Just recently a customer reported an issue when they went to insert trees into their Civil 3D design they had imported into 3DS Max via Civil View. When news of the Infrastructure Suites came about, I had the opportunity to sit in on some training and demos of the (very cool) functionality that is available between Civil 3D and 3DS Max Design. Ever since then I have been interested in this subject, and even put a short presentation on the subject together for a group of students.
Back to the issue at hand, rendering trees. There is one thing that I remembered from this training that was mentioned in passing in regards to trees and rendering: You need to create a Daylight System before you can see the rendered textures of the trees. So if you do not have a Daylight System created, then the trees will appear white. This would be fine if you are trying to render a winter scene in blizzard conditions, but I imagine most clients would prefer it nice and sunny with good visibility.
Next you will change the view to TOP from the view cube in the upper right. After doing that you need to change the viewport Lighting and Shadows to Illuminate with Scene Lights, then check the Viewport Background to “display” and “use environment background”. These two steps are done by right clicking in the upper right of the viewport on “realistic”.
Back in the “rollout” (panel on the left) you can control all the parameters for your daylight such as location, daylight savings time, etc. Once this is all specified, you will then need to click in the viewport. This is where I got confused as coming from Civil 3D I was looking for an “apply” or “ok” button to confirm this new Daylight System. However in 3DS Max you just need to click in the viewport and the Daylight System will be created.
You may notice at this point your rendering may be a little too dark or a little too light. In this scenario it was too light and it needed to be adjusted. This can be done by going to RENDERING>EXPOSURE CONTROL. At the bottom of this dialog you will see some presets in a drop down menu, select ”Physically Based Lighting, Outdoor Daylight, Clear Sky” and your viewport should now display your trees fully rendered.