bartneck

Comparison of LEGO rendering engines

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I compared the different LEGO rendering engines available through LDD, Bluerender and Stud.io. Have a look at the results:

race3-studio-povray-edit-1.pngrace3-studio-eysight-edit-1.pngrace3-ldd-direct-edit-1.pngrace3-bluerender-edit-1.png

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Nice!  The stud.io v2.01 is probably the most impressive out of what you've shown, although the black tyres look more like a solid brick rather than rubber.

You did miss one render engine, mecabricks.com.  The website has a CAD editor that allows the import of LDD and LDraw files, you can then render using a blender template or render online using the website's render farm.  An example render of one of my MOCs, generated using the render farm:

800x1067.jpg

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The Povray rendering can be improved. This is a rendering made right after you exported from LDview, right ? Adding radiosity greatly improves the rendering quality for example, but requires a bit of technicity and Povray knowledge ! :)

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1 hour ago, Alexis Vilvert (Muuss) said:

The Povray rendering can be improved. This is a rendering made right after you exported from LDview, right ? Adding radiosity greatly improves the rendering quality for example, but requires a bit of technicity and Povray knowledge ! :)

I believe these two examples are from the stud.io software, which includes a built-in POV-ray render tool.  But for sure, you can have LDView export a POV-ray file, I had forgotten all about this method of rendering. There is also an "LGEO" POV-ray parts library that replaces the LDraw bricks with higher-quality 3D models.

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Neither of the renderings look particularly convincing. Lots of tweaking required on the materials.

Mylenium

1 hour ago, Alexis Vilvert (Muuss) said:

Adding radiosity greatly improves the rendering quality

Sounds like a quote from a 90's CG mag "Radiosity improves you pictures by a factor of X." *lol* Just lumping on radiosity usually doesn't do much if you don't tweak the lights and materials.

Mylenium

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I think tyres on Stud.io renders are glossy because chosen colour is "brick black" rather than "rubber black".

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Mecabricks does not have the the L-Motor in its library and my model could not be rendered with it.

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The renderer in Stud.io is indeed very promising, currently the best after Mecabricks's.

Also keep in mind that its renders are a little dull, and that you'd better photoshop afterwards.

IMHO it's still missing some key things:

-depth of field

-camera angle

-most importantly: primitive substitution, & support for high-res part library. Right now primitive substitution can be more or less worked around, and I'm sure it will eventually be added. But the high-res part library was designed for POVRay, I don't think it's any compatible. I hope for a generic high-res part library. Some parts render *very* bad on close-ups, compared to POVRay renders.

-easy lights

Villa_Render.jpg

 

You also forgot LDDToPOVRay btw. Even though it's still POVRay, its settings & renders are rather different.

I'm pretty sure that POVRay renders could have been better, especially with radiosity as mentioned. But I believe that a big part of the quality has to do with ambient occlusion, which isn't in POVRay AFAIK.

Edited by anothergol

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11 hours ago, bartneck said:

Mecabricks does not have the the L-Motor in its library and my model could not be rendered with it.

Well, it is not reason to omit rather good (I'm reading being one of the best) rendering options provided by Mecabricks. Your options here would be to chose a different model or contribute your time adding missing parts into Mecabricks library (if possible).

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15 hours ago, bartneck said:

Mecabricks does not have the the L-Motor in its library and my model could not be rendered with it.

I once had a similar problem with missing train track and wheels, there is a workaround but it is not for the faint-hearted:

Download and install Blender on your computer.  Install the Blender plugin for importing LDraw models (LDR format, not the Bricksmith MPD format).  Download and install the mecabricks blender render template (free version available, also a paid-for version with more advanced features like scratches and thumbprints on your bricks).  Convert your model to the LDraw format.  Upload the model to mecabricks (do not reposition it!!), then export it as a .OBJ 3d model.  Import the .OBJ into blender following the instructions supplied with the mecabricks template.  Edit the LDRaw model to contain only the missing pieces.  Import the modified LDraw file into blender.  The two sets of 3D objects should sit together perfectly, no scaling or repositioning needed.  Modify the new LDraw objects to use the mecabricks colours.  Follow the remaining mecabricks template instructions to prepare the model.  Position your camera, click render and wait.

This allowed me to turn this mecabricks model  of the Winter Village Steam Train into my Christmas card from last year:

800x600.jpg

(Note that many parts I had to import from LDraw have since been added to the mecabricks library)

 

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3 hours ago, NathanR said:

with more advanced features like scratches and thumbprints on your bricks

These features are a waste of time btw. Mecabricks' latest renders are hard to tell apart from real pictures.. except for the silly fake fingerprints & scratches that give them away. Even more silly knowing that everyone taking real pictures tries his best to avoid fingerprints & scratches.
Stud.io's beta renderer has weathering as well, and it looks so silly, it makes no sense.

Part defects like injection points, or LEGO writings, yeah that can certainly add realism, I guess. But that's something else.

As for adding parts, that's why I like Stud.io, it's now rather easy to add custom parts. But then the problem is that most parts are low-poly & in no way designed for HQ renders.

Edited by anothergol

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On 9/7/2018 at 6:03 AM, anothergol said:

I'm pretty sure that POVRay renders could have been better, especially with radiosity as mentioned. But I believe that a big part of the quality has to do with ambient occlusion, which isn't in POVRay AFAIK.

AO is just a simplified subset of full radiosity, so I'm not sure what this would achieve or why it should be missing. If you enable full radiosity in most programs you effectively override AO. If at all it then would be just a secondary pass or at the shader level to increase contrast. That aside it's an open question of whether to use any of that at all. Many of my more realistic renderers as a commercial 3D artist were/ are just complex light setups with finely tweaked materials and neither radiosity nor AO ever having been used.

Mylenium

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1 hour ago, Mylenium said:

AO is just a simplified subset of full radiosity, so I'm not sure what this would achieve or why it should be missing. If you enable full radiosity in most programs you effectively override AO.

From my limited knowledge, AO is "fake", as opposed to radiosity, but more pleasant to the eye for everyone. Can you really achieve this fake result with radiosity?

And with the added bonus that it's much faster, no?

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Real 3D AO is not "fake". The only difference is that it a) limits the sample radius, b) generally assumes a uniform lighting model and c) does not necessarily account for secondary properties like surface color. Typically the assumption of it being/ looking "fake" is a combination of these things like e.g. people forcing too small sample radii to make their AO darker - it's not a limitation of the math, it's just the clipping returning an "invalid" result, meaning black. 2D screen space AO methods are another matter entirely of course, but we're not talking about games here, obviously.

Mylenium

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On 9/6/2018 at 5:59 PM, Mylenium said:

Neither of the renderings look particularly convincing. Lots of tweaking required on the materials.

Mylenium

Sounds like a quote from a 90's CG mag "Radiosity improves you pictures by a factor of X." *lol* Just lumping on radiosity usually doesn't do much if you don't tweak the lights and materials.

Mylenium

Took me a few days to come back and answer, sorry. I render my models with Povray, from modified LDview exports. Rendering from scratch gives something close of the first picture of the topic. 

I invented nothing. I'm not skilled enough in that domain nor have the will to become a povray specialist. All i've done is gathering informations and testing the best combinations, like adding radiosity, removing lights, adding a floor, sometimes a skybox, tweaking rendering options, materials untouched, I use the original LGEO ones. 

The rendering quality and obtained results, if not perfect, are quite good and realistic enough for me, the rubber material for the tires is the weakest part I think. The original picture is bigger than this one (1920x1080), it took around 40 min to render on a Z220 Xeon Workstation, and would have taken around 2 hours on my 5 years old I5.

42077C-HotRod-3QuartsFace_-_Copie.png

 

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How do people go rendering on mac? I just tend to use Stud.io but I do have the bluerender file if I do anything on LDD. Is this a good strategy? 

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I use LDD + BlueRender on Mac and think it produces good renders for my use without any kind of tweaking. I mostly just use LDD for sketching and working out roughly what quantities of parts I need though, so the end goal is not having a rendered image to publish. It can also be helpful testing out different camera angles etc. 

I'd like to try out the other renders for comparison, but Mecabricks rendering looks unavailable at the moment, and I prefer being able to work offline. 

Not quite sure if I'm properly motivated to give a new editor a try. How is Stud.io compared to LDD in terms of precision control when placing bricks? It always annoys me in LDD when pieces jumps all over the place, I'd like to be able to move a piece close to where it should be using the mouse and then adjust it stud-by-stud using the keyboard for example. Something like named groups and sub-groups would be great too.

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11 hours ago, LegoFjotten said:

Not quite sure if I'm properly motivated to give a new editor a try. How is Stud.io compared to LDD in terms of precision control when placing bricks?

It's second best after the LDD. It's certainly not there yet in terms of usability, but there's nothing better except the LDD IMHO. It's mainly the mouse panning/zooming that's not as fast as in the LDD, and I believe that moving around the model is what we do the most, in these editors.

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In my opinion Mecabricks in-house render farm gives the most realistic results and only requires minimal knowledge of 3D rendering. It is also very fast compared to other methods. I used Mecabricks to create the images for my Lego Ideas project, The Old Workhorse - Traction Engine.

Here is a comparison of how the model looks using 2 different render methods. The first one is rendered using Bluerender and the second one is Mecabricks.

29734135107_9962965272_z.jpgTraction Engine Rendered with Bluerender by Bricked1980, on Flickr

41186846110_82d77d0ae1_z.jpgLego Traction Engine 1 - Lego Ideas by Bricked1980, on Flickr

The Bluerender version is not too bad but the gold coloured pieces look very unrealistic compared to Mecabricks. Notice the wheels and other rounded parts look very blocky as well on the Bluerender version. 

I do like Bluerender as it gives decent, fast results and is very simple to use. Mecabricks is the winner in my opinion though.

 

 

 

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Mecabricks can import LDD and Ldraw/stud.io models if you wish to try rendering something you already built somewhere else. I based all my work on Blender to make it accessible to most people as this is a free software. Cycles is a beautiful and modern raytracer - Next Gen on Netflix has been made with Blender and rendered with Cycles. Eyesight from stud.io 2 is actually also using Cycles under the hood.

Just a simple example here that I made today after modeling new elements for this set (using exclusively the online rendering tool which is also based on Cycles and Blender compositor):

jRPk7b.jpg

 

I also recently added an option to subdivide selected meshes. It allows to smooth rounded parts. It doesn’t work for all elements but it can be really useful.

 

Edited by Scrubs

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1 hour ago, Scrubs said:

Just a simple example here that I made today after modeling new elements for this set (using exclusively the online rendering tool which is also based on Cycles and Blender compositor):

That Bugatti render is breathtaking - ridiculously good! :classic:

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3 hours ago, Scrubs said:

Mecabricks can import LDD and Ldraw/stud.io models if you wish to try rendering something you already built somewhere else.

So the Mecabricks render function is operational at the moment? I've tried for the last couple of days to import my model and render it, import is fine, but render button is grayed out.

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It has been closed for a few hours this week as I have been installing new hardware. Otherwise it is always up. If you see a green dot in the top right corner, service is open. Make sure you have verified your account too as this is required.

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