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.