Choosing an external render engine

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  07 July 2007
Choosing an external render engine

For a year now I have intensively been working with Blender, and am very pleased with it. Recently however, I've seen renders of colleques using F-prime and Mental Ray with their 3d apps and truth is I can't match their quality/complexity of renders with the Blender built in render engine.

So in short: I need advise/share of experience on external render engines. I have two requirements:

(1) Hidden line render option
(2) Real world approach to handling light

I would very much appreciate your thoughts/advise on the subject!!
  07 July 2007
Well, I don't have any suggestions for a hidden line renderer, but for there are a couple of unbiased, "real-world approach to light" options I know of. First (and my favorite), is the Indigo renderer. Here is a blurb from its website that is currently down:

Quote: Indigo is a new, free, actively developed, unbiased render engine.

Employing advanced features such as Metropolis Light Transport, Spectral light calculus, a virtual camera model, physical sky and more, Indigo can achieve much more realistic results than traditional GI raytracers.

Indigo does not need any render parameters like GI samples, AO samples, AA samples, Soft shadows, etc, and complicated lightning setups to achieve realistic results.
Indigo is free for non- and commercial use, but as of writing is not open-source.

Indigo also has a fairly large Blender user base and an exporter for Blender that seems to be actively developed. Indigo's website is , but it has been down a couple of days. I don't have any reason to believe it won't be back soon.

The other free option I know of that would achieve your realistic light goals is the Radium renderer. Here is a blurb from its site:

Quote: Radium is an unbiased MLT (Metropolis Light Transport) renderer. It has native support for the Wavefront (.OBJ) file format and exporters have so far been written for Blender and Cheetah3D. It runs happily on any Java-supported platform (Windows (32-bit or 64-bit), Linux, Macintosh, Solaris etc.).

I haven't used Radium that much, but at least you can visit its website to investigate for yourself at Hope you find one that suits your needs!
Critique my WIP! I dare you! - Fun New Model
  07 July 2007
Nooit Yafray uitgeprobeerd?
  07 July 2007
Assuming Yafray does what your looking for check out Unlimted rendering on thier render farm for a small monthly fee for Blender users. Pay by the month, no long term contract.

Yafray -

"With ResPower, you simply upload your 3D files, submit them to our 750+ node render farm, and watch your animations render with uncanny speed."
See my SIGGRAPH 2008 video interview of AnimationMentor founders Shawn Kelly and Carloas Barena

  07 July 2007
Sunflow, Indigo and Yafray are the 3 external renderers.
Indigo as mentioned supports physical based lighting.

Fprime is likely faster and more useful than any of them offer in realistic terms, but with patience you can achieve some nice renders.
  07 July 2007
sunFlow thats new to me thanks i shal give it a try this weekend
  07 July 2007
kerkythea is also one to try.
my web curriculum :P
my daily fotos
  07 July 2007
I suppose some clarification would be in order to quantify "Real world approach to handling light". Yafray, Sunflow and Kerkythea are all amazing GI renderers, but they are all biased renderers and don't claim to be "Real world approaches to handling light". So, do you want an unbiased, "real world" type renderer or a biased "real looking" type renderer?

Plus, I talk out of my butt a WHOLE lot, so if I don't know what I am talking about, please let me know.
Critique my WIP! I dare you! - Fun New Model
  07 July 2007
You're not right!
Kerkythea IS unbiased already.
It offers various render methods, biased and unbiased:
1. raytraicing;
2. GI (reaaaly fast!!!);
3. Pathtracing (progressive, bidirectional);
3. MLT (soon it will have Bidirectional MLT too) - already faster than Indigo.
It's unique feature AFAIK - a user can choose which one of those methods above is most optimal for a scene, shaders and lightning conditions he works with (indoor/outdoor; many lights/few lights; directional/indirectional lightning; etc.).

Besides Kerkythea has nice GUI, really powerfull material system, nice documentation and is very easy to use.

Just go and check it out:

BTW last three pics in my portfolio were made with KT

Last edited by jendrzych : 07 July 2007 at 09:52 PM.
  07 July 2007

I also sugggest kerkythea, it's by far the most flexible engine (as metioned before it supports all the different render approaches, that's unique as far as i know.)

The unbiased approach is quite easy to learn, after an afternoon or so you get very realistic images, looking like basic photos. But for getting "good" photos you need a lot of time, because the render process is very, very slow!

you also might consider maxwell (commercial) it comes with an amazing and extensive free material database ( that is gonna be extended every day...

I guess the unbiased renderengines are gonna be the kings-of-the-hills in the nearby future regarding high quality architectural and product vizualisation, but bnot for animations etc, as it is still too time consuming.

To sum: Learn one unbiased renderer to impress your friends, stay tuned to blender dev, it might have some cool features regarding renderman integration with the 2.50 release!
  07 July 2007
Wow, thanks for all the input!! I'll be experimenting with the options given.

  07 July 2007

Thanks all for your suggestions, especially Kerkythea and Indigo seem interesting. I will have a go at them in the next few days, give my Quad something to burn

thanks again
  12 December 2007

Choosing the rendering method is not unique to kerkythea. Also I'd be happy if you could provide a link where the comparison is shown, wich allows you to state that kerkythea MLT is already faster than Indigo.

No offense, cheers !
  12 December 2007
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