In Houdini, networks of nodes can be easily wrapped up into Houdini Digital Assets then shared with other artists. With the Houdini Engine, these assets can be loaded into Autodesk 3ds Max with procedural controls available to artists.

The results can then be further manipulated in  3ds Max and can be rendered as part of a  3ds Max scene. Anytime a parameter is changed on the asset, the Houdini Engine is called upon to "cook" the network of nodes and publish the results to  3ds Max. This allows for deep integration of Houdini Digital Assets into a  3ds Max pipeline.

To get started with Houdini Engine for  3ds Max, follow the steps outlined below:

1. Download the Houdini Engine

To access the Houdini Engine, download the Houdini installer which comes with the 3ds Max plug-in. While the plug-in connects 3ds Max to the Engine, Houdini is needed to cook the results under the surface. You can run the Engine using either a Houdini license or a Houdini Engine license.


PLEASE NOTE: The Houdini Engine plug-ins do not work with the FREE Houdini Apprentice license 
and Assets created in the FREE Houdini Apprentice do not work with any of the Houdini Engine licenses.

There is a FREE Houdini Engine Indie license that will let indie users open assets created in either Houdini Indie or Houdini Core/FX.

2. Install and Load the Plug-In

Once you have downloaded the installer, run it in your chosen operating system and be sure to check the 3ds Max plug-in during installation. The next time you run 3ds Max, you will find a Houdini Engine menu and you will be able to load assets from the stack. 

3. Plugin Docs

To learn more about the 3ds Max plug-in and how it works, you can refer to the documentation. Here you will be able to discover details about how the plug-in can be used in your pipeline.

4. Load Asset into 3ds Max

In this presentation, you can learn how to work with the Houdini Engine is both Maya and 3ds Max. You will learn how to create an asset in Houdini and then how to deploy that to the host applications.

The plug-in supports the use of HDAs within 3ds Max as objects in the scene or as modifiers in an object's modifier stack. To create a geometry asset, first select the asset that you want to use in the "Loaded Houdini Digital Assets" list and then click the "Create Object" button. The asset will be instantiated in the scene as an object. To create a modifier asset, navigate to a node's modifier tab, select the modifier drop-down menu and choose "Houdini Digital Asset". You will then be prompted to select the HDA that you want to use as a modifier. Select the asset that you just loaded and if it succeeds, you will see the HDA instantiated as a modifier in that object's modifier stack.

5. Get More Assets

If you want to access a library of existing Digital Assets, then visit the Orbolt Smart 3D Asset store which has a growing library of free and for charge assets for using in Houdini Engine for 3ds Max . You can also sign up as an asset author and sell your ideas to other artists.