13 Ways to Reduce Your Render Times

Nobody likes waiting for hours whilst their render finishes, but most people do.  Little do they know, they can cut these render times in half with a little bit of tweaking.

By default, the big CPU sucking features are turned on default the blender devs want to ensure that you get the best looking renders. However when you are still working on the scene and don’t need to see the final image yet, it makes sense to turn these off.

Here’s a list of 13 ways to speed up your render times:

[Read this post in Farsi]

1. Turn off Ray Tracing

If you didn’t know this already, ray tracing eats CPUs for breakfast. It’s not uncommon for ray tracing to multiply your render times by 10. So if your project doesn’t need reflections, ambient occlusions or ray shadows then turn this CPU sucker off.

2. Lower the SubSurf levels

You might call this common sense, but when you’ve been working on a scene for 5 months it’s easy to forget that you created a car tire at the start with 6 levels of subsurf. Glancing over your scene and checking for any excessive subsurf levels can save you lots of time in the long run.

3. Turn off soft shadows

Sure it’s pretty but is it really necessary? If you don’t want to waste hours rendering, set the Soft size and the Samples for all spot lamps to 1.

4. Turn off Ambient Occlusion

Ambient occlusion is great for adding that extra touch of realism to your scene by faking indirect shadows. However it’s also notorious for stacking on hours to your rendertimes. If it’s not completely necessary, turn it off.

5. Turn on Simplification

One of the little known features in Blender is the Simplify option. This allows you to set global limits on subdivision, shadow samples and AO and SS so that you can quickly create preview renders. Definitely keep this feature close if you need to do a lot of testing and adjusting.

6. Turn off blurry reflections

A fairly recently feature is the ability to create blurry reflections. They certainly look pretty but be prepared to pay for that in rendertimes. By default blurry reflections are already turned off, but if you accidentally change the Gloss amount to anything less than 1 you can suffer the consequences of awful rendertimes.

7. Turn off Subsurface Scattering

If you do a lot of character modelling you probably already know this, but for those that don’t: Subsurface Scattering multiples rendertimes like crazy! Only turn this feature on if you are creating the final render.

A quick test revealed that turning this off could reduce your render times by 6 times!

8. Turn off shadows

If you aren’t rendering the final scene it can help to turn off the shadows whilst you are rendering previews.

9. Turn off Anti Aliasing

Another feature that can add hours to your rendertimes is the anti-aliasing option. Turned on by default, this option ensures that all the edges in your scene are smooth and unjagged. But if you aren’t rendering the final scene yet then turn it off! You’ll shave your render times in half!

10. Increase tiles

‘Tiles’ are the little boxes that you see appear when Blender is rendering the scene. Increasing tiles are recommended when rendering to a large size and need the CPU cores to render smaller segments. This will ensure that all cores work on the render until it’s finished without one core finishing before another.

11. Start Baking!

Everytime you hit render, Blender has to calculate all the shadows, ambient occlusion and lighting in the scene. If you are creating an animation it’s highly recommended that you bake all this data so that Blender only needs to calculate it once. If you don’t know how to do this, check out the wiki entry.

12. Make materials non-traceable

By deselecting Traceable in the materials section, you will make that material discarded from the ray tracing calculation. This has saved me HOURS of rendering time. If you have a complex object that doesn’t need shadows or reflections, then turn this off. You’ll be amazed at how much quicker your scene will render.

13. Reduce the dimensions

An obvious trick, but easy to forget. Setting the resolution percentage to 50% will render the scene 4 times faster!

Pretty simple hey? Hopefully these little tricks will come in handy the next time you need to render a large scene ;)

Do you know any other useful time savers? Share them in the comments below!

About Andrew Price

User of Blender for 9+ years. I've written tutorials for 3d World Magazine and spoken at three Blender conferences. My goal is to help artists get employed in the industry by making training accessible and easy to understand. I'm an Aussie and I live in South Korea ;)
  • Migz Sionco

    Is this for Applicable for Cycles too?

  • Dulana57

    what is Subsurface Scattering?

  • john caldwell

    Hey Andrew, reducing the waiting time between renders is what it’s all about, but you left out the most important thing. Buy the right GPU card! Which is what by the way? For that matter, what is the a best machine? Should I have a desktop or a gaming or a workstation PC, or Mac?

    • Falkbeard

      It all depends on what you want to do. Animations you will probably want a top spec PC but if you are just making still renders for a portfolio etc you can get away with using a laptop, ( that’s what i’m doing right now).

      Head on over to Blenderartists.org and if you search there for what PC or what Gfx card is the best you will find loads of answers.

  • P.L.Kopecky

    God bless you man*

  • Ravi

    My Pc get off while rendering occlusion in maya….
    dont knw may coz of max cpu usage …
    how to fix plzzz help

  • Roberdus

    Wow thanks, great for speeding up from 22 minutes for 24 frames to a frame per second and it still looks okish for the draft it is!

  • Simon

    Man I just started this 3d animation stuff two nights ago. Thanks to you i feel like I’m starting to get my way around the program and really grasp the whole mentality it takes to animate! I’ll post my completed animation on youtube for you to see

  • nastys

    In Rendering options, disable Progressive Sampling and in Performance enable Static BVH, Progressive Refine, Save Buffers, Cache BVH and Use Spatial Splits. My animation rendered much faster.

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  • SvK

    Go to render properties, Render and set display to “Keep UI”. Then make sure you don’t have an image editor open, and render.

  • Gabriel

    You sir have made my 9 hour render time into 22 minutes. I cannot thank you enough :)

    • Shivali Malhotra

      gabriel* that u said is real ?? i want shadow in my render scene then it’ll wrk or not ? does these settings effects the shadow or any other lighting quality that we want?

  • creat0r

    Andrew, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE HELP ME!!!! I am making a camera tracking movie, i have it all set up, but all my objects are black shadows! PLEEAASSSSEEE HELP!!

    • flakke

      wrong layer (foreground/background)

    • Anon

      Turn on Ambient occlusion

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  • http://www.facebook.com/rwmtiger2 Robin Muscato

    some of your tips didn’t help me. but #13 is a big help in time saving. i dont know what setting mess up my UV skin. i found my self missing uv img. so i undo and just use #13. over all thank you

  • http://twitter.com/laughpl Mr. K

    You are really providing valuable information. Blender would suck without people like you contributing. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ficticiousanimation.shunbiochiz FicticiousAnimation ShunBiochi

    Dude thank you so much. It’s not fun waiting ten minutes, making a few changes, AND WAITING TEN MINUTES AGAIN. XD… I like waiting 10 seconds much better, (and hey these tricks actually work lol) Thanks. :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/riff.jones.5 Riff Jones

    I use the Border option to only render a specific scene area

    To set the Border area
    in camera view use B and ‘left click’ set the Border rectangle
    Blender will only render objects pertaining to that portion of the scene leaving the rest of the scene blank

    To set the Border area null
    in camera view use B and ‘left click’ set a border area outside the scene to remove the Border

    To toggle the Border on and off
    in “Options Window=>Render Tab=>Dimensions Palette” is Border and Crop
    (the Crop option determines whether to render the whole scene size or only the Border size as output)

    are you using “lock camera to view” set with in the 3D window
    if so B will determine where to zoom into the scene instead
    so disable “lock camera to view” to set the Border area then enable it again

  • Yusuf Zaheed

    Thanks for advice. Now I can implement all this into making faster renders.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent! I must try some of your methods out the next time I render something. My computer sometimes takes many minutes to complete a render.

  • abdulrc

    is it possible that blender render &cycle renderer can support slice rendering on network. what i mean to say is that renderingba single frame in small parts or slice in different machines

  • Jjinkou2

    is there any way to have all of these saved in a preset? 
    and have another preset for full rendering ? 

  • raj

    thanks dude
    now blender is the fast render

  • Jeff

    Lowering resolution not decreasing render time … Not sure what’s going on : /

    I rendered 2 frames (frames 1 and 2) from an animation (just to test) at 100% resolution and each frame took about 2.5 minutes to render (so 5 mins total). Then I cut the resolution to 50% and rendered the next two frames (frames 3 and 4), expecting the render time to drop, but it took exactly the same amount of time for each of those two frames. This goes against everything I’ve been reading, but still, that’s the result. If anyone has any input, I’d appreciate it : /

    (fyi, all other settings stayed the same. I, literally, just reduced the resolution from 100% to 50% and re-hit the animation render button).

    • zak

      You probably have a complex physics setup that hasn’t been baked. Or an extremely complex setup with SSS, AO and multiple alpha channels. Try to cut down on the complexity of the screen.

  • pkisme
    • Caleb

      That’s in cycles though.

  • derkevevin

    if youre playing around or testing,
    just reduce the resolution with that % slider

    and for real render,

    if you have 2 or more computers that you could use:
    you can for example if your animation has 1000 frames
    render 500 frames on one and the remaining 500 frames
    on the other computer at the same time.
    that doubles your render speed (if the other computer is as powerful)
    without quality loss
    if you have 4 computers (for example at a lan house lol) you can render it 4 times faster
    im pretty sure this is the secret why movies
    like avatar dont take 5000 years to render.

    • Pyroevil

      It’s not really a secret, any serious studio have many computers to render sequences of images and we call that a renderfarm ;-)
      Small studio (doing alot of commercials for example) can have 20-50 computers , medium studio (doing few shots for movie like one I worked in few years ago) 100-300 computers and big one (pixar,dreamworks,sonypicture,weta,animal-logic…etc) more than 500 computers.

    • Yusuf Zaheed

      The computers used for movie making also have very fast processors and all that too. Smart idea, Derkevevin. Anyway many computers is no secret since they need to save time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ficticiousanimation.shunbiochiz FicticiousAnimation ShunBiochi

      I know for a fact that Epic Games renders using several computers.

    • They Call Me Prophet

      I have 3 but how do I do that remains a question to me.

      • FloriOn

        You just have to create a shared folder for example in Windows, where every single computer is connected and then just start the same rendering process on each into this folder, but do not forget to enable placeholders and disable overwrite.
        After these things every computer will create a placeholder from the frame each is working on and then upload the whole image when it is ready. So the others won’t work on this picture.

  • Rigo.cl

    Thanks a lot!

    A small scene went down from 1:03 min to only 10 secs, amazing!

  • Mayuri Birje

    is it applicable to cycle render?

    • Yusuf Zaheed

      Some things such as tile size can be changed in Cycles to reduce those killer render times. In addition there is a page that gives 4 tips to reduce render times in Cycles.

  • Jonty

    Ohhh now it

  • Ashanka

    gr8 post dude…helped a LOT…thnx nd keep up the good work

  • http://brimok.wordpress.com/ Brian Mok

    Thanks! Helped a lot!

  • Justin

    Thank you so much!! I’m gonna print this off and put it by my Keyboard Shortcuts page!!

  • chico

    it takes too long to render a high quality. is it ok that my animation takes 3 hours on rendering pls help me how to do it im new user of blender.

    • zak

      Do what all us hobbyists do, and leave a render up overnight, or go out for the day.

  • Juan

    New computer??, have you installed blender and it runs slowly, the solution is here:
    Windows drivers, search your drivers in the main page of your ati or nvidia web site and update it, windows drivers are out date and doesnt show to your pc how to use it at max power.

  • http://sssadddd sadfadsf

    Thank you, you guys are awesome….