Discreet has announced a free update for its 3DS Max modeling, animations and rendering suite, which will ship in mid-April. However, version 7.5 will only be made available to users on the company’s subscription scheme, which costs £295 plus VAT per seat per year.

3DS Max 7.5 adds a hair and fur system based on Joe Alter’s Shave And A Haircut plug-in, which includes both styling and dynamics tools. A comb allows brushing along complicated contours, with support for realistic effects including clumping and frizz. The plug-in’s own dynamics system can interact with 3DS Max’s own forces, including inheriting inertia directly from skin.

The hair system is integrated into mental ray, using the native mental ray hair primitive for faster rendering. The update also provides the latest version of mental ray, version 3.4, for use with the whole application. This adds faster final gathering performance, and fast rasterization for first-generation rays, according to Discreet.

The update adds tools taken from 3DS Max’s sister CAD application, Autodesk Viz. These add more visualization tools for 3D artists working on real world-based projects.

These include radiosity adaptive subdivision support, which Discreet claims makes the rendering of radiosity faster and higher quality. A batch render function allows a series of stills from different angles to be rendered quickly. Users can capture object, layer, material, camera and light information as a "scene state” that can be saved and restored at will.

Other additions include improvements to UVW mapping and the Sweep tool, interoperability with the Revit 7 and Inventor applications from Discreet’s parent company Autodesk, and DWF export.

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