On the prowl for easy-to-use rendering software (for the Rhino of course)

So over the past year I have been trying out various rendering trials for Rhinoceros. And basically, most of them are running out and so over the next few months I have to commit and buy one already. Still a student at the moment.

I’m only rendering for product design. Not architecture. Decisions, decisions.

V-Ray. I have already tried V-Ray. And I don’t like the looks of the price. Or the dongle. I have way too many USB devices and never enough free USB ports and I am not buying another usb hub and I am not buying the belkin dock. Not at that price. I refuse! Not only that but I find that it is very confusing, not intuitive. So V-Ray is out [sorry Dave, but it’s out!].

Iray. I had a lot of trouble setting that up. Support was good but it’s still new. It’s now US$295 I think, which is a lot for me at the moment. Never really explored it much, I think it was still in beta phase.

Brazil. I don’t know. I think it might be much too advanced for me in any case.

Flamingo. My first few renders look worse than Rhino’s default render!
Is this okay for product design though?

Penguin. I’m probably going to just buy this anyway as it is priced competitively and easy to use. I do like the different effects it generates. It’s unique. One of the things that annoys me about Penguin 2.0 though is that on my 5k screen, I’ve noticed that about half of the icons & fonts that don’t even line up correctly and therefore some of the options can’t even be selected. But would the penguin “semi-realistic” setting result in better renderings than Rhino itself?

Maxwell. Other people have mentioned this. Haven’t tried it. Is it easy to use? It doesn’t sound like it.

Keyshot. Unknown.

Anything else to consider?

I do not really enjoy the whole rendering process and tweaking things. I just want to choose a material, stick in default lighting and get a semi-decent render. I’m not looking to win awards with my renderings. I’d rather be designing (or learning more about designing) than rendering (or learning about rendering).

Now here’s the thing. I am not impressed with most of the materials libraries that I see. I have a very strong background in materials science. Metals and Eco materials are paramount. But I would like to see a decent selection of ceramic materials for example, not just tiles…

What is the easiest to use render software?
I’d really prefer to not to have to do more tutorials to learn new software.
I don’t think my brain can take any more new input/data.

I would say. Go for Keyshot. I did these renders with it. Koenigsegg One:1. My first Surface model

V-Ray - I don’t like the dongle either but V-Ray 3 is ridiculously simple to use. Essentially just two sliders. No idea when it will be released though.

Iray / Brazil / Flamingo - no real experience with these.

Penguin - interesting but release 2.0 is from 2011, six years ago. Is this software still alive?

Maxwell - no experience. Famous for very long render times.

Keyshot - very easy to use but my experience is that it’s good for studio shots but not much else and all renders tend to look much the same.

Other considerations -
Thea - on sale right now for 295 euros. Relatively easy to use and comes with extensive material libraries.

Cycles - Rhino V6 (currently WIP) will come with a stripped down version of Cycles. This is built in and very simple to set up and use. If you haven’t downloaded the WIP and tried it out I would suggest you do so before spending $$ on a third party renderer that you might not need if Cycles can do it for you.

I hope that helps in some way.

That’s not necessarily true for product design type renders. Quality is top notch and there’s also a lot of ready materials available.


Keyshot is pricy.

That’s pretty impressive Bubba!

Re: cycles. Now that is good information. Did not know about that one. What is blender? Are these two completely separate render engines?

Coincidentally, I just happened to be downloading the Rhino WIP, so yes, I will check it out.

I am just trying out keyshot now. Seems to be fairly basic/intuitive, with a decent selection of materials. That’s good. I’m not fussed if it can only do studio/product renders as that’s exactly what I want to do with it. Student version is $95.

Maxwell looks to be more for interior design / architecture … and it costs €700! That is just not going to happen…

Blender is a full fledged modeling, texturing, rendering and animating application. It’s open source so it’s free - and very impressive. The render engine in Blender is Cycles - same as what is in the Rhino WIP but the Rhino version is very stripped down compared to the Blender version.

Generally people who do only product shots tend towards Keyshot.

@LeslieDeanBrown, one word of warning: don’t use the Rhino custom materials too much just yet. I have some changes that fix several problems with certain setting combinations. Rhino basic materials should all work fine, though.

Hi, Cycles integration guy here.

As @arail mentions Cycles is the same render engine as one can find in the Blender application (I have also been part of the Blender developer group since 2003).

The integration currently can be found as the Raytraced viewport mode.

It is not true that the engine in the integration is stripped down. The engine is actually a bit extended over that what is currently in Blender master (at least at was before holidays, I’ve taken a bit time off, so maybe they caught up :wink: ). The two things that aren’t in the main Blender branch for Cycles are shadow catcher (shadow-only ground plane) and the Disney BSDF (principled/uber shader).

What is different: with the first integration we aim for a ‘button-less’ approach. So for those who aren’t render geeks or gurus it should be fairly easy to get good looking renders with minimal effort. While far from complete, the basic Rhino materials Glass, Gem, Paint, Plastic, Plaster and Metal all should give already a quite good toolset for most to get started. Also render settings are simplified to be controlled through the quality drop-down (low, draft, good, final).

The reason to do this is that it makes sure that I properly get things to work with the “simple way”. It means lots of testing, re-iterating through material conversions from Rhino to Cycles lingo, and so on. It also means that each and every nook and cranny gets attention. That eventually will give lots of goodies for the render geeks and gurus as well.

For instance, eventually there will be setting sections that expose such funky stuff as integrator settings (diffuse bounces, glossy bounces, transparency bounces etc), film settings (exposure), camera settings (blades, rotation speeds), session settings (render tile sizes, render devices) and so on.

Further more for the material work I have already a set of components that use our beloved Grasshopper to provide a great way to create materials, very much like the Blender node editor for Cycles materials. It is very much in flux at the moment, and although the code is out there, I might put up some GH plug-in releases every now and then - but given the nature and speed of changes it most definitely will break GH material definitions users work on regularly. It is a great tool to create new material definitions with, though.

Phew, I wasn’t going to answer, but there you have it :slight_smile:

With more questions on Raytraced / Cycles, please go to the Serengeti/Rendering WIP sub forum or drop me a personal message here on discourse :slight_smile:



I was referring to this back and forth about the subject that I had some time ago.

Free is always good. Cycles or ProRender both coming in Rhino6.


I’ve used Maxwell back when I was in architecture school and found their super extensive materials library very nice. The last couple weeks I’ve been evaluating Flamingo. It’s very intuitive but lacking in materials. I hope they extend their library and iron out all the kinks they’ve been having with linking bitmaps to their existing materials as well.

Penguin looks pretty cool, too. I kinda like that cartoonish/hand-rendered look that it generates. I might download it and evaluate it soon.

Personally, some of the best renders I’ve seen have come out of Solid Works and 3DS Max. Check out this video that always leaves me mind-blown: