Best way to create vegetation alpha cards

What's the best method you guys use for rendering vegetation diffuse with alpha textures from custom vegetation models. I use 3ds max. I try to render to texture but it renders the alpha texture as well as the mesh. I can render from camera view but then the diffuse texture looks lower quality than with render to texture. My idea is modelling a mesh based on a diffuse texture because I want light to affect my final model in a certain way instead of just generating a normal in some app since the results will be different

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