Thursday, August 31st, 2017 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk releases 3ds Max 2018.2

Autodesk has released 3ds Max 2018.2, the latest update to the 3D modelling and animation software, adding a suite of new spline tools based on Boomer Labs‘ SplineTools plugin.

The update also adds a new UI-free Batch mode for automating tasks via MAXScript or Python; while subscription users get the right to run batch operations on extra cloud instances of Max for free.

New spline modelling and animation features from Boomer Labs’ SplineTools plugin
The main new features in 3ds Max 2018.2 come from Boomer Labs’ SplineTools plugin, which Autodesk bought earlier this year: a suite of tools to make working with splines more intuitive and controllable.

According to its creator, Mathew ‘Boomer’ Kaustinen, who worked alongside Autodesk on the integration, the new version features “many improvements and new functionality” over the original plugin.

Key features include the Freehand Spline, which enables users to draw splines freehand in the 3ds Max viewport, including directly onto the surfaces of other objects.

There are also a set of useful new modifiers: Spline Mirror duplicates a spline along a selected axis; Spline Relax smoothes out the curves; and Optimize Spline reduces the number of knots required to define them.

The Spline Influence modifer makes it possible to soft-select spline knots based on proximity to other objects in a scene, and is teamed with a new Influence Helper object for soft-selecting vertices.

The Spline Overlap modifier detects where splines intersect one another and automatically displaces the intersecting segments; and the Spline Morph modifier morphs between spline shapes for animation.

New UI-free Batch mode for automating repetitive or intensive tasks
The other big change in 3ds Max 2018.2 is the new Batch mode, intended for automating repetitive or resource-intensive tasks like simulation, rendering or background animation.

When running in Batch mode, 3ds Max does not load the user interface, freeing up memory for other tasks, although all of the software’s commands remain accessible via MAXScript or Python.

As well as local machines, Batch mode can also be used on cloud instances of 3ds Max.

Subscription users can use headless instances of 3ds Max free in the cloud
The latter capability is designed for use with the new Cloud Rights system, which let subscription users run batch functionality on UI-free instances of 3ds Max in the cloud without having to take out extra licences.

Single-user subscriptions get one cloud instance free; multi-user subscriptions get ten.

You don’t get the new Cloud Rights if you’re using a maintenance plan to update an old perpetual licence of 3ds Max, so they form part of Autodesk’s drive to get users to switch from maintenance to subscription: in March, the company announced that the price of maintenance would rise 38% by 2019.

Other improvements and bugfixes
As well as the new features, 3ds Max 2018.2 bugfixes and/or adds new features to existing tools including the PathDeform modifer, UVW Unwrap modifier and Normalize Spline modifer.

You can find a full list of changes via the link at the foot of the story.

Pricing and availability
3ds Max 2018.2 is available for Windows 7+. The software is available on a rental-only basis, with new subscriptions priced at $185/month or $1,470/year.

Read more about the new features in 3ds Max 2018.2 on Autodesk’s AREA blog

Read a full list of new features in 3ds Max 2018.2 in the online release notes