Instance Tool

49 votes
Date Updated: 
Author Name: 
Matan Halberstadt

Instance tool analyze the geometry objects in the scene and finds groups of objects that could be represented as instances of one of them. Then the user can turn every group into actual instances and choose which object from the group will be preserved. The objects in the group are objects that have the same topology (could be morph targets of one another) and the difference between them could be described with transformation alone. After making a group into instances, all the objects in the group accept the master object will become instances of the master and a new transformation value (position rotation and scale) will be applied to transform them back to their original shape and orientation.


The advantages of using instances over just copies of objects are:

  1. It saves storage space.
  2. It saves memory.
  3. It saves render time.
  4. It saves work time (modifying one instance effect all of them, like uv mapping).



version 2.6

  • fix an error with corona scatter

version 2.5

  • fix for the "undefined to integer" error (tested and confirmed on 2019)
  • fix for issues with "preserve pivot"

version 2.4

  • Added Group by Material ID checkbox - if checked, only objects with the same material ID setup will be grouped as instances.
  • UI is now resizeable on the height axis.

version 2.3

  • Added Group by Scale checkbox - if checked, only objects with the same scale will be grouped as instances.
  • Added Group by Material checkbox - if checked, only objects with the same material will be grouped as instances.

 version 2.1

  • "-- Unknown property: "getName" in undefined" error message in early max versions is now fixed.

version 2.0

  • All mesh geomety is now supported including Editable mesh, Editable poly and primitives.



  1. Drag and drop the mzp file into the viewport, the tool will pop up.
  2. Go to Customize -> Customize user interface.. -> Toolbars tab
  3. Under the category "Snowball VFX" you will find the InstanceTool, drag it into a toolbal.
  4. Enjoy.



UI description:


  • Get groups Button: analyze the scence and collect the potential groups. In no objects are selected, the whole scene will be analized, but if there are selected objects, only groups containing at list 1 selected object will be created (this will take less time).
  • Tolerance Spinner: set the maximum distance alowed for every vertex of an object to move from it's original location in order to become instanced to another object.
  • Ignore hidden objects CheckBox: If checked, it will ignor hidden objects.
  • Random wirecolor per group CheckBox: if checked, every group will recieve a unified  random wirecolor.
  • Instance selected group Button: Make the selected group in the Groups listbox into instances of the master object.
  • Instance all groups Button: Make all groups into instances.
  • Groups ListBox: Shows all the found groups after the analyze is done, and let the user select a group. Double clicking the group will select the objects of the group in the scene.
  • Remove selected group Button: Delete the selected group from the list.
  • Group Membets ListBox: Shows the objects in the selected group. Selecting an object from the list will select it in the scene. Double clicking an object in the list will set it to be the master (the master is the object that has the prefix ">>" in the list. This is the object that will not be changed at all when instancing the group, all the other objects will become instances of it).
  • Remove selected Object Button: Delete the selected object from the group.
  • Attach selected group Button: Attach all the members of the selected group into one mesh.
  • Attach all groups Button: Attach all the groups, every group will become one mesh.
  • Detach selected objects Button: this option is only available if you are running snowball pipeline for now.
  • Select instances: Select all the instances of the selected objects in the scene.


Instance tool UI



Version Requirement: 
Tested on 3ds Max 2019
Video URL: 
instancetool_dragdrop.mzp110.32 KB
instancetool_help.pdf88.78 KB


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
cptSwing's picture

version 1.5?

Hey man, drag-dropping works fine now. Funnily enough, it seems to install version 1.5? Or do I have fragments of my old version lying around on my harddisk? ;)

That said, 1.5 worked fine, so I'm not complaining!

Matan's picture

I think now I got everything

I think now I got everything working, I also tested it on max 2013 without this sp variable to be sure.

visit my portfolio at

jefim's picture

still error

Uploaded with

cptSwing's picture

Still get the error.. least with the version linked to in here (105.8 kb).

>> MAXScript MacroScript Error Exception:
-- Compile error: Undeclared variable: sp <<
-- Error occurred during fileIn in #C:\Users\xx.xx\AppData\Local\Autodesk\3dsMax\2013 - 64bit\ENU\scripts\Snowball_Tools\InstanceTool\InstanceTool.mse; line number: 155
-- Error occurred in anonymous codeblock; filename: C:\Users\xx.xx\AppData\Local\Autodesk\3dsMax\2013 - 64bit\ENU\scripts\Snowball_Tools\InstanceTool\InstanceTool.mse; position: 4060; line: 155

I'm running Max 2013 64 bit on Windows 7

EDIT: I get the error when I try to execute the script, not when I install (which seems to work)

Matan's picture

fixed the sp variable error

fixed the global sp error, sorry for that

visit my portfolio at

jefim's picture

the same error

on drag and drop :

-- Compile error: Undeclared variable: sp

VitaminD's picture


on execution i get error :

-- Compile error: Undeclared variable: sp

declaring this variable ("global sp" in listener) helps ))

Matan's picture

it should work now

it should work now

visit my portfolio at

Matan's picture

"i get this error message

"i get this error message when clicking the button get groups:

-- Unknown property: "getName" in undefined"

This bug should be fixed in version 2.1

visit my portfolio at

roamn's picture

Doesnt work...?

i get this error message when clicking the button get groups:

-- Unknown property: "getName" in undefined

I have 3ds max 2009 64 bit, windows 7 system...

i had converted the geometry to editable mesh...
it still gives me this:

-- Unknown property: "getName" in undefined

how can i fix it please?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.