Using MDL with mental ray in 3ds Max 2016

Following the introduction, we will now go through the steps to render MDL materials in 3ds Max 2016. In the instructions below, [3dsMax2016] referes to the folder where 3ds Max 2016 is installed (typically C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2016).


1. Unzip the attached package NVIDIA_MDL_3dsMax into a temporary folder.

The package contains the following files:

  • – Archive with mdl examples
  • libmdl.dll  –  Latest version ( of the MDL mental ray dll
  • mdl_max.mi  –  GUI file to display pretty MDL names
  • MDLScene.max  –  Sample 3ds Max scene with MDL materials

2. Unzip into a newly created folder  [3dsMax2016]\NVIDIA\shaders_3rdparty\mdl\

You should end up with the following files:ExplorerViewOnMaxMdlExamples

3. Install the file mdl_max.mi in the folder [3dsMax2016]\NVIDIA\shaders_autoload\mentalray\include\

4. Copy the new version of libmdl.dll into the folder: [3dsMax2016]\


Rendering in 3ds Max 2016

Start 3ds Max 2016, chose mr production renderer and open material editor. You should see a new set of materials:


You might want to load the scene MDLScene.max, it has some MDL materials already set.
Here is mental ray rendering with few MDL materials assigned:


And iray rendering:


11 thoughts on “Using MDL with mental ray in 3ds Max 2016

  1. Pete says:

    Any chance of getting a blog post on how to get the MILA material working in 3ds Max, there was talk of one last year after the release of Max2015, but it never appeared, maya got one.

  2. maximus says:

    I´ve tried every step several times, but no luck with 3ds Max 2016:-(
    The MDL Materials do not show up in the Material Editor.

  3. Юра says:

    I successfully tryed, the only problem was the PDF file inside the ZIP, max does not reads the filenames after this file (must be deleted)

  4. Steffen says:

    In 3ds Max 2018 (and previous 2017) the MDL support is built in. No need to install anything. If you grab the MDL vMaterials library from the NVIDIA website then you will see them in Max GUI right away, and you can edit and assign them like regular materials.

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