How to optimize user flow in 3ds Max, V-ray

Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by tech-n-design

This guide is for anyone who has had an unfriendly experience with the interface like I did which consequently leads to high RAM usage and longer render times.

We will know the most common tools in architectural visualization and how to configure and navigate 3ds Max + V-ray.

We will consider how to check the polycounts that contribute heavily to longer render times, shortcuts + hotkeys, and last but not least we will go through the main and secondary menus as well as touch on the command panel.

A guide to finding useful optimization techniques for beginner 3ds Max, V-ray users.

This guide aims to acquaint you with the user interface of 3ds Max + V-ray. This will play a big part in helping you gain more time for the creative side of the project, save time and money, and have more satisfied clients.

Optimize user flow – units setup & viewport configuration – 3ds Max, V-ray

  • As a preference I use millimeters
  • You can change this by going to the menu bar and clicking on Customize > units setup (+ > system units setup).

Clicking on the upper-left corner in [+] Configure Viewports.

  • Display performance – adjust if texture resolution is not clear.
  • Background – I use environment background when using HDRI map otherwise its best to use solid colour.
  • Layout – I use three view types; perspective (for camera), top and side elevation for editing.
  • Safe frames – to guide you in your composition. It tells you the extents of your camera shot.
  • Regions – default.
  • Statistics – The more polygon count) in your scene, the bigger the scene file, the more RAM it needs in order to be rendered, and the longer the render time.
  • View cube – show only in active view to maximize on the viewport.
  • Steering wheels – default.
  • Miscellaneous.

Watch in my video below…

Preference settings and Layers in 3ds max, V-ray

Go to the menu bar and click on Customize > Preferences

  • General – Levels to input the scene undo levels. I work with 100.
  • Files – check compress on save – this saves a lot of driver space. Enable auto-back up and key in number of auto-back files. Insert the back -up interval, I use 10 minutes. The auto back-up file name can be based on the project you are working on or if you are saving in the server then its best you use your name or unique identifier. Leave the rest as default.

Creating a folder with common layers to use identical in any project. The idea is to have a sense of order and organization. Camera, Lights, architectural elements (general and specific that you may want to have on separate layers such as furniture, floor, glass) etc.

Watch in my video below…

Camera setup in 3ds max, V-ray

Go to the Command panel > cameras > Vray > Vray physical camera.

I prefer placing the camera at eye level which is about 1200mm – 1500mm above ground.

  • Sensor & Lens > Focal length 18-40mm depending on how wide of a view you want to achieve.
  • Aperture > ISO 100; F-Number 8.0; Shutter speed 200 for exterior renders and 50 for interior renders.
  • Colour & Exposure > exposure – physical exposure; white balance-neutral.
  • Tilt & Shift > check on automatic vertical shift. Leave the rest as default for now.

Render setup in 3ds max, V-ray

On the main tool bar click on the render set up. Quicker way is to press on short cut key F10. In the latest versions of 3dsmax + V-ray most of the relevant parameters are set correctly by default.

  • Common > Check the renderer, in this case its V-ray; Insert preferred output size. Go to menu bar > rendering > Print size assistant and configure. Ensure DPI size is set at 300-600. However, if you choose a large output size, this will weigh heavily on the render times.
  • V-Ray > Image sampler – progressive; progressive image sampler – reduce noise threshold from 0.01(default) to 0.005 to improve on the image. You can adjust the max. subdivs to clean up the image; leave the rest as default.
  • GI > leave as default. Brute Force + Light Cache 1500, in progressive mode. Alternatively, use Irradiance Map: HIGH + Light Cache: 1500 +Noise threshold 0,005, rendering with bucket under progressive image sampler.
  • Settings > set the dynamic memory limit. My computer has 32GB of RAM so I set it to 24GB. Leave the rest as default.
  • Render elements > VrarAO(ambient occlusion) , VrayDenoiser, VrayReflection and  VrayWirecolour for post-production.

Watch in my video below…

Optimize user flow – create a template in 3ds max, V-ray

Templates encourage repeatability and efficiency. Reworking your files for every project or proposal wastes valuable time and money. Instead, focus on content and completing tasks.

  • On the menu bar, click of file > save as file > 3ds Max\scenes. This is the ENU folder such that it launches every time you open 3ds Max.
  • File > new > new from template > open the template manager. Add new > set as default. Check scene file and select the file you saved earlier. Press done.
  • Every time you open 3ds Max your new template will launch.

Watch in my video below…


What are the best render settings for your scene?

In the latest versions of 3dsmax, V-ray most of the relevant parameters are set correctly by default. It is important to note that good lighting and material creation is key to obtaining good renders.

How do I use an HDRI map with V-Ray to illuminate the scene?

Either load it in a VRayDome light or load it as the Environment map in the Environment window (if it should be shown in the background).

What GI Engine(s) should I use for my scene?

In most situations, using Brute Force for your primary engine and Light Cache for your secondary will give you the best ratio between quality and speed in terms of not having to tweak a lot of GI settings to get a nice result. The render will have clean light bounces from accurate GI calculations, with minimal blotchiness or flickering for animated sequences.


Optimization helps to automate repetitive tasks. The more we can optimize our workflow and scenes the more focus we can put into the creative tasks. The optimization techniques given in this article will prove useful for a beginner in 3ds Max + V-ray.

Project Manager (PMP), Interior Designer and 3D visualizer. Member of the Project Management Institute - Netherlands Chapter.

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