Exporting 3D DWF Files

File menu > Export > Publish to DWF

With 3D DWF publishing, you can export Design Web Format™ (.DWF™) files of your three-dimensional models with nearly the same visual fidelity as in rendered scenes. DWF files are relatively small files that can easily be shared with a team working on a project who may not have 3ds Max. It also provides a fast way for viewing models without having to spend time animating and rendering them because you can use the Orbit feature in the viewer to fly around the model.

For example, a DWF file of your scene can allow you and others to quickly view an interactive model as well as the properties of each object.

Recipients of 3D DWF files can view and print them using the Autodesk® DWF™ Viewer, which is installed with 3ds Max. For more information about using the viewer, see the Autodesk DWF Viewer help system.

Feature Support with 3D DWF Export

  • 2D and 3D splines. The Enable In Viewport setting on the Rendering rollout does not need to be enabled in order to export splines.

  • 3D geometry.

  • Texture mapped materials with a diffuse map channel, UV mapping channels, and material IDs are published.

    Note: Materials that have Use Real-World Scale enabled display more accurately in the DWF viewer.

  • Procedural materials are exported, but they are only a rough approximation and will be very low resolution. Real-World Map Size should be turned off for objects that have procedural materials assigned to them.

  • Materials that have transparency are correctly exported and their opacity values are recognized by the DWF Viewer. Even as you orbit the view, objects that pass behind other objects that have transparent materials assigned are still visible.

Limitations of 3D DWF Export

Materials and Environments

  • Environment backgrounds are not exported; the DWF Viewer uses its own background color setting.

  • Environmental effects such as fog do not export.

  • Materials using reflection maps such as Flat Mirror do not produce a reflection when exported.

  • Two-sided materials are not supported. However, you can get around this by turning on Force Two Sided on the Render Scene dialog.

    Note: Turning on Force Two-Sided affects the entire scene. This can slow down the performance of the DWF Viewer because it has to process the two-sided display of everything in scene.

  • Materials from third-party suppliers and mental ray materials are not exported.

    Objects that have unsupported materials display in their diffuse color in the viewer. Architectural Desktop materials are displayed in their ambient color.

  • Not all material parameters are exported, even for supported materials. Therefore, materials that are exported to the DWF Viewer may not look as they do in a rendered image.


  • You cannot export scene lighting.

Cameras and Animation

  • Named camera views are not exported. If the scene is set in a Camera viewport at the time of the export, it will display in the viewer as shown, however, the camera view will not be listed.

  • Animations are not supported, however, the frame at the time of the export is published.


To export a 3D DWF file:

  1. Set up the scene in the active viewport as you want it displayed in the Autodesk DWF Viewer.

    If you want to publish particular objects or layers, make a selection set of those objects. Hide those objects or layers you do not want published.

    Note: You can also isolate objects in the viewer you want to hide or make transparent.

    Tip: If you have a camera in the scene and want that view exported, make sure the Camera viewport is active when you publish the DWF file.

  2. Choose File menu > Export.

  3. Choose Publish to DWF (*.DWF) from the Save as type list in the file selector dialog.

  4. Specify a file name to export.

  5. Click Save.

  6. In the DWF Publish Options dialog, selected the desired options. Click OK.

  7. If Save to Log file is enabled, enter a new name or specify a different folder if you do not want the existing log file to be overwritten.


Grouping Options group

Group by Object—When turned on, objects are listed in the Model tree pane in the Autodesk DWF Viewer by their object name or group name.

Group by Layer—When turned on, objects are grouped in the Model tree pane in the Autodesk DWF Viewer by their respective layers.

Publishing Options group

Publish Object Properties—When turned on, object property data is exported and displayed in the viewer and reported in the log file if Save Log File is enabled. Object Properties displayed are: object name, layer name, face count, vertex count, and whether the object is frozen or hidden.

Publish Materials—Displays objects with their assigned materials in the viewer. When turned off, objects are displayed in the highlight color set in the Options dialog in the viewer. Material names are not exported.

Publish Selected Objects Only—Exports only those objects that have been selected prior to exporting. All other objects are not exported when this is turned on.

Publish Hidden Objects—Hidden objects are exported and displayed in the viewer. When turned off, objects that are hidden or on layers that are hidden are not displayed. Hidden objects are listed in the log file if Save Log File is enabled.

Note: Frozen objects and frozen layers are exported.

General group

Show DWF in a Viewer—When turned on, the exported DWF file is automatically opened in the Autodesk DWF Viewer. When turned off, the viewer must be opened outside of 3ds Max.

Rescale Bitmaps—When turned on, bitmap textures are automatically rescaled in the DWF file to the size set for pixels for Maximum Resolution. Turn this on if the scene contains large texture files in order to reduce the DWF file size.

Note: This setting has no effect when Publish Materials is turned off.

Maximum Resolution (pixels)— Sets the maximum length, in pixels, of the longest edge of all the bitmap images that are used as textures.

Note: All bitmap images exported to the DWF file are compressed to JPG format in order to create small DWF files.

Use Default DWF Lights—Lets you control whether the DWF Viewer adds its own default lighting. When turned off, the scene is displayed without lights in the viewer, which can result in the scene objects being flat shaded making them appear two dimensional. Turn Use Default DWF Lights off if the scene contains lights that are already baked into textures with Render to Texture, otherwise it is recommended that DWF lights are used. Default=on.

Note: When exporting a scene with all the lighting baked into the texture maps after using Render to Texture, if Use Default DWF Lights is turned on the scene may actually appear darker in the DWF Viewer, and the built-in DWF lights will cause the scene lighting to change as you orbit around the objects in the scene. With it turned off, the lighting will be constant as you move through the scene.

Save Log File— When enabled, 3ds Max creates a text file with an .log file extension that lists objects, their layers, face and vertex counts that are exported as well as the time and date of the export. Objects that were not selected or hidden are also listed as not as not being exported. The log file is overwritten each time a DWF file is created unless the log file name or file location is changed. Default=on.


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