This guide is closely related to the Getting Started With Octane Render for C4D walkthrough. It’s meant to be an easy, searchable reference that shows where everything is and what it all does, all in one place. It’s designed to work hand in hand with the manual and help with discovery (wait, it can do that?!) and grouping categories of things together so you never have to say “where was that again?”.
The Live Viewer
This is the heart of Octane Render, and how you’ll be interacting with Octane in C4D most of the time. You get this by going to the Octane menu at the top of the C4D interface and choosing Live Viewer.
Not only does it give you a lightning-quick live view (hence the name) of what your scene is going to look like, but it’s also where nearly everything Octane-related is housed in C4D.
You’ll likely want to dock this in your interface somewhere (normally people put it to the right of the Viewport window, but it’s your interface, put it wherever you want).
Live Viewer Anatomy
At the very top in the title bar. It tells you which version of Octane you’re using and how many days left on your subscription you have. Octane won’t automatically update itself to newer versions - you’ll need to download and install them as they come out (don’t forget to remove the extra files each time!) Instructions on how to do that are here. You can, however, check to see if there’s a new version in the Octane Live Viewer’s Help menu.
Under that is a menu bar with File, Cloud, Objects... etc. This is where you create Octane Materials, Lights and Cameras, as well as a bunch of other special objects like Scatter and Fog. There are also import/export options here, the ability to send to The Render Network, and a bunch of options and help stuff that we’ll touch on later.
Below that is the icon bar. These buttons control things like starting and stopping rendering, quality, framing, and various render modes.
Beneath that is the live viewer area - this shows your scene from the viewpoint of the active camera. You can navigate in this window like you would in the viewport if you want, and you can also drag in materials to place on objects in this window the same way you can in the normal perspective viewport.
Then there are some information overlays on top of that - there’s a tiny bit of text at the top that gives you some statistics you probably won’t use until you get REALLY good at this and need to seriously optimize it. In the bottom left corner there’s an overlay that tells you which GPUs are active and what they’re doing. You can left-click anywhere in the live viewer area (not on the overlay itself) to toggle these overlays on and off.
At the bottom is the render status. This tells you how long your render will take, whether it’s done or not, samples, and a few other things. You can hide and show this by right-clicking in the image area somewhere and choosing “Toggle Info”.
If you right click in the live viewer area, you get a menu with several options and shortcuts.
You can modify the whole Live Viewer interface by turning parts of it on and off in the GUI menu. This is covered a bit more later.
The Icon Bar
There are two things that need to happen before you see a final result. First, Octane needs to compile all the data in your scene and package it up to send to the GPU. Then it does all the calculations needed to resolve the image (rendering in passes, known as ‘samples’) - the image is either displayed in the Live Viewer or the Picture Viewer.
The Send Scene button (looks like an Octane logo) does this entire process. It starts the pre-prep process, and then when it’s done, it sends a fresh copy of the scene to the GPU and starts the sampling/rendering process.
The Restart Render (second) button skips the first stage and just starts the second part - rendering. This is especially useful if you have a lot of pre-prep time due to a heavy scene and you just want to change a material or something without needing to reload all the geo as well.
The Pause button (third) pauses the rendering portion at whatever sample it’s up to, and then when you hit it again it resumes from where it left off. This is useful for getting an idea of how many samples you need in your final render, or if you want to do something else to your scene that doesn’t require rendering and you don’t want it to continually update.
The Stop and Reset button (R in a square) stops the render and then clears all the data from the GPU, but doesn’t restart the render like the Send Scene button does. Most of the time you won’t be using this, but sometimes it’s helpful in troubleshooting.
The kernel dropdown that says DL changes the kernel - more about this later in this guide.
The Lock Resolution button is super useful. When this is off, Octane renders everything in the live viewer area regardless of the aspect ratio or size. If you resize the liveviewer window, it changes how much of your scene renders. This is great for modeling and testing materials out, but not so great once you want to start framing the shot and seeing how your final output will look or how long it will really take to render.
Hitting the Lock Resolution button will show a 1:1 view of your scene. If your render settings are at 1920x1080, it will render 1920 pixels across by 1080 down. If your window is smaller than your render, it will only show you part of it and you’ll have to pan around to see it all.
When the Lock Resolution button is active, two new fields appear in the icon bar, and they both default to a value of 1. The first one is a resolution multiplier. If your render settings are set to 1920x1080 and you type in 0.5, it will re-render at 960x540 which will be faster (rendering fewer pixels). If you type 2, it will re-render at 3840x2160 which will be slower (rendering more pixels).
The second box is zoom. It works the same way as a magnifying glass does in a 2D app. If you type 0.5 here, it won’t re-render, it’ll just zoom the window to 50% so you can see more of your scene. If you type 2 here, it also won’t re-render, it’ll zoom in to 200% (things will look less sharp, as expected). This is useful for zooming in on a portion of the render to have a better look at an artifact, or zooming out to better fit the window when you adjust your layout.
The render region and film region are for rendering just a small part of the window in case you’re worried about a particular part and only want to quickly render that and adjust things to try to resolve it. Both let you draw a box on the Live Viewer and then render whatever is inside. Render Region ignores the sample limit and keeps counting up so you can focus in on problem areas and see how many samples you need to resolve them. Film region blacks everything out and only renders the portion of your scene in the box using the settings you set. This is good for adding a patch to an existing render.
The dropdown that says HDR/sRGB is for color management. That’s for when you start working with post production color workflows like ACES and Linear.
Pick Focus lets you click anywhere in the Live Viewer and set the focal point of an Octane camera.
Pick Material lets you pick any object in the Live Viewer and it will highlight the material assigned to it.
Fine Tuning and Troubleshooting Buttons
These other commands turn things on and off to help visualize what’s happening in your scene. You likely won’t need them at first, but as you start doing more complex things, you might want to use them.
Clay modes are for turning off textures and other material effects so you can focus on lighting. It consists of Normal, Clay mode, Colored Clay mode.
The four check buttons on the far right tell Octane whether to update the geometry, lights, camera and materials whenever something changes and causes the Live Viewer to update. Turning these on and off can be useful if you’re getting a lot of crashes or slowdown due to any one of those four things. Remember to turn them back on though, otherwise the Live Viewer will act weird.
There are specific menu toggles that let you turn on/off the different types of motion blur to help troubleshoot scenes as well - these are in the Options menu of the Live Viewer.
Octane materials are found in the Materials menu in the Live Viewer menu under Create. You can also right-click an object in the Live Viewer and choose Create Material and it will make a new material and assign it to whatever object you right clicked.
There are lots of material types here, which we’ll cover in the Material Types section.
Once an Octane Material of any type is created, it shows up in your Material Manager at the bottom of the C4D Interface just like a standard material does. In fact, when you double-click an Octane Material in the Material Manager, it opens in C4D’s Material Editor and looks very similar to a standard material, but with different channels. There’s also a dropdown at the top of the channel list that lets you change the material type, so if you are working on an older Glossy or Diffuse type material, you can quickly switch it to a Universal.
The Universal Material is probably the most flexible and useful type. It contains every channel available in Octane and can do what nearly every other material type can. It’s also the best one for importing and converting PBR-type materials like Substance or ones found on CC0textures or Texture Haven. This is the one to get comfortable with, and then you can branch out later and try a few of the others if you run into limitations with it. There’s a guide for it here
The Glossy, Diffuse, Specular, and Metallic materials are some of the original material types in Octane prior to the introduction of the Universal Material. They are all similar to the Universal Material, but each has a limited subset of channels, and some of the functionality is a little different. Most of the time you don’t need to worry about these, but you’ll likely see them in older materials in scenes you download.
The Mix, Composite, and Layered materials are for cases where you want part of your model to be glass, part to be metallic, part to be diffuse, and you want all this contained in a single material. These are covered in another guide that goes into detail about each.
Hair, Toon and Portal materials are all for special use cases.
Material channels control specific properties of a material. If you’re coming from using C4D’s standard/physical materials, here is how the channels relate:
C4D’s Color channel is similar to Octane’s Albedo channel in the Universal Material, or the Diffuse channel in some of the other material types.
Bump, Normal, and Displacement are called the same thing in both engines and do the same thing.
Luminance in C4D maps to Emission in Octane. Alpha in C4D maps to Opacity in Octane.
Transparency in C4D maps to Transmission in Octane, but there are some transparency settings also found in Octane’s IOR (Dielectric) and Medium channels.
C4D’s Reflectance channel contains settings found in Octane’s Specular, Metallic, Roughness, Anisotropy, Sheen, IOR (Metallic) and Coating channels.
C4D’s Fog is replaced by actual volumetric fog in Octane which is best done in a separate object or in the environment rather than a material. Similarly the Glow channel is replaced by a camera effect in Octane (quite a bit nicer, too). The Environment channel in C4D doesn’t have an equal in Octane - whatever is in the real environment is what reflects in materials. C4D’s Diffusion channel is mostly covered by the Dirt Node in Octane’s node editor.
Octane has a Thin Film channel which gives a physically-based iridescence, and a Dispersion channel that adds real dispersion to transparent objects.
The following commands are in the Materials menu in the Live Viewer.
Convert Materials: Standard C4D materials can be converted into Octane materials by selecting them and using this command. This will not only convert them, but replace the materials on your objects with the newly converted versions. The results of the conversion vary wildly by how complex the original material was and how well the channels map. As of this writing, the conversion tool uses legacy materials (Diffuse, Glossy, etc), so you’ll probably want to change the material type to Universal and clean it up a bit, but this should at least get you started.
Remove Unused Materials and Remove Duplicated Materials: These commands will clean up the material manager if you have unused or duplicated materials.
Empty texCache: Octane caches textures so they load faster. Normally this cache clears when you reset the GPU data (hit the R button) or exit Octane. If you’re working with a lot of high res textures and you start to run out of hard drive space, you can use this to clear the cache manually. Odds are good you’re never going to need this.
The Node Editor
If you’re brand new to a node system, it’s basically another view of all of the channels, textures, and other things that go into making a material laid out flat in a network view so you can see everything at the same time. Once your materials start getting more advanced, you’ll probably find working with nodes a lot easier than jumping up and down levels in the Material Editor. The Node editor can be accessed from any Octane material via the button at the top left of the Material Editor that says Node Editor just above the list of channels. You can also access this via the Materials menu in the Live Viewer.
Octane Texture Manager
The Octane Texture manager is very useful for managing links to bitmap images that appear in your materials. You can replace them, locate them in Finder or Explorer, and do some other useful things here. This is located in the Materials menu in the Live Viewer.
The LiveDB (database) contains a bunch of materials released by Otoy that you can use in your scenes. You can also start your own local database of materials and access them with the LocalDB area of the tree on the left. This is in the Materials menu in the Live Viewer.
Octane’s lights are located under the Objects menu in the Live Viewer. There are two menus there - Lights and Toon Lights. The Toon Lights go with Toon Materials to create non-photoreal renders. Lights are where all the normal lights that you’ll probably be using the most.
All of these are standard C4D light objects that have either an Octane DayLight or Octane Light tag applied to them. These tags modify the light objects and in some cases override the native settings. They can be added to normal C4D lights by going into the Tags>C4doctane Tags Menu in the Object Manager and applying them to an Infinite Light or Area Light.
When using any Octane light, be sure to look in the tag attributes for whatever you’re trying to change first, then move on to the light object’s settings if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
Octane DayLight and Octane Planetary Rigs
This is a C4D Infinite Light with a C4D Sun tag and an Octane DayLight tag. These rigs are meant for outdoor (and outer space) environments. The DayLight tag overrides some of the settings in the Light itself, so always look for a setting in the tag first before you look in the object the tag is attached to.
Octane Arealight and Targeted Arealight
These are the most common lights in Octane. The Arealight is a C4D Area Light with an Octane Light tag on it. The targeted version has a C4D target tag on it as well. If you have an object selected and add a targeted light, it will automatically add that object as the target in the target tag.
This is a C4D Area Light with an Octane Light tag on it similar to an Octane Arealight, but the tag is already set up to receive an IES (Illuminating Engineering Society) texture. These are useful for interiors or anywhere that you want to use realistic lights created by specific manufacturers.
LeoMoon Studios has a popular starter pack of IES lights for free, or if you really get into it, you can get thousands of them from ieslibrary.com. You can add an IES profile to any Octane Light tag, the IES light just has a texture node in there already to make it faster. The manual shows the setup for this. One thing to note is depending on the IES, you may need to change the R.X projection to -90 instead of 90 to get it to work (keep this in mind when following the guide in the manual).
Octane Spot Light
This is a C4D Spot Light with an Octane Light tag on it. It also defaults to having volumetric properties so you can see the cone and some other controls. You’re going to need a pretty powerful GPU for this due to the volumetric nature, and you’ll probably want to look into how to use the AI light functionality (Spectron) and the denoiser to save time.
Octane has two types of environments: A Texture environment and an HDRI environment. These are located in the Objects menu in the Live Viewer. They are both variations of the same thing - a C4D Sky Object with an Octane Environment Tag on it. In fact, if you make one type, you can switch it to the other type by hitting the little blue and green half circles under the word “Main” in the Attributes Manager for the tag. You can also take a standard C4D Sky object and add your own tag in the Tags>c4doctane tags menu in the Object Manager.
The texture environment puts an RGB Spectrum node in (basically a flat color) that you can use to get a single background color for your render.
The HDRI Environment has a slot for an HDRI image which can light the scene. The HDRI file goes INSIDE the ImageTexture node. Don’t use the three-dot icon to replace this with the HDRI, click where it says “ImageTexture” to get inside it, then link to your HDRI there.
You can get free HDRIs at HDRI Haven
There’s a guide here on how to make the most of HDRIs in Octane.
This is also located in the Objects menu in the Live viewer. By now, you’ve probably figured out that this is a standard C4D camera with an Octane Camera tag on it. The Camera tag overrides many of the settings in the C4D Camera object, but you still need to set the focal length and a few other things in the Camera object itself.
There’s an in-depth guide to the Octane camera here
The Other Stuff
In the Live Viewer’s Objects menu, there’s also an assortment of other things that are worth exploring after you get the basics down.
These are found in the Objects menu in the Live viewer
Octane VDB volume, Fog Volume, and SDF: These are all the same object with different selections in the Type dropdown in the Main tab. If you put one into your scene, you can use the dropdown to switch to one of the other two. This is for interacting with VDB objects (volumetrics), and in the SDF and Fog Volume mode you can generate simple clouds in the Generate tab.
Octane Scatter: Similar to a C4D cloner, but lets you have millions and millions of instances that only show up in the Live Viewer (not in the C4D viewport). It works with standard C4D Effectors and it’s super fast.
Vectron: For generating complex geometry on the GPU via GLSL and OSL scripts. If you don’t know what any of that means, it’s okay - the one really cool thing you can do with it without any scripting knowledge is to make and explore fractals. Check out this tutorial for more info.
Orbx Loader: For bringing in files created in Octane Standalone.
These are found in the Object Manager (not Live Viewer) under Tags>C4doctane Tags. They go on C4D Objects to make them play nicer with Octane.
The Octane Object Tag is the only one here that you need to manually place on something. The rest of the tags (environment, camera, light, daylight) come with the various Octane objects covered above, but are available here in case you need to add one to a scene you’re converting over from a different render engine.
The Object Tag gets placed on geometry, a particle system, or hair object, and it gives you more options for how these objects interact with Octane. It’s necessary for motion blur, hair, particles, and compositing, but there are other interesting things you can do with it like on-GPU subdivisions and controlling whether it’s affected by specific lights.
The Environment Tag goes on a C4D Sky Object. This is covered in detail above. This is automatically attached to a C4D Sky when you create an Octane Texture Environment or HDRI Environment.
The Camera Tag goes on a C4D Camera and gives you control over depth of field, motion blur, and a few other things. Focal length is still controlled by the C4D camera itself. This tag comes with an Octane Camera.
The Octane Light Tag goes on a C4D Area or Spotlight. This takes over nearly all of the functionality of the C4D light, which is really only used to position and scale the light. This is added to all the different Octane Lights automatically when you create them.
The DayLight Tag goes on a C4D Infinite Light - it’s best to use the DayLight or Planetary Rig object (found in the Live Viewer Menu under Objects>Lights) instead of applying this yourself because there are other complexities with the C4D Sun tag.
The File menu lets you save what you rendered in the Live Viewer in a variety of ways (without having to go through C4D’s Picture Viewer), but there are also commands here to interact with Octane Standalone’s native file format: orbx. An orbx is a file that contains all scene data, textures and assets into one convenient chunk so it can be opened in Octane Standalone or sent out to be rendered in the cloud.
The Compare menu in the live viewer lets you store renders and do an A/B comparison on them directly in the Live Viewer. While you can do that in the Picture Viewer as well, it relies on renders being complete. In the Live Viewer, you can finish up one render, hit Store Render Buffer, then turn on the A/B comparison and start editing a material to see it against the last one in realtime.
Where All the Settings Are
There are a few places where settings are located. This section should help demystify it a bit.
This window is where most of them are found. You can get there either by hitting the gear icon in the icon bar in the Live Viewer, or in the Octane menu at the top of the C4D interface. This is where the day-to-day render settings are located. Adjusting these make your renders look better, go faster, or in some cases, both.
There are four tabs in this window.
This is where you choose your render kernel and adjust the settings for it. You can also choose the kernel in the kernel dropdown in the icon bar. The kernel is the method Octane uses to render - each one has its advantages and disadvantages. If you click the gray bar that says Directlighting at the top, it’s actually a dropdown and you can choose from the four kernels there. You can also pick between these in the Live Viewer window in the icon bar - it’s the little dropdown that defaults to DL (Direct Lighting).
Most of the time you’ll be using Path Tracing (or PT) which is the best all-arounder, Direct Lighting (DL) is the fastest, but least realistic. PMC is the slowest and you’d only want to use it in very particular circumstances, particularly in scenes where Pathtracing isn’t producing the caustics you want and you’re willing to wait for better results. You can also view various info channels which are good for visualization and troubleshooting, but usually not for rendering.
Kernel settings will take you a little time to get familiar with. There’s a whole guide on understanding and optimizing Pathtracing settings.
This is where most of the post-processing happens. There are a few sub-tabs here. Color correction, denoising, upsampling, LUTs, Vignetting... just about everything that doesn’t happen during the render. These are global settings, which means that whatever you set here will apply by default to every Octane Camera.
Every Octane Camera tag has a Camera Imager tab as well, and the settings there will override the ones here if they’re turned on in the tag.
This is where bloom, glare, and spectral shift all live. Again, these are the global settings, and the ones in the Octane Camera tag will override these for that particular camera if it’s turned on.
This section has a number of sub-tabs that control all the technical things. You can turn certain GPUs on and off, change how Octane deals when you run out of VRAM (out-of-core), tell Octane where your LocalDB is located, change the color of the nodes, and a few other things that don’t make sense to have elsewhere. Generally you don’t mess around with these unless you have a specific need.
In the menubar for the settings window, there’s a Presets menu. Once you’re happy with a default array of settings (or if you want a few different ones), you can save them here as presets. They won’t automatically load when Octane does, but if you set up a new.c4d file, you can make one preset active in that, and it will load in every time you create a new scene.
Octane also has a section in C4D’s Render settings (the clapboard icon with the gear on it). When you pop that window open, you can now pick Octane Renderer from the Renderer Settings. That drops an Octane Renderer entry into the list on the left. If you hit that, you’re given four tabs again.
These are similar to other C4D Render settings, so you can mess with a bunch of them and save them on the left, and then if you’re using a new.c4d file, make one your default. This will only save the render settings (and kernel overrides, etc), but not all of the stuff in the Octane Settings (gear menu) - that needs to be saved as a Preset in the menubar of the Octane Settings window instead.
You’re probably going to leave this alone most of the time, but you can use this to override your Live Viewer settings for things like using all the GPUs. Handy if you just want one GPU running for Live Viewer, but always want Octane to crank all your GPUs up when it comes time to do a final render. This is also where you’d turn on Use denoised beauty pass if you’re using the denoiser and don’t want to deal with AOVs.
Overwrite Kernel Settings
This allows you to have a working set of kernel settings that you set in the Octane settings for when you’re messing around building your scene, and then a high quality set when it comes time to do a final render.
AOV Groups and Render Passes
This is where you specify your passes if you’re doing multi-pass rendering. That’s really far outside the scope of this document, but just know that this is where you go for that.
The Octane Camera tag has five tabs in the Attribute Manager. The last two tabs (Camera Imager and Post Processing) are overrides for the same two categories of settings in Octane Settings. If you have a scene with multiple cameras and you want bloom and glare in one shot but not another, this is how you’d do it.
Settings in the Live Viewer Menu
Finally there are some settings in the Live Viewer Menu. These are located in the Options and GUI menus, and they mostly control things that affect the Live Viewer itself.
Here you’ll be able to turn on and off different settings that go into producing a render in the live viewer. They’re good for troubleshooting and speeding things up while you’re doing look development. For example, if motion blur is causing issues while you’re scrubbing around the timeline and trying to just adjust textures, you can temporarily disable it in the live viewer using the Interactive Motion Blur menu in options (just remember to enable it later).
The Update Check menu do the same thing as the toggle buttons at the right of the icon bar. You can disable camera, lights, geometry, etc. when the scene updates (again, turn this back on after you’re done).
The other interesting thing in the Options menu is the Viewport Rendering option. If you’re short on screen real estate, you can actually use the C4D perspective viewport as an Octane Live Viewer. You can then go up to the Octane menu in the C4D menu bar and choose Octane Dialogue to get just the top part of the Live viewer (icon bar, menu bar) and dock that somewhere in the interface rather than work with the whole Live Viewer window. If you do this, you’ll probably want to utilize the Update Check and Clay Mode buttons a lot more since you’ll want to be turning off GPU-intensive tasks while you’re focusing on things like composition.
This allows you to turn on and off parts of the Live Viewer’s GUI. This is good if you’re working on a small screen or just like a super clean interface.