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Once you have an object modeled, it comes time to start adding color and surface quality to that model. These are called materials, and they're really kind of like painting your model. So, for example, if we modeled something in Maya it would be like sculpting it in clay, but we would then paint it in order to give it more of a realistic look. So in Maya we use materials along with textures to give the surface its look. So let's first of all talk about materials, and those really are just the way that a surface shades.
So here I have five spheres and each of them has a different shading model. Now before we get into any of this, let me talk a little bit about Maya and rendering. We are going to get deeper into rendering a little bit later, but let's just give you a quick brief overview of how to render. So first thing you want to know is that we have a Rendering menu set, and under that we have a lot of options here. One is called Render > Render Current Frames. So if I do that, that will just ahead and render the frame that I have.
Now if you notice in this, we actually have a number of different renderers. So the default render is called the Maya Software Renderer. We also have what's called the mental ray renderer. These are the two most popular renderers. Then there is also what's called a Hardware and a Vector Renderer, and these are a little bit more custom. They're more for particle effects or other types of special effects. So in Maya Software Renderer we can just hit this button, and it will render. We can also switchover to mental ray, and it will render as well.
Now notice a little bit of a difference here, because by default, mental ray actually turns on ray tracing, which is what is giving us these reflections. Now another way to adjust the renderer is to go into the Render Settings window, which is under here, Rendering Editors > Render Settings, and that brings up the settings and actually this is where I usually render from. So if I click here, this will render the current frame and this here will bring up Render Settings. Now let's take a look at this Render Settings window, and most important one is to decide which renderer to use, the Maya Software Renderer or the mental ray renderer.
Each one has its advantages. Typically, once you get into professional production, you'll probably be using mental ray most of the time, but the Maya Software Renderer has some advantages and one is that it's a little bit faster. It's actually in some ways a little bit easier to control, but it's not nearly as robust as mental ray. Now this window has different tabs depending upon what type of render you have. So the Common tab basically just determines how big the image is, image size, as well as some other stuff such as what image format you want to render in and whether or not you are actually going to be saving to a file, but we'll get to that as we actually get into rendering.
So when we turn on mental ray, you will notice a number of different tabs show up. One is for render passes, one is turn on different types of rendering features. The next one is for Quality. How much quality you want? Then some other indirectlighting. This is for more realistic lighting and other additional options. We are not going to get too deep into this right now. I think right now the most important thing is that you know that there are two different renderers, and we need to switch between them from time to time. Now typically I am going to be using the Maya Software Renderer, but there will be times where I will be doing mental ray specific stuff and then we'll have to change our renderer.
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