Rhino 6 and newer - Basic workflow and transition from the plugin for Rhino 5

If you are coming from the plugin for Rhino 5 you’ll probably miss some toolbars and panels like the Scene Manager. For Rhino 6 we’ve been forced to rewrite the plugin from the ground up due to incompatibilities with the code in Rhino so we decided to integrate it more into Rhino’s interface.

In order to use the plugin with all its power, it’s better to have some toolbars and panels at hand: Maxwell adds three toolbars and integrates into these panels: Rendering, Environment, Materials and Properties and also makes use of the Sun panel information, so it’s a good idea to have them open.


Maxwell is currently adding three new toolbars to the plugin:

  • The Maxwell Rendering toolbar

  • The Maxwell Materials toolbar

  • The Maxwell Tools toolbar

Check this section for more information: Maxwell Menu and Toolbars

General settings - The Rendering panel

You will be able to set all the general settings (previous output tab) in Rhino’s Rendering tab. Here you will be able to set Maxwell as render engine, set engine and render settings, Multilight, Extra Sampling, Denoiser, Output options, Channels, Globals, Tone Mapping, Simulens and Overlay Text options.

Main tools inside Rhino interface - Windows on the left, Mac on the right.


In Rhino’s Environment tab you will be able to create as many Maxwell Environments as you want. All the environment options are implemented and Rhino options like Solid color or Gradient are translated to Maxwell if used and you will be able to preview Maxwell Environment in the viewport if it is set to Rendered, Raytraced or Maxwell FIRE modes. Rhino’s sun can also be used to set the time and date as well as location; if so, you will also be able to preview the sun in Rendered and Raytraced modes; if you don’t use Rhino’s sun you will only be able to preview the sun in FIRE.

Maxwell Environment options on Windows
Maxwell Environment options on Mac


The name stands for Fast Interactive Render Engine. You can currently launch FIRE in a viewport like any other visualization mode, by left-clicking on the toolbar Fire icon or in a floating viewport by right-clicking on the same icon.

The icon also works as a toggle for Fire; you click on it, Fire is activated in the active viewport; if you click again, it is deactivated. The bottom bar is active and you can pause or start Fire by clicking on the left icon; also you can open Fire preferences by double-clicking on the bar on Maxwell Fire (CPU Draft) and you can also change the maximum SL.

Maxwell FIRE selection
Maxwell FIRE active area


At Rhino’s Materials tab you can add Rhino materials (which will be translated to Maxwell at render time) as well as a Maxwell material. Using the Maxwell Material you can access the integrated material editor and the different material types from the Global Properties. You can select to work with a Custom material, a Referenced mxm or the different material assistants (AGS, Opaque, Transparent, Metal, Translucent, Car Paint, Hair, Substance Painter Assistant, Table BRDF and Xrite material types). There’s also a very convenient toolbar dedicated to Materials that allows creating different types of materials easily, as well as importing lots of material in a go. Check more about the toolbars here: Toolbars.

The Materials toolbar


Maxwell Material in the Create New Material dropdown menu


Maxwell Material in Rhino’s floating editor


You can use these native Rhino lights: spotlight, point light, rectangular light and linear light. For all of them, when selected, you’ll find Maxwell specific options in the Properties panel > Maxwell section. In the spotlight you’ll find some extra options to convert it to an IES or projector light.


Apart from that, you can assign an emitting material to any object of your choice and make it emit light.

There’s more information here.

Properties tab

At Rhino’s Properties tab you can check both camera’s and object’s properties depending on if there’s none or any object selected. The camera properties section is complete except for the parameters of the stereo lenses (which have not yet been added).

Maxwell’s camera properties.

Document Properties

Additional settings like search paths, mxm gallery download folder or Fire settings can be tuned in Rhino’s Document Properties window > Maxwell for Rhino on Windows or in Rhino Preferences > Maxwell for Rhino on MacOS:


Maxwell general settings


The plugin currently offers the Maxwell Grass, Maxwell Scatter and the Maxwell Subdivision as modfier extensions that can be applied to any object and the Maxwell Sea and Maxwell Volumetrics as extension objects. The first group can be accessed and modified from the Maxwell Extensions panel and assigned to the objects from the Properties panel:


Maxwell Extensions panel on Windows (left) and Mac (right)


In the case of the extension objects (Sea and Volumetrics), you can add them from the Tools toolbar or using the command Maxwell_AddObject and choose Sea or Volumetrics.