How to render Point Clouds in 3ds Max 2018 and more recent versions.


Until Version 2018, 3ds Max used NVIDIA’s Mental Ray renderer to render point cloud data imported from Autodesk ReCap or other programs. However, 3ds Max 2018 and subsequent versions of the software no longer include the Mental Ray engine as a rendering option, and as of 20 November 2017, NVIDIA ceased development on the Mental Ray render engine.

Autodesk recommends using the Arnold renderer in 3ds Max 2018 and later to render point cloud data.


To render with Point Clouds in 3ds Max 2018 or more recent versions, download and install Update 4 (2018.4) for 3ds Max 2018. To install the update:

  1. Go to your Autodesk Account.
  2. Choose 3ds Max > Downloads > Updates & Add-ons.
  3. Find the3ds Max 2018.4 Update and select the Browser Download option. Once installed, this update allows the 3ds Max 2018 (or newer) Arnold renderer to render ReCap point cloud data.

To render point clouds in Arnold in 3ds Max

Follow these steps:

  1. In 3ds Max, navigate to the Command Panel > Create > Geometry > Point Cloud Object, and click within any 3ds Max viewport to place a Point Cloud Helper in the scene.
  2. From the Modify panel, make sure the Point Cloud helper is selected. Under Point Cloud Source > Scan File, browse to the appropriate ReCap .RCP file and load it.
    • Make sure that the ReCap output folder is available at the same location as the ReCap .RCP file. The ReCap output folder is named as <ReCapProjectName>Support and contains an .RCS file with the processed geometry data of the scan. After a few moments the point cloud object should appear in the scene.
  3. The point cloud object should have the following parameters set:
  • Display: Color Channel should be set to True Color.
  • Level of Detail Setting: Highest Quality.
  • Check Fixed in Rendering and Level of Detail at 100.
  1. Under Point Display, set As Pixel to at least 1.00 so the object(s) properly in the Shaded viewports. 
  2. From the Render > Render Setup panel, make sure the renderer is set to Arnold.
  3. Open the Material Editor and load an Arnold Standard Surface shader.
  4. In the Base Color slot, load a User Data RGBA map. Under Attribute, type in the word colors.
  5. Assign this material to the point cloud object and then do test renderings to see the results.
User-added image

3rd-Party Point Cloud Rendering Support

  • The VRay 3.x and NEXT renderers (available from The Chaos Group) can render point cloud data natively within 3ds Max 2018-2020.

See also:


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