Material Layer Interface MLI

142 votes
Date Updated: 

3 new versions and reduced prices: MLI Light 2.0, MLI 2.0, MLI Pro 2.0

With the Material Layer Interface (MLI) you can create Material Layers and passes in 3D Studio Max and it’s easy to handle them!


Just create the layers and pick the objects. Assign materials to the objects and feel free to use different renderer or render settings for every single layer.

Work within one Max file with dozen of passes – and send them all to the Backburner Manager with a single mouse click. If you want to, the MLI organizes the filenames and path assignments.

Right now it works only with local rendering or the Backburner, but with all render engines. If you need MLI with another render manager, let me know and I will consider an implementation. _______________________________________________________________________________

I created this tool after a long time of wishing to easily handle individual render passes in our projects. No product on the market was close enough to match our needs especially in an easy to handle work flow. So I started to create this tool more than seven years ago for internal use in our company. After the years it grew and changed constantly. Now we decided to sell this tool because it helped us many times in our productions and we are sure it will help others, too.

The Material Layer Interface Light is a free tool.

The versions Material Layer Interface and the Material Layer Interface Pro are commercial Tools. _______________________________________________________________________________



  • Easily create and manage your individual render passes / render layers
  • Add with one click an individual set of objects to your MLI layer
  • Different materials, lights, render engines, render settings per layer
  • An easy and self-explaining user interface, related to the 3ds Max UI
  • Interactive tracking of material changes, renaming of materials or objects

A perfect help for other work processes. Optional functions, performed on activating a layer:

  • You see in the view port only the objects assigned to the active MLI layer or vice versa
  • Changes the camera view port or perspective view to the assigned camera
  • Always have the used materials in the Material Editor without loss of unused materials
  • Extension of the Material Editor slots to an unlimited number

Makes rendering of dozens of MLI layers in one Max File easy and extremely fast:

  • Decide between fast preview, local batch rendering or one-click network rendering
  • For fast preview rendering you can create special render settings and output sizes
  • Give a layer a single material (override) for all objects during rendering
  • Automated cleanup of MLI layers for deleted scene objects
  • Automation of time consuming routine processes like creation of file names and folders
  • Easily delete a range of rendered images when you don’t need them anymore
  • Integrated help file

New features in MLI v2 and in MLI Pro v2:

  • Add your information to each layer for traceable processes and better teamwork
  • Deactivate and hide temporarily unused MLI layers
  • Import your MLI layers to other Max files
  • Export and save material libraries from MLI layers
  • Added some workflow enhancements

New features only in MLI Pro v2:

    • Assign to one MLI layer dozens of cameras:
      - Assign individual render ranges and render engines to each camera
      - Automated creation of folders and file names for the different cameras on the layer
      - Easy and fast rendering of those different cameras
      - Just create one layer and set it up - no need to think about the file organization
    • Easily and intuitive handling of object properties per layer
    • Add individual Scripts per Layer which will be executed when you select a layer or before rendering


An easy to learn Interface


Additional Info: 

After installation create your shortcut or customize your toolbar in Max under customize -> customize user interface.

You can also find our tutorial videos on

Version Requirement: 
Programmed for Max 2010 to 2012 with 64 and 32 bit
Video URL: 


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crytec's picture

How to downlode

I can't find the download in you link

levi26's picture

Open Source Script request :)

Hey Andy

That would be fantastic, I have looked long and hard for this type of script that would produce alternative variations for batch renders. I'm currently working as a Arch Viz and I believe this type of script would increase my workflow very nicely.

I have watched your tutorials on the script and it seems like a brilliant idea that Autodesk hasn't thought of yet. If you could make the script open source that would be fantastic.

Thanks for the response.

Andy_S's picture

We stopped selling the tool a while ago

If there is a strong request we would consider to make the script open source.

levi26's picture

Where do you purchase this plugin

Where do you purchase this plugin

Andy_S's picture

MLI Pro is available now!

From today on you can buy our MLI Pro version in our online shop.

Andy_S's picture

render elements are global and not per layer in this release.


I'm always open for suggestions or bug reports :-)

The render elements are not part of the render engine. So if you create render elements they valid for all your created render engines. There are plans for future releases to implement different render elements for different render engines.

sghariani's picture

Render elements sets are not stored by renderengine

this SW has big potentials, hope it will get more robust
lemme me know if you need beta tester

Andy_S's picture

VrayCams are supported

Hi themaxxer,

there should be no problem using Vray lights or cameras.


themaxxer's picture

does it also work with

does it also work with VrayCams? I never use standartcams... :)

best regards

Andy_S's picture

off during rendering

The lights will only be turned off during the rendering. After you rendered the light it will be turned on again if it was active before rendering. Is that the solution or is it still on during rendering?

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