Renderers

Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to Autodesk Arnold

Autodesk, Inc. is an American multinational software company that makes software products and services for the architecture, engineering, construction, product design, manufacturing, media, education, and entertainment industries. It bills itself as a “… leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software”.

The company was founded in 1982 by John Walker, who was a joint developer of the first versions of AutoCAD, the company’s best known software application. Autodesk is listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, it has over 11,000 employees, and is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.

While Autodesk develops many high quality applications they are proprietary software. And the vast majority of their products are not available for Linux. This series looks at the best free and open source alternatives.

ArnoldArnold is software for rendering three-dimensional, computer-generated scenes using unbiased, physically-based, Monte Carlo path tracing techniques.

Arnold is available for Linux but it’s proprietary software. What are the best free and open source alternatives?


1. Blender

Targeted at media professionals and artists, Blender can be used to create 3D visualizations, stills as well as broadcast and cinema quality video, whilst the incorporation of a real-time 3D engine allows for the creation of 3D interactive content for stand-alone playback. Blender has a huge variety of uses including modelling, animating, rendering, texturing, skinning, rigging, weighting, non-linear editing, scripting, compositing, post-production and much more.

Blender has a robust feature set similar in scope and depth to other high-end 3D software.

Blender


2. LuxCoreRender

LuxCoreRender is a software rendering system for physically correct image synthesis. Based on state of the art algorithms, LuxCoreRender simulates the flow of light according to physical equations, thus producing realistic images of photographic quality.

LuxCoreRender features only a 3D renderer; it relies on other programs (3D modeling programs) to create the scenes to render, including the models, materials, lights and cameras. This content can then be exported from the application it was created in for rendering using LuxCoreRender.

LuxRender


3. Cycles

Cycles is an physically based production renderer developed by the Blender project.

The renderer provides unidirectional path tracing with multiple importance sampling, multi-core CPU rendering with SIMD acceleration, and GPU rendering with NVIDIA CUDA and OptiX & AMD OpenCL. There’s also multi-GPU support, and a unified rendering kernel for CPU and GPU.

Cycles


4. appleseed

appleseed is a physically-based global illumination rendering engine primarily designed for animation and visual effects. It provides individuals and small studios with a complete, reliable, fully open rendering package built with modern technologies.

appleseed


Alternatives to Autodesk's Products
ArnoldArnold is software for rendering three-dimensional, computer-generated scenes using unbiased, physically-based, Monte Carlo path tracing techniques.
AutoCADAutoCAD is computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting software. It's used in industry, by architects, project managers, engineers, graphic designers, city planners and others.
EagleEAGLE is a scriptable electronic design automation (EDA) application with schematic capture, printed circuit board (PCB) layout, auto-router and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) features.
FlameFlame is 3D visual effects (VFX), finishing, and color grading software. It includes AI-powered tools and remote solutions.
MudboxMudbox is 3D digital painting and sculpting software. Sculpt and paint highly detailed 3D geometry and textures.
ShotGridShotGrid is project management software used for visual effects and animation project management in television shows and movie production and video game development.
SketchbookSketchbook is a raster graphics software app intended for expressive drawing and concept sketching. It's also useful for making animations.
Autodesk TinkercadTinkercad is an online 3D modeling program that runs in a web browser. Tinkercad uses a simplified constructive solid geometry method of constructing models.
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