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Indigo renderer is going commercial


indigo-rendererWe just received word that the Indigo renderer will no longer be free (there'll still be a trial version with a small-sized render and a watermark). For now, the news has only been announced to their beta users, but a full announcement should appear shortly. The best of luck to you guys!

From the announcement on their forum:

This is also our early announcement to the beta users - that Indigo is going commercial. We will still have a free version which is fully featured, but limited to renders of 800 x 600 pixels and with a small 'indigo renderer watermark' in the lower right.

Commercial licenses for Indigo will cost 595€ for a full version, or 195€ for a node license. To say thanks to all the early adopters of Indigo, we are offering full version licences for 295€.

About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. The author made it pretty clear in the beginning, he was in it to make money. But I expect that there are a lot of people who will find this surprising, because they didn't know free isn't always free.

  2. Yeah throw me in that boat mike...
    WHAA!! I'm very surprised and doubly sad :( I never expected this.

    So I guess that means it's back to yafray? Ugh.

  3. Probably, sometime in the future I will agree to pay for Indigo.
    I will wait for the present for responses of experts and professional users.

  4. Þiðrekr on

    Isn't Lux Render comparable and free? Maybe this will be good for Lux as people look for an open source solution.

    As far as I'm aware, yes, they are comparable, but if their website and what I'm reading is any indication, LuxRender is also suitable for animations. Unless Indigo has changed more recently, I think it's only suitable for stills.

    Well, it's always a bit of a disappointment when someone once free now costs money, but hey...more power to them. Best of luck!

  5. tyrant monkey on

    I dearly hope his house is in order before going commercial, if people are shelling out 600 euros of an app than the better be a comprehensive user' manual, good solid exporters and user support that goes beyond forums etc. Considering the speed that Lux is developing at I wonder if this is even viable.

  6. I don't know this program, but I find it fairly steep to go from Free to $600 rather than $60 or $150. Surely it's a good tool for some people, but you'd think you could distribute cost savings to gain more adopters. Maybe they did the research on the effectiveness of the pricing. Shrug. Oh well.

  7. Well, i was using indigo alot in the past and i think it was an awesome renderer, but this news is bad.

  8. It's a shame :(

    But commercial versions bring one thing with them: cracked versions. Selling software is quite useless; it gets cracked eventually. That's one of the reasons I think all software should be free (as in beer, not as in speech).

  9. I wish the best of luck to the indigo team and their contributions to the CG community.
    @tyrant monkey: I could not agree more.

  10. Yeah, you lose Indigo.
    Turning your back to the people who got you noticed will hopefully sink you in the near future.

  11. I think cracked versions or simply cracks will soon hit the net. If you ask me, I don't think I will ever refrain from using them.

  12. Master Danix on

    Well, it's the second time i get dissapointed by this, first it was Crazy Bump, now indigo ! My mouth was open wide for a few seconds !

    Well, the last thing it can happen is blender becoming commercial, i hope so is the last thing in the world to happen

  13. Good luck to the guy, he'll need it, now entering the commercial market and up against Fry and Maxwell et al, if you're paying hard cash then you become more choosy over the hidden costs like node licenses, support etc and F--K who ever wastes their time and power consumption on this type of render engine are going to need a lot of nodes. :-)

  14. So it's not even free for non-commercial use, eh? While he might have said it from the beginning to become filthy rich from the work, he thanks all the free testers by watermarking any future use. Just kidding, I wish him good luck with making money in these economic hard times. $600, eh??? $_$

    But know this is why I like or Open Source or normal commercial software more than 'freeware' applications. I don't say trying to make commercial software is a bad thing though, but I don't invest in software that has 'SURPRISE, NOW FOR 1000$" on the cover :)

    (Securely deleting all references to Indi(pendent)go!)

    Disclaimer: While I don't mind having people making a living for themselves, we all know the reason for the current economic and credit crises: People want to make money the fastest way possible by having others pay for their large salaries. If he sells a few copies a month he'll earn more that the average joe at the moment. Good luck to him!

  15. The blender internal renderer is still free (in both beer and speach!), people do wonderful things with that, we are spoilt for choice and just becuase one software package has given you the middle finger does not mean you don't have many options :) vote with your feet people.

  16. If only this where April 1st...
    Best of luck to Indigo's developers, but its sad that we have to part on these terms.

  17. The middle finger? Really? Don't you think you're being a little harsh?

    I personally can't stand ads and junk mail. I don't mind paying for software, as long as it's good software that does what I need. Heck, I can even live with a watermark while I evaluate an otherwise full-featured free evaluation version. As long as nobody's trying to shove solicitations down my throat, I'm happy.

  18. I can't say this is that surprising considering how there are works that have made it in the commercial realm. At this point, there's gotta be corporations that recognizes the power and versatility of Blender. Seeing how Indigo gets a number of praises, it's only prudent for them to move their work to a commercial venue.

    However, springing the news that the developers were in this for the money AFTER they've garnered the loyalty and trust of the community seems like a snakish move. The question becomes how many people feel as LOGAN does and stop investing their resources (time, trust, loyalty, money, etc) on it? I'm aware it's silly to think that once free, always free, especially the state that the global economy's in...but in the free software and open source community, being honest and forthright about your intentions may be the best way to go about building a reputation. People would probably be more willing to support honesty...but that's just me and for all I know, that might be something that occurs in a perfect world.

  19. Hopefully, the upside of this will be that it could spur the rapid development of Lux, or even new renderers altogether.

  20. Leave a Reply on

    This is what happens when you put your trust in a non-open-source project. You just can't guarantee what the devs will pull at you in the future.

    Next time folks, look very closely at the license and know that "FreeWare" does NOT equal "Open Source".

    BTW, I never used Indigo, Lux FTW!

  21. Ach, quite right, he's got a aaa+ product developed openly and now supported commecially.
    Good luck to him with it, he's clearly talented (and open about the eventual commercialisation of it).

  22. I'm really surprised by, and disappointed by a lot of the Blender community here. I personally remember hearing way back when, that Indigo was going to eventually be commercial software, but I used it at the time anyway, and it works great. (I have also used and supported opensource Lux, and Sunflow)
    And I say bravo to the devs for their accomplishment, and I wish them lots of luck!

    Yes, they built up alot of users around the free software, but they're going to keep a free version available. I believe the watermark will be fairly unobtrusive, and look at this, even at the moment, plenty of people put the watermark on their renders at the moment as a sign of support/pride for the software! I've also gotten the impression from their forums that currently they are offering the software at half price to their community, and that in the future they will have a student discount.

    And yes, the watermark is hardly fitting for a commercial project, but then.. buy the commercial license? :P

    But more than anything I'm disappointed that the community, I find that many people are acting very childish, regarding Nick's personal project and business decision. And I can hardly believe that anyone would fault him that, especially in the current economic situation.

  23. timmyelliot on

    I'm happy for them. They obviously loved building indigo. Nothing wrong with trying to earn a living doing what one loves to do.

  24. Didn't use Indigo before but for me it's very expensive to have an isolated renderer cost 595. Doing free to commercial progressively is a better choice indeed.

  25. There are other free unbiased renderers-
    Mine, TLRcam, is available at
    It doesn't quite have blender support yet, but one day it will get there (probably after I migrate to C#)

    On the other hand, Lux and Sunflow can both be unbiased (Sunflow sort of), and are both spectacular renderers with good blender support.

  26. Funny this thread of discussion bring my interest to Lux and Sunflow which I never heard before... kind of advertising...

  27. Never used Indigo seriously, it didn't have great compatibility on Linux for me...

    But it seemed great on windows, too bad it's going commercial now.

  28. I'm glad for Nick, though I'm sure many people from the community that developed around it may feel truly disappointed. There were very high expectations on this renderer that were killed for many all of a sudden.
    The price range may be a bit too steep, even the introductory one. I think vray for maya standalone will be around US$300 and something, and it's well integrated with blender, so many may consider it a better "investment", being vray such a versatile render engine. Unbiased rendering may seem like a "strength jacket" to some (specially on the animation side).

    Well, on the open source side there's Yafaray, and Luxrender, and on the free side (closed source) there's Kerkythea, and they all work fine with Blender! ;) There's enough pie for all the different tastes!

    but as I said, best of wishes to master Ono Sendai. :D

  29. Those who are disappointed probably should have realized that their time and effort building gallery items and testing bugs in Indigo was time they gave up in exchange for access to the renderer while it was in early development only.

    The equivalent investment in open source / free-as-in-libre software is better in the long run than the equivalent investment in free-as-in-beer. This goes to show... you can only drink your beer once... ;-)

  30. Marslyr, don't say the reactions are childish, it's ok to go commercial but $600!? For that money you get a brand new PC... things like that. And one could buy 3D Studio Max 2008 10 for $400, and so on. I would expect an renderer to go for around $100 or so.

    Also many of the Blender Community are hobbyists and freelancers and as such spending that much money costs them more than an arm and a leg, it might cost them their head.

  31. From now on, people will be careful before investing time on any 'free but not open-source' projects .

    Yes the publisher Indigo renderer was clear about not being free, but I guess no one would have thought it will result in like this.

    There is not doubt that Indigo is a capable renderer, but it's never the 'only one'. It's was perhaps the best FREE 'unbiased' alternative. If it had been commercial from the beginning, it wouldn't have gained fraction of it's popularity it has enjoyed so far.

    Anyways, Indigo needs to be WAY more fast in case they want to be a commercial alternative with that kind of price. Good luck!

    To most of us, biased or unbiased doesn't matter, what's important is time-vs-quality. What I personally feel bad about this is, if Indigo had been commercial from the very beginning the users would have invested their time to explore other alternatives like YF ray etc and may have developed them much faster into a capable free alternative.

    Now if we think about commercial alternatives,
    Vray is too difficult to beat when it comes to time-vs-quality. Whoever is open to commercial alternatives Vray would be on the top of the list, as not many would like to wait for hours to get a rendering.

    After a long time the renderer industry is again really active. Last time Brazil, Finalrender, Vray etc had emerged. YFray was developed along this line.

    In between, there was a unbiased renderer era, when Maxwell, Fryrender emerged, and never got popular compared because of their unrealistic rendertimes. This was the time when Indigo was developed along the same line and it gained a lot of popularity as it was free.

    And now it time for 'real-time' We can already see a glimpse in Modo renderer and Hypershot. Vray is also developing something similar.

    I hope a new open-source renderer would comes along this line as not everyone runs renderfirm at their home.

  32. Hm, I never used Indigo, I can't even render properly, but just from what I saw in comparison examples, I personally liked Yafray better. Somebody, I think in a Blenderzine, published glasses rendered in Blender internal. indigo and Yafray. The latter beat the rest, in my opinion. But as I don't KNOW, it could be that Indigo was better in other fields. Considering the price it must be Damn good though :P The problem for me with all this is: your model, materials and efforts will always only be as great as the renderer you use, even above the monitor you have and its calibration, your graphics card - without the latter you can never judge how good your render is and how good you can sell your work as quality. That's the impression that matters. I couldn't afford 600 bucks for commercial use, but in case I had no free alternative, I sure would find a way. You can be a good painter, but you won't sell if your paint and paper suck.

  33. I don't understand this from a business point of view. Some people have already started moving to luxrender and indigo needs to be as competitive as possible as lux is moving fast and already has some features indigo doesn't.

    Now that they have started charging they have given this area of the market to lux, which is obviously good news for lux but I think indigo is going to struggle now, why would people pay out $$$ when you can use lux for free? If people wanted to pay money for a renderer arn't they going to use something like maxwell or fry etc?

  34. ChunkyMonkey on

    It's quite interesting to see that some people won't understand the commercial approach...
    They would have a paying job, or be freelancing, but they just have a hard time understanding that other people also have to eat.
    Money is food. Developers are not robots.
    If those indigo guys work full-time on their engine, how do they survive with open-source way ? I suppose they are not students anymore with mom & dad paying everything for them.
    I'm amazed at how some will go on the principle that everything is due to them. They take-take-take but will never even imagine to give back in return.

    Anyway, on the other hand, getting commercial so late after all the others -well installed- similar render engines like Maxwell and Fryengine, means you need to bring something really special on the deck or you're dead.
    And for what I can see, they have nothing really special to propose.
    Even more if we start to compare with really production-ready products like Vray or Modo and their ever-evolving technology (with next step, near-real-time rendering)...
    Most of Indigo's installed base is (I suppose) hobbyists and students, so I'm wondering how they will try and get clients apart from their loyal fan-base (for whom the price-tag might be way too high) !?
    I'm a freelancer like most, ready to pay for software that allows me to make money in return (I already have a Vray and a Maxwell license) but Indigo has yet to proove me it's worth its price and the time investment needed. And for the moment I could not consider it a viable option worth a change and investment.

    Well, the best of luck to them and I hope they'll surprise us with some elegant new tech to come.

  35. While there may be people who are "in the know" who have always known that Indigo was to be a commercial renderer, it certainly isn't presented as such. Going to the Indigo website today - after the announcement of going commercial - the top line (in large bold type) still proclaims:

    "Indigo is a free, unbiased renderer."

    and in the section below:

    "Indigo is free for commercial and non-commercial use."

    It doesn't give the impression of being a commercial effort.

  36. Because of the quality of Indigo I was able to get (and work on) about 6 projects. These job payments alone would be more than enough to buy a a few copies of Indigo.

    The descision to use any external Blender renderer leads to a massive testing / comparing situation, not even knowing if the desired result is possible (with the chosen renderer) at all !!! That means that you either need to get help from a vibrant community or a very professional supportteam. These would even have to take into account any 3D-Package that the external renderer is able to work with.

    Given the pricing of Indigo I (now as a customer) would actively ASK for and even REQUEST a decent COMPANY (!!) support, handbook, up to date exportscripts, etc. ... I use Max, Lightwave and Blender. Remember that for around 1400,00$ you get the complete Adobe Master-Collection. The Vray pricing is not that far away either.

    Thing is:
    * I will buy a copy of Indigo just because I used it succesfully.
    * I did not sponsor (donate to) its' dev team because of the "we will become commercial -- sometime" statement at the very beginning of indigo development. This money went to other OS-Projects.
    * I will also look for a free AND a different paid alternative
    * I will also evaluate the support / extra value given by the indigo team

    The moment you start to charge money for your work your supporters become customers. That usually means quite a fuss -- esp. if you are not prepared. I wish them all the best and hope they manage to grow with the competition. :)

    My2cents, best regards, Christian Lehmann

  37. Unfortunately I used indigo for quite some time. I planned to move to open source, as I am a commercial user of maxwell. But indigo is quite unstable and has not the same support like other commercial software. I tested luxrender, and it works wonderful! So I guess I'm not going to use indigo ever again.

  38. Well, everyone should be able to live from it's work, and I perfectly understand the decision of the Indigo Team. I wish them good luck.

    As a recent freelancer, I know that it is not easy to find customers.

    Most hardware and software tools are expensive, and Indigo was a good solution for me.

    As all my scenes are not initially made for an external rendering, in most cases it is not possible to make a special conversion of hundreds of materials for Indigo, and because of that I use it only in rare situations.

    In most big scenes, I get a crash instead of a rendering... This said, Being deprived of Indigo could be a problem for architecture projects and I think I will purchase a licence despite the unstability of the tool...

    I hope that it will work better and faster in the future (they say that once the licence purchases, all updates will be free).

    The main question I ask myself is the ability of moving from a computer to an other : As the licence is based on a computer ID instead of a dongle key, what happens if you have to change your computer for a new one or make some significant hardware modifications or part replacements ?

  39. Well, I have checked the order page... and I will not order, because it is not a direct link, but a payment through Paypal. I have created a Paypal account in the past to purchase a book or a DVD on Blender e-shop, and I have received many fraudulent e-mails. Even 3 years after the cancellation of my account I still receive messages from Paypal about my account. I also receive from time to time messages from unknown people saying that they have paid me through Paypal for various goods that they are not received !

    So, if there is not other way of payment than Paypal, I will forget Indigo...

    It is sad to have to make a choice about a good software because of the payment method.

  40. If I were going to pay for a renderer I'd get me Maxwell Render which is by far the best IMHO.

    But we should have know, given the fact that they never released source code and that their website has the .com extension. I'll stick to Blenderk Yafray and Luxrender, which are true open source projects and which match Indigo in render quality.

  41. One thought : Each version comes with its own licence terms, so I think that the previously available versions remain free for personnal and commercial us as well...

    Even if we can benefit of future improvements of Indigo, they are still usable.

    Right ?

  42. Just a thought, can we write a script to do multiple render passes and then stitch them together?

    Rotate the camera slightly for each pass so that there is a slight overlap. This would allow us to discard the watermark and increase the resolution.

    Nah, probably easier just to wait for Lux to come up to speed.

  43. I do have licenses for various applications. Some terms are better than others for example, Modo licences the person allowing it to be installed on as many machines that one owns. Adobe on the other hand wouldn't even let me upgrade a version of Flash because they didn't believe I owned my license!

    I would like to see something like free license to install and use software. Then payment for a support package that contained a fully featured user guide, video tutorials that covered all topic, theory and even video tutorials of pro quality projets.

    This way a hobbyist can spend the time googling those online tuts and the commercial user can pay upfront and get up to speed quickly.

    Just a thought as there has to be more business models to choose from.

  44. No thanks.

    It was never made clear that he was going commercial. He actually considered going open source and also told radiance (main luxrender dev) which contributed alot of work to indigo. Now the indigo dev just changed his mind and I will not support such a lousy justification. I am going to Luxrender now, which is also used in a commercial TV series, so it is _at least_ on par with Indigo.

    Thumbs down from me!

  45. Lorenzo Gatti on

    The opinions about the quality of Indigo in these comments range a bit too widely from excessively unstable for practical use, to nothing special, to great and worth buying. I assume there is an unusual amount of prejudice against the surprise move, peculiar personal experiences, and maybe shills.
    But for users that need to choose a render and are not locked in to Indigo or other products, is there any more objective experience, for example a comparison with Luxrender, Fry, Maxwell or other competition from someone that actually tried multiple renderers? The pros and cons of different packages are more important than Indigo's commercial perspectives.

  46. I was greatly troubled when I heard this (about a week ago).
    Although it has bugs, this renderer is fast (compared to Luxrender) and simple.
    If they're weren't starting out with such an astronomical price, I would definitely keep using it.
    $600 is out of my range. $100? I could do that! Maybe even $150.

  47. Hi,

    Anyone can confirm Roubal approach, according to the idea that we can still use free (as in a beer) licensed versions of Indigo? I think so, but confirmation gives "crowd power" to the idea...

    More sad than happy for the news, but at the end is his own problem, there are plenty of free alternatives, and if others go commercial too, ever will born new projects to fill the niche, IMHO.


  48. I love Indigo and loved it for a long time, the renders are beautiful and I really hope that now that it costs money the main author(s?) can make it comparable with higher end renderers, it's a shame we open source users will not be able to use it but we still have lux, blender internal renderer, yaf(a)ray and probably some other renderers which will be around.

    so best of luck, and thanks for all the fishies.

  49. LOGAN:
    While I agree that the price is certainly a bit high when compared to other commerical renderers. (High for what indigo is at the moment), that's hardly a valid argument. That it's fair to believe some people are acting childish, but not if it's too expensive?
    I don't see what the price should have to do with whether or not you view the decision as a positive one or a negative one. (obviously it might affect you personally, but that's not what I'm talking about.)

    Also. Yes, hobbyists may not be able to afford the price, or rather, justify it, but they don't need to! Indigo will continue to offer a free version!

  50. Indigo was meant to be a commercial renderer since the beginning. It started as a hobby project, but the author said that there will be eventually a commercial license. Now, the time has come. I'm sure a lot of people used Indigo for profit, without giving any donation to the author, now if you like Indigo, it will be nice to pay, or look at another renderer.

    The links for the last release (1.0.9) are still active. And the license remains effective : free for commercial and no commercial use. Grab it while you can, I don't think that the links will last forever... If you don't need any new feature, use Indigo 1.0.9 or the experimental 1.1.18.

  51. @ROUBAL and all:

    indeed. the previous indigo versions until 1.1.18 are still available and under their original license. free. for personal and commercial use.

    it is maybe one of the biggest misconceptions connected to the commercialization and i personally think it should have been a part of the official announcement. well... we all learn from mistakes.

    i also heared that the megapixel bar for the free version will be raised to 0.7 - which is quite a reasonable resolution for the average hobbyist.


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