Using Civil View in Autodesk® 3ds Max® 2018

January 15, 2018 Renu Muthoo

Although the Autodesk 3ds Max software has a robust 2D and 3D modeling system, it might be efficient to link or import some or all of the design data from other application softwares. The Civil View is a visualization tool that has been closely integrated with the 3ds Max software program. Civil View enables you to import 3D geometry directly from Civil/Survey products, such as AutoCAD Civil 3D, Land Desktop, and other formats such as BentleyMX files. The Civil View for 3ds Max has been discussed in Chapter 3: Assembling Project Files of the Autodesk 3ds Max 2018: Fundamentals learning guide.

Initializing Civil View:

You are required to initialize Civil View, the first time you are using it, by selecting Civil View> Initialize Civil View. In the Initialize Autodesk Civil View dialog box that opens, you can set the System Units and the Country Resource Kit based on the civil project that you will be opening. After initializing the Civil View, you are required to exit and then restart the Autodesk 3ds Max software.

Although Civil View is initialized next time you launch the Autodesk 3ds Max software, you are still required to start Civil View if the Start Mode for Civil View is set to Manual. You can change this setting in the Civil View Preferences dialog box, which can be accessed by selecting Civil View>Civil View>Preference, and in the General tab of the dialog box, select Automatically start Civil View?.

1-Civil Pref

Opening Civil 3D File

  • You can open the interface from the Menu bar by selecting Civil View>Start Civil View.
  • Once Civil View is started, you can import the required geometry by selecting Civil View>Geometry Import and open the type of file, such as Civil 3D (VSP 3D) File.

2-start vsp

A list of objects that are in the AutoCAD Civil 3D file are listed in the Civil 3D Import Panel dialog box. In the left pane, all the geometry is listed and can be selected to display all the sub geometry in the right pane. For example, in the following illustration, in the left pane, Surfaces [9] is selected to display all of the 9 surfaces in the right pane. You can open only some of the geometry or all of the geometry by selecting them in the right hand pane. The selected geometry is then displayed into your 3DS Max scene.

3-Civil 3D Import

Civil View Explorer

You can use the Civil View Explorer to access the visualization aspects of the objects in the scene. It also contains all the editing commands for the selected objects. The objects that are imported retain a link to the original source file. The Civil View visualization model retains a link to the original source file and updates the model whenever a design changes.

In the menu bar, select Civil View>Civil View>Civil View Explorer to open the Civil & View Explorer.


While opening the geometry in the 3DS Max software, there might be some loss of information or the assigned material might not be present. In the Surface Parameters rollout, use the shortcut menu in the Statistics tab to modify the object, such as assigning the correct material, as shown in the following illustration. 

5-rt click      6-modify
I hope that you will find the information about the Civil View useful when importing 3D geometry directly from Civil/Survey products. As mentioned earlier, I have provided a detailed section on Civil View along with a hands on practice in Chapter 3: Assembling Project Files of the Autodesk 3ds Max 2018: Fundamentals learning guide.

About the Author

Renu Muthoo

Learning Content Developer<br><br>Renu has worked with Autodesk products for the past 20 years with a main focus on design visualization software. Renu holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and started her career as an Instructional Designer/Author where she co-authored a number of Autodesk 3ds Max and AutoCAD books, some of which were translated into other languages for a wide audience reach. In her next role as a Technical Specialist at a 3D visualization company, Renu used 3ds Max in real-world scenarios on a daily basis. There, she developed customized 3D web planner solutions to create specialized 3D models with photorealistic texturing and lighting to produce high quality renderings.

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