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Global Illumination renderers comparison


gi-shootoutAbhishek Gupta compared three GI renderers (Blender, Lux, Kerkythea and Yafaray) in a rendering shootout.


Every now and then a new user checks out gallery at different sites and screams to himself/herself, “I will create the next photo realistic render”. And then the hunt begins for renderer. After testing a few renderer they just give up – too difficult or too time consuming, i don't understand this mambo jumbo. So here i am trying to sort out which G.I. renderer is best for a newbie.


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. Thanks. Nice read. The strukture of the PDF could have been better, though. The description and the image should be on the same page. Currently you read the description and the image will be on the next page. Just add some pagebreaks and it would be much easier to read and compare. Thanks for your work on that subject.

  2. The link didn't work. The pdf is in the Tutorials section.

    Great work!
    The layout (pdf) could be a bit clearer though, as it occationally was difficult to know what text belong to which picture...;)

  3. Poor PDF presentation.
    And you could spend some time for proper configuration of material setup for each render engine. AO and SSAO are not GI methods, they work completely another way by casting rays from surface, not from light emitter. It's not physically correct when illuminating interior scenes. This comparison makes no sense except for Lux and Thea.

  4. the outdoorscene looks too lopoly to use normal smoothing, AFAIK... Especially that ring. The black patterns with Lux probably are because of that.
    A good workaround is to use the Edgesplit Modifier (and apply it), though, as it's THAT lopoly, that would just do the same effect as switching off normal smoothing...

  5. Only my humble opinion, but I think Povray development is not slowing down. just regular: 3.7 beta has SSS, HDRI, SMP BSP acceleration (like Mental Ray) (full multithreading) the current blend2Pov does export hair... So I started experimenting it now instead of waiting for Yafaray to have such an awsome SDL (Scene Description Language like what RIB is), Kerkythea to go open source or Luxrender and aqsis to go faster. I think it may be worth it in the long run. as I don't believe unbiased will be ready that soon for pracical use... I know lux is supposed to have a biasd algorythm shipped in too.
    Just keep an eye on ALL of them.

  6. Although I don't agree with the final 'winner' I found the article very interesting.
    I was not aware of shaded occlusion and the results blew me away. Fingers crossed it gets implemented!

    Great read!

  7. Isn't that FOUR rendering engines?

    [Imagine it takes 24 hrs to render a scene. Then your client request you to change colour of a certain object. What will you do? Keep him waiting for 24 hrs more?]

    That's what Photoshop (or GIMP) is for! Just make sure you render alpha's. :-)

  8. I thought Global Illumination is when you don't bother putting any lamps in a scene but use a 360 environment image to light it.

    And I thought Ambient Occlusion is something separate from Global Illumination.

    And I also thought Blender is currently unable to do proper Global Illumination.

    Have I been mistaken?

  9. That Parthenon renderer is pretty amazing, the example scenes look like vray to me, but ten times as fast.
    I imported a 3ds file to this japanese 3d modelling program 'Metasequoia',
    but can't figure out how to add a light in it's interface, and editing the file to add a light in the text file doesn't work.

  10. Wow, such a nice read! I didn't realize anything about SAO until I read this. Honestly though, I really find the SAO results pretty interesting, and with a fairly good speed! Thanks for sharing! ^_^


  11. i have a super slow Internet connection. since lot of people are having trouble downloading it, i would others who have downloaded it to upload it somewhere else and post the link. i will be very grateful. thanks in advance.

    i know the article is a bit rough, its my 1st shootout anyway. but i will polish it and update all the renderer with the latest version.

    @ jon i think i have explained what is G.I. in the article in a layman's term. what you are referring to is image based lighting a.k.a IBL. currently blender supports it by a patch included in kais blender build.

    remember this article is work beginners who are just starting with g.i.

    @ agent the materials were exported without any modification to check how good the exporter worked. of course each renderer could have been tweaked.

  12. Thanks abhifx and n-pigeon. Yeah, it's IBL (image based lighting) that my fuzzy head was trying to recall. I hope Blender 2.5 will have IBL. From what I've seen and my limited 3D knowledge it looks like the best and easiest way to light a scene.

    @ abhifx ...
    Get yourself a free MediaFire account and host the PDF there...

    I use MediaFire to supply artwork files to clients and have found it very straight forward and reliable.

  13. There's a pretty big typo on page 4, in the paragraph marked "4". It says that "Kerkythea 0.6 does this
    job excellently. Not only all material are exported correctly, it also support blender procedural textures. Pretty neat. Kerkythea came second."

    I'm pretty sure it was really "Luxrender 0.6" he meant to write as coming first, not Kerkythea which is now past version 2

  14. Seems you need to re-evaluate the AAO
    When writing documents for beginners don't make conclusions too hastily, or downplay certain features.

    Thank you for sharing your render results.

  15. For the Luxrender exterior...

    The material changed white because Lux makes glowing materials into 'Blackbody', physically accurate light sources. To fix this and emit any color you want, change the material type to 'Constant', and then simply re-select the color of the material.

    For the raytracing, I have no idea. Try re-creating the material with Lux materials.

    One thing I LOVE about Luxrender is that the materials are EASY to set up. Even from scratch. This is one thing that really attracts me to it, since I can simply model everything in Blender, then make the materials in Lux. Or, model and materialize (so to speak) in Blender, and simply tweak the materials for Lux.

  16. I can't visit this webpage, no matter which browser I'm using. If you're not able to host this file on your side in a right way than better upload it to mediafire or whatever...

  17. @ NUTS 2 U hmm... the file seems to be correctly loaded. i have tried the site in all the browser and it works. the reason i am not uploading it to other site is because i have super pathetic internet. i had hard time uploading it the 1st time.
    but even with my connection i can download the file from the site just fine.

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