Maya renderers

So far, you’ve seen the results of shading the apple and other surfaces in the scene view. In this view, Maya uses your computer’s graphics hardware to display the shading and textures quickly but with low quality.

To view the shading results of the colors and textures in a more realistic fashion, you must use a renderer. In this lesson you use a process called mental ray for Maya rendering.

mental ray rendering can take seconds or minutes to render a single frame of animation from your scene, depending on the complexity of surface geometry, shaders, lighting and other visual elements present in the scene.

The following table outlines the different types of renderers in Maya and what each is used for:

Renderer Use

mental ray® for Maya® renderer

A general purpose renderer that includes exclusive, advanced rendering functionality, such as host and network parallel rendering, area light sources for soft shadows, global illumination, and caustics (light patterns).

Maya’s Software renderer

A general purpose renderer with broad capabilities. You can produce high-quality images with complex shading networks, including procedural textures and ramps. Software rendering is computed through your machine’s processor.

Interactive Photorealistic Rendering (IPR)

A feature of Maya’s software renderer and mental ray for Maya renderer, used to make interactive adjustments to the final rendered image. You can adjust shading and lighting attributes in real-time, and IPR automatically updates the rendered image to show the effects of your changes. IPR is useful for tweaking an image before rendering to disk.

Maya Vector renderer

A specialized renderer used to produce stylized renderings (for example, cartoon, tonal art, line art, hidden line, wireframe) in various bitmap image formats (IFF, TIFF) or in 2D vector formats (SWF, AI, EPS, SVG). The Maya Vector renderer is often used to render web-ready images.

Maya’s Hardware renderer

A general purpose renderer that uses your machine’s graphics card for computation. You can produce broadcast resolution images in less time than with software rendering, and in some cases, the quality may be good enough for final delivery.

The Render View window

When you render your scene the rendered image appears in its own window called the Render View. By default, the Render View uses the same camera as the Scene View (persp), but includes particular rendering capabilities.

The following table shows the differences between the Render View and the Scene View:

  Scene View Render View


3D object scene

2D rendered image


modeled surfaces, the grid, vertices, curves, and object manipulators

shaded surfaces only


default gray background

black background by default because only objects with materials that are lit can be seen


low-quality, colors and textures do not appear in their final display form

high-quality, colors and textures appear in their final rendered form