Iray for 3ds Max is a plugin renderer developed by Lightworks (part of Siemens Industry Software). It creates physically accurate renderings by tracing light paths using the full power of Iray's interactivity and scalability. The plugin features an easy-to-use, intuitive workflow that maximizes productivity by providing immediate visual feedback during scene development. Plus easily create or modify physical based lights and materials using a layered material model, the NVIDIA vMaterials Library is supported as well as material exchange capabilities with other MDL compatible applications.

Bedroom Interior Rendered in Iray for 3ds Max

This document describes the concepts and features in the plugin, as well as help and advice on how to use Iray for 3ds Max. This guide assumes a familiarity with the interface and concepts in 3ds Max.

See Autodesk's 3ds Max documentation for help and advice with general use.

For an overall list of Iray compatibility with 3ds Max features see the compatibility page.

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What is Iray?

An introduction to the plugin

Iray for 3ds Max is a physically based ray tracing renderer with accurate materials based on NVIDIA’s Material Definition (MDL) standard. This physically accurate engine allows you to create the highest quality images and animations with a real-world approach to materials, cameras and lighting. The lighting in an Iray rendered image is authentic to the real world, as all light interactions in your scene are represented accurately.

Iray for 3ds Max is based on the NVIDIA technology, Iray, which is used in many professional high-end applications and by top design and visualization companies around the world. Iray boasts improvements including an easy to understand material structure and usability enhancements.

Iray for 3ds Max extends the capabilities of the Iray implementation currently included in some versions of 3ds Max, including new features such as full MDL support, interactive rendering, support for cloud or remote renderings and an improved approach to using and creating physically accurate materials.

The Iray plugin includes 2 renderers; Iray+ and Iray+ Interactive. The Iray+ renderer creates production images while the Iray+ Interactive renderer allows you to navigate models in real-time with results that are almost indistinguishable from the Iray+ renderer. We’ve developed a comprehensive library of high-quality materials and an intuitive material editing UI, which enables you to create the materials you need in minutes. Our photometric lights and physically accurate sky system mean all lighting is representative of the real world. Iray for 3ds Max also supports remote rendering, which enables you to harness the GPU power of cloud rendering and render farms.

Why use Iray?


Iray for 3ds Max is based on the fundamental concepts of the real world, with lighting physics, photographic settings and the structure of materials all true to life. We use real-world concepts and present the minimum necessary parameters needed to get stunning images and animations.

Interactive Rendering

Iray+ Interactive renderer uses advanced approximation algorithms to mimic realism while minimizing unwanted noise. This gives you greater speed in your workflow. The ability to use both renderers simultaneously means you can quickly preview your scene with Iray+ Interactive renderer on your workstation whilst rendering remotely in Iray+ renderer for your production work.

3ds Max

We have designed Iray for 3ds Max to complement your existing workflows, not disrupt them. We have kept the number of Iray specific UIs to a minimum and where possible we defer to 3ds Max to accomplish tasks. Where we do use our own objects and parameters we present them clearly and in the familiar formats used by 3ds Max.


Iray for 3ds Max is designed to make optimal use of GPU hardware to ensure that your rendering is as fast and as powerful as possible. We recommend using NVIDIA GPUs to enhance the performance of your rendering. Local and remote rendering are fully supported and can be used with many batch rendering tools.


Iray for 3ds Max is just one of the many future products in the Iray product line, all sharing compatibility with this and other NVIDIA Iray enabled software. This means MDL materials and other elements can be used at every stage during a workflow from prototyping, review, simulation and manufacture. Iray for 3ds Max includes conversion from mental ray® and Autodesk materials, quickly bringing any existing scenes up-to-date.


NVIDIA’s Iray is used by professionals in many industries including automotive, jewellery, architecture, product, interior design and many more. An expansive material library provides the basis for creating virtually any material. MDL provides a powerful method for expressing and sharing any material.

Next: The Conceptual Model of Iray

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