Welcome to this page covering quickstart guides to three renderers…
Arnold 5 (comes with Maya 2018)
Renderman 21 (free PLE download, Pixar’s Renderer)
Redshift 2 (free watermark version, requires Nvida GPU video cards)
*Big thanks to Ville Sinkkonen for letting us use his killer 2d design of his Pleased Dragon artwork. The 3d sculpt is by instructor Andrew Silke.
In Arnold, Renderman, and Redshift, you’ll learn how to…
– Create lights
– Render using the Render View
– Change render size and basic render settings
– Reduce noise in your renders
– Create shaders
– Edit shaders to produce different material types
It is only necessary to learn one renderer. If you are starting out, choose one renderer.
(Scroll down to here for the video tutorials)
File Downloads (Maya Files)
Pleased Dragon – Tutorial Start (.ma No Renderer 100.0 MB)
Pleased Dragon – Arnold 5 Final (.ma 100.0 MB)
Pleased Dragon – Redshift 2 Final (.ma 100.0 MB)
Pleased Dragon – Renderman 21 Final (.ma 100.0 MB)
Zoo Tools Pro – Light, Shader And Asset Managers
Create 3d Characters supports Arnold, Renderman and Redshift, and we make use of our Lighting and Shader Managers which is part of our tools called “Zoo Tools Pro”. Zoo Tools Pro comes free with any site purchase . The lighting and shader tools will help you to learn all three renderers under the same easy to use UI. But they are not mandatory. This page will still be helpful if you do not use Zoo Tools Pro.
Our scripted generic shader/light file format supports Arnold, RenderMan and Redshift. You can also convert between these renderers too with some limitations.
Buy Zoo Tools Pro for only $10!!
If you’d like to use Zoo Tools Pro, purchase our “Site Subscription”, then immediately cancel it for only $10, you’ll still have access for the whole month, and you can keep Zoo Tools Pro v1 forever! You can also download all our rigs and check out all tutorials too.
Modern Renderer Information
The renderers here are usually considered “Offline Renderers” and produce superior rendering results, but they are not intended for games or very-fast real-time viewport navigation.
These renderers are “raytracing”, engines not “rasterisation”. Reserisation is used in games and for the viewports such as Maya’s “Viewport 2.0”. Raytracing speeds have gained over the last few years, and we are starting to interact with them in real time, even so, it’s important not to confuse this with games or the faster Maya viewport “Viewport 2.0”. All renderers will be moving into the viewport soon, but they are still not considered genuinely real-time.
These renderers are PBR or Physically Based Renderers; which means that their focus is on producing realistic images, though they also use some NPR features (non-photoreal/cell shading) as well.
The various raytracing renderers produce relatively similar results, and even we as professionals have a hard time picking which renderer was used to create an image. It is straightforward to switch renderers once you’ve learned one because they all borrow from the same core concepts.
Choosing A Renderer
Since most renderers produce images that are similar in quality, the choice of renderer can often come down to speed and cost, especially for students, individuals and small teams. Their features also play an important role, but rendering features are generally more important in large teams and the bigger studios.
Speed & GPU vs CPU
For speed considerations, it’s important to understand what GPU and CPU rendering is.
GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) rendering is a way of calculating on the video card, rather than the CPU (Central Processing Unit). GPUs work well with specialised in rendering tasks. As a result of graphics-specialisation GPU rendering is generally considered faster than CPU rendering.
GPU rendering is not different or lesser than CPU rendering, math is math, and the results can be identical. At this stage, Redshift is the only GPU renderer we teach, and you can only use it with the newer NVidia video cards, it does not come with a free version without a watermark.
So your hardware limitations and budget will play a role in deciding your renderer.
For simplicity, you can think of a Geforce 1070 video card in Redshift as being roughly three times faster than a dedicated CPU in Arnold or RenderMan, but this will vary greatly depending on the task.
There are technical limitations of GPU rendering, for example, the maximum measure of video-RAM (VRAM) on each video card can be a bottleneck for very large scenes. But with the newer Geforce 1070 and above cards there is at least 8BG of ram on each card, so this limit is less of a problem than it used to be.
GPU vs CPU Render Times
It’s challenging to compare the speed of renderers accurately, but here are our very rough estimates, these results will vary heavily on the scene and the renderer, the estimates are based off a standard image rendered in Arnold or RenderMan where a frame takes ten minutes.
The first results are Redshift rendering on a single Nvidia Geforce 1070 when compared to Arnold or Renderman on a 16 thread (8 core) 4ghz CPU.
16 thread (8 dual core) CPU at 4ghz (Arnold/RenderMan) = 10 mins per rendered image
Nvidia Geforce 1070 (video card) Redshift = 3 mins per rendered image
With two video cards…
16 thread (8 dual core) CPU at 4ghz (Arnold/RenderMan)= 10 mins per rendered image
2 x Nvidia Geforce 1070 (video cards) Redshift = 1.5 mins per rendered image
With four video cards…
16 thread (8 dual core) CPU at 4ghz (Arnold/RenderMan) = 10 mins per rendered image
4 x Nvidia Geforce 1070 (video cards) Redshift = 1 min per rendered image
* This is the machine used to demo on this page.
Both Arnold and RenderMan have also invested heavily in GPU rendering too, so it is only a matter of time before they also become GPU compatible.
Arnold 5 is free and comes with Maya. There is no extra setup, and it’s a quality great CPU renderer and is used in many films commercials and TV shows. The free version has no batch rendering, so you can only render on one machine, and you must have Maya open and render with the “Render Sequence” functionality.
Arnold is still a CPU renderer and does not use GPU (video cards), Autodesk has let us know they are working hard to make the renderer GPU compatible possibly in Arnold 6.
Renderman 21 comes with a free PLE (Personal Learning Edition). It is Pixar’s renderer and is also heavily used on VFX films too, it is a CPU renderer at this time. You can render RenderMan’s free version on five machines, and it comes with a handy Render Manager that allows you to submit multiple rendering jobs. At the time of writing this, Pixar has released RenderMan 22, but it will be a few months before it’s available for non-commercial use.
RenderMan is still a CPU renderer and does not use GPU (video cards), Pixar has let us know they are working hard to make the renderer GPU compatible, most likely in RenderMan 23. Renderman 22 has already been released for anyone who buys it.
If you have newer NVidia Video cards in your machine, Redshift 2 is a very fast renderer and is our main Renderer here at Create 3d Characters. The quality of this renderer is on a par with Arnold and RenderMan. Redshift 2 can be used for free but comes with an annoying watermark if you do not pay for it. It is a much faster renderer than Arnold 5 or RenderMan 21 so long as your video card supports it’s GPU options, that may change in the future as the other renderers also introduce their GPU features.
Redshift is becoming popular in the industry, and many studios use it in commercials TV series and feature films.
There are many more renderers on the market, and it can be difficult to choose between them. A constantly changing landscape also means that predicting a dominant renderer is virtually impossible.
* VRay is a notable renderer missing from this page. We are currently not supporting VRay due to time limitations and that there is no personal free version. VRay is a great renderer, and we’d like to support it in the future.
Here are some other renderers available.
VRay Maya/3dsMax/Modo (CPU & GPU)
Octane Maya/3dsMax/C4d (GPU)
Iray Maya/3dsMax/Substance Painter (GPU & CPU)
FStorm Maya/3dsMax (GPU)
Carona 3dsMax (CPU)
Cycles Blender (CPU & GPU)
3dDelight Maya/3dsMax/Katana (CPU)
Mantra Houdini (CPU)
Modo Renderer Modo, Mari (CPU)
& many More