There’s a new Kerkythea in Town

After a year of amazing development work, the team behind the freeware rendering engine Kerkythea finally released the 2008 version. It is called “Echo” and features some major improvements. While the most noticeable one will be the redesigned sleek user interface (it now has scrollable material list menus!!!), some under-the-hood improvements are worth mentioning, too.

First and foremost, there is now an instancing brush that allows for “painting” objects onto any surface. It can be used for placing grass on ground, trees in the landscape and so on. Instances can be rotated, scaled and realigned on insertion, which allows for natural randomness. The image below shows a topography populated with four tree instances and 10,000 grass instances.

After rendering this scene using the new MLT (BPT) setting (6 passes did the trick for this small size), the following image resulted. In this setup, the scene was lit by the sun and a nice clear high-res sky serves as backdrop.

In the process of rendering, it is actually quite beautiful how the MLT setting “grows” the image. In a process that resembles pointilist visuals, the random process behind this rendering method builds it pixel by pixel. I particularly like the earlier stages of this process (not the latter painful “trying to hit the last pixel” portion). As shown in the image below, a random fuzziness overlays the image and a feathering blur akin to high ISO infrared photography engulfs lighted areas. There’s also very nice light vignetting at the edges.

Other improvements are:

  • A redesigned material editor that makes work with layered, procedural and all kinds of other materials and their settings much easier than before.
  • A new setting for light sources that uses IES light properties. These are defined in small text files and can be downloaded from luminaire manufacturers (like ERCO) and reproduce the light wash effect realistically.
  • A “manual” implementation of network rendering. At this point, the rendering has to be started manually on the master and all slave machines.
  • More that I can’t think of right now. Follow the links below to the Kerkythea website to learn more about this great free software.


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  • Thanks for the reply Alex, I realized my mistake a few hours after I posted the question. I had been starting the render by using the little button next to the quickview pane and in doing so prevented the dialog box from popping up asking me which type of render I wanted to do. By starting the render from the top menu I finally saw the option MLT as well as the Photomap-Quick preset that you mention in your other tutorial. Know everything makes much more sense ;) Thanks for the info though.

  • Hi James. This effect is just part of the MLT rendering process. Just start a rendering with MLT and watch this happen. It doesn’t always look good but sometimes the effect is quite neat.
    Cheers, Alex

  • Hi Alex, I read your other tutorial on how to get Kerkythea to work with Sketchup and it was great! I clicked on a sub-link that got me here and I was just curious how you got the last image to look like that, you mention that this is part of the MLT rendering process? So far I’ve been adding a bit of “grain” to my renders in Photoshop as well as vignetting. If there is a way to do this in the program it would help me. Does this apply only to models you have to “populate”? All of mine are just directly imported from Sketchup. Forgive me but I’m new to most of this stuff.


  • v good info. much to be said about a site that shares rather than one that suck the goodness out of life.