Hardware, software, and vector rendering

Software rendering

Software rendering produces images of the highest quality, letting you achieve the most sophisticated results.

Computation occurs on the CPU, as opposed to hardware rendering, which relies on the machine’s graphics card. Because it is not restricted by the computer's graphics card, software rendering generally is more flexible. The trade-off, however, is that software rendering is generally more time consuming.

Exactly what you can render depends on which software renderer you use and its particular limitations.

Maya has the following software renderers:

Hardware rendering

Hardware rendering uses the computer's video card and drivers installed on the machine to render images to disk. Hardware rendering is generally faster than software rendering, but typically produces images of lower quality compared to software rendering. In some cases, however, hardware rendering can produce results good enough for broadcast delivery.

Hardware rendering cannot produce some of the most sophisticated effects, such as some advanced shadows, reflections, and post-process effects. To produce these kind of effects, you must use software rendering.

Maya has the following hardware renderer:

Vector rendering

Vector rendering lets you create stylized renderings (for example, cartoon, tonal art, line art, hidden line, wireframe) in various bitmap image formats and 2D vector formats.

Maya has the following vector renderer: