For an overview of render engines that are available for Maya, please see:
Common render settings
The Render Settings interface is used to specify how the model should be rendered. For rendering one of the following methods can be chosen (Render using): Maya Software, Maya Hardware, Mental Ray and Maya Vector. For every render method the interface will show a specific tab for settings concerning the chosen method. Next to this tab is the Common Rendering Settings tab which is independent of the chosen render method.
To open the Render Settings interface go to Window > Rendering editors > Render settings or click the outer right movie clapper icon in the status line.
The Common Render Settings tab is used to select the general settings such as the type of image which should be produced and in what format. Again this is for every render independent of the chosen rendering method. Below all Common Render Settings are explained in detail.
Image File Output
- File name prefix
- Set a name which is given to every picture. This is by default the scene name.
- Frame/Animation ext
- This is standard set to name.ext. For animations however it is useful to give the image of every frame a different name, otherwise it will overwrite the previous image file. For compatibility with other software programs it's suggested to give every image a number after the name but before the .extension.
- Image format
- Set the format for the image file output. Note that the selectable formats depend on the selected rendering method. More information about image format options can be found on the pages of the different rendering methods. Also see image formats and for general information and characteristics.
- Frame settings
- When rendering an animation set the start and end frame of the interval that should be rendered. The by frame option defines the stepsize. The frame padding sets the number of digits that should at least be used in the names of the output files. Note that for rendering multiple frame at once batch rendering must be used.
The renderable camera settings are used for rendering from multiple cameras at the same time. For this option batch rendering must be used.
The camera that should be rendered can be selected from the drop box. An extra renderable camera can be added by selecting the add camera option in the drop box or by setting a camera to renderable in it's attribute editor > Output settings. To delete a camera from the renderable cameras click on the trash can next to it or uncheck the setting in the camera's output settings.
To render the transparancy of an image check the Alpha channel (mask). To render the Z depth check the Depth channel. Note that the Depth channel will only be rendered when using batch rendering and not when using the render current frame option (second movie clapper in the status line). To extract the Z depth from the image Fcheck can be used.
Set the resolution for rendering. For test renders typically a resolution of 320x240 or 640x480 is used, depending on the amount of calculations that have to be made. This can also be set in the Render View > Options > Test Resolution.
To see the resolution gate when looking through a camera (viewport) go to View > Camera Settings > Resolution gate
The size units and pixels/inch etc. can be set but are not in particularly interesting as the renders are normally not directly used for printing but are normally edited or used in different software programs first.
You can (re-) render portions of your image. This saves rendering time. Use theoption in the Render View.
Instead of changing the resolution in your Render Settings to make test render (at lower resolutions), you can also use theoption.
Rendering can either be done 'in' Maya or in a separate process. The latter is called Batch Rendering. It allows you to render an entire sequence of images, instead of only the current frame. Furthermore it may be more memory efficient: The main Maya process uses quite some memory. When using Batch Rendering, you may close the main Maya process, saving a lots of memory.
Please refer to Rendering using Batch Rendering for more information on how to use Batch Rendering.
Rendering with Render Layers makes it possible to render a single Maya scene with different settings for materials, light, etc. Moreover you can use Batch Render to render the different render layers at once. The output will be different files with the different settings.
Other useful tools
Attribute spread sheet
When you need to change properties for many objects, such as lights or shaders, it might get quite laborious to change every one of them individually.
Thecan be quite useful. Go to Window > General editors > Attribute Spread Sheet to open it
Select all objects (geometry, lights, shaders, etc) you want to change; an easy way to do this for shaders, lights or cameras is using the Hypershade.
You can edit the values at once for all objects; you can select value columns, so you only need to enter values once.
TOI Texture Tools
TOI Texture tools is a MEL script developed by TOI that offers several useful functions, such as fixing file-texture locations within your project, texture gamma correction and cleanup.