Renderers

8 Best Free and Open Source Linux Renderers

One of the many strengths of Linux is its good range of open source software for artists, photographers, animators, and designers. With inexpensive hardware, free software, and a modicum of talent and inspiration, anyone can create professional-looking computer graphics.

If you are new to computer graphics, it may not be clear what is meant by the term rendering. To clarify, rendering is the process of generating an image from a model (or a collection of models, known as a scene file) using computer software. This entails the computer software to perform calculations to translate the scene from a mathematical approximation to a 2D image. To generate the image, the scene file contains objects in a defined language or data structure, containing geometry, lighting, shading, texture, and viewpoint. This data is processed by the rendering software to generate a raster image file or a digital image.

There are three main computational techniques used by rendering software: scanline, raytracing, and radiosity. Rendering is a CPU-intensive process, so some software also makes use of the Graphics processing unit (GPU) to speed up the process. Images can be rendered by a single computer or with a network of computers that work on a different part of the image.

There is a large selection of open source rendering software to download. To provide an insight into the quality that is available, we have compiled a list of our favorite rendering software. We give our strongest recommendation to Blender, and appleseed. But there’s lots of other good open source software available if they don’t meet your specific requirements.

Best Free and Open Source Renderers

Let’s explore the 8 renderers at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources.

Renderers
Blender3D computer graphics software toolset that excels in many areas
appleseedPhysically-based renderer targeted at production rendering
MitsubaExtensible rendering framework written in portable C++
LuxCoreRenderPhysically based and unbiased rendering engine
Art of Illusion3D-modeler, renderer and raytracer
RendererInteractive 3D visualization of triangle meshes
Aqsis3D rendering solution adhering to the RenderMan standard
RadianceSuite of tools for performing lighting simulation
Return to our complete collection of recommended free and open source software including our latest additions.
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