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3ds max sprite rendering options

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I'm investigating using 3ds max to make sprites for a 2d game. One the things I want to do is have different layers in my sprite sheets so I can colour areas differently, based on user inputs. (For example imagine a simple case of letting the user choose hair and skni colour for their character.)

I think there are 2 main of doing this:

1. Render each layer and store it separately in your sprite sheet data structure
2. Store a single image but have a separate image file storing per pixel layer information.

In both approaches it would be quite useful to be able to tell 3ds max to render an image file with some arbitrary per pixel information in it, such as the depth, the height Z coordinate in object space, or a layer index. Is something like this possible at all?

Another thing that might be useful is to be able to render a layer in max where the other layers are hidden for the purposes of rendering but active for the purposes of occlusion. (I.e so the occluded parts of a layer appear transparent.) Is there some way to do this?

Thanks for any help!

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