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There are a few different ways to create render layers in a Maya scene. I have my basic textured room with some simple lighting. I am going to create some render layers here. So the first thing I am going to do is I am going to open up the Channel Box, and you'll see that I have my three different layer types: Display, Render, and Animation. I am only concerned with Render at this point, so I'll click on this tab. You'll see under the tab that there is a defaultRenderlayer listed. This always exists in Maya scenes, and it contains everything in the scene, all the objects and geometry.
So if I want to create a new Render layer, I can go Layers > Create Empty Layer, and I'll see layer1 appear. Maybe I can name this something like litRoom. If I want to delete it, I could just right-click over it and do Delete. It won't allow me to delete because I have the layer selected. So I'll select this defaultlayer, and now right-click, and go Delete, and now the layer is gone. So I'll do Ctrl+Z to bring that layer back. If I want to add something to this layer, for instance if I select the roomGeometry, I can right-click over this and do Add Selected Objects, and that will add all of the room geometry to the layer.
Likewise, I can right-click and remove selected objects to take it out of the litRoom layer. Another thing I can do is select the roomGeometry, or actually I'll expand this, and I'll just select the firePlaceGroup. And I'll go Layers > Create Layer from Selected, and this will make a new layer. And when I select on it, you'll see there is the firePlaceGroup. And notice I selected the firePlaceGroup, and I created a new layer. Let's name this very quickly, just to get organized. Since I added the group to this layer, if I expand the group, and let's say selected on firePlace, and then try and remove this, it won't remove.
The reason is is because I added the group, so everything in the group is added to this layer. For example, if I drag this down a little bit, you can see, the firePlaceGroup selected, if I scroll down, I can see under Inputs, it is firePlace1. That's the name of this layer. If I select this Group and go Remove Selected Objects, you can see that now that disappears from the Input's List. Same thing happens if, say, I am in the Outliner, and I expand this, under Display, I have Shapes checked, so I can see both Shape Nodes and Transform Nodes, so when I expand a piece of geometry, for instance, the firePlace, I could see the Shape Node here.
So for instance, if I select this and I add this to the firePlace render layer, by right-clicking and doing Add Selected Objects, it's going to add this. So if I selected the firePlace Transform node in the Outliner and try and remove that, again, it won't allow me to remove this, and that's because I have added the Shape node instead of the Transform node. So this might cause you a little bit of frustration. So if you find that you're not able to remove something from a layer, check and see whether or not you have added the Shape node, as opposed to the Transform node.
So in this case, I'll just select the Shape node again and do Remove Selected Objects, and now it's gone. And I can delete this layer just by going Delete Selected layers. Oops! Remember, once again, I can't delete it if it's selected in the Layer Editor, so I'll just go Delete. Another way that I can add objects to a render layer is I'll go to the Window > Relationship Editors > Render Layers, and I can see my render layers here. If I select defaultRenderlayer1, you'll see that everything is selected.
If I go to litRoom, nothing is selected. Now if I select something like the roomGeometry, it suddenly appears, because it's been added to the litRoom. If I deselect it, it disappears. It's been removed from that room. Likewise, I can expand the Group and start to add specific objects, just by clicking on them over here and removing them, just by clicking on them again. So I'll add this.
That's the basics of using the Render Layer Editor, to create render layers and add and remove objects from the layers.
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