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by: till

Toon/Comic 3ds max Realtime Shader
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Toon/Comic 3ds max realtime shader build with shaderFX

I've built this cel-shader basically for my own need for a 3ds max realtime viewport shader, which would give me all the settings I was looking for.
My intention was not to release this shader in the first place, but maybe it's usefull to some other people too.
With v0.55 the shader can be used for many more things then only toon effects. Simply try it out!

I've only tested this shader (v0.58) with max 8 and max 2008 (32 bit). So I can't guarantee the functionality in other max-versions too.

DOWNLOAD v0.60 (shader model3.0)
DOWNLOAD v0.58 (shader model3.0)
DOWNLOAD v0.51 (shader model 2.0)

DOWNLOAD sample ramp textures v2
DOWNLOAD sample lit spheres

READ THIS (v0.6) !!
- you need a max version that supports realtime viewport shadows (enable hard shadows, softshadows won't work)
- in 3ds max > 2012: disable NITROUS display drivers and change back to direct3D! In 2013 display is bugged by Autodesk

READ THIS (v0.58) !!
- in 3ds max 2012: disable NITROUS display drivers and change back to direct3D!
- this shader needs a graphics card that can handle shader model 3.0
- if your model is just black/bright, check if your lights are close enough(or too close) or/and the light attenuation scaling value might be too low/high.
- check out the ramp and litsphere example files, if you don't know how they should look like.
- you can choose between a 1-light and 3-light setup with the techniques-rollout at the bottom of the shader material rollout
- you can choose a ZBrush material setting with the techniques-rollout (ZB) - now you just need the litsphere material slot

This shader was build with ShaderFX from Lumonix. Thx for the great app!

unedited screenshot from max2010, 3 lights. The background is a plane + shader + blurred cubemap

example for the LitSphere support

different shader settings and ramp textures

influence of the ramp texture on the shader

shader material rollout


the colour map.


only used when diffuse map is disabled.


set influence of diffuse texture on ambient light.


enable/disable full bright shading.


enable/disable vertex colours.


does only work when shading is enabled.


the ramp texture (see examples).


contrast of the ramped shading.


modify the stretching of the ramp texture.


tangent space normal map.


invert the normal map red channel.


invert the normal map green channel.


increase the contrast of the blue channel.

Spec Map:

specularity map.


add specular (addition).


add linear specular booster (addition).


influence of the specular map (multiply).


glossiness map.


add linear gloss booster (addition).


influence of the gloss texture (multiply).


similar to zbrush/mudbox material textures.


set influence of this texture on the shader.


how broad is the rim light edge.


how soft is the rim light edge.

disable offs vector:

disable rimlight offset.


here you can offset the rim light light source.


Rim light calculation from surface normals.


the colour of the rimlight.


choose the strength of the cube map.


cube map in 3dsmax format (more info below).


mask out the influence of the cube map.

use sss:

enable fake sub surface scattering.

sss mask:

define affected regions.

sss range:

set how broad sss region should be.

sss contrast:

set sharpness of sss border.

sss color:

set hue and brightness of sss region.


alpha map, handles transparency.


onlyusedwhen opacity map is disabled.


similar to self illumination within standard material.


enable/disable light attenuation.


change attenuation behavior (better keep default values).

Attenuation Scale:

change the attenuation falloff range.


change brightness.


choose between one light/pass and 3 lights/passes and Zbrush material display.

Cube Maps

the cube map format is the one shiped with 3ds max

shaderFX uses this specific format

you can find them under


this specific map seems to be missing in max2008 and above but there are others like

and you can create as many cubemaps as you want

1. create a cross-cubemap like these or simply download one of them

(note.. they have to be in the format 3:4 not likethe 4:3 format you see there..but in the zip-files is everything you need: single images and the 3:4 format too)

then get atiīs cubemapgen from

open the program

tick the "skybox" checkbox

In the green section on the right set "Select Cube Face" to +Y (the up direction).

then press the "load cubemap cross"-button

you should see now the working cubemap on the object and the skybox

now simply press "save cubemap (*.dds)

and that cubemap works fine with the shader

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