Import "Real Life" terrain to Autodesk 3ds Max

When it comes to visualization, a difficult task 3D modelers and designers face, is reproducing the actual environment for their objects, buildings etc. With Plex.Earth this process can be optimized and performed very easily and quickly. As the capability to import the actual morphology of an area is provided, the 3D designers can present their proposals to their actual locations. This way, the clients or even colleagues can have a more detailed understanding of a model plan. Adding to this, corrections and adjustments, will be limited, thus minimizing any redesign cost and time.

Autodesk 3ds Max is a very popular computer graphics program for creating 3D models, animations, and digital images for better-visualizing projects.

In the following tutorial, the processes for importing "real-life" terrain, created with Plex.Earth 4, into a 3ds Max model, is described, in four simple steps. Thus, as mentioned, better interaction with the real world is achieved, more accurate designs are created and the various propositions are better understood.

  If you don't already have Plex.Earth, download your fully-functional weekly trial from here.

Step 1: Import High-quality Imagery and Convert it to 3D

Import the Imagery of the area of interest and then use the Convert to 3D Imagery command of Plex.Earth 4.

This will create a detailed real-life terrain very quickly.

It is preferred to use this method than directly importing a 3D terrain, as in this way the quality of the draped image is kept as high as possible.

The resulted terrain will be as the one shown below:


After importing the area of interest, save your drawing. 

Step 2: Import your Terrain to 3ds Max

Open 3ds Max and then open the file of the drawing you created in Step 1.

The result you are going to get is as follows: 


As the imported 3D Imagery appears blurry, one more step is needed.

Step 3: Apply a New UV Map

Select the terrain object in your 3ds Max workspace and then click on the Modifiers tab.

Select UV coordinates and then UVW Map.

After that, your terrain will appear with its original quality.


Step 4: Export your Drawing as FBX

After applying the UV map, export your project as FBX.

This way the applied changes will be kept when you reopen your project.

Now you are ready to continue with your 3D design.

NOTE: If you are using AutoCAD 2018 or older, you can use the FBXEXPORT command of AutoCAD,
at the end of Step 1. This will export your drawing as an FBX file and this way you will be
able to directly import it to 3ds Max, thus skipping steps 2-4.

Feel free to contact us at, for any questions you may have, and don’t forget to start your free trial today.


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