Mesh Preview Settings
Maya 2012 Tutorial
How to Set Smooth Mesh Object Options in Maya
The smooth mesh preview settings are used when you render your object in Mental Ray. They are found in the Smooth Mesh section in the Attribute Editor.
Smooth mesh objects are very similar to Subdiv Surfaces. One advantage to smooth mesh objects is that you can quickly switch between polygon and smooth mesh by pressing the 1, 2 and 3 keys on the keyboard.
Add a polygon cube to the workspace by choosing Create > Polygon Primitives > Cube (include options).
In the options, set the Width, Height, Depth and Divisions to 2. Click Create to add your cube.
Select the cube and press the 1, 2 and 3 key to see your object in polygon, hybrid and smooth mesh mode.
With the object still selected, open the Attribute Editor, pCubeShape1 tab and open the Smooth Mesh section.
Open the Subdivision Levels sub-category and click the Display Subdivisions checkbox to see how the object is being sub-divided.
Change the Preview Division Levels to 0, 1, 2 and 3 and notice how the object appears more rounded. Just remember the higher the setting, the longer the render time.
You can use a different setting for rendering if you deselect the Use Preview Level for Rendering checkbox and adjust the Render Division Levels slider.
Add a light and texture your object. Click the Render Current Frame icon to see your new object.