Viewport Canvas

Posted Apr 20, 2009
Last Updated Nov 12, 2011

Note: I am working on an updated video that demonstrates the tool in version 2011-2012 as the video here is for 2010... and viewport canvas was simply not very good in that initial release. Also, I have a lot more experience in using it now, and can actually offer better tips now.

This video tutorial demonstrates the use of the new Viewport Canvas tool that was introduced in Autodesk's 3D Studio Max 2010. The new viewport canvas tool allows you to paint directly into the diffuse channel of a geometry's material (similarly to painting on geometry in applications like Mudbox and Zbrush).

This tutorial assumes you already know how to create editable poly geometry as well as how to apply UVW mapping.


When I heard that 3D Studio Max 2010 was coming out with 3D paint tools, I was very excited. I waited eagerly for the release... hoping that the paint tools would be similar to those found in Mudbox. Unfortunately, the viewport canvas tool is not as powerful and comprehensive as the paint tools in Mudbox. However... the viewport canvas does offer much more in-application texturing options than was possible before.

My current wishlist for the next version of the Viewport Canvas:

  1. Ability to navigate and paint without having to "freeze" the viewport to paint
  2. Use the viewport canvas on any map--not just the diffuse map (painting bump maps, etc)

One thing you can do, however, is to create a snapshot of your viewport screen that can be edited in another application while you are still in 3D Studio. That means that, although 3D Studio's painting tools are limited... you can use programs like Photoshop, PHOTO-PAINT or Gimp to paint in a fashion that is similar to using Mudbox. And since most full-service paint applications have more tools than Mudbox does... it means that you can still be very productive in your work flow.

In this tutorial, I used Corel PHOTO-PAINT to edit the texture of an oak leaf.

Wall Worm plugins and scripts for 3ds Max