True Standalone Render Engines Recommendations


Okay, I know this sorta has been asked before but not in the way I wish nor answered the way I wish it was (if it has I have not found it yet).

I do apologize if some of this seems a bit redundant.

I have been researching standalone render engines and most of the ones I come across are not true standalone engines. By which I mean it requires something like blender or it has a proprietary format. Keyshot is proper in regards to a true standalone render engine and that is the only one I have found thusly like it albeit when you looking at sites for standalones it does not often tell you that it requires another program or a specific format. I recently got burned with indigo I admit my research was not in depth enough in that one hence why my research is a bit more in depth now. Indigo pretty much was a burn and mostly a lesson learned. You have to have blender or something similar, and it is a proprietary format. I am trying to use blender but blender is ever so slow with small files 100mbs in size and most of what I want to render will be way way bigger and I am not kidding I have to literally wait 3 or so minutes to open that 100mb file and it has no textures on it etc when it imports. That file, of course, opens in keyshot in a few seconds. Anyways besides this being annoying, this is not what was expected of a standalone render engine, keyshot is what I expect but more or slightly different.

Sorry for the long backstory.

Anyways keyshot is not that great for outdoor real sun, forest esque landscape stuff usually, it is more of a product based render engine than anything. I was wondering is there any other true standalone render engines that do not require another program as a crutch nor does it have a proprietary format to import. Preferably for dense scenes. If so are there multiple render engines like this and if so what are the best you can recommend?

Thanks in advance for any help.


Why do you want a stand alone render engine? If you’re unable to open your file in Blender what did you model it in? You could just get any number of great plugin engines for that and call it a day.

Otherwise if you’re having issues in Blender with a 100mb file it may be there are too many individual objects, in which case I’d recommend merging the meshes, or you have something Blender doesn’t like about your file, or your computer is too slow. In my experience Maya handles large numbers of objects better if that’s an option.

If you’re OK with real time rendering Unreal can produce some impressive results and from what I’ve been able to see so far does well with lots of objects.


One of the best is Mitsuba but also Maxwell Render, Vray, and Renderman can be used as standalone as far as I know. Hope this help a bit. Are you searching for a stand alone render for tests or for production ? Do you need to test render algorithm or you just want to “prepare” a scene and them to render your scene in a “second” time ? Do you need any special feature for the render (run on a selected OS/inclusion of some integrators for rendering…etc?)


Have you looked at Maxwell Studio?

Its standalone, imports all sorts of 3D mesh formats and appears to have full material editing, UV projection/editing, lighting and rendering capabilities in its editor.


There is a trial version, so if it doesn’t work for you, at least you won’t “get burned”.

You may find that Maxwell renders a bit slower than Keyshot, but also renders far more photorealistic images than Keyshot, because Maxwell is a physically accurate light-simulation based renderer.

For stills, standalone renderers should be fine.

For anything animated, you want to use something like C4D, Blender, Maya, Max as a host for the render engine instead.

And if you cannot deal with Blender, have you tried Bforartists?

Its Blender with the same photoreal GPU-accelerated Cycles rendering, but in a far more artist-friendly User Interface. You can use that for rendering stills. Its much friendlier than Blender once you figure it out (takes about 2 hours to get into it).

I hope that helps. =)


Standalone. How should I put it environment, I like getting lost in the process if that makes sense. Take plant factory it is one software dedicated to one thing plants but I quite enjoyed the trial and the program because albeit it is nothing but typing numbers dragging curves it was simple and fun and to an extent easy to lose yourself in, or substance painter is another one it is just a texture software nothing really special if you think about it you have poly paint of some sort in your software but it is more jarring or annoying to use and you just cannot get as lost in it, just like a lot of 3D software comes with some sorta sculpting in it but you use z-brush no matter how annoying it is to learn because there is something about a standalone software sometimes it is because you are able to immerse yourself in sometimes it is due to it being far more powerful. I like to have room to breathe. With modo which I use I have tried v-ray and it is just annoying as it gets to me because it takes me out of the process of rendering I know odd but right click scroll scroll etc just does not entirely work for me but keyshot again I know, you have more room to sprawl out it is specifically designed to render and nothing more and it is built that way has the feel good environment. I cannot ever really explain it but that is the best I can do for now. I honestly suck at explaining myself I have it in my brain but the words refuse to form what I think sorry if that does not help.

With blender I can open my file but it takes about 3 minutes to open a 100mb file that is ridiculous and jarring keyshot does it in seconds I modeled it in modo and exported as an fbx. Sadly I never learned Maya I learned Modo first and Maya is a huge pain I know it is a must to learn I know but depending on your field it is not a must. Though if it becomes one with what I am doing then I will just stick my nose to the grindstone.


I have been looking around bumped into it but was not entirely sure on the matter honestly. I have been digging all day so it probably was something I noticed but got lost in the blur of digging trying trials out finding out this is not it etc. I will check it out. Yes I am going with stills, not the greatest animator lol, seriously you see me rig and animate I would make anyone cringe even people who have no clue what 3D probably feels a little bit of cringe. I mostly rig to pose.


Standalone, for test mostly but also want a high end render for varying things from forest scenes to a ring so versatile this could lead to commercial reasons in the end. I want to create a scene in Modo export import it into a render engine and then work on it and get lost on making the render. Besides it running for windows 7 nothing special though I do like having a powerful engine as default also having the option of turning it up a notch if I wish an example would be I have sliders and such in the GUI but say I wish to do more with that material I can add another material to it. Take keyshot the limits I would love to break, an example that is a bit ridiculous but okay I have a light material in it but I also want it only glow a little and be metal you cannot make glowing metal however if you could stack materials like layers in photoshop you could and of course the ability to use texture for all channels including lighting a scene (tv, holographic stuff etc.). I deal in many areas I am a props man mostly (though I do do huge scenes hence why I say forest to ring in some cases) so sci-fi medieval etc. Medieval is easy because it consists of real world material and nothing more, however, sci-fi now you get into stuff that does not really exist but can exist if allowed to mix stuff to a high degree of customizability. I hope that helps.



I think that you should give Katana a try. it seems to suits your needs


It is perfect but it is for animation it seems. Also, it said something about having multiple render engines in one place then in another none that confused me. I do love the flexibility in this though how deep it can go.


Is there anything that is like a combo of Maxwell Studio and Katana because that seems to be the proper combo for me. I know I am asking a lot sorry for that.


Sorry to write so much but you have the right idea, however, I wish to explain myself better.

Imagine a software where the main GUI is to an extent like Maxwell Studio very powerful, however, if I wish to dig deeper it is on par with katana to an extent. It does not have to be super duper powerful like a perfect combo of these but this is the general gist of it. So basically default as powerful as Maxwell Studio but if you wish as stated you can go really deep and such with nodes and so on. I hope that helps, I am self-aware enough to admit as stated I am crap at explaining myself. I thought about Clarisse but I see no need to take it to that extreme since that is for Hollywood big name stuff you know and I just am going to do stills mostly if not entirely. I, hope that helps.


I still don’t understand why you don’t just want to use Katana.


You modeled it in Modo but won’t use it’s renderer? Modo has a great integrated renderer.


What does Katana use to render? I’m guessing that multiple renderers like Renderman and Vray are probably supported.

Is that right?

Or is Katana a standalone renderengine on its own?


Correct, Katana is a render agnostic lighting package. Most large studios use it in conjunction with RenderMan and/or Arnold. I believe that starting with the next release of Katana, it will also ship with 3delight out of the box.


Try Clarisse.


Such a confused thread and OP (no offense meant). Why not use Modo’s built-in renderer, as has been mentioned before?

Btw, opening a 100mb mesh in Blender will take time during the first initial import - afterwards, when saving and opening the *.blend file it is extremely quick to open. A 1GB blend file will open in ~15 seconds on my aging i7 920.
A 100mb file takes a couple of seconds. Importing a generic mesh file from another 3d app may take some time, though. But only the first time - save it as a Blender file, and it will open quick. Faster than most other software opens files, because Blender sort-of creates a memory snapshot that is loaded in memory.