What are good general render settings?

You have no idea how often I see this question in forums. The truth is there is no good general settings. But, I have listed here GI (global illumination) and FG (final gather) settings that I use often and work for almost any interior scene. I’m focusing on interior scenes because they are much more difficult to achieve than exterior. These settings give generally good results with fast render times, and I’m only mentioning the settings that I change from the default.

I set the Maximum Num. Photons per Sample to 100. This is so low because I also use a low number of photons per light. There is no need to shoot so many photons per sample when I am using such low photons per light. The important thing to consider when calculating GI is being able to light the scene evenly, and get a consistently lit space.

I also turn on Maximum Sampling Radius. I start with something small like 1’ and increase the amount by 5’ until I get a generally smooth result without seeing any discs in the rendering. Often I will go up to a value like 30’ before I get a smooth result. This is not a typical use for GI, and in a way it’s cheating your photons to get bright values with such low numbers so the render times are fast.

I slide the FG Precision Presets all the way to the left to Draft setting. I’ve found that I can get away with low FG settings if I add an occlusion pass later in post.

For Diffuse Bounces I set it to 4 typically, just to I can get enough bounce and increase my light values. Changing the bounce number significantly reduces rendering speed so be careful with this one.  However if you're using GI, this value is ignored because it's getting its bounces from GI.

I didn’t change this setting, but I’ll mention it. I sometimes change the Noise Filtering from Standard to None, if I can get away with it. When set to None, the render is much brighter because you are taking into consideration all of the FG points, but at times will have noise. When you set it to Standard the scene is much darker, but smoother generally. So if you can set it to None and still get smooth results, then you just got more light into your scene for free.

That’s it. Those are my “standard” settings. Of course I will use the Read/Write options for both GI and FG, and typically calculate them at half the resolution of my final render. These settings don’t work for every scene, but they were used for this rendering:

The lights I had for this scene were a sun/system, and 33 photometric lights at the default settings. The only thing for the photometric lights that I adjusted was the intensity. I change it by checking the % and increasing it, that way I can always go back to the standard 1500 cd. All of these lights were on when calculating GI and FG. Once my lighting is calculated, and I’m reasonably happy with it, then I get to my exposure settings.


  1. Very good post. And blog too. Lately one of my favourites. Well done and continue with this good work ;)

  2. Great tips on reder settings, My only question is about the settings you used for the light and the exposure control, can you post them too?


  3. I didn't go through exposure and light settings because these vary so much for every scene. However for the rendering above my lights were up by 3200% (48000cd) because of the glass they were behind in the light fixture. For my exposure settings they were:

    •mr Photographic Exposure Control
    •Exposure Value: 9.644 (Shutter Speed: 1/16 Sec,f-stop: f/5,ISO: 200)
    •Highlights: 0.08
    •Midtones: 0.65
    •Shadows: 0.4
    •Color Saturation: 1.0
    •Whitepoint: 6500
    •Vignetting: 0.0
    •Physical Units

  4. Thanks for the post about GI techniques - when using FG you can get a rapid speed improvement if you set the bounces to 1 and the FG multiplier to about 1.3 - this looks almost identical to using 2 bounces, but without the render time :)

  5. I'm working on a similar size interior scene (a community centre) and have trouble with it just because of the shear size and the render times. I would really appreciate the max file of this scene to learn from. That's great work your doing.


  6. Thank you for the tips.. I've been doing interior scenes but I couldn't imagine you use the FG on Draft mode :)

    And excellent blog. I read it everytime I can.

  7. What was your render time for the above image at what size?

    Render time is still a huge issue since moving to MR. 46 minutes for a small (30ftx50ft with a 12 ft ceiling) scene with 9 photometric lights and a sun/sky system at 460x320 seems a bit much. Forces me to use completely static cameras for all animations.

    Should I be avoiding using area photometric lights and using something else instead? This scene is max 9 by the way.

  8. Very possibly the reason your render is taking 46 min. (I'm guessing) is because you have all of your lights on when you are calculating GI...this is a very slow process and probably would take 40 min to calculate photons then render. You can save your GI to a photon map so it only calculates once, using the Read/Write check. If it's checked, and you've already calculated GI, then the next time you render it won't go through the photon calculation and should render much faster.

  9. No, I'm saving the photon map out. But even when I render straight through, doing the photon calculation takes under about a minute or two.

  10. NIC:
    You're correct. I like to keep the diffuse bounce on FG at 2 if I decide I don't want to use GI, then the 2 bounces takes over.

    the scene above took 3 minutes to render at 460x320 including GI and FG calc with white diffuse material. Check your sampling rates. For the renderer it doesn't need to be higher than 1 and 16. Also check your material samples. If you have alot of reflective materials and the samples are higher than 16, render times can go through the roof.

  11. Thanks for the replies and advise. My materials are probably a big factor. There is a lot of equipment in the scene (airport screening area) that is shiny.

    The other factor I found was using area lights inside my light panels in the drop ceiling. switching to point it cut the render time 10x's. Some adjustments had to be made to keep it looking similar but for the trade off of time it was worth it.

  12. I am impress with your renderings. I used the settings you gave for renderings. But I have a question how long do your renderings take? how many cuad cores computers you have? is there any settings that can make a faster rendering and still have a good result?

    Thank fort the post, its really usefull.

  13. Hi Ramy, I am Vishal. And i am using AutoDesk Viz 08. I tried to find your settings for Lights. But could not make through. Have you tried using Viz & any suggesttion that you woul like to make for Light Settings. Thanks

  14. Great blog, thankyou for providing all these tips. Im still relatively new to 3DSMax rendering and this sort of info is a big help!
    I read Master Zaps blog but find he often gets caught up in the story of why a particular setting got programmed in such and such a way, which is interesting but not immediately useful, and also loves jargon terms which are beyond me!
    Your writing is concise and your tips work.
    Thanks again

  15. I have to say you have some of the most realistic renderings I have ever seen..and I have seen a lot of renderings..very nice work

  16. almasri.mah@gmail.comJanuary 13, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    God bless you.
    keep working on others benefits.

  17. i need somebody help me that how going to set up for faster rendering setting of Vray.

    if anyone can help me and please send this email

  18. my machine is dieing ,i don't have a complex animation,but my target camera is following some materials,and those materials are moving as well,there is no lights in my scene,and some walls over there like a room,ground is kinda moving too,i have an intel e 8400 processor,and ddr2 ocz 1066 1+1(2gb) of ram.and 3ds max says there is not enough memory to render this scene? what will i do,even in the very lowest values ,no anti alising ,no fg point :( ,how will i render that? and if i can manage to render,how will i render in a good quality,in a short time? (the main question is i can't even deal with the rendering part cos it is not allowing me to render just a frame :( ),if you can give me an advise,i really appriciate for it.

  19. Hi guys!
    i am in search for good settings to render Interior views using Vray....
    Please let me Know if anyone can help me out!

  20. ramy,, since you master the 3ds max software with texturing,, can you post tutorials on how to make a good realistic textures... thank you, GodBless You

  21. thanks for the greate tips Rami
    but is the final gather percision responsible for the flikring especially in the interior scenes,


  22. If it's an animation yes. Here's how to remove the flicker:


  23. hi ramy,

    just like to ask, what filter did you use in that swimming pool render? box, triangle, mitchell?


  24. I used box filter at 1 & 16. But In Photoshop I used an unsharp mask filter to do a little sharpening! ;)

  25. 3ds max vray high quality render setup values

  26. hey pls help me
    my vray setting is so old pls say fast rendring setting....
    reply must...