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How to Learn Octane: Octane Tutorial (2024)

by | Last updated Jan 31, 2024

Want to learn Octane?

Back when CPU rendering was the norm, rendering was a slow and lengthy process. It took hours, days, even weeks, to render a scene. Otoy’s OctaneRender was one of the first to shift rendering to the Graphics Processing Unit or GPU, allowing the software to render images in minutes.

Today, Octane is one of the best render engines in the industry. And here below, you learn all about OctaneRender and discover its many features.

What is OctaneRender? 

OctaneRender is a GPU render engine developed by the software company, Otoy. This render engine was the first commercially available unbiased raytracer that fully utilizes GPU, which cuts rendering time significantly. It also lets users update scenes in real-time. 

According to Otoy, OctaneRender is the world’s fastest and first physically correct renderer, which means the software has a way of calculating the final rendered image to achieve the highest level of design, quality, and realism. This render engine is often used in movies, video games, and architectural designs for special effects and design visualization. 

OctaneRender key features

Seamless integration: One of the reasons why OctaneRender is so widely used in the animation and visual effects industry is that it can integrate seamlessly into a wide range of content creation and 3D animation applications. It’s compatible with 3DS MAX, Maya, Cinema 4D, Houdini, Lightwave, and Modo, just to name a few. 

Flexible: Octane is available for Nuke and CAD applications. The renderer lets compositors transfer scenes between applications easier compared to other rendering engines. That’s because Octane’s ORBX format could decode videos entirely in JavaScript on standard browsers without using third-party applications, plugins, or extensions.

Real-time responsiveness: OctaneRender lets compositors modify a scene in real-time. It boasts one of the most responsive render preview systems in the market. Because Octane is an unbiased renderer, it’s easy for beginners to learn and use Octane materials, lighting, and cameras, to create real-world settings. 

Should I learn Octane?

Should you learn Octane? Yes, you should! It’s one of the most widely used render engines in the VFX and animation industry. To stay competitive as an animator, you should master industry-standard software applications like Octane.

Fastest GPU rendering

Octane Render is powered by NVIDIA CUDA™ technology in all Mediaworkstations, ensuring fast GPU rendering to your desktop workflow. It provides almost absolute scaling in performance. Generally, a simple scene takes about several minutes to render. With Octane, it could cut through simple scenes within seconds, which shortens the rendering process significantly.

Real-time preview

Octane’s LiveViewer lets compositors modify a scene in near real-time and achieve photo-realistic results. Each time an attribute is changed in a scene, Octane’s Interactive Preview Region (IPR) updates the scene almost instantly. Depending on the plugin you’re using, Octane lets you access material selection, focus point selection, and AOV/render layer preview quickly. 

Ideal for compositing

Octane is available as a plugin for Nuke. Using Octane on Nuke, compositors could implement deep pixel rendering using the latest compositing toolsets. Combine these exclusive tools with the speed and power of GPU rendering, and you’ve got an effective compositing solution for visual effects. It’s a terrific software to use on scenes that require smoke, dust, flames, and other effects. 

A full materials library 

The application comes with a huge library of materials that you can access through the OctaneRender LiveDB. Because Octane is an unbiased render engine, beginners will have an easier time grasping the logic of the said materials. It also supports a full material baking paradigm for optimal real-time creation. 

Node-based workflow

OctaneRender provides a node-based workflow for VFX-quality shading and lighting. Nodes are used to manage almost all aspects of the applications, and as well as the Octane plugin environments for materials. Although nodal workflows aren’t beginner-friendly, they are efficient, especially when using gradients and texture files that require only one node to control multiple outputs.

A massive ecosystem

OctaneRender plays well with other 3D animation applications. Depending on the package, Octane subscriptions come with access to plugins for Cinema 4D, Maya, or Houdini. Some packages come with OctaneRender for After Effects and OctaneRender for Nuke. You have the option to choose OctaneRender Cloud (ORC) to leverage the power of GPUs in the cloud.

Being one of the most popular render engines in the business, Octane has a massive online community consisting of thousands of new and veteran artists. Whether you need a quick walkthrough or troubleshooting, the Octane community will provide all the help you need to use the render engine properly. 

How much does OctaneRender cost?

Octane prices depend on if you plan on using it for a studio or an enterprise.


Monthly subscription: $24.31 per month

Annual subscription:  $20.17 per month

[converted from Euro to USD]


  • RT Core and NVLink support on NVIDIA RTX GPUs (2 GPU limit)
  • Octane X: AMD GPUs supported on macOS 10.15.6+
  • EmberGenFX: Full commercial license included during public beta

The Studio renderer offers a host of dedicated and multi-use tools for rendering solutions with dual Xeon CPUs, enterprise-scale system RAM, with the option of NVIDIA GeForce or Quadro Graphics Card. It provides greater VRAM for enhanced stability and reliability for ultra-demanding GPU rendering. 


Monthly Subscription: $36.48 per month
Annual subscription: $30.31 per month

[converted from Euro to USD]


  • RT Core and NVLink support on NVIDIA RTX GPUs
  • Octane X: AMD GPUs supported on macOS 10.15.6+ 
  • EmberGenFX: Full commercial license included during public beta 
  • OctaneRender Network Rendering support 
  • Supports OctaneRender Enterprise Render Nodes (sold separately)
  • Annual subscriptions support the OctaneRender Offline USB Dongle (sold separately)

OctaneRender Enterprise boasts the most powerful GPU rendering server solution. Powered by NVIDIA Quadro GPUs, OctaneRender enterprise ensures fast and stable rendering for multi-users, 24/7.

Enterprise Ultimate Bundle

Annual subscription: $48.59 per month

[converted from Euro to USD]


  • EmberGenFX: Full commercial license included during subscription period 
  • World Creator: Full commercial license included during subscription period 
  • Unlimited Network Rendering: Includes 10+ OctaneRender Node licenses
  • RT Core and NVLink support on NVIDIA RTX GPUs
  • Octane X: AMD GPUs supported on macOS 10.15.6+
  • RNDR: 10,000+ OctaneBench hours of cloud rendering 
  • Annual subscriptions support the OctaneRender Offline USB Dongle (sold separately)

The package features OctaneRender’s Certified Servers, the most powerful GPU rendering server solution for multiuser and multi-use applications. The server could accommodate up to 10 double-wide Quadro or Geforce GPUs, and up to 24 front hot-swap SSDs. The Enterprise Ultimate Bundle comes with the fastest asset management server needs for the most demanding models. This package also includes EmbergenFX, unlimited network rendering, and a World Creator terrain and landscape generator.

How do you use OctaneRender?

Octane can be used for lighting and compositing. Thankfully, Otoy’s forums provide a bevy of free resources for beginners. It’s possible to use OctaneRender even with zero experience. You can learn as you go along. 

Lighting in Octane

By default, an omnipresent ambient light illuminates the scene. The light does not provide attributes for control, but environment light can be added to the scene. You can find the lights in the “Objects” menu of the application’s dialog window. The menu outlines the list of lights that Octane offers, including:

  • Octane Daylight
  • Octane Planetary
  • Octane Area light
  • Octane Targeted Area light
  • Octane Ies Light

There are three types of environment light in Octane. These are:

  • Texture Environment
  • HDRI Environment
  • Octane Daylight

Texture environment applies ambient lighting that can be adjusted with a Power setting. You’ll use the additional Octane node (RGB Spectrum) connected to the Texture parameter to change the light’s color. 

The HDRI environment is a light that’s similar to the Texture Environment light, but it features an ImageTexture node connected to the Texture parameter. This way, the HDRI images could be imported to use as lighting information. 

Octane daylight could come in the form of a sky to provide ambient illumination or in the form of the sun to provide a directional light source in a scene. Direct lights in Octane are: Area Light, Targeted Area Light, and IES Light. 

Materials in Octane

Materials could be accessed and created from the “Materials Menu” found in the Octane Dialog box. Here are the materials available on Octane:

Diffuse: applied to simulate non-reflective materials or light-emitting surfaces

Glossy: applied to simulate shiny materials like metals 

Specular: applied to simulate transparent materials like water or glass 

Metallic: applied to simulate metallic shine (gold, silver, copper) with physically correct IOR

Blend: applied to create multi-mix materials

Toon: a type of cartoon shader that works for specific toon lights

Mix: used to combine two types of materials

Portal: optimizes the rendering of light sources by finding important light sources in the scene

Accessing pre-made materials on Octane

Octane comes with an online library of premade materials called LiveDB. You can access LiveDB on the Materials menu. Just choose the materials you need and download them. Exploring the premade materials library is a great way to train yourself to be used to the application’s material system. You can use the materials for your projects or download the essential materials to see how they are made. 

Choosing materials on Octane

You can access the Materials in Octane using the Live Viewer window. Once you’ve chosen the material, it can be previewed in Cinema 4D’s material editor window. Double click the material, and you will get to the material creation window.

You can also access the materials via the cinema 4D material window. From the window, you can create the material from shader C4doctane.

You can also use the Octane Node Editor to access the materials. Go to the Materials menu in the LV window and choose Octane Node Editor.

Creating materials via the Node Editor

Open the Node Editor, then drag and drop the Octane Material button from the left menu to the middle area. Select the node, then the Basic option to the right side, and create the material you want from the Material type section. 

Creating Materials shortcuts

The simplest way to create a materials shortcut is to select the “Customize Commands” from the Cinema 4D window menu  (Shift + F12).

It opens a window that lets you create a new Palette right beside “Edit Palettes.” Choose your desired palette window size, then set it. A list of commands will appear and begin automatically. You can drag and drop the materials from this area to the opening palette, and your shortcuts are done.

Texture in Octane

Texture is crucial in creating realistic materials regardless if you’re working on an image or procedural. And to simulate real-world texture, you need to study how light behaves in different surfaces and conditions. You have to analyze reference images carefully to determine what other surfaces look like in different lighting conditions. You’ll need to experiment with various texture tools to determine the look that you want. Thankfully, Octane Render offers a diverse selection of texture tools.

Types of Texture Tools in Octane

  • Transform/Projection
  • Image Textures
  • Generators
  • Mappings
  • Displacement
  • Rounded Edges
  • Cinema 4D Textures

Transform is a node that provides position, rotation, or scale control of any texture. Projection is used to adjust the UV mapping coordinates of your texture.

Image textures consist of:

  • Baking texture
  • Float
  • Gaussian Spectrum
  • Image Texture
  • RGB Spectrum
  • W Coordinate 
  • Image Tiles

The Generators on Octane are:

  • Checks
  • Dirt
  • Falloff
  • Instance Color
  • Instance Range
  • Marble
  • Noise
  • Random Color
  • Ridged Fractal
  • Side
  • Sinewave
  • Turbulence

Mapping consists of:

  • Add
  • Clamp Texture
  • Color Correction
  • Compare
  • Cosine Mix
  • Gradient
  • Invert
  • Mix
  • Multiply
  • Subtract
  • Triplanar
  • UVW Transform

Displacement tools on Octane are:

  • Displacement
  • Vertex Displacement
  • Vertex Displacement Mixer
  • Rounded Edges

Finally, Cinema 4D textures on Octane include:

  • Bitmap
  • Colorizer
  • Gradient
  • Noise
  • Mograph Color Shader
  • Vertex Map
  • Ref Shader
  • Cinema 4D Surfaces

Accessing Texture on Octane

There are two ways to access Octane’s Texture tools. You can access these via the Materials Editor or from the Node Editor.

To access the Texture tool from the Materials Editor, go to the Texture section of the material channel. Press the mini icon next to it, and the texture menu will appear. The menu features the standard texture tools, but if you go to the “C4doctane” menu, there is a sub-menu of texture tool varieties on Octane.

To access the Texture tool from the Node Editor, open the editor from the Live Viewer. From the left side window, you’ll see the list of texture types that Octane offers.

Is Octane hard to learn?

What options do you have to learn Octane? There are several Octane tutorials out there, here are the pros and cons. 

Learning on your own 

It’s not hard to learn Octane if you have basic knowledge about lighting and using the right material. You can learn this render engine on your own by watching Octane tutorial videos, and there are many free resources about Octane online. But learning on your own may not be the best way to go if you don’t have a basic knowledge at all. Octane is a complex software, and you’ll need technical experience to understand what it can do. 

Taking an online course

If you’re serious about learning this software, then better take an Octane tutorial online. Many art schools offer animation and VFX courses, but not many technical courses on specific 3D software like an Octane tutorial. That’s why we’ve created our OctaneRender workshop. The workshop is conducted by Matt Wilson, the Lighting Artist and Creative Director who has worked at Pixar Animation and Blue Sky Studios. 

In this course, Matt will teach you the ins and outs of Octane Renderer. It demonstrates how a top-level artist harnesses the power of Octane Render to deliver high-quality images at impressive speeds. Our all-in-one workshop is the best Octane Render training course to take if you’ve always dreamed of a successful career in lighting and mastering industry-standard CG applications.

Octane tutorial 

How do you get started with Octane? Here’s a quick tutorial for how you can use Octane in the best way when you’re just starting out. 

Getting started with Octane

Downloading the standalone software: Be sure that your computer has met all requirements before installing OctaneRenderer. You can install the standalone edition or the plugin for Cinema4D. 

To install Octane, log into your Otoy account, download the application, and run the installer. Launch the app, and you’ll be asked to log into your Otos account. Once you’re in, Octane servers will check for a valid license key. In many cases, you don’t have to log into your Otoy account twice. As long as you’re using Octane continuously, it will keep you logged in.

Installing the Cinema4D plugin

To install the Cinema4D plugin, go to your Otoy account, then go to the “Downloads” section. Choose the plugin, download it, and extract the file to your Cinema 4D/Plugins directory. From the c4doctane folder, there are different versions of the plugin. Keep the correct version and delete the others.

After the files have been installed, you can start using Cinema 4D. From the dashboard, you’ll see the Octane menu. From here, you can start creating shortcuts for the Live Preview. 

Creating shortcuts

Live Viewer: Select Window > Customization > Customize Commands or Press ALT+F12. Type “Live Viewer” in the name filter field and choose “Live Viewer Window.” Choose a key combination or drag to GUI. 

Octane Render Start: Select Window > Customization > Customize Commands or Press ALT+F12. Type “Octane Render Start” in the name filter field and choose “Octane Render Start.” Choose a key combination or drag to GUI. 

Quick startup: Setting a scene

To set a scene and render, open the Cinema 4D file. From the top, you’ll see the Octane tools you’ll need to modify the scene. Choose the “Live Viewer” window from the menu. Press the gear-shaped icon, and the Live Viewer will be activated. From this window, you will see that the scene is updated in real-time. 

To create materials, go to the Materials menu in the Live Viewer window. From the dropdown menu, you can choose different materials to make the material. 

Once you’re done with the material creation, you can alter the properties of these materials by changing their values via the Node Editor. You can change the material’s roughness, opacity, etc. 

After setting the properties of your material, you can start assigning these to their designated objects. Just drag and drop the material on the object from the Object manager window or Live Viewer window. Change the settings in the Kernels section then you can start adding Octane Lights to the scene.

To add lights to the scene, go to the Object menu from the Live Viewer and choose lights. There are four native Cinema 4D lights to choose from:

  • Octane Daylight
  • Octane Area light
  • Octane Targeted Area light
  • Octane IES Light

Choose the light you need, and you can adjust the default settings via the Object Manager’s Attributes window. After changing the values of the light, the render in the Live Viewer will be updated automatically.

After setting the lights, you can add a camera to the scene. From the Objects menu in the Live Viewer, choose Octane Camera. From here, you can adjust the camera’s position using the  ALT + LMB / RMB / MMB from the viewport or the Live Viewer window. You can also change the Camera’s settings via the Octane Camera Tag from the Object manager. You can adjust the Path tracing settings until the image is precisely what you want.

Final render 

After all adjustments have been made, you can set up a final render. Select Render to Picture Viewer from the Render menu of Cinema 4D or press Shift + R.

Introduction to Octane Render

Octane Render Settings for Beginners

Using Octane Render to Texture & Light a Furry Mouse Scene

How to Create Looping Animation on Octane

Octane Beginner Tutorial – Create Abstract Landscape

5 Tips I Wish I Knew Before Learning Octane

Over to you!

There you have it!

Now you know how to learn OctaneRender. This Octane tutorial has hopefully helped you to take the first steps to master Octane.

Next, we’d love to hear from you:

What’s your #1 question about Octane?

Let us know in the comments below. 

Jasmine Katatikarn Headshot

About Jasmine Katatikarn

Jasmine Katatikarn is the founder of Academy of Animated Art. She has 20+ years of experience in Feature Animation and VFX. Jasmine’s lighting credits include movies like Ice Age, Ferdinand, Peanuts, and Rio. Read more here.

Jasmine Katatikarn Headshot

About Jasmine Katatikarn

Jasmine Katatikarn is the founder of Academy of Animated Art. She has 20+ years of experience in Feature Animation and VFX. Jasmine’s lighting credits include movies like Ice Age, Ferdinand, Peanuts, and Rio. Read more here.

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