Comparing Lumion and 3DS Max For Architectural Rendering
This is an image of an artistic statue in the corner of a living room next to a window. The figure is made out of glossy metal and shows a man with long legs standing on a pedestal and holding light bulbs. The sculpture acts as a lamp.Comparing Lumion and 3DS Max For Architectural Rendering

Even though both Lumion and 3DS Max fall into the category of architectural or 3D rendering tools, these rendering software technologies are quite different. While both programs support architectural rendering use cases, they serve various industries.

3DS is a suitable software solution for VR gaming, visualization, 3D modeling, and animation. Lumion is a preferred option for urban planning and design. Although their features may appear similar, 3DS Max is a more suitable solution for visualization, rendering, animation, and 3D modeling, while Lumion supports rendering CAD projects into architectural visualization images and videos.

Today, we’ll compare Lumion and 3DS Max’s main features, pricing structures, customer support options, and use cases to see which software is better for architectural rendering.

About these tools

Owned by Autodesk, 3DS Max has been a reliable software solution for creating professional audiovisual content and 3D models for over two decades. Since it’s mainly a 3D modeling software tool, 3DS Max is ideal for developing immersive virtual reality experiences, impressive design visualizations, and stunning game environments.

Lumion is a specialized 3D rendering program developed for architects. Its purpose is to turn CAD files into 3D visualization images and videos. The Lumion software is compatible with SketchUp, BricsCAD, ArchiCAD, AutoCAD, 3DS Max, etc.

The first difference between the two software is the ease of use. 3DS Max requires a steep learning curve, making Lumion easier to learn and use. Lumion is also more lightweight than 3DS Max and doesn’t require much computing power to run smoothly.

In addition, Lumion offers more affordable pricing plans. However, 3DS Max has more features, making it a better option for creating highly photorealistic and detailed 3D renders and models.

Main features

3DS Max provides more features than Lumion. However, that makes it harder to use, especially if you’re a beginner. As a powerful animation and 3D modeling software, 3DS Max provides features for creating immersive animations and highly detailed 3d models.

Lumion, on the other hand, is more of a visualization software than a 3D rendering tool. Interior designers and architects use it to create videos and photorealistic images of their projects. Lumion also has one advantage – it works with 3DS Max.

You can use it to generate top-grade 3D renders in real-time. In terms of 3D rendering, Lumion might be a better 3D rendering option because of the features it offers:

  • Import 3D models from 3DS Max;
  • Create video sequences and 3D animations;
  • Generate photorealistic materials, shadows, and lighting;
  • Create 360-degree views and panoramas.

According to their features, Lumion is a better option for capturing video sequences and creating 3D panoramas, while 3DS Max is best for design visualization, games, 3D modeling, animation, and rendering.

Pricing structure

3DS Max offers a flexible pricing structure. Clients have four options at their disposal:

  • Monthly subscription – $225;
  • Annual subscription – $1,785;
  • 3-year subscription – $5,085;
  • 30-day free trial.

Autodesk also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Lumion offers two pricing plans and a free trial:

  • Standard – € 1,499;
  • Pro – € 2,999;
  • 14-day free trial.

Customer support

Both software solutions offer responsive customer support. Lumion provides support through the Lumion community, new user questions, sales questions, and video tutorials. Clients simply need to click on the Contact Us option and receive customer care in English from Monday at 9 am to Friday at 5 pm.

3DS Max also provides impressive customer support. Clients can get help using the software, account management, download and installation procedures, and education. An online contact support form allows you to talk to the Autodesk support agent and receive the attention you require.

Best for

3DS Max is best for delivering photorealistic designs. It provides powerful modeling tools for asset creation and worldbuilding. You can use it to automate time-consuming and repetitive processes to save time, boost productivity, and meet deadlines.

These qualities make 3DS Max ideal for design visualization projects, TV and film productions, game development, lighting artistry, animation, and 3D modeling.

Lumion is the best solution for creating and manipulating architectural visualization. It gives you limitless options for showcasing urban, landscape, interior, and exterior designs. 3D artists, architects, and designers can use it to turn their projects into photorealistic experiences.


3DS Max software is perfect for visualizing complex designs and creating immersive game experiences due to the many features it provides:

  • Retopology tools – automatic optimization allows you to create quad-based mesh geometry;
  • Smart extrude – automatically rebuild and interlink extrude faces on 3D objects;
  • Baking to texture – tap into scriptable, intuitive, and streamlined texture baking;
  • OSL support – use pre-made procedural OSL maps or create new ones with any supported renderer;
  • Integrated Arnold renderer (MAXtoA) – use interactive rendering directly from the interface;
  • Interactive viewports – reduce design iteration to a minimum.

Lumion is also well-equipped with a great library of features, including:

  • Model and material variation;
  • Foliage for materials;
  • Hand-drawn outline effects;
  • Atmospheric rain and snow;
  • Paint placement;
  • Customizable 3D landscapes;
  • Lights and shadows.


Lumion may be faster than 3DS Max, but the latter produces more realistic architectural renders.


Both Lumion and 3DS Max are reliable architectural rendering software solutions with significant market shares in the architecture industry.

Ease of use

Lumion is less complex than 3DS Max and easier to learn for anyone with a basic understanding of architectural rendering and 3D modeling.

Its user-friendly interface provides easy navigation for the user, while the site offers numerous tutorials and guidelines.


Lumion and 3DS Max are excellent architectural rendering solutions that serve different purposes. Lumion is more of an architectural visualization tool for creating 360-degree panoramas, video sequences, and 3D images of proposed designs.

3DS Max, on the other hand, is a professional 3D rendering program for architects and interior or exterior designers. It’s a powerful animation and 3D modeling software for generating highly detailed 3D renders and models. Lumion might be a more suitable solution if you’re new to architectural rendering.