Building a PC for Blender

3D

What is a Render-Engine?

A Render-Engine is an application, which takes the 3D models and all the information like light and textures and converts them into a 2D image.

09/06/2022|In 3D|8 Minutes

Desktop or Laptop?

Benefits of a Laptop

  • It doesn’t require any knowledge
  • it is ready to use right out of the box
  • It’s available in every Country
  • It is mobile (more or less depending on the Laptop)
  • It consumes less Energy

Benefits of a Desktop PC

  • Better price to performance ratio.
  • I can build a PC that fits my needing perfectly.
  • It is upgradeable.
  • The cooling is way better. Which allows the hardware to run cooler and quieter. which can be important for extended rendering or simulation sessions. A Laptop can heat up really quickly. which makes him slower.
  • Better performance at a certain point.

What I use

Doesn’t matter if I am at home or in my office, I use Desktop PCs only.
Mainly because of the performance. I hate to wait. But the possibility to upgrade everything. And the possibility to repair everything by just swapping parts can be a huge cost saver.

The PC I am using at home is over 10 years old by now and second hand since I bought it from my friend’s brother back when I was 14, but I swapped every single Part over time.

I also prefer sitting in front of a big setup, cause the Keyboard and mouse are Just better. Also, if I liked the Trackpad of the Apple MacBook, it’s still not as good as using a real mouse. And using multiple monitors there are even study, that proof, using 2 screens is way better for work performance and 3 screens improve the work performance even more.

How much RAM do I need?

The RAM determines how much you can do on the PC at the same time. How much Tabs you can open in the Browser, how many programs you can have open, or how many/ complex the objects can be In your 3D project. A popular misconception is, that more RAM makes the PC faster, which is not true.

The minimum that Blender requires is 4 GB, but I would recommend getting at least 16 GB. Personally, I never needed more than 32 GB.

Do I need a GPU to use Blender?

To see anything on the screen, you need to have a GPU. Most Intel CPUs come with an integrated GPU. But does it make sense to buy a dedicated GPU separately?

When it comes to rendering no matter if it is Eevee or Cycles Blender can render way faster with GPUs. Some render engines like Octane which I mentioned in the article “Every render Engine in Blender” Even require a GPU to work.

So it absolutely makes sense to get a dedicated GPU. Also, if it is not necessary to run Blender.

Nvidia or AMD?

When it comes to GPU there is always the age-old question what is better AMD or Nvidia?
But for the use in Blender, there ain’t this question now. Nvidia’s RTX Cards Support OptiX which enables Cycles to render roughly 30% faster.

There is also the real-time AI OptiX denoiser. Which only runs on Nvidia GPUs. But it is not so real-time on GTX Cards.

In Bender Version, 2.92 OptiX will also be used to create Motion Blur.

Especially since the release of the RTX 30XX series, it is pretty clear, That you will get way more for your Money with an Nvidia GPU. Provided that you can get one.

Can I use multiple GPUs for better performance?

Yes, for rendering, 2 (same) GPUs mean roughly 2 times better performance. But you can also use 3 or 4 GPUs. As far I know, the limit is at 32. But I never tested more than 4.

You can also use different GPUs. At the same time. But they have to use the same render kernel. For Example, you can’t render with an AMD GPU which uses OpenCL and an Nvidia GPU that uses CUDA at the same time. Also, if you want to render with an OptiX GPU (like the RTX3080) and a GPU that doesn’t support OptiX you can’t use the fast OptiX kernel, and you have to use the slower CUDA kernel.

You could also disable the GPU, that is connected with your monitor so that you always have a fluid interface and can even play games while rendering.

Which CPU is necessary?

Blender doesn’t require a lot of CPU power. Of course, Blender can render with CPU and GPU simultaneously, but the performance you will get from a better GPU for your money is way more, than what you will get from a CPU.

That means a middle-class CPU like an Intel Core i5 or an AMD Ryzen 5 with a good price to performance ratio or “Preisleistungsverhältniss” as we call it in Germany is just fine.

The things that can make use out of a good CPU performance are simulations. Like Fluid (also with the Flip Fluids Add-on), Or Smoke Simulations. They can make use out of every CPU Core available, even with a 64 core CPU.

Is a Mac a good Choice for Blender

I think, Macs are great, they look good, they are relatively silent, and they can be really fast for Video and Photo editing. Faster than most PCs. And they are also useable for 3D.
They are way slower, when it comes to rendering than a PC especially relative to the price, but definitely useable. I really like the idea of a small lightweight device which can be used for rendering like a MacBook and even do the Apple M1 Max is more comparable to an RTX 3050 than what you would expect for a laptop which costs around $4000 it is useable for Blender.
But rendering isn’t everything, there are also tasks like simulation in which a MacBook can compete with a Desktop workstation.

Where I rather see the problem is software, since in 3D there is a lot of software which only runs on Windows.
But then there is also Software like Flame which only runs on Linus and Mac, so it depends on what you want to use.


Best Ressources for 3D Artists

3D

In this article, I want to show you three free best practice options how to send video files which are too big for mail.


25/05/2022|In 3D|7 Minutes

Textures

Polyhaven Logo

Polyhaven

Texture Haven is 100% financed by donations which is the reason there are no limitations. All textures are available in 8K which is more than enough for almost every project for every texture there are AO, Diffuse, Displacement, Normal and Roughness Maps available. The only problem here is that there are only 151 textures available but this will hopefully change soon.

Pricing: Free

PolyHaven Texture Website
Pixar Logo

Pixar Renderman Resources

Pixar is one of the biggest contributors in the 3D Community, so they also put out a lot of assets they created for themselves completely for free.

Pricing: Free

Pixar Renderman Texture Website
Screenshot of Textutre Ninja Website

Texture Ninja

Texture Ninja is with over 2000 Textures the biggest and completely free Texture Library. The only downside is, that image size and quality vary and seamless textures, as well as PBR Textures, are rare.

Pricing: Free

Texture Ninja Website
ambientCG Logo

ambientCG

CC0 Textures is also completly free and no Account is required. It offers over 700 seamless PBR Textures.

Pricing: Free

ambientCG Website
3dtextures.me Website Screenshot

3dtextures.me

3dtextures.me also has a big variety of textures. all made with Substance Designer. Which means all of them are seamless. But to download them in 4K you need to become a Patreon. as a free user, you can only download them in 1K which maybe is not enough for some projects.

Pricing: 1K Textures Free 4K Textures starting at 5$ per Month

3dtextures.me Website
Screenshot of textures.com Website

textures.com

textures.com has by far the biggest selection of Textures and gets used by the biggest studios around the globe. They are also offering not only textures but also 3d scans and objects. But you need to have a completely free Account. But to download textures in bigger resolutions you need a Premium Account.

Pricing: Free for low resolution Creditpack for high resolution starting at 19$

Textures.com

Poliigon

Poliigon is the most premium Resource for Textures and also offers the highest quality assets with a huge variety of different high resolution and seamless Textures. Poliigon also develops PLugins for Blender, Cinema 4D, Maya, and 3Ds Max for faster import.

Pricing: Starting at 12$

Poliigon Website

3D Objects

Especially as a professional artist or someone who doesn’t do 3D, primary saving time can be important. The best way to achieve this is to just not do the work. So don’t redo things that are already existing. I was never able to understand why people are doing pictures of the Eiffel Tower if chances are high that much better photos are already existing on the Internet.

Screenshot of THree D Scans Website

Three D Scans

ThreeDScan offers free high-resolution scans of statues. Which are getting used by many 3D Artists. Every 3D model is completely free and without any copyright restriction. Don’t worry if your browser says, that the site is unsafe this is because there is no SSL certificate on the site.

Pricing: Free

Three D Scans Website

3D Model Haven

Casey Cameron who also created HDRI Haven and Texture Haven has now a new project, where he uploads 3D Models completely free to use, Here are also no limitations or anything since the project runs on donations. The only downside is, that you currently can only find 39 models. But I guess this will change soon.

Pricing: Free

3D Model Haven Website
Screenshot of Sketchfab Website

Sketchfab

Sketchfab started as a Social Media/ Portfolio Plattform, which enabled people, to upload there 3D Models and Share them with other people. But now it is also a market place to sell 3D models.

Pricing: Free - 290$ depending on the Model

Sketchfab Website
Screenshot of Blendswap Website

Blendswap

This one is only for Blender users. But it is awesome since you can not only download 3D Models you can download entirely .blend files. Which is something, that can be really helpful for beginners, who want to reengineer stuff.

Pricing: Free

Blendswap Website
Quixel Logo

Quixel

Quixel started by making and selling high quality 3d scans, they also offer a free alternative to Substance Painter have a Bridge App to directly import the Models into Blender and Unreal Engine. Since they were bought by Epic Games, downloading assets with an Epic Games Account is completely free. Especially for building environments, Quixel Megascans is extremely valuable.

Pricing: Free

Quixel Website

HDRIs

HDRIs or Spherical images are a possibility to add lightning to a scene quickly or add some extra detail for more realism to the lightning.

Polyhaven Logo

Polyhaven

Polyhaven is 100% financed by donations, which is the reason there are no limitations. All textures of the HDRIs are high quality and some are even available in 22K, which is more than anyone will ever need. It is also the biggest HDRI library, with over 500 HDRIs.

Pricing: Free

Polyhaven HDRI Website
Screenshot of HDR Maps Website

HDRmaps

HDRMaps is the Website with the most HDRIs. They even got used in third-party applications like Substance Painter. and they also offer a lot of freebies.

Pricing: Free and paid products

HDR Maps Website
Pixar Logo

Pixar

Pixar also started to create some HDRIs for their Renderman users but of cause you can use them with any Software.

Pricing: Free

Pixar Rnederman HDRI Resources
screenshot of hdri skies website

hdri skies

HDRI Skies is specialized in Skys which means they offer the biggest variety of Skys available.

Pricing: Low resolution free high resolution $15

hdri skies Website

From Blender to .mp4

Export video in Blender the simple way

3D

In this article, I show you how to export a Video out of Blender as simple as possible.

If you are searching for a more flexible and advanced way you should take a look at Export animations in Blender the professional way, in which I show, how my current process looks like.

06/05/2022|In 3D, Video|1 Minutes

Set up the basics

Set the Resolution and Frame rate to the desired one and change the Output Format to FFmpeg Video.

Screenshot of Blender explaining the relevant settings for exporting Video.

After switching to FFmpeg Video you will have a lot of new options, switch to MPEG 4 since it is the most supported Container and set the Output Quality to Good.

Screenshot-Blender Render settings Arrow Pointing on Container and Render Quality.

If you want to use a custom Bitrate switch to Codec FFmpeg Video Codec #1 this gives you advanced video options. But if you are searching for a more advanced Option, there is an extra article for that.

Start Rendering

To start the rendering process in Blender, you just need to Click on Render > Render Animation or press CTRL + F12.

Screenshot of Blender with Arrowpointing on Render Animation.

Best Laptops for 3D Artists

3D

Recently I was searching for a Laptop too, which enables me to work from more or less everywhere.
I stumbled above a very bad article which claimed to be from March 2022 recommending me an 11-Inch MacBook Air from 2020 for 3d Design, which is the reason I am writing this article that there is at least one with useful recommendations.

25/03/2022|In 3D, Design, Video|10 Minutes

What should a Computer have to work in 3D?

A good GPU

GPUs are the main factor for rendering speed.
Currently, NVIDIAs RTX GPUs are the best by a long shot in every 3D application.

Nvidia knows this and certified some Laptops as NVIDIA Studio which according Nvidia are good for Design and visualization especially in 3D.

A good and Big Display

Working in front of a small display hours up on hours is really bothering which is the reason, it makes sense, to have at least a 15-Inch Screen but 16-Inch or 17-Inch are of cause better.
Besides, Display Quality can also play an important role which is something determinate primarily two factors, resolution and color.

 

Most cheaper Laptops with powerful chips are primarily made with gaming in mind. Which is the reason they have a bad display when it comes to Quality, but with a high refresh rate like 120 Hz or more this is helpful for competitive gaming but not useful for a Designer or Animator.
You should get a Laptop with at least a WQHD Resolution (2560*1440) UHD (3840*2160) would be better but is also way more expensive.

When it comes to color, what is important in my opinion is the Colors Space the display should have a 100% coverage of the sRGB color space. That enables you to get if you calibrate the Screen to get accurate colors.

Enough RAM

In most cases, 3D is not that RAM intense. But there are some cases in which a file can take up 20 GB of RAM and to supplement 3D most people are using After Effects which eats RAM like Popcorn 😃🍿🍿🍿. After Effects always profits from more RAM, which is the reason you should get 32 GB RAM or more. Ideally with a possibility to upgrade.

Laptop Recommendations

Razer Blade 17

The one I got for myself

The Razer Blade 17 ticked the most boxes for me, it is available with The RTX 3080Ti which is currently the best GPU for Laptops, it is available with an i9 12900h the Best CPU for Laptops, 32 GB of RAM which is expandable, the possibility to add a second SSD, and it is also available with a 100% Adobe RGB UHD Touch Screen. Probably the best Laptop Display on the market.

In comparison to most other Laptops from the Gaming category, it is lightweight and doesn’t look like a Gaming Device which can be a huge plus considering the comments I got when I got my first Computer for 3D with Tempered Glass and RGB of cause

which was sitting in an agency in which most people were using Mac and probably saw such a Computer for the first time.

Price: $ 2.300 - $ 4.700

MacBook Pro 16 M1 Max

The best all-rounder if 3D is not the main Task

Even do I currently don’t have a MacBook, I really like them, they are built better than anything else, the screen is great, the trackpad is great, they are extremely light, and the M1 CPUs are faster in all the Adobe Tools then any Threadripper 64 Core PC that is currently available. And GPU Rendering also Works in Blender and Redshift Render. While staying silent and having a good battery performance.

But the downside is, that even if that even is, they are fast they are way slower than the Current Nvidia RTX GPU. From what I tested at the Apple Store, the M1 Max is comparable to an GTX 1070Ti in 3D rendering, which I think is still pretty impressive and absolutely useable.

The other problem is the Software. Outside the Software which is optimized for the M1 Chip Programs like Marvelous Designer or Ember gen, the experience is not that good and things can become extremely complicated.

Price: $ 3.850 - $ 6.840

Alienware X17 R2

The Gaming Icon

The Alienware X17 is available with an i9 12900HK The best Laptop CPU and a RTX3080ti the best Laptop GPU, up to 64 GB of Ram, an UHD Screen and is even configurable with multiple SSDs.

The downside is, that it is bigger and heavier than the Razer for example, especially the Power supply. Also, the Screen doesn’t have full sRGB coverage.
It is built really well-built, not on the same level as the Razer Blade or the MacBook.

The Alienware aesthetic is Iconic, and personally I really like it, but not best suited for the working world.

Price: $ 2.250 - $ 4.550

Acer ConceptD D7

Specifically made for 3D work

In general, the Acer ConceptD products are made with Designers and Engineers in mind. The ConceptD D7 Laptop is the current top model of the Notebook Line-up. It comes with an RTX3080, An i7 12700KH and 64 GB of RAM, not as powerful as the Alienware or the Razer but still way more performance the necessary for most people.

What I really like about the Concept D series is, are the displays. Not only can all the display show 100% of the Adobe RGB color space which is an even bigger color space than sRGB they come also precalibrated, and they are Panton certified which doesn’t matter for 3D work in most cases, but it can be useful when it comes to printing it’s just another certificate to demonstrate how accurate the Displays are and I think it is the most accurate Display in a Laptop that is currently available. The only downside is, that it is just 15 Inch big, which is the reason it wasn’t interesting for me.

It doesn’t really have the cliché Gamer aesthetic which is definitely a plus point, but compared to most other laptops it feels a bit cheap since it is made out of a plastic and ceramic mix, but it feels just like plastic.

It should also be mentioned that there i also The Acer ConceptD D7 Ezel which has a flippable Touchscreen which could be interesting, for painting textures or photo editing in general and the Acer ConceptD D7 SpatialLabs Edition which can track eye movement to create a 3D Effect with this data. I wasn’t able to test it out, but I think it is more something which falls into the gimmick category.

Price: $ 2.950 - $ 4.000

Acer Nitro 5

The Budget friendly option

The Acer Nitro 5 starts at below $1000 in the lowest configuration featuring an RTX 3050 and an i5 and 8 GB of RAM which is a excellent price to performance Ration when 3D Rending is the most important task. In the most expensive configuration, it is featuring an AMD Ryzen R9 5900HX, an RTX 3080, 32 GB of RAM (expendable) and a 17-Inch QHD Screen. For around $2500 which is still relatively affordable, at least to most of the other Laptops on the List.

The problem with Laptops that are relatively cheap in relation to their main components is, that the companies are trying to save on anything else, which means, the build quality even is it made out of aluminum isn’t on the same level as a more expensive Dell Computer for example, also the battery, the trackpad and the Keyboard is more at the lower end.
And of course this Laptop was primarily made with Gamers in mind, which means that the Display doesn’t have a wide variety of colors or good contrast.

Price: $ 1.000 - $ 2.500

Asus ProArt StudioBook 16

Well build and with OLED Screen

The ProArt Lineup by ASUS is like the Acer ConceptD lineup specifically made for creators.

Price: $ 1.000 - $ 2.500

Dell Precission

Well build and with OLED Screen

Price: $ 1.200 - $ 3.800


Tips for more realistic Renderings in Blender

3D

What is a Render-Engine?

A Render-Engine is an application, which takes the 3D models and all the information like light and textures and converts them into a 2D image.

25/02/2022|In 3D|12 Minutes

Use HDRIs!

HDRIs or Spherical Images, how they got called, are images that get wrapped around a 3D scene to light the Scene. The benefit of using HDRI lighting is, that it brings a lot of details with it which is the reason, it makes the render much more realistic and on top of that, it is quick and easy to set up.

You can also supplement the HDRI lightning with some additional Lights if you want to brighten up a specific are a for example.

Since HDRI means High Dynamic Range Image, images with a higher Dynamic Range should be used, this can make a huge difference even if you don’t export your images in a High Dynamic Range.

You can recognize images with a high dynamic Range by their format. Formats like Radiance HDR, OpenEXR, TIFF and some other formats can contain HDR Images while Formats like JPEG or PNG can not.

To everyone who wants to create Studio light, I recommend the Blender Studio Light Add-on. It is a free Add-on that allows you, to create your HDRIs within Blender by using images of real Lamps which, like normal HDRIs also give you the advantage of the extra detail to create more realistic Renderings.

Bokeh

By using the Depth of Field feature which you can find in the Camera Menu you can create Bokeh which not only makes your Image more realistic since it emulates something which is happening inside a real Camera.

It also gives you the possibility, to hide things you don’t want to show, like parts with fewer details or seams in the texture. Because let’s face it, you can’t create everything with high details because it would take waaaay too long.

Another benefit of using depth of field is that it enables you to guide the viewer’s eye to a specific place.

little girl on a hourse of a carousel 3d animated

Bevels

If you take a look around you, You won’t see many objects with sharp edges. There are some exceptions, like sharp or really thin objects. But these are just exceptions. And making something look realistic means making it look like it would in reality.

Also, If you create some more abstract motion graphics, this small light Edge can enhance the final result.

Motion-Blur

Motion Blur is in every Photo or Video, sometimes it is so little that it is invisible or only gets recognized subconscious, but technically speaking it is there all the time. Which is the reason I recommend using it if realism is your goal.

To activate Motion Blur, you just have to tick the box that says Motion Blur, which you can find in the Render Settings.

Of course, you need to have a moving object in the Scene to see Motion Blur. If you have a still image, just animate the Camera a bit.

The default options should be right most of the time, but I still explain the settings to you.

Shutter

The Motion Blur is a build-up of two effects, the first one is called Shutter. Which in real life happens because the Camera captures the light through a small period of time. Usually the half-length of a Frame. This means if you’re filming with 24 Frames per second, the period of time in which the light hits the sensor is 1/48 second. With 25 Frames it is 1/50 second, with 30 frames it is 1/60 and so on.

The longer the time is the light can hit the sensor, the more Motion Blur you will get and vice versa. You can set the amount of time the light hits the sensor per Frame with the Shutter Option. Which is by default set to .5 which means how I mentioned the half-length of a Frame (24FPS 1/48s, 25FPS 1/50s, 30FPS 1/60s…) Which is the setting most cameras also have by default. You can also change this to 1 for Example which would mean the Light would hit the sensor the complete Length of the Frame which means 24FPS 1/24s, 25FPS 1/25s, 30FPS 1/30s…

You can use this if you want to combine Video and CGI and you had another Setting for the Shutter in your camera, but most of the time 0.5 will give you the most aesthetically pleasing results.

Screenshot of Blender 3D Software Motion Blur Settings

Rolling Shutter

The other Effect is The Rolling Shutter. The reason, that this happens in real life, is that the camera captures the Images in Lines from Top to Bottom. This happens quickly but not at the same time, which is the reason you can see it when it comes to fast-moving objects like cars or planes. It also happens with fast camera swivels.

In Blender, you can activate it by selecting Top-Bottom for The Rolling Shutter, which is currently the only option. You can set the strength with the Rolling Shutter duration, but also here the default settings will do their job most of the time.

Also, if Rolling Shutter gives you more realism, you should ask yourself if you want to use it because it is less aesthetically appealing compared to the normal Shutter Effect.

Reference Images

Since we try to remake something what’s already existing, at least until a certain degree, it makes sense to orient somewhere. Also, If you know how an Object looks it always makes sense to get reference images because most of the time it is a bit different, then we remember.

Getting close to a real object can make a big difference because to recognize something the basic shape often is enough for our brain to reconstruct the rest.
For example, you probably know, that I this bottle is no water and some people would even know which brand this bottle is from.

To organize your reference images, there is a helpful and free Software called PureRef. At this point, it also can be helpful to have a second screen.

Imperfections

In the real world nothing is perfect, every surface has unevenness, scratches and dirt on it.

Ideally you use a Reference Images to see, where things wear out and where the paint comes off first.

But don’t overdo it. The model should fit inside the scene and inside the story you are telling.

Denoise

Image with alot of Noise

The type of noise you have in your render if you are using a low sample count is a different type of noise, then what you would see if you would use a Camera, which is the reason it makes sense to remove that noise.

Blender offers plants of options for that.

If you want to have film grain inside your Images or video, there are a lot of options to achieve this in Photoshop or After effects.

Personally, I am using the Nik Collection in Photoshop and Magic Bullet Looks in After Effects.

Enough Lightbounces

In reality, light bounces around a couple of thousand times. The problem is, that this would eat up too much computing power which is the reason, you can set the number of light bounces in Blender. By default, the Maximum bounces are set to 12 which is enough most of the time.

But in some cases it can make sense, to use higher values especially, when it comes to Glass materials.

Screenshot of Blender 3D Software showing a problem wit Light Bounces

In the picture, you can see the light only coming through the first three plates of Glass. The reason is, I limited the Maximum Light bounces to 4. But also if it is most noticeable with Glass, it can make a difference with any other Material, especially in more complex Scenes.

You can change the Maximum Amount of Light bounces in The Light Paths Menu in the Render Settings.

Screenshot of Blender 3D Software Showing Lightpath Settings

Not only use Principled Shaders

Screenshot of Blender 3D Software creating a Material

Also, if the Principled BSDF Shader can be really usefully and enables beginners to have more realistic materials by default, the possibilities of the Principled BSDF Shader are also limited. And I have the feeling, that since the Principled BSDF Shaders got introduced, beginners stopped looking at the other Material options that Blender offers.

So I want to encourage you to take the time and create nice and complex Shaders. A Good examples for someone who does this is String Fairy.

Do post processing!

Post-processing is something which not only can make your rendering look better it can also can make your images more realistic by emulating effects, that the cameras are doing like lens distortion, adding Grain, adding a Vignette and so on.

Try other Render Engines

Rendering made with LuxCore Render with Bidirectional Engine

Cycles is good in most scenarios, but there are Scenarios in which Cycles performs not that good. The best example are scenes with a lot of Glass, Water, or similar Materials because Cycles is bad at creating Caustics (which is the bright point on the right that you can see in the image above, that I rendered with Lux Core Render).

Compared To the Lux Core Render Render Engine, which is probably the best Blender compatible Render Engine for physical accuracy.


How to create Caustics in Blender

3D

What is a Render-Engine?

A Render-Engine is an application, which takes the 3D models and all the information like light and textures and converts them into a 2D image.

21/02/2022|In 3D|4 Minutes

Installing Lux Core Render

The Lux Core render Engine is currently only available for Blender 2.93 or 2.93 LTS. Any newer Version will crash. I would recommend getting the portable Version, because that allows you, to install the ACES color space which I also used in the Demo file I provide.

Her you can download the LuxCoreRender Render Engine.

You will get a .zip file, which you can install like every other Blender Add-on under Edit > Preferences… > Add-ons > Install…. And then just search for the file.

If you did everything right you should be able to besides Eevee and Cycles now also select the LuxCoreRender Render Engine.🥳

Working with Lux Core Render

Like Cycles, LuxCoreRender is a separate Render Engine.
The Problem with that is, a separate system for Materials which works a bit different.
But since LuxCoreRender render is primarily being used inside of Blender, LuxCoreRender knows, how to work with Cycles Materials and can translate then most cases. By clicking on Use Cycles Settings.

But in general it should be easy for advanced Blender user, to find out, how LuxCoreRender works since it is relatively simple to Cycles.

Halt Conditions

One odd thing about LuxCoreRender Render Engine is, that by default, the rendering process won’t stop.
To fix this. You have to set Halt Conditions. You can choose between samples, time and even a Noise threshold.

(These are all the options that are also available in Cycles since Blender version 3.0 which the Blender developers got inspired from the LuxCoreRender with the difference, that the Noise Threshold works in LuxCoreRender.)

Denoise

The other thing, that is a bit weird in LuxCoreRender is the Denoising, just like in Cycles you can check the box but if you render you won’t get the denoised image.
To change  that, you have to get into the Compositor and connect the Denoise Output of the Render Result Node with the Output Node.

Activating Caustics

In LuxCoreRender there is this magic box to check called Light Tracing which you can find under Light Paths. If you activate this box, you will get Caustics.

To try this out, you can use the Demo file I provide, which you can download here.
Keep in mind, that I am also using the ACES color space for all my projects. Here you can find out, how to use it.

Provoke Caustics

To get Caustics, you need a Transmissive Material like Glass and a Light Source in your Scene.
But the way to get more visible and more defined Caustics is by having a strong small light in your Scene and having a dark background to increase the contrast.

Here you can see the difference between a Point Light with the size of 0.5 meters and 0.001 meters.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the Comments. 😎


8 Tips - How to render faster in Blender

3D

What is a Render-Engine?

A Render-Engine is an application, which takes the 3D models and all the information like light and textures and converts them into a 2D image.

13/02/2022|In 3D|6 Minutes

Use GPU + CPU

Since Blender Version 2.8, you can use your GPU and CPU simultaneously. Which can give you an immense advantage, especially if you own a good CPU like a Threadripper or a Xeon CPU.

If you have a Nvidia RTX GPU, you can also switch from CUDA to OptiX, which will also increase your render performance by 20%-30%.

Denoiser

Since Blender version 2.82, we have now 3 Denoisers.
The default one from Blender itself. which is also the oldest one, since it exists since version 2.79.
Then there is the IOID Denoiser from Intel, which works with artificial intelligence and delivers remarkable results, as you can see in my article “Blender 2.81 new denoiser (IOID) a real GameChanger”.

And then there is also the Optix denoiser from Nvidia, which works only with their RTX GPUs. It is the same denoiser that’s used by every game with Ray tracing and enables denoising right inside the Viewport.

Using a denoiser allows you to use fewer samples by achieving the same result.

Keep it simple

Try to avoid as many polygons as possible and delete unnecessary objects in the scene or hide them.

An additional feature of Blender 2.8 which can help is the Cycles bevel node. Which enables you to create bevels based on a normal map. But the problem here is that it only works for tiny bevels. On bigger bevels, it doesn’t look good.

Light Paths

The Light paths simply set. How often the light bounces from one to another object. Technically more light bounces mean more realism since in reality, the number of bounces is close to infinity especially with glass or in very complex scenes this is the case but most of the times there is no real difference between many or just a few light bounces speaking about the End result. For a simple scene Total: 5 Light bounces should make your scene render faster and don’t change the result.

But here it is the same as with the Denoiser. it’s all about experimenting and getting a feeling for it how it affects your rendering.

Principled Shader

The principled Shader not only brings more realism by default, it also brings optimized performance over a recreation of the same Shader. In Blender 2.8 we got Principled hair and Principled Volume beside Principled BSDF, so use them. They are outstanding. What matters is the result and not the afford you put in by creating everything by yourself.

Use the latest Blender Version.

Roughly every 3 months Blender publishes a new Major version of Blender, which not only means additional features, (which also can improve performance) It also comes with a lot of performance improvements.

If you want to stay up to date with the latest version of Blender, you can install it over Steam for the non-gamers of your Steam is the biggest online store for Videogames but it also has other software like Blender in their range.

release plan for Blender

Use another render Engine

glass brick with caustics

Meanwhile, There are a lot of options, when it comes to Render Engines, which are compatible with Blender. Some simply work like cycles but faster like K-Cycles or E-Cycles, some are really fast in indoor Scenes like Redshift and some can handle things like caustics very well which currently is only supported by the Alpha Version of Blender 3.1 like Lux Core render.

But keep in mind, not every Render Engine for Blender is free.
Redshift for example cost $22 / €22.11 per month.

Adaptive Sampling

Since Blender Version 2.83, there is the Adaptive Sampling feature, which allows Blender to use different sampling rates in the same image.

That means more noisy parts of the Image that require more samples get more samples, but Blender doesn’t waste time in parts of the image which doesn’t require as many samples. Which can make it faster multiple times but also not faster at all. It hardly depends on the Image.

Just check the Box at Adaptive Sampling and you are done. You could also add value for minimum samples or mess with the Noise Threshold but I just leave it how it is.


Every Render-Engine for Blender

3D

What is a Render-Engine?

A Render-Engine is an application, which takes the 3D models and all the information like light and textures and converts them into a 2D image.

Updated 31th October 2021
rendered with logo of appleseed

Appleseed is the youngest Render-Engine project in the lineup. It is also an Open source Ray tracing Engine, but with the focus on VFX, which means there are fewer features for stylized renderings, but things like acoustics, Motion Blur, and Bokeh are wonderful compared to other Render-Engines. The only problem which most people will have is performance.

CGI dog following stick

Cycles is not only the default Render-Engine of Blender, it is also my favorite engine. It is by far the most versatile engine on the list. It is also one of the quicker ones. Especially with the new Denoiser.

One thing I am noticing currently while I am switching to Octane render for the Media Production Company in which I am currently working is, that Cycles has a lot of different Nodes which allows, to create extremely complex materials like in these examples at #Nodevember.

I have the feeling that Cycles allows you to work more freely and creatively because of the many options.
The only problems with Cycles are caustics, volumetric, and more complex scenes.

E-Cycles was the first Fork of Cycles with the goal to make it faster without a sacrifice in quality. According to the website, it is up 100% faster than normal Cycles on Nvidia GPUs. But because of the high price of $299 for the current version that supports RTX GPUs, I wasn’t willing to pay that much for a fork of an existing software. Which is the reason I can’t say much about it.

Eevee

CGI flying car

Eevee is a result of the collaboration with Blender and Epic Games. It’s a real-time Engine based on the Unreal Engine. The reason to use Eevee clearly is performance. Not having to render for a long time will also enable those, who don’t have access to modern Hardware. I am thinking about Nollywood (No, this isn’t a Mistake I am talking about the Nigerian film industry which most people don’t know about, but it is in fact the second largest in the world.  ) there. Maybe Eevee will enable many studios from there to create animated movies.

But it is also the Render-Engine, that delivers the worst quality. And it is also limited especially when it comes to things like glass or volume.

The Indigo Render Engine is the commercial counterpart of the Lux core render Engine. It is a Ray tracing Engine with a focus on photorealism and physical accuracy. Which makes it interesting for architecture rendering. But isn’t really popular in combination with Blender, which makes it almost impossible to find documentation or tutorials and test about Indigo Renderer for Blender.

K-Cycles is the latest big Fork of Cycles. It also has the goal of making Cycles faster. I am currently testing it, so that I can validate the information myself, but so far it looks promising. I really like the simple user interface. Which has basically one option which means there isn’t anything to learn.

Because of the performance and the compared to E-Cycles low price of $49 I think it is interesting because it doesn’t require learning new things and Graphics cards aren’t really available currently.

glass brick with caustics

The LuxCoreRender Project is the successor of the Lux Render Project. An Open Source Ray trace Render-Engine with the Focus on realism and physical accuracy. A big difference to other Render-Engines, is, that LuxCoreRender is excellent at creating caustics. Which means if you have a scene with a lot of transmission materials like glass, vodka or any fluids it can make a huge difference in realism.

The downside of course is, that it is a bit slower in most cases. Or in those without Caustics. But since it is also compatible with Intel’s  OpenImage Denoiser this isn’t a problem anymore.

The LuxCoreRneder comes with two different algorithms.

Path Tracing

Which is the same technique as in most other Render-Engines and is able to render with the CPU and multiple GPUs at the same time. Here you can also make use out of NVIDIA’s OptiX technology if you are the proud owner of an RTX Graphics card. The big difference to other Render-Engines is, the Light Tracing feature which if activated enables you to create good Caustics.

Bidirectional

To explain the difference here is really complicated, but if you want to know exactly what it does you can watch this video here. What you need to know is, that it is the most physically accurate rendering algorithm that is currently available for Blender.

Here is a Comparison between Cycles and the two Algorithms of the LuxCoreRender. One thing that is clearly noticeable is the caustics on the blue wall and how the Bidirectional Path-Tracer is able, to capture way more light which is the reason, it is brighter. In the Image, that is rendered with the bidirectional Path Tracer you can even see caustics from the pink wall on the blue wall if you look closely.

astronaut on parking lot cgi

Octane render was the first GPU Ray tracing Engine and was the fastest production renderer back then. This is the reason, it is the most popular Render-Engine outside the Blender universe. When it comes to performance it is comparable with Cycles. But Octane delivers more realism and is much better than it comes to things like volume and Subsurface scattering.

It comes with their render algorithms. Each having its own purpose.

Direct Light

This is the fastest Algorithm and delivers the lowest quality. It has what I would call Octane to look to it which some people tend to like but in my opinion, it is something bad. But it seems to be used more as an algorithm, to create previews.

Path Trace

It is comparable to Cycles. It doesn’t have a certain look to it but isn’t noticeably faster than Cycles. Except for things like volumetric or subsurface scattering (SSS). In which Octane is way faster.

PMC

Seems to be the same as Path Trace but slower. Which is not true. It uses another method, to distribute the light rays which makes it faster for very complex scenes with a lot of Glass for example. Or some indoor Scenes.

But there are also two downsides to this Render-Engine. One is, that Octane only works with Nvidia GPUs, not with AMD GPUs or CPUs in general.
The other downside is, with $699 per year very expensive. Meanwhile, there is also a Free Tier. But it only supports one GPU and no denoising.

Keep in mind, that you need an RTX GPU, to use Octanes Denoiser. But if that’s not the case you can still use the IOID Denoiser that comes within Blender since version 2.81. You can read about it in this article: Blender 2.81 new Denoiser (IOID) a real Game changer.

CGI motorbike with AMD Logo

The Radeon Pro Render is the same Render-Engines as the Pro Render which comes with Cinema 4D.

It is a Ray tracing Engine Developed by AMD. The only reason for its existence is, that it is the only GPU Render-Engines that work on Mac. This is also the reason the new Mac Pro gets advertised by rendering 6.8 times fast AMDs Pro Render. In comparison to an iMac Pro.

But the Radeon Pro Render is kinda dead by now, and you shouldn’t buy a Mac for CGI or VFX.

Unlike most other Engines like V-Ray, Redshift is a Biased Engine, so instead of just simulating the light, Redshfit combines different algorithms to create the Image. The difference between both of them is that Redshift from the beginning was written for GPU while V-Ray started as a CPU Renderer and meanwhile also works on GPUs.

The ability to pick different engines makes Redshift flexible and enables the user to render different scenes like indoor scenes, for example, which would take a long time to render in a normal Ray Tracing Engine like Cycles.

It means more settings, which also makes it more complicated. I think it is a fantastic engine, for people who want to render big or problematic scenes. But for most people especially beginners the price of 22$ per month will propably more then most people would want to pay in a world with so many other options and Cycles X around the corner.

Renderman is a very special Engine, it is developed and used by Pixar.
Its has been used in every Disney Movie including Star Wars, Lion King, Cars, Batman and many more.
It is relatively fast in complex scenes like indoor scenes or scenes with many polygons.
But slower than Cycles or Octane in smaller Scenes, even do it supports the use of CPU and GPU simultaneously.
What separates Renderman from the other Engines is, that it is highly flexible. It can be used for stylized renders as well as for photorealistic renders.
It is also the most feature packed render engine currently available for Blender.

For non-commercial use it is free, but registration is required for commercial use Renderman cost $250 per year.

Before Otoy released the first version of Octane renders back in 2008 V-Ray was The Render Engine.
Today, there are much more options. Especially one who promises better performance but still the most VFX in Hollywood feature movies are made with V-Ray.
It is not a Ray tracing Engine, and it is not unbiased. But this different architecture allows V-Ray, to render big scenes much faster.

Originally it was a CPU base Render Engine. But meanwhile, there is also a Version for the GPU available, but it is not as elaborated and far developed as the CPU Version.
For architects or VFX Artists who want to render complex scenes it is the way to go, but for everyone else other Engines are probably better suited since they are faster and easier to set up.

Since V-Ray get rarely used in combination with Blender, there isn’t much information about it out there. Which makes it hard to learn.

Workbench Engine

The Workbench Engine is already integrated into Blender, but I think it rarely gets used and doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

The Workbench Engine was actually created, For Modeling and Sculpting as a viewport. But it can also be helpful for other things like exporting something completely shadeless and unbiased like a screen in a Mock-up for example.

I am sure, that there are a lot of different ways, to make use out of it. I used it for example in a 2D explainer for a teeth cleaning product that was made in a flat style in After Effects, but the Client said, that it is too hard to understand what the object is, so he wanted, to make it rotate in instead or being completely flat. And to match the flat style I exported it with the Workbench Engine.

What about the other ones?

There are also Render-Engines like Yafaray, Pov-Ray, and so on. But all of them are not compatible with Blender Version 2.9+ Which makes them irrelevant.


ACES how to install the better Color space in Blender

3D

ACES stands for Academy Color Encoding System for those who don’t know which Academy I am talking about. I am talking about the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Which is primarily known for giving out the Oscar award. So we are talking about the real deal with ACES.
Now ACES is a Color Space like sRGBRec. 2020. or Filmic.
The idea behind ACES is, to have a colorspace to work in. That means Footage from different Cameras and Animated Footage is getting converted in to ACES. Which makes it way easyer, to combine different sources. On top of that it responds like a Camera would. That makes it the ideal Colorspace for Color correction and color grading.

Updated 31th October 2021

Here is the comparison between ACES and Filmic.
With a visual which I made for a fintech company a few years ago.

Why ACES in Blender makes sense.

Everyone who uses Blender for a longtime now, maybe remembers when Andrew Price (Blender Guru) published his video about the filmic color space in Blender “The Secret Ingredient to Photorealism”.
After his video, many people started installing Filmic in Blender and now it not only comes pre-installed in Blender, it is also the default color space.
But even if Filmic was an extremely helpful complement in Blender and improved, the renderings of many people, Filmic was never perfect. Which is something I discovered when i worked more in the professional world.
The renderings look pale and the color is always off and far from accurate, which is extremely problematic if accurate colors are important for a client. Fixing this in post is also far from ideal.
Which is the reason I started using sRGB or combined filmic and sRGB sometimes.

This video here, for example, was the first video where I switched back to sRGB for those reasons. This rendering is with no grading and the colors are WAAAAAAAAAAAAY more accurate than it ever would be possible in Filmic no matter how much time I would invest in to post processing.
But sRGB also isn’t ideal, which is the reason I combined renderings sometimes, but that made everything more complicated.
And this is the reason I started using ACES. It has the realistic color response of Filmic without destroying the colors.
I see it as the successor of Filmic and since it is becoming the industry standard one day, it will also be the standard in Blender.
But until this happens, you have to install it manually.

How to install ACES in Blender

Installing ACES in Blender is fairly simple. You just have to open the installation folder of Blender on your computer, which you can usually find under Program Files > Blender Foundation > Blender x.xx. In this Folder should be one folder which has the same name as the version of Blender you are using, like 2.93 for example. In this folder click on datafiles > colormanagement and what you see in this folder is what you need to replace.

Just delete everything in the folder and replace it with the files you can download here. This is contains a changed version of the ACES config file, which. is reduced from over 300 color spaces to just the view that is relevant in Blender.

Now ACES is installed, but using it is different to filmic, so read the How to use ACES in Blender section, before you use it.

How to use ACES in Blender

The first step should be to set the view transform correct. You can find the settings under Render Properties > Color Management.

By default, it should set this to sRGB. Set this to the color space of your monitor. In most cases this is sRGB but if you are using a more professional monitor which can display a bigger range of color, this can differ.

The second and most important thing you need to do is to set the color space of every image you are using in Blender correctly.

Use Utility – Linear -sRGB for HDRIs,
Utility – sRGB – Texture for Albedo Textures (Textures that show the color of something) and
role_data for any other textures like height, displacement, roughness, normal etc..


Denoising in Blender (for every Engine)

3D

In this article, I want to show you three free best practice options how to send video files which are too big for mail.


Updated 22th August 2021

Denoising in Cycles

Step 1 (Activate the Denoising Data Pass)

You can activate the denoising data pass by activating the Denoising Data Checkbox. You can find the Denoising Data Checkbox in the Properties Panel under View Layer Properties>Passes>Data.

Step 2 (Switch to Compositing Workspace)

In the Compositor you can set, what should happen with the Image aft it is rendered. In this case, you want to denoise the image. Blender already set up a working space for compositing. You can switch to it by clicking on compositing at the top of the Window.

Step 3 (Activate Compositing Nodes)

To activate the Nodes in the Compositor, you need to click on Use Nodes.

Step 4 (Add Denoise Node)

To add the Denoise Node just click on Add and under Filter you can find Denoise. Alternatively, you can press Shift+A (on Windows) or CMD+A (on Mac). After that, drag the Node between the Render Layers and the Composite Node.

Step 5 (Connect the Denoise Node)

Connect the Denoise Node according to the Image. Noisy Image with Image, Denoising Normal with Normal and Denoising Albedo with Albedo.
(The algorithm has simply more information, which makes it possible, to create better results.)

Step 6 (Activate the Denoiser in the Viewport)

To activate the Denoiser in the Viewport, check the Viewport box. You can find the Checkbox in the Properties panel under Render Properties > Sampling > Denoising.
You shouldn’t use this option for denoising the final render because of a high decrease in performance.

To get back to the default Workspace, just click on Layout at the Top of the Window.

Denoising in Cycles with an RTX GPU

Simply Tick the Box Render and Viewport, which you can find in the Properties panel > Render Properties > Sampling > Denoise.
And switch from NLM to OptiX.

Make sure that you don’t use the Denoise Node in the Compositor. Using multiple denoising algorithms simultaneously can cause issues.

Denoising in LuxCore Render

Step 1 (Activate the Denoiser)

Check the Denoise Box, which you can find in the Properties panel > Render Properties.

Step 2 (Set Halt Conditions)

The LuxCore Render Engine, by default, runs forever.
The Denoiser only starts after the Render. Which is the reason you have to define a point at which the rendering process stops.
You can do that by checking the Box Halt Conditions, which you can find in the Properties panel > Render Properties.
By default, it will Use Time, which means the time (in seconds) defines when the Render Stops. You can also change this to Use Samples where the Render runs until a specified amount of samples achieved, like in Cycles Renderer. Alternatively, you can also Use Noise Threshold at which the render stops depending on how noisy the Image is.

Step 3 (Switch to Compositing Workspace)

In the Compositor you can set, what should happen with the Image after it has been rendered. Here, you want to denoise the image. Blender already set up a working space for Compositing, to which you can switch by clicking on Compositing at the top of the Window.

Step 4 (Activate Compositing Nodes)

To activate the Nodes in the Compositor, you need to click on Use Nodes.

Step 5 (Connect the DENOISED Output)

Connect the DENOISED Output of the Render Layers Node with the Image Input of the Composite Node to use the Denoised Image instead of the default Image as your output.

To get back to the default Workspace, just click on Layout at the Top of the Window.

Denoising in Octane Render

Step 1 (Activate the Denoise Beauty Pass)

Check the Beauty Box, which you can find in the Properties panel > View Layer Properties > Passes > Denoiser.

Step 2 (Activate Octane Camera Imager)

Tick the Box Octane Camera Imager (Render Mode) Which you can find if you select a Camera in the Properties panel > Camera Properties.

Note that this setting only relates to the selected camera. If you are using multiple cameras, you have to do this and Step 3 for every camera on which you want to use the Denoiser.

Step 3 (Activate the Denoiser)

Tick the Enable Denoising and Denoise Volume Box which you can find if you select the camera in the Properties panel > Camera PropertiesOctane Camera Imager (Render Mode) > Spectral AI Denoiser:.

Step 4 (Switch to Compositing Workspace)

In the Compositor you can set, what should happen with the Image after has been rendered. Here, you want to denoise the image. Blender already set up a working space for Compositing, to which you can switch by clicking on Compositing at the top of the window.

Step 5 (Activate Compositing Nodes)

To activate the Nodes in the Compositor, you need to click on Use Nodes.

Step 6 (Connect DENOISED with Image Input)

Connect the OctDenoiserBeauty Output of the Render Layers Node with the Image Input of the Composite Node.

To get back to the default Workspace, just click on Layout at the Top of the Window.