Tutorials > Applications reviews > 12 free 3D high-quality rendering softwares

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3drenders
Render & model : Peugeot 206 WRC by Gabich Blender / Yafaray

Looking for a free 3D rendering software ?

Many of the 3D modelers or 3D creation suites have their own built in high quality renderers. But all are not egal in terms of quality and options availables, notably in the public oriented 3D packages.

For specific tastes or specific rendering possibilities you can use another rendering software, sometimes linked or available as "plug-ins" from the main 3D application. The major rendering softwares if not all are already included in the high-end 3D working package, and include a multi-computer (cluster) rendering distribution. But all are really expensives. For a less industrial approach you can look to freewares. Don't be septcicals, they are also providing really high end professional quality images or videos with all the modern technologies you could need.

Here is a list of the 12 major high-quality photorealistic rendering softwares.

They can suit all of your needs in term of rendering. They all are free for personnal or commercial use and most of them are open-source.

They all are very good in this job, much of the notation here is to qualify how easy, maintained and complete they are.

You are using another free 3D rendering software not listed here? find it perfect or usefull ? tell us about it and it will be added to this listing.

Read the complete list after the link.

 

3Delight

3delight

3Delight is a fast, high quality, RenderMan®-compliant renderer designed to produce photo-realistic images in demanding production environments. The renderer was introduced in 2000 and is now widely used in the industry. Because of its high versatility and speed, 3Delight has earned a reputation as a benchmark in rendering technology.
Some of its features include ray tracing, global illumination (including photon mapping, final gathering and high dynamic range lighting and rendering), realistic motion blur, depth of field, complete geometry support (including highly efficient rendering of hair and fur), programmable shaders (RSL 2.0), quality antialiasing and antialiased shadow maps. Advanced features include Ri filtering, network caching and highly customizable workflow.
3Delight is free for a single Dual-core license - Limited to one licence per user.
If you are planning to use more than one computer concurrently for rendering, you need to purchase multiple licenses. (1 per computer)

Homepage: http://www.3delight.com/
type : 3D renderer
plateform : Windows, Mac OS X, Linux

star star star star-empty star-empty


Aqsis

aqsis

Aqsis is a cross-platform photorealistic 3D rendering solution, adhering to the RenderMan interface standard defined by Pixar Animation Studios.
The Aqsis project itself consists of a number of components, each separate in their own right, but contributing to the larger aims of the project as a whole. At this time, there are two such components, the aqsis rendering tools, and the RIBMosaic exporter for Blender. Each component has it's own area detailed

Homepage: http://www.aqsis.org
type : 3D renderer
plateform : Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
, Bsd
star star star star-half star-empty


FreeStyle

freestyle

Freestyle is a software for Non-Photorealistic Line Drawing rendering from 3D scenes. It is designed as a programmable interface to allow maximum control over the style of the final drawing: the user "programs" how the silhouettes and other feature lines from the 3D model should be turned into stylized strokes using a set of programmable operators dedicated to style description. This programmable approach, inspired by the shading languages available in photorealistic renderers such as Pixar's RenderMan, overcomes the limitations of integrated software with access to a limited number of parameters and permits the design of an infinite variety of rich and complex styles. The system currently focuses on pure line drawing as a first step. The style description language is Python augmented with our set of operators.

The stand-alone program, which uses OpenGL and the Qt widget toolkit, can render images based on .3ds files. Work is underway to integrate Freestyle to Blender.

Homepage: http://freestyle.sourceforge.net/
type : 3D renderer
plateform : Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
,
star star star star-half star-empty


jrMan

jrman

jrMan is an open source version of the REYES rendering algorithm used by Pixar's PhotoRealistic Renderman.
Almost all digital production work in the film industry is rendered using this algorithm, yet most computer graphics textbooks fail to mention it or only provide a very superficial description of how it works.
The main objective of the jrMan project is to provide an open source implementation of the REYES rendering algorithm to permit, both students and teachers, to understand how it works and experiment with it.
To achieve this objective the source code must be easy to read and should run on most operating systems. This is the one of the reasons it is implemented it in Java

Homepage: http://www.jrman.org/
type : 3D renderer
plateform : Cross-platform

star star star star star-half


KERKYTHEA

Kerkythea

Kerkythea is a standalone freeware renderer that can be used to create photorealistic renderings. A lot of attention has been given to a uniform and clean GUI that supports the rendering engine and makes things easier for both beginner and advanced users. Its current API is based on the fox toolkit and it comes in Windows and Linux executable flavors. It also runs under the Unix windowing system X11 on Mac OS X (Panther or Leopard).
Kerkythea supports raytracing and Metropolis light transport, uses physically accurate materials and lighting and is distributed as freeware. Currently, the program can be integrated with any software that can export files in obj and 3ds formats including 3ds Max, Blender, SketchUp, Silo and Wings3D.

A Fantastic Piece of Software : Reviews and Recommendations - Detail Design Online

Homepage: http://www.kerkythea.net/joomla/
type : 3D renderer
plateform : Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
,
star star star star star-half


LuxRender

Luxrender

LuxRender is an open source software rendering system for physically correct image synthesis. The program runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux and exporters are available for Blender, SketchUp, Cinema 4D, XSI, DAZ Studio, and Maya.
LuxRender is a physically based and unbiased rendering engine. Based on state of the art algorithms, LuxRender simulates the flow of light according to physical equations, thus producing realistic images of photographic quality.
LuxRender is free software - both for personal and commercial use - and is licensed under the GPL.

Homepage: http://www.luxrender.net/
type : 3D renderer
plateform : Cross-platform

star star star star star-empty


OGRE

OGRE

OGRE (Object-Oriented Graphics Rendering Engine) is a scene-oriented, flexible 3D rendering engine (as opposed to a game engine) written in C++ designed to make it easier and intuitive for developers to produce applications utilizing hardware-accelerated 3D graphics. The class library abstracts the details of using the underlying system libraries like Direct3D and OpenGL and provides an interface based on world objects and other high level classes.
OGRE has grown to become one of the most popular open-source graphics rendering engines, and has been used in a large number of production projects, in such diverse areas as games, simulators, educational software, interactive art, scientific visualisation, and others.
As its name states, OGRE is "just" a rendering engine. As such, its main purpose is to provide a general solution for graphics rendering. Though it also comes with other facilities (vector and matrix classes, memory handling, etc.), they are considered supplemental. It is not an all-in-one solution in terms of game development or simulation as it doesn't provide audio or physics support.

Homepage: http://www.ogre3d.org/
type : 3D game dev tool
plateform : Cross-platform

star star star star-half star-empty


PIXIE

pixie

Pixie is an open source RenderMan renderer for generating photorealistic images. You can compile Pixie on Windows (using Visual Studio 2005), Linux and on OSX (using XCode or unix style configure script).
Pixie now has a new raytracing engine that automatically tesselates surfaces on the fly to a desired accuracy determined using the ray differentials. This means rays tracing blurry reflections or computing global illumination are faster to trace and sharp reflections and shadows are more accurate.

Homepage: http://www.renderpixie.com/
type : 3D renderer
plateform : Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
,
star star star-half star-empty star-empty


POVRAY

povray

the Persistence of Vision Raytracer is a high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The source code is available for those wanting to do their own ports.
One of POV-Ray's main attractions is its large collection of third party support. A large number of tools, textures, models, scenes, and tutorials can be found on the web. It is also a useful reference for those wanting to learn how ray tracing and related geometry and graphics algorithms work.
The POV-Ray program itself does not include a modeling feature; it is essentially a pure renderer with a sophisticated model description language. To accompany this feature set, third parties have developed a large variety of modeling software, some specialized for POV-Ray, others supporting import and export of its data structures.
A number of POV-Ray compatible modelers are linked from Povray.org: Modelling Programs.

Homepage: http://www.povray.org/
type : 3D renderer
plateform : Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
,
star star star star star-empty


RADIANCE

radiance

Desktop Radiance is a Windows 95/98/NT software package that integrates the Radiance Synthetic Imaging System with AutoCAD Release 14.  Desktop Radiance includes libraries of materials, glazings, luminaires and furnishings so you can quickly create realistic lighting models.  The goal is to provide a design tool integrated with popular CAD packages to facilitate the consideration of energy-efficient lighting and daylighting strategies in building design.
The Radiance suite includes over 50 tools. They were designed for use on Unix and Unix-like systems. Many of the tools act as filters, taking input on standard input and sending the processed result to standard output. These can be used on the Unix command line and piped to a new file, or included in Radiance scene files ('.rad') themselves, as shown above.

Homepage: http://radsite.lbl.gov/radiance/
type : 3D renderer
plateform : Windows

star star star-half star-empty star-empty


SUNFLOW

sunflow

Sunflow is an open source rendering system for photo-realistic image synthesis. It is written in Java and built around a flexible ray tracing core and an extensible object-oriented design. It was created as a framework for experimenting with global illumination algorithms and new surface shading models.
Last release is from 2007. Project seem to be dead but still usefull.

Homepage: http://sunflow.sourceforge.net/
type : 3D renderer
plateform : Cross-platform

star star star-half star-empty star-empty


YafaRay

YafaRay

YafaRay is a free open-source raytracing engine. Raytracing is a rendering technique for generating realistic images by tracing the path of light through a 3D scene. A render engine consists of a "faceless" computer program that interacts with a host 3D application to provide specific raytracing capabilities "on demand". Blender 3D is YafaRay main host application at the moment.
YafaRay features a modular structure, with a kernel with which the rest of the render elements connect: scene loader, lights and shaders. This together with an API, allows development of rendering plug-ins, for using YafaRay from any program or 3D suite. Supported suites include Blender, Wings 3D and Aztec

Homepage: http://www.yafaray.org/
type : 3D renderer
plateform : Cross-platform

star star star star-empty star-empty


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