Rendering Engine for a college student?

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  01 January 2018
Rendering Engine for a college student?

So I want to get some portfolio pieces up and running, and right now, I just make things and put them in Unreal Engine. They look great, but I want to take my pieces to the next level, to compete with those on ArtStation. As a college student, I have very very very limited funding, so the huge price tags on the rendering engines are very daunting to me. Here are the three I'm looking at:

1. Octane
2. VRay
3. Keyshot
4. Cinema4D

Keyshot has a cheap version through ZBrush (which I have the educational license for), which is fairly appealing, and Octane in and of itself is quite cheap. VRay and Cinema4D are on another level in terms of price (unless you count the full version of Keyshot). I also can use IRay right now through Substance Painter, but I need to work with it more before I get any good results. I have experience with just about every other part of the "pipeline." Modeling > Retop > UV > Texture > Bake > etc., but I'm missing the final rendering step. Any advice on which one to get? Or if there's another path you recommend based on my situation?
 
  01 January 2018
What's your main 3D software? You can probably render things just fine there, for example with 3ds Max you can use Mental Ray or Arnold in the latest version.

If you're working in game development then showing something looking nice in a game engine is fine. A lot of people also use Marmoset Toolbag to do renders of game assets, you can bring a game asset in there and get a nice render without too much work.
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  01 January 2018
The only reason I'd ever pay for a rendering engine would be if it were program specific or if I needed the one most optimized for production of the specific work I did or for the production environment in which I worked.  You don't need to worry that one is twice as fast as another at one thing or which one has the best support or upgrade policy.  It seems to me you'd be silly to spend a dime on a rendering engine if you are only working on portfolio pieces, if you don't already have a specific one in mind.
You want to go to the next level beyond Unreal Engine, but some of the best work I've ever seen was done in Unreal Engine.  Surely you could somehow improve on what you are doing there already?
Otherwise, Cycles seems pretty full featured and it's free as part of blender.
I'd recommend Marmoset too, but I don't know that your results would be much different from what you're already seeing in UE.
 
  01 January 2018
There’s a free non commercial version of renderman, full production quality, state of the art Ray tracer....maya, Houdini, blender,katana.
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  01 January 2018
Depending on what you are doing and what software (either Cinema 4D or 3ds Max) you are using Corona might also be an option. Its pretty affordable (like 20-30 eur per year for students) and its a very popular renderer not to mention very "newbie" friendly. A really great renderer used in many productions (not in vfx in film yet though - limited vfx support until version 2).
 
  01 January 2018
This is BLENDER without the horrible user interface if you need something free and capable to render models with:

https://www.bforartists.de/

It has some great manuals as well, including one for rendering: (make sure you read the Cycles manuals, not those for Blender's older render engine)

https://bforartists.de/wiki/Manual#rendering

The integrated Cycles renderer is not bad at all. Its a full path-tracer more than capable of producing some sexy 3D model renders and not far behind Octane, Vray and so forth in visual quality.

If you are low on money and Blender scared you away because of bad User Interface design, try Bforartists instead. Its actually pretty good.

Last edited by skeebertus : 01 January 2018 at 10:36 PM.
 
  01 January 2018
I almost forgot. There is also the completely FREE AMD ProRender render engine for Cinema4D, MAX, MAYA, Blender and SolidWorks:

https://pro.radeon.com/en/software/prorender/

This is another powerful pathtracer that can produce some high quality results. Its completely free to download and use.
 
  01 January 2018
Originally Posted by darthviper107: What's your main 3D software? You can probably render things just fine there, for example with 3ds Max you can use Mental Ray or Arnold in the latest version.

If you're working in game development then showing something looking nice in a game engine is fine. A lot of people also use Marmoset Toolbag to do renders of game assets, you can bring a game asset in there and get a nice render without too much work.

I used to use Arnold in Maya, and I never got anything really good out of it, because of the garbage way that they handled lighting....but maybe I'll give it a shot in 3DS Max, or again in Maya, since multiple changes seem to have been made since the 2017 version..
 
  01 January 2018
you mentioned Cinema 4D, here is a link to Maxon for free student version.
https://www.maxon.net/en-us/trainin...tions/students/
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  01 January 2018
Originally Posted by darthviper107: What's your main 3D software? You can probably render things just fine there, for example with 3ds Max you can use Mental Ray or Arnold in the latest version.

If you're working in game development then showing something looking nice in a game engine is fine. A lot of people also use Marmoset Toolbag to do renders of game assets, you can bring a game asset in there and get a nice render without too much work.
Mental Ray has been discontinued for Max. Arnold comes with Max but you can only use it to locally render, but that's probably fine for freelancers.
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  01 January 2018
Could look into appleseed

They now have a maya release it looks like:
https://appleseedhq.net/

I haven't used it, but it looks promising
 
  01 January 2018
Originally Posted by sentry66: Could look into appleseed

They now have a maya release it looks like:
https://appleseedhq.net/

I haven't used it, but it looks promising


Thanks for posting that. Hadn't heard about Appleseed.

It looks like Appleseed also has a standalone lookdev app called Appleseed Studio:

https://vimeo.com/127622613
 
  01 January 2018
it really depends on what you would like to achieve. For game industry Substance and Iray is more than fine. Also Marmoset is just great. Renderman is free for personal use and It is superb. Arnold is now in 3dsmax and maya and you can obtain excellent fast results. It is a wonderful render. Vray is great. Cinema4d has a good in-house render. I also use Modo internal render. I really like it. It is quite fast and you can obtain very fast product visualization. I was forgetting why not also Mantra ? Houdini is soo much fun. 
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  01 January 2018
He has problems getting to grips with how Arnold lighting behaves. Mantra is a great renderer, but Houdini is overkill if you want to create nice still renders of 3D models.

His best options on a budget are probably Cycles (Blender, Bforartists) and AMD Radeon ProRender (Max, Maya, C4D, Blender), both of which are completely free and capable.

Renderman is a nice option, I agree. Appleseed I haven't tried, so I couldn't tell, but animations rendered with it look pretty good.

C4D's physical render is decent quality, but not as fast as some other physical renderers. That's why AMD ProRender is included in C4D now.
 
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