3ds Max Design can be like a "black box". But with a little understanding of the software, it can produce some very realistic images of your model. A question that may come up is whether to use Scanline or Mental Ray rendering. It may seem an odd question at the beginning of a project, but we need to start with the end in mind. Several of the materials, lighting and environment can be effected by which rendering engine is chosen.
Scanline has been around for several years and was the default rendering engine in 3ds Max. But Mental Ray, which is a contracted third party application for rendering that comes with the software, can tie together the materials, lighting and environment to adjust colors, and brightness for rendering. Many existing users of Max still use the Scanline because they are not that familiar with Mental Ray, but give it a try, see what results you can get. You may be pleasantly surprised!