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V-Ray Settings Overview

by Alex Hogrefe | May 17, 2015 | Fundamentals | 54 comments

A lot of you have been asking for V-Ray settings and so I am going to spend a little time
going over the settings that I used to create the base rendering of the main
street perspective in the previous post. I have been using V-Ray for over a year now
and I am in no way paid by V-Ray or affiliated with the company. I simply tried out a lot
of different programs and found V-Ray was the best at meeting a lot of my needs. The

most important of these were simplicity and flexibility. Right out of the box, V-Ray
generates nice renderings. You will notice that I dont vear too far from the default
settings, but instead use settings that will provide the best ratio of fast rendering times
and good outputs. Another very important point that I want to make is that I am not
trying to produce the perfect V-Ray rendering each time. I am simply trying to get close
to what I want and then refine the lighting and colors in Photoshop. This way of thinking
maintains my sanity and minimizes the amount of test renderings and setting
adjustments that need to be made.
Render settings are obviously a big topic to cover and there are many different
rendering situations like interior shots, dusk shots, and daytime shots that require
different setups. To keep things manageable, this first post will be an overview of the
basic concepts that I use for setting up a daytime rendering scene. Things like material
setup, AO passes, dusk and interior shot setup will come later.
Before getting into the settings, there are a few more notes. I am using V-Ray for
Sketchup. This means the V-Ray interface is running inside of Sketchup. Things like
the sun, cameras, and materials all speak to each other between the two programs.
Changing the sun angle in Sketchup will change the sun angle in V-Ray. I typically adjust
the sun angle in Sketchup to get the shadows exactly where I want them before moving
to V-Ray. I also save the Sketchup scene that I plan to render in V-Ray by going to
View>Animation>Add Scene. This is especially important if I am going to overlay
Sketchup image exports on top of the V-Ray renderings or if I need to render the same
view later on down the road.

V-Ray Dialogue Box

The V-Ray settings dialogue box uses tabs that expand and contract keeping the
settings a little more manageable to navigate. An important button to be familiar with is
the Load Defaults button. This will take everything to the default V-Ray settings when
the program was first installed. If I have been experimenting with settings and things
are getting weird with the outputs, I will often hit this button to start from scratch. Next
to that is the Load button which allows you to load past settings which have become a
big time saver in our studio.

Global Settings Tab

In this tab, I really only use the Override Materials check box. This will override all
materials in the model and replace them with a single material color. This is the box I
check when I create clay model renderings.

Camera Tab

This tab controls things like exposure of the rendering similar to how an SLR camera
works. I usually leave the default settings the same except for the F-number which I
change from 8 to 10. This slightly darkens the final output so that the white
materials dont get washed out. For interior shots or dusk scenes where there is low
light, these settings will need to be adjusted accordingly.

Environment Tab

This tab controls the overall lighting of the scene. The GI (Skylight) box controls the sun
specifically. Again, the default V-Ray settings are tied to the Sketchup sun. Therefore,
changing the sun angle in Sketchup changes the sun angle here in V-Ray. If you have a
dusk shot, then you can tweak the sun color or use an HDRI image to generate the light.
For this daytime rendering, I left everything at the default settings.
The Reflection/Refraction (background) controls what you see in the background/sky.
Here, I often add a sky image so that it will be seen in the reflections of my model.
To add a sky, I choose the M in the Reflection/Refraction(background) box. In the
drop down under the preview, I choose TexBitmap, and load a spherical sky image. I
also make sure to choose UVWGenEnvironment in the drop down next to UVW Type.
You can find spherical skies online and through Google image searches.

VFB Channels Tab

Here, you can set up extra channels to be generated along with the rgb color image. In
other words, you create images that separate out information such as reflections,
lighting, and shadows, which can then be used as separate layers in Photoshop. For
example, I often select Reflection, Refraction, ZDepth, and Material ID for almost every
rendering I do. The Material ID is especially helpful to make quick selections of
materials.

Output Tab

This is where the resolution is set and where I tell V-Ray to save the file. For quick test
renderings, I set the resolution to 1200800. For final renderings, I will bump up the
resolution to somewhere between 4500 and 5000 px though I often suggest students
can get away with 3000 px images to save time.
If I need the proportions of my renderings to exactly match my Sketchup window, I will
select the Get view aspect button. This grabs the aspect ratio of the Sketchup model
space and applies it to the V-Ray aspect ratio. This is useful if you are overlaying
Sketchup line work exports over the V-Ray rendering and want things to match up
perfectly.
Finally, under Render Output, I check the box next to Save Output. Under that, I
browse to a location where I want the files to be saved and save them as Tiffs. By
choosing these options, V-Ray will automatically save the final images along with the
channels once everything is finished rendering.

Indirect Illumination GI

In this tab, the only thing I am concerned with is the Ambient Occlusion box. Ambient
occlusion will add shadows into the corners of the geometry which adds realism and
clarity to the renderings. This is one of the reasons why I moved to V-Ray. Here, I check
the box next to On, set the Amount to 1 (controls how dark the shadows are),
change Subdivs to 16 (controls how smooth the shadows are), and set the Radius to
35 (how much the geometry will influence the shadows).
As I mentioned above, this is meant to be a brief overview of a typical daytime scene
setup that I use. Sometime in the future, I will go over more complex stuff like night
scenes, interior scenes, AO passes, dome lights, HDRI, etc. I will try to update this
post as the software evolves or if there is information that I forgot to include.