Learn to use ultra render to produce a photorealistic image of your scene.
In this article:
What is Ultra Render?
Ultra Render is a GPU path tracing engine capable of rendering photorealistic colours, lights, shadows, and reflections. It is also more effective at rendering translucent materials.
Path Tracing works by tracing a path of light from the camera lens to a surface, calculating the way a human eye would perceive the light in that path, and then producing a render that mimics the behaviour of real world lighting.
When to use Ultra Render
Ultra Render is best for rendering still images rather than interactive scenes. Path Tracing is a much more expensive process than real-time rendering, so viewing 3D scenes with Ultra Render will cause performance issues on lower end devices.
Ultra Render is perfect for internal design reviews, when all team member can view on high-performance computers. You can also render and download an image of your scene, enabling you to share it anywhere.
Minimum Graphics Requirements
- MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)
- 2.2 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
- 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
- Intel Iris Pro 1536 MB
Check your Mac’s graphics card by selecting the Apple menu > About this Mac and check the number listed next to graphics in the systems tab.
- 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7
- 16 GB DDR3
- GPU 1GB
Setting up your scene for Ultra Render
Upload your models, add textures, and insert any other objects you want to include - for this example, a reflective plane has been added on the ground.
Ultra render takes longer to process each change that is made to the scene, so it’s best to have your objects in place before switching render engines.
Switch from Real Time to Ultra Render
Turn on Ultra Render
Select the main camera. In the camera properties panel, select the Ultra Render tab under Rendering Settings.
The camera preview window in the bottom right corner will switch to display the ultra render view. The main viewport will continue to use real time rendering.
Trigger the render in the preview window
Select the play button in the bottom left corner to trigger the render.
The bar at the bottom of the preview window indicates rendering progress. You can continue to adjust settings while it renders.
Adjust Ultra Render Settings
In the camera properties panel, select 'ULTRA RENDER SETTINGS'.
Here you can adjust the quality of your render. The Ultra Render settings panel opens next to your workspace so you can edit you scene and adjust settings simultaneously.
Set Max Rays
To improve render quality, increase the Max Rays. This increases the amount of light rays calculated in each path by the raytracing engine. Rendering will take more time as the rays are increased.
For a high quality render, type a value of at least 10,000 into the Max Rays input field. Path Tracing can process an infinite amount of light rays, so you are not limited to the numbers on the slider. Scenes containing glass (like the camera lens in this example) or other translucent materials should be set to at least 20,000 rays.
Instead of setting max rays, you can also set the max rendering time. However, the resulting quality will depend on the speed of your machine.
Increasing the rays per frame will speed up rendering time if you are working on a computer with a high GPU. Otherwise stick with the default settings.
Ultra Camera settings
When Ultra Render is turned on, the camera properties panel will allow you to set the camera’s focal distance and aperture. The default settings should be ok for most shots.
Set up lighting
Lighting is key to producing a high quality shot with Ultra Render.
Since lights in Ultra Render are physically accurate, you'll likely need to set up a separate light set exclusively for ultra render.
If you already have lights set up for real-time viewing, toggle their visibility OFF in the objects panel.
Add lights & adjust settings
Area lights are great for product shots, as you can control the shadow softness by adjusting the size of the light. Check the camera preview window to see how the lights appear in UR.
Lights in Ultra Render are visible to the camera. You can toggle this off if they are in view of the camera. In this example, the light is out of the camera's field of view and the visibility is turned on, as this creates a desirable reflection on our model.
Edit Sky light
Select the light set item in the objects panel.
In the light set properties panel, set the sky light type. This controls the environmental light in the scene, as well as the background. You can choose to use an HDR image, a realistic sky or sky gradient, or a solid colour as the setting.
Ultra Render has the option of adding as an additional light source. It is turned on by default.
Move the sliders to adjust the position of the sun in the sky. Heading refers to the sun’s path, while Angle will change the sun’s position along that path.
Set shadow softness as desired.
Add a Ground Plane
Turn this setting on to simulate the appearance of a ground plane if you have not added one manually, as we have in this example. The ground plane will reflects the colour of the lights in the scene.
Fine tune your image with Ultra Render settings
To reduce the appearance of fireflies (white dots scattered across the image), decrease the firefly threshold.
Select a tone mapping options from the dropdown menu to change the colour profile and contrast levels.
Export your Ultra Render Scene
Select the preview button, and select the "start render" button if the render does not begin automatically. The progress bar at the bottom of the screen will indicate rendering progress.
Select the EXPORT button
To download a copy of your render:
Select the 3D Render tab
Select Ultra Render as the render engine.
Keep the default camera position selected (Camera View).
If you wish to change the size of the image, input the dimensions in the Render Size section.
Switch the transparent background setting OFF.
Wait for your image to fully render - this may take some time. Watch the progress bar to see when the render is completed.
Then, select Render. The image will automatically download.
To publish your scene and share online, follow the normal steps. Note that this is only recommended if you are sharing with others who have computers with a high GPU.
Images created with Ultra render are perfect for displaying high quality product shots. These shots can accompany your real-time interactive 3D scene
Ultra Render also enables Light Baking, a technique that allows you to simulate the look of advanced lighting when you switch back to real time rendering.
Check out these articles to learn more about baking: