Table Of Contents
After installing Redshift the first thing to do is make sure the Redshift plugin is loaded. We can do this by opening the Plug-in Manager which is found under the Windows > Settings/Preferences > Plug-In Manager menu.
Checking Redshift's status in the Plug-in Manager
In the Plug-In Manager make sure "redshift4maya.mll" is Loaded. If you want Redshift to load each time Maya starts you can also set it to Auto load. An easy to way to tell if Redshift is loaded without checking the Plug-in Manager is to look for the Redshift menu in the main Maya toolbar. It won't be there if Redshift isn't loaded.
After ensuring that Redshift is loaded a good place to start is Redshift's Render Settings.
Render settings Common tab
The Common tab is where you will determine the final render image format, render resolution, and animation frame ranges. If you change the Image Format to something like OpenEXR you will be presented with more file saving options like compression, Autocrop, and "Force combine beauty and AOVs into a single file" to easily create multi-channel OpenEXR files. "Don't save image (ignored when batch render)" is a nice setting to enable when you want to test render but you don't watch to fill up your disk space with all your renders. Images will still be saved when batch rendering.
Common tab with OpenEXR selected as Image format.
The Sampling tab is where you will change your sampling values, like setting the minimum and maximum sample values for Redshift's unified sampling system. In general a wider range between minimum and maximum samples will yield a more efficient range for Redshift to intelligently choose the right amount of sampling in harder to resolve areas while not going overboard in the easier areas. Here you can also enable Motion Blur and tweak its various settings as well as easily create a Physical Sun and Sky system. If you need to change how Redshift handles gamma conversion you can do that here as well.
The AOV tab is where you manage your AOVs (Arbitrary Output Values), you can think of these as render passes for things like isolated diffuse, specular, reflection, refraction, mattes, depth and world space passes.
You can create AOVs by double clicking on the Available AOVs or selecting them and hitting the Add button. They will then be added to the Active AOVs list where you can enable and disable each Active AOV with their checkboxes.
For more information on this complex topic and a tutorial on how to make use of AOV's be certain to check out the AOV page.
The Opt tab is where you can modify your reflection and refraction trace depth as well as tweak global overrides for different Redshift features. These global overrides are very useful for debugging a scene or quickly isolating or disabling features like tessellation and emission.
Redshift currently has a maximum trace depth of 16.
The GI tab is where you control all of your Global Illumination settings. Redshift has several GI methods to choose from including Brute Force and Irradiance Cache (IC) as well as Irradiance Point Cloud (IPC) for secondary bounces. The default settings for IC and IPC are a good place to start but you will almost certainly benefit from raising the Num Rays setting for Brute Force GI if you have that set for your Primary or Secondary GI engine.
You have a lot of options when it comes to GI in Redshift and it's a topic well worth diving into in the link above.
The System tab lets you change the bucket size, display the feedback display for render error information, control which GPUs are being used to render with, and quickly enable a helpful full scene material override. There are also several experimental options and other powerful settings that can be tweaked here which have the ability to severely limit performance so it's important to be mindful of changing defaults here.
The System tab Memory section controls how Redshift handles both your system/CPU memory as well as your GPU memory. The default settings along with Automatic memory management enabled should work well for most scenes but you might have to tweak the other settings depending on your scene or resolution size. This is another section that if set incorrectly can severely limit performance, leading to scenes not being able to render at all or going out-of-core and taking far longer than they need to.
It can be tempting to set "Percentage of GPU memory to use" higher than 90 but that puts you at risk of instability. Do so with caution.
Ray reserved memory is a very powerful setting but also puts you at risk of going out-of-core if set incorrectly.
Applying shaders to objects
You can apply Redshift shaders to objects in Maya just like you're used to with other renders. Right clicking an object and assigning a new material is one way or but you can also easily use the hypershade with the tab create menu.
Maya Hypershade, using the tab button to quickly create shading nodes.
Just click in the the hypershade graphing area and hit Tab, then start typing the name of the shader you are looking for. I wanted the Redshift Material so I just typed "mat" and as you can see it pops up very quickly, (the more you type the more narrow your search). From there I hit the down arrow key three times and then either Tab again or the Enter key to create the Redshift material. All Redshift nodes have the prefix "Redshift"
In general most Redshift shaders are just a couple keystrokes away depending on how many other renderers you have loaded. "Car" will get you the Redshift Car Paint shader, "amb" the Redshift Ambient Occlusion shader, "ray" the Redshift Ray Switch shader and so on in no time at all.
Redshift Material's built-in presets.
The Redshift Material is Redshift's Uber-shader. It's going to be your goto shader for just about everything. It features diffuse, translucency, reflection, refraction, a secondary coating reflection, single scattering, multiple sub surface scattering, emission and more. It also has a number of built in presets which serve as great starting points for your own materials, they are easily selected right at the top of the shader.
Creating Redshift Lights
Creating Redshift lights is also easy, you can use the standard Maya light creation menu in Create > Lights and you will see Redshift's four new lights have been added here. Or start familiarizing yourself with Redshift's own custom menu and create your lights from there. For more information on each type of light, please see these pages.
Creating Redshift lights from the Redshift menu.
Mesh, Matte, and Visibility Parameters
In Redshift for Maya you can control things like render-time tessellation, mattes, and render visibility in two different ways. Tessellation can be thought of as mesh smoothing but at render time instead of in the viewport, potentially saving you viewport performance.
Shape node Redshift parameters
Under the shape node of each object in Maya you can set a huge array of different settings that control the way your objects render in Redshift. You can turn on Screen Space Adaptive Tessellation (adaptive mesh smoothing) or control whether an object is visible in reflections, casts shadow, and a whole bunch of other render stats on a per object basis. You can also quickly matte out an object from the render view under these shape node options.
If you need to control these settings on many objects at once then the best way is with Redshift parameter selection sets.
Creating Redshift object parameters sets from the Redshift menu.
With these parameter sets you can manage multiple objects with one set of controls.
Redshift Mesh Parameters selection set.
Object relationships are maintained through Maya Relationship Editor > Set editing just like other selection sets.
Adding a Redshift Lens Shader
Now that your scene has shaders, lights, and the render settings set up you might want to add some Bokeh depth of field to your render. There are two ways to do this, you can do it globally in the Render Settings Output tab or locally on each camera's shape node in your scene. In general adding bokeh to each camera is going to allow you more flexibility with a multi camera setup.
Adding a Redshift Bokeh node to your scene globally through the Output tab.
Adding a Redshift Bokeh node to a specific camera through the Lens Shader slot.
Once you've created your Bokeh node you can tweak the focus distance, the intensity of the depth of field blur, the blade count which determines the bokeh shape or even use your own bokeh image.
Blurry elements like bokeh depth of field will require a much higher maximum unifed sampling value. Don't hesitate to set your maximum unified sampling value to values like 2048 or higher if it's necessary to resolve noise in these bokeh shapes.
So your scene is now all set up and it's time to render! You can render in Redshift for Maya just like you're used to with other renders, using the Maya render view, you can find it along the toolbar at the top of your screen.
Maya render view button
With the render view open all you have to do now is hit the render button.
This will initiate what is known as a bucket render, all of Redshift's features are available in bucket rendering and this is the intended method for final quality rendering.
You can right click the render button to quickly change and select your render camera.
Redshift also supports Maya's IPR (Interactive Photorealistic Rendering) functionality, allowing you to begin an IPR render and make changes to geometry, shaders, animations and the like all while constantly updating the render view. It's a great way to tweak shaders and get quick visual feedback on your work. You start an IPR render simply by clicking the IPR button pictured below.
IPR render button
Please keep in mind that IPR rendering is not intended for final quality render, IPR rendering only provides preview feedback for raytraced features. Non-raytraced features such as caustic photons, irradiance cache GI, and sub surface scattering will not be visible in these interactive renders. If your scene has GI and you do an IPR render Redshift will automatically switch to Brute Force GI for the duration of the IPR render and switch back to your actual GI settings when you go back to final bucket rendering.