more recommended
  • Graphics Card: (See the list of certified GPUs)

Click here for more information.

Free 3ds Max Alternatives

If the $1,470 (per year) price tag is out of your range, there are a number of free solutions that offer comparable features. The most notable among them are Blender, SketchUp, and Clara.io.

To learn more about free 3D Modeling software, check out our article, 30 Best Free CAD Software Tools (2D/3D CAD Programs)

If these programs simply don’t cut it for you, consider these free and commercial alternatives to 3ds Max: 30 Best 3D Design/3D Modeling Software Tools (15 are Free)

Free 3ds Max Alternative Blender

Image of Free 3ds Max Alternative: Blender

There is no doubt that Blender is the most mature 3D modeling software available for free. It is used by advanced amateurs, students and some professionals for diverse applications such as animated films, visual effects, graphic design, video games – and 3D printed models.

Among Blender’s mind-boggling array of features, there are advanced 3D modeling techniques like procedural modeling. This technique can be harnessed to model complex structures that would be very time-consuming to create manually. Landscapes or cityscapes are often modeled using procedural modeling. This makes Blender one of the best free 3ds Max alternatives to use.

Free 3ds Max Alternative SketchUp

Image of Free 3ds Max Alternative: SketchUp

SketchUp is a favorite among architects for various stages in the design and planning process since it is especially apt for creating architectural visualizations. The commercial version of this 3D modeling program comes with a series of rendering styles that are designed for this purpose.

But thanks to the many free plugins that extend its feature set, the free version also lends itself to other purposes like 3D animation or even 3D printing. What is more, this free 3ds max alternative has its own 3D file repository: 3D Warehouse. A library of approximately 2.2 million files that can be downloaded directly into the program.

Free 3ds Max Alternative Clara.io

Image of Free 3ds Max Alternative: Clara.io

Clara.io is one of very few professional 3D modeling softwares that you can run in your web browser. Notwithstanding this ease of use, Clara.io is a fully fledged 3D modeling software that covers your everyday needs. The company boasts the use of its software for previsualization of major feature films. In terms of modeling you get extrusion, beveling, slicing, cutting, and looping.

Featuring basic keyframe animation, it is even the right choice for creating animated movies. Impressively, with this free 3ds max alternative you can even render your animations in the cloud using the sophisticated V-Ray engine. For unlimited private scenes and rendering time, consider buying a subscription.

License: The text of "3ds Max Free Download – Is There a Free Full Version?" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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