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Class Format:
Length: 8 Weeks
Lectures: Pre-Recorded each week
Assignment: Deadlines each week
Feedback: Individually recorded
No Q&As
*For classes with less than 6 students feedback may be provided during the live Q&A session.



Arnold is an advanced renderer built for the demands of feature-length animation and visual effects. Originally co-developed with Sony Pictures Imageworks and now their main renderer, Arnold is used at over 300 studios worldwide including ILM, Framestore, MPC, The Mill and Digic Pictures. Arnold was the primary renderer on dozens of films from Monster House and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to Pacific Rim and Gravity.

With its increasing popularity in the Animation and Visual Effects industry, Arnold is an invaluable tool to learn for Lighting and Shader artists.

The course will cover all the major elements of Arnold including render settings, lights and shaders. It will also cover some rendering theory, and how Arnold works under the hood. It will be taught using Maya, but Arnold for Maya has a lot of similarities between other packages like Houdini and Cinema 4d, so skills learnt here would be transferable to other packages.

Upon completion, students will be confidant in Lighting and Surfacing in Arnold.

Some experience with Maya is helpful for this course.

The course is taught by Nick Deboar, who recently used Arnold to light shots on projects such as Xmen: Apocalypse and Game of Thrones.

*This course does not include weekly live Q&As, but will have a live session at the end of the course

Classroom Access Policy

CGMA policy states that all students will have access to classroom content for the duration of the class plus 4 weeks to review content. After this time is up classroom content will no longer be available.

For those classes with live Q&As, Q&A recordings as well as feedback recordings will be available for up to 6 months after the class is complete.*


*This class does not qualify, as it does not include live Q&As

Certificate of Completion Policy

CGMA policy allows students to miss up to 2 assignments per class before they become ineligible to receive their Certificate of Completion.


Week 1 - Week 1

  • What is Path Tracing?
    • Overview of how Arnold works, and how it differs from other renderers
  • Sampling settings
    • The best way to manage all the different sampling settings to minimize render time and noise.
  • Ray Depth
    • Used to created indirect effects, like indirect diffuse bounces.
  • Arnold Render View for Maya
    • Mtoa ships with a custom render buffer, that has many improvements over the stock render view in Maya
  • Linear workflow in Arnold
    • Linear color is essential for creating photo realistic renders
  • Interactive rendering
    • Real Time rendering and iteration with Arnold
  • AOVs
    • Separating material properties like Specular/Diffuse into separate passes
  • Geometry settings
    • Overview of Arnold's geometry overrides
    • How to render polygons as a sub-division surface,

Week 2 - Week 2

  • Lights!
    • Area/Sky/Sun/IES and mesh lights. When to use which light, and strategies to avoid noise without increasing render time.
    • Using HDRIs in Arnold
    • Light filters and gobos
    • How importance sampling works when using textures
    • Physical sky shader
  • Textures and using the TX file format
    • Covering the advantages of this format, and what mip-mapping is
    • Converting sRGB textures to Linear
    • TX Manager
    • UDIMS and uv tiles
  • aiStandard shader overview
    • Covering all the settings of the standard Arnold shader
    • Common settings for materials like metal/wood.

Week 3 - Week 3

  • aiSkin
    • Creating a realistic skin shader, and how sub surface scattering works in Arnold
  • Normal maps
  • Displacement
    • Auto Bump
    • How to displace geometry with a texture
    • Using displacement maps from other packages like zBrush

Week 4 - Week 4

  • aiHair
    • Rendering and shading hair in Arnold
  • Creating custom Aovs
    • For example, IDs for compositing
  • Rendering Deep Exrs
  • Shadow catcher shader
  • Rendering Motion Vectors
  • Baking renders into textures

Week 5 - Week 5

  • Atmospheric effects
    • God rays in Arnold
  • Camera settings
    • Motion Blur
    • Depth of field
  • Misc Arnold nodes
    • Utility
    • raySwitch
    • Wireframe
    • Ambient Occlusion
  • Stand ins
    • Used to bake scenes into .ass files, and load them only at render time
  • alSurface
    • Third party uber shader


Software Needed

MtoA (Maya to Arnold)

This course will be using Maya 2017

No licence required for the course, Arnold will add a watermark






Nuke Compositing for 3D Artists
with Nick Deboar

This is the perfect course for anyone who produces or works with 3D renders.
workshop-level-i I
8 Weeks 8 WEEKLY UNITS (starts: Apr. 24) (Sold Out) (teaching now) (starts: T.B.A.) (coming soon)