Blender Render Resolution: How to Optimize Render Settings

by Render Pool

September 6, 2021

Even as Blender continues to improve its capabilities, becoming more and more sophisticated as hardware continues to advance, one of the most admirable mainstays of the software that has certainly contributed to its growing popularity is its dedication to staying free and open to anyone who wants to use it, veteran and aspiring creators alike. But even with this accessibility to all, that doesn’t mean that Blender can overcome the limitations of a lower-end GPU.

Not all PCs are created equal, nor does every 3D designer have access to today’s best rendering workstations. One way to circumvent the hardware exertion that comes with rendering high-resolution scenes is to use low polygon or “low poly” meshes in your projects, which can make the complex calculations that are necessary for rendering much more manageable for your workstation.

From low-poly design to activating MatCap and more, we would like to offer a few useful tips for improving your render resolution in Blender.

Render Resolution Optimization Checklist

  • Limit the number of polygons in your objects
  • Deactivate shadows and depth of field until needed
  • Activate MatCap
  • Turn down global settings and viewport settings
  • Torn down viewport effects
  • Reduce third-party add-ons
  • Use the Render Region tool
  • Review the render settings
  • Use a cloud render service

Start Your Design with Low Poly In Mind

This may seem obvious, but in most cases, the amount of active geometry in a scene could be the main issue that is compromising performance. Highly complex objects in the scene’s rendered viewport can take a serious toll on your machine. Limiting the object’s polygons is the best solution to this issue.

Game development relies on this understanding more than static image rendering does as active geometry in a game engine is in constant real-time. Keep in mind that this practice does not necessarily compromise the quality of the models themselves, as that depends on your taste and how it fits your design vocabulary.

Using this technique isn’t just about saving money on high-end hardware or the technological limitations of your workstation. There is a very established community of creators, artists, and studios who prefer the aesthetic of low-poly models and environments compared to higher polygonal models.

Optimize and Simplify Your Viewport

If you are working on older hardware, you may be accustomed to longer rendering times or stuttering viewports. This doesn’t have to be the case, even though you may think your computer is not capable of handling it. With Blender, the first thing that you can do to try and troubleshoot this issue is to optimize the viewport.

Keep your viewport settings as simplistic as possible. If you don’t need extensive shadows or depth of field right away, keep them deactivated or turned down to make navigating the viewport less taxing for the computer. Also, if you don’t need to see the textures in the viewport as you model, activating MatCap in your render viewport options can help as well.

If you do not want to completely deprive yourself of visuals or if you want to have a bit more control over the scene’s visibility, by using the Simplify submenu in the Render Properties tab, you can turn down the global settings as well as the viewport settings for maximum flexibility and control. Turning down Max Subdivision levels, Texture Resolution, AO Bounces, and Volume Resolution (when applicable) can greatly lighten the load on your machine and also prevent you from having to augment these settings for every object separately.

Turning down or turning off the viewport effects of modifiers in the Modifier Properties tab like Subdivision Surface will also relieve excessive strain on computation. As the viewport render is just a preview, you don’t have to lose the detail in the final render.

Reduce Third-party Add-ons

Turn off add-ons/plugins that you are not immediately using. Blender tends to slow down if you have multiple plugins activated, even if they are not being used. It is recommended to only turn on add-ons that you are actually using for the current scene.

Use the Render Region Tool

We have touched on this feature previously. Using View Regions like Render Region instead of rendering the entire viewport of a scene can also help you get an understanding of how the final viewport may appear without having to render out the entire scene.

Review the Render Settings

As with any 3D modeling or simulation software, rendering is both the most crucial step and the most performance-intensive task in Blender. Though using the tips thus far will definitely decrease the real-time rendering within the viewport, your render settings will directly affect how long it will take to complete the scene. If you do choose to render your final image on your computer, low poly rendering does not need to be scaled at 300 samples. Anti-aliasing may not be what you need if you are using sharp angles and bright colors for your final image. These tips may help speed up your processing.

Use Render Pool for Your Cycles Rendering Needs

The easiest solution to your speed or local hardware concerns is to use a cloud rendering service like Render Pool. Render Pool can drastically reduce the processing power and time necessary to bring your project to life if you are using Blender’s Cycles render engine. If you are ready to render, Render Pool makes it easy to upload and receive your finalized media in minutes. You can learn more about what to consider when hiring a cloud rendering service here. Happy rendering!