Advice for Photorealitic Rendering direction from C4D?


So im back learning C4D again and my ambition is to produce Photorealitic Renders for going into my advertising still images that would normally be photographed and retouched in PS. Im hoping to render room sets such as kitchens and bedrooms, commercial products like watches or engineering equipment/tools.

My photorealistic research so far has uncovered expert c4d operators are using Corona, Octane, Maxwell or V-ray to get the most realistic renders. But I dont wish to learn all of them so id appreciate advice for which one to try?

Render Farm - Ive only got a 4 core iMac so if I get the opportunity to produce some work then I might need the use of a render farm, like I used back in my frustrating 3dsMax days, long since forgotten. Are there such services for C4D and these renderers because this might be a factor in my choice?

Thanks for any help :slight_smile:

FYI - Im back learning C4D again due to the fact ive switched to a vegetarian diet, so much more energy and mental focus.


Think how much more you could achieve if you were vegan.


Ha ha, well im trying.


Render farms don’t care if you are using a mac as far as I know.

Corona is probably your best bet on a mac for now.


Concentrate on lighting and materials first and foremost without these two whatever renderer you choose will be irrelevant.

Corona is a good shout, it’s a lovely renderer and is surprisingly fast on a 4 core for preview renders and as you’re doing stills it’ll probably be an overnight render job.

The big daddy is Arnold, its quality is undeniable it is the state of art in terms of photorealistic output.

At the opposite end of the scale are the Standard renderer and Physical renderer in C4D, both really showing their age, it’s not that you can’t create good work with them but it’s much more effort. Prorender can produce very pretty images but it’s so slow.

Of the GPU renderer Redshift is fast but, speaking as a Redshift user, I always have rated Octane’s output better. There is a certain je ne sais quoi with Octane renders that is always missing from Redshift. No matter how much I try with Redshift there is always something missing or it takes an awful lot more work to get to the same place as Octane does seemingly effortlessly.

Redshift is extremely fast and reasonably stable, Octane is reasonably fast but unstable.

I like Cycles but have never used it for photorealism, it certainly works for me in NPR Mograph work.

But you’re on a Mac which has become probably the worst platform for 3D work thanks to Apple. To run any CUDA based renderer you’ll need to be on High Sierra and have an external nVidia GPU.

There are plenty of other renderers not mentioned that are also deserving of consideration. Download trials, most if not all the renderers have watermarked trial versions and see how they work for you.


Hi guys, well it sounds like Corona is the place I should start. If things go well I could invest in a PC for 3D. As it happens Apple is releasing a new 28 core pro Mac with 2x the most powerful nvidia cards available, but it will probably cost £10k when new. The specs are silly, so it’s got to cost silly money. But whilst I don’t like pc’s I respect their value for 3D and am happy to use it just for that.

I’m not completely useless with 3D and I know how frustrating it was with 3dsmax when I couldn’t use a certain material because I’d used an incompatible light. This is why I’d like your advice and to stick to it, knowing exactly what I’m capable of rendering and not taking on work out of that scope. Plus I think I can afford the Carona 10 core node to learn with, that’s my 4 core iMac can use those 10 nodes.

An old workmate James McVittie is a partner of a multinational company (Visual-Method) they render interiors with V-ray, the example his guy did of one of our photo studio room sets was impeccable IMO, except for the lime in the fruit bowl nobody could tell the difference between the photo or render, it took him 7 days from start to finish but it was an amazing piece of work. But James said Vladimir’s(the 3D artist) value is that he is one of the few who can produce materials in v-ray, as the material sliders tend not to work as you would expect, so unless I were to train full time v-ray would be too frustrating. Do you think this is true about v-ray???

Infograph - Thanks for the brief summary of what is available, I can keep coming back to that during my training.


I use vray/corona daily and been testing fstorm (fstorm not available for c4d).

fstorm is the clear winner when it comes to photo-realism, but lets ignore that for now.

vray has solid pipeline tools, very fast render times, very easy to use these days, materials are quite easy to setup.

corona is the noob friendly render engine, you need to know nothing other than how to place lights, it comes with its own material sets which is good for base materials for other textures you have on hand, no render settings are required you can just hit the button and watch the magic. One thing you should know about Corona is it needs quite a lot of RAM to render large scenes.

That being said either vray/corona are both very interchangeable now that chaos group owns both, corona is lacking features that exist in 3dsmax but hopefully over the next 12 months it should catch up. There is a plugin called Siger which do extremely photo-realistic materials and is a must have for either render engine (unless you feel like going through the learning curve).

Regarding your previous experience with materials/lights, this is not the case anymore, especially if you stick with realistic values. Whichever engine you choose follow this video and you can basically make any material look pretty damn good.


Hi James

Thanks So much for reading my posts and providing your in-depth reply. Wow FSTROM is Amazing! but your right and im going with Corona for now for the reasons you mentioned.

My iMac was the best 2-3 years ago with 4x 4Ghz i7 processors, 32GB Ram and AMD Radeon R9 M395X 4 GB. It will have to do for now but im eager to get started and hopefully I can turn a few jobs into a dedicated 3d machine. I turned from 3dsmax because it kept crashing and one day I saw what a noob advertising guy did with C4D R11 on a shitty office Mac (compared to my at the time top spec PC with £2k graphics card) and that convinced me to swap away from 3dsmax. Im not sure if 3dsmax can split a render into layers for photoshop but that was also a big advantage of C4D because I have access to lots of images to retouch renders if I can’t get them perfect in the CGI app. But if 3dsmax is now and for foreseeable future is the best option for photorealism and render times are not too restrictive (12hrs for a 30mb image which is about the size for print) then I will no doubt be thinking about switching back again. Im not scarred to invest in the right computer or apps as long as im sure its the correct move, plus I dont like flogging a dead horse :slight_smile:

Whatever renderer I use I expect my work to be using a lot of high quality textures like images of wallpapers and maybe fabrics, lots of wooden floor panels because each panel needs to have different grain. I do know how to shoot these properly and retouch them so they tile correctly and dont show repeating errors when they tile. Im not sure if this fact makes any difference with the render such as Corona??

Big thanks for that Corona vid as its opened up an area of learning material for me plus it was very impressive especially the wood quality he did, and I will look into and find out about that Siger plugin too.

If anybody else has any learning suggestions for me to do with C4D, Corona and Photorealism please post up no matter how small. I do have a few vids to look at to do with global illumination setups for rendering but perhaps you know of tutorials which are Best Practice.

Cheers :blush:


No probs, wish you the best of luck!

Thats a pretty decent machine still, exterior corona scenes will eat that 32gb of ram though so be careful, vray seems to manage nearly anything you throw at it with 32gb.

c4d & 3dsmax are almost identical in the archviz industry in regards to quality, so dont worry about your choice of software - just use what you know best. When you mention about splitting renders in photoshop, this is usually down the the elements that the render engine can provide. Currently vray still provides the most (which is why I said it has solid pipeline tools), but Corona also gives you many ways to manipulate your images in post as well.

Doesnt make a different for any render engine to be honest. There are many good wood textures out there already you can download/buy. If you want to shoot your own make sure you get a Color Passport (like xrite) and shoot with that on raw, and make sure you color tone match to the passport. Just a note about the youtube video on 3DLUT you can also do this in Lightroom or whatever photography app you use. 3DLUT is amazing, I have used it myself but the point here is about the color passport, not the software.

Np, you can do the same with any render engine these days, its just emulating PBR workflow which is basically in all modern apps now.

These days pretty much most people either go with a sun/sky setup or a HDRI with GI turned on. All render settings should be automatic/default if your using fstorm/vray/corona. Another note on ‘finessing’ the final look, vray/corona have extremely good VFB controls now, so you dont even have to worry about your base lighting, you just throw in your main light or HDRI, hit render and you can adjust the intensity using the exposure in the VFB itself - like a basic photoshop within your 3d software.


Thanks again James - Ive got the photo studio stuff sorted and ive been using X-rite for years which is all you need for colour imo, but your right to mention it as you would be surprised how many veteran photographers and studios provide images with a dodgy colour cast thats hard to remove. Check out tonights job from another studio for example, about 4% too red and some magenta too. Casts like this are often hard to correct once I get them in 8bit.

The photographer also shot this bed at the wrong angle, ive got to twist it maybe 20 degrees clockwise to get it to fit into the room set for delivery Monday am. If I knew Corona properly I bet I could batt out an adequate room set with shadows and reflections that this bed could be dropped onto. I bet it would be much more rewarding than me chopping this bed to bits in photoshop.

Bed to comp into set. Wrong angle!

Room Set


Ok I see what you mean. To be honest in this case I would say photoshop bashing is probably your best bet.

Doing a 3d match and modelling these hardcore details would take more a considerable amount of time, the window frame detail, the cornices and skirting, the carpet rug fold, you would either need to buy some damn good assets or spend a lot of time building this stuff for gigs you have lined up - if you had the clients already it would pay off but otherwise I would stick to stock photography of empty sets and photobash in the elements like the bed.


Your absolutely right again, this is a 10yr client of mine and their is a hard deadline for this image but if I had a few room sets made up I could change elements like wall colour and furniture, maybe add floor rugs from other images but the bed would look correct in the set which this bed is never going to look right and the client has spent a lot of money on this and has an advertising slot paid for and needing an image to go into which could of cost them £10-50k just for a half page in Good Housekeeping or whatever. If I had the experience I could model the room and copy the furniture from this shot over then I would have the room for future use. This is my plan for starters.

Even if I had to cut and paste furniture and plants from old photo’s into the renders, couldn’t I build simple models just to cast shadows and reflections into the rendered image?

FYI my health has been off for a few years so I dont work for this company as often as I did which was maybe 2-3 days a week, they hired two full time retouchers to replace me but the quality has dropped massively and these kind of issues are croping up. But if I can come up with a CGI solution to save them then I have guaranteed work and once ive got some sets and a library of furniture etc im sure the job will get easier and more interesting. These are actually a very good client of mine who are regular and pay on time, they will greatly appreciate the CGI work I know I can do if I learn how its done. They might also have me render sets in the future rather than build them at £4-8k each. Also I can’t blame them for replacing me because I couldn’t work but I hate repairing images that of gone wrong due to laziness or whatever.

Look how far off this bed is and I need to change its light to fit the set, its not what the client will be expecting from there investment.


REDSHIFT Renderer - Is this as good and as easy as Corona?
Ive been looking at Greyscalegorilla website for the Light Kit 3, Materials, HDRI Link plugin etc, mainly because I had the Light Kit 1 and it was pretty good and easy to use. But GSG seem to prefer Redshift as the favourite rendered for C4D, although they have said in a tutorial that its material sliders are awkward but getting better. Its owned by Maxon now so that could be a bias.

From my YouTube research it looks like Redshift renders 3x quicker than Corona.


Ok from what I understand the Set doesn’t need to be exactly this room, you can make your own stock sets to use? If that’s the case then yes you could definitely build up a nice little library and buy quality assets to suit saving yourself lots of time and it would look realistic if you put in the effort into the lighting/camera setup.

I wouldn’t recommend cut-out images unless they are in the very distance, they will never look right close up.

Redshift is a great render engine, its super fast and can render quite large scenes because of its ‘out-of-core’ nature (meaning its not limited to your GPU ram). Its probably one of the most difficult render engines to use since it gives you so many options and settings it can be overwhelming at first, but with practice could be quite useful. As an archviz guy myself, the focus for me is usually quality over speed, ease of use over abundant options/settings, in my experience anyway. If you can get a decent material library with redshift or any great lighting templates/setups then maybe this could be a winner for you - it all depends on your personal situation. To be honest, there is always going to be someone to start the tide of change (meaning redshift isnt so popular in photo-real archviz) but that doesnt mean you can’t be the catalyst.

A twitter post by Greyscalegorilla the other day hit home with me and I think it was very well said, paraphrasing - I think the best way to find out if a render engine suits your needs is to take the time to set up the whole scene, lights, materials, cameras, render it out, finalize with post production and then put it out in the world - armed with this experience you will know which render engine to go with.


Thanks again James for your advice. It was only my familiarity with GSG that made me consider Redshift as it’s in almost all their tutorials, plus the render speed. Im sure their are equally good vid tutorial sites for other renderers which I might find later.

Then finally I went to look at the work from my old employer in Oz and my work mate who started They are both now using Vray hope you get a chance to check-out the quality on those sites, Visual Methods work is indistinguishable from studio photography to me. Its perfect.

Do you know where I might find a Vray vid tut on photorealistic renders? or possibly a example c4d/vray scene for me to try and study?


I had a look at your references. I love the creativity in the behance page, lots of great renders here with different styles very cool! Also the work from visual-method is great too, very nice interior work.

I dont use c4d so Im not so clued up on the tutorials available, however from a quick look I found this one which I think is pretty useful for your type of workflow. It follows the basic principles of how I would set up an interior lighting with a few differences but this should give you the gist.

If you want good example scenes of interiors setup for realistic lighting I would recommend evermotion interior packs. Have a look through and find a lighting style that matches your outcome and just check its for c4d.


Hey James - I wouldn’t of dreamed of asking you for one of your scenes mate, I imagine thats like asking a photographer to copy there lighting setup. lol I remembered you are 3dsmax too.

Thanks for the tutorial advice and especially the ever motion link, thats exactly the kind of thing I need to boost my learning curve.

This is how my bed job is coming on. Its never going to look great but im confident I can get it to look acceptable once ive changed the lighting to match and the other work.


Its looking good! Just need to get the lighting on the bed to match the room and I think you nailed it.

the render setup should be very much the same between c4d and 3dsmax. if you have a copy of 3dsmax Im happy to send you a basic scene lighting to investigate. I dont really care if people copy my work or use it for learning to be honest we all grow by sharing and learning together.

edit: one of my colleagues has a copy of c4d, ill try put aside some time to do a real basic scene for you to look at if I can work my way through the interface, its been a 8 years since I was using c4d.


James Vella ‘your just too cool mate’ :sunglasses: :blush:

Ive got a long way to go with my learning but that is a very generous offer and modesty aside I like to think im happy helping people learn photoshop, but with photoshop I feel its our artistic interpretation that counts and not the technical ability.



This is the final version of the bed now its had its lighting sorted and fabric coloured to Sandstone.

Time to cook some dinner and get onto my C4D tutorials. Thanks for your help :slight_smile: