Don’t let your budget limit your creativity and design. Today, I’ll highlight 7+ of the best rendering software that are feature-rich and easy to use.
The popularity of two- and three-dimensional images is skyrocketing, especially for architecture, video games, movies, etc. When I needed these for my business, I scoured the web to find cost-effective yet reliable rendering software.
Let me save you from endless search with this article so you too can take advantage of their benefits for product design visualization.
- What Is The Best Rendering Software?
- 1. Blender – Top Pick
- 2. Vectary – Best Value For Money
- 3. Clara.io- Web-Based Renderer
- 4. Coohom – Best For Interior Design Projects
- 5. D5 Render – Best For Windows OS
- 6. LuxCoreRender – Supports Multiple Camera Settings
- 7. appleseed – Best For Animation & Visual Effects
- 8. Wings 3D – Feature Context-Sensitive Interface
What Is The Best Rendering Software?
If you’re in a hurry, check out my top 3 picks: Blender, Vectary, and Clara.io.
|Best overall. Open source industry-standard rendering platform. Available for free.||Best value for money. Content creation software 3D Designers. Free version available.||Most accessible. Web-based rendering platform with intuitive features. Available for free.|
|Try Blender||Try Vectary||Try Clara.io|
Let’s get this review rolling. Here is the full review of each rendering platform available for you to choose.
1. Blender – Top Pick
3D Creation Suite Best For Hobbyists, Enthusiasts, and Professionals [Free]
If you research for the best free rendering software, Blender constantly pops up. This isn’t surprising because its feature-rich platform is made for creative individuals.
Artists, hobbyists, professionals, and even business owners can take advantage of its open-source platform.
You can customize its editor’s interface appearance and layout to fit your work and design needs. You can also expand its functionalities with add-ons or create your own tools.
By default, the Blender interface supports high resolution/retina screens and OpenGL viewport.
Here are the features you can use inside its editor:
- Cycles Render Engine: This is a path-tracer engine that allows you to render objects or scenes using your CPU or GPU. It also supports PBR shaders, HDR lighting, and VR rendering.
- Modeling, Sculpt, UV: This one includes all modeling tools you may need like advanced sculpting tools, textured brushes (3D painting), and more. You can also use Python scripting to create custom tools and add-ons.
- VFX: This lets you import raw footage and use VFX tools to help you reconstruct the camera movements with real-time preview.
- Animation And Rigging: As for this one, it’s recommended for anyone creating films. It includes tools like skinning (envelope, skeleton, and automatic), custom bone shapes, curve editor, etc.
- Story Art: This allows you to transform 2D models into 3D or combine them into scenes. It includes support for the viewport, Onion Skinning, sculpting brush strokes, and more.
Pros And Cons Of Blender
|Runs on all major operating systems with no complex installation required.||Not suitable for total beginners|
|Use it anywhere with no internet connection needed.||No digital sculpting tools available for VR|
|Portable software (use via USB drive)||First-time users can find it overwhelming|
|Excellent customer support through its online community and online documentation and tutorials|
Blender Pricing Plan
Blender is 100% free. Download the version that’s compatible with your device to get started.
2. Vectary – Best Value For Money
3D Content Creation Software With Photorealistic Rendering For Advanced Users [Free Plan | $12/mo]
Vectary may be explicitly advertised for 3D designers, but it’s also a good choice for any experienced user. It’s suited for those who are looking for a reliable design platform that provides an interactive experience for their realistic objects/scenes.
That’s right. I only recommend it for advanced users and anyone with good knowledge of rendering.
Since the platform is built to meet the skill levels of 3D designers, a novice can find it overwhelming.
If you’re an enthusiast, it has a built-in learning center where you can learn the ins and outs of the software.
As for its first notable feature, allow me to highlight Vectary Studio.
Simplicity is the main advantage of this 3D editor, which is intended for ease of use.
The 3D editor is divided into four main sections:
- Top Section: This part contains the main and navigation menu bar. You can also change the name of the project by simply tapping the Project Name.
- Left Section: This one displays all the objects you’ll add to the canvas.
- Center Section: This section is dedicated to the canvas.
- Right Section: This will show all the property settings of each object.
It features an auto-save function to prevent data loss.
Getting started is also made simpler. It provides you an option to start from scratch or choose from any of its available pre-rendered templates and 3D models.
If you choose the latter, you can go to the library section and then drag and drop your desired pre-rendered 3D objects and materials.
All these are highly customizable to meet your exact design needs.
You can also invite your entire team directly from your dashboard. To do this, simply create a folder (you can name it per task or design function) and invite the team member you want to assign it to.
In one simple click, your 2D designs are transformed into 3D through its new renderer called Vectary Photon. This is powered by Luxcore API, so rest assured it’s accurate.
You can access this photorealistic rendering inside your 3D editor.
To complete the real-life experience, you can create or transform objects into Augmented Reality content. Unfortunately, the rendering software only allows you to use WebAR for preview.
Pros And Cons Of Vectary
|Creates 3D content using pre-rendered templates or from scratch||3D export only supports OBJ and STL files|
|Easy to use and intuitive interface||Accessible anywhere with a stable internet connection|
|Invite a team member for collaboration via email|
|Allows you to embed finished objects into your websites|
Vectary Pricing Plan
Unlike Clara.io, Vectary offers paid plans.
The features I’ve discussed above are the ones included in the free version. You can also create up to 25 projects.
If you want to manage unlimited projects with additional advanced features, you can choose from its two paid subscription plans:
- Premium ($12/editor/month): This includes collaboration features like project and team sharing. Use WebAR viewer for web embeds and AR optimization (Android and iOS).
- Enterprise (Custom pricing): This one is ideal for agencies and companies that need custom solutions and additional control.
You may contact the sales team to learn more about this product.
3. Clara.io- Web-Based Renderer
Cloud-Based 3D Software With V-Ray Rendering [Free]
Designers aim to create objects as realistic as possible. This is where this rendering software excels.
Exocortex Technologies equipped the platform with powerful rendering tools and an advanced V-Ray material library. Together, they can help you generate hyper-realistic renders, both simple and complex.
Currently, Clara.io supports the following V-Ray materials:
- V-Ray Standard: It contains elements that can help you create a physically accurate shader.
- SSS2 Complex: This provides three main layers to create translucent materials (diffuse, subsurface scattering, and specular).
- Car Paint: As the name implies, this enables four different layers for shaders to create realistic metallic car paint (diffuse, glossy, metallic flakes, and clear coat).
- Vismat Material Library: It has elements to provide texture to images like diffuse color, specular maps, bump maps, and transparency maps. You can also import your own.
All V-Ray materials available are securely stored in the cloud for quick access.
When it comes to its platform, Clara.io boasts a modern interface with a drag-and-drop function for ease of use.
It also supports more than 30 common 3D file formats and various computer applications like Collada, OBJ, Blender, and more (for import and export).
Therefore, no matter where you create it, you can complete the process on this rendering software.
The best part of Clara.io is the rendering process doesn’t rely on your local machine’s hardware. Since the platform is cloud-based, all the processing happens on Exocortex Technologies servers.
If, at some point, the performance still slows down, you can optimize your scene. There are numerous methods on how you can do it, and here are a few of them:
- Operator Stack Collapse: This is ideal for optimizing a complex PolyMesh model.
- Proxy BinMesh: If the above method doesn’t work, you can convert your complex PolyMesh model into Proxy BinMeshes instead.
- MeshSmooth Preview: This one is suited for viewing the end result of your mesh.
Another significant aspect of Clara.io is it provides multiple options to share your finished scenes.
You can share scenes via email. Simply go to File > Share and copy the generated link. Paste the link in your email message and send it to your team or partner.
You can also embed the scene into your website by injecting the HTML code.
Pros And Cons Of Clara.io
|No required download and complicated configuration||Ability to create application shortcuts depends on the browser used|
|Creates objects from scratch or import your own||Requires stable internet connection when using|
|Provides several SDKs to expand functionalities and create custom 3D viewers.|
|Collaboration tools included for multi-user editing (simultaneous)|
Clara.io Pricing Plan
Clara.io is 100% free. Create an account now and get started in creating the most realistic scenes or objects for your digital project.
4. Coohom – Best For Interior Design Projects
Cloud-Based Floor Planner & Rendering Software [Free]
Coohom is the recommended rendering software for interior designers.
It also features a cloud-based platform for optimal accessibility. Its interface has a clean and simple design, making it easy to use.
The entire interface is built with two functions: rendering and floor planner.
The rendering editor’s tools are well-organized for quick access. You can create your design from scratch, import your own design, or choose a template with a few clicks.
You can also access its library, which contains 100,000+ models (decor, furniture, lighting, etc.).
With Coohom, you can get a quick view of your models in 2D and 3D with one click.
The floor planner is built inside the rendering editor. And here, you can freely customize every part of your design.
Currently, Coohom supports 3DS Max and SketchUp models.
Therefore, you can upload any files from these computer programs to create your own library. If you don’t feel like it, you can simply access Coohom’s available model library.
To get the realistic quality of your scenes, you can use any of the following features:
- Lighting editor
- Color and texture editor
- Panoramic walk-throughs
- Mobile VR with a Google Cardboard
Once done, you can record a full 720 tour.
Pros And Cons Of Coohom
|Provides tons of tools for creating floor plans in 3D from scratch||Only supports SketchUp and 3ds Max in version 2020 and earlier versions (file size has a 200 MB limit)|
|Supports file formats for various computer programs like SketchUp, 3ds Max, and CAD||Requires stable internet connection to operate|
|Most recommended to use in Chrome (version 83 and higher) and supports Firefox and Safari browsers||No team collaboration tools/features included|
Coohom Pricing Plan
You can get started with Coohom by creating a free account or purchasing any of its subscription plans. In the free version, you can get the following features:
- Floor planner and rendering
- Create unlimited standard-quality renderings
- Access to its 20,000+ 3D models (free) and video training library
If you want to get more advanced design capabilities, you can purchase any of the following (all are billed annually):
- Pro ($25/month): This plan removes the Coohom logo, gives you 200 projects, 300 monthly 4k renderings, etc.
- Premium ($83.3/month): This one enables unlimited projects, 720 tours, 1,000 texture uploads, and many more.
- Team: This plan gives you access to sub-account management, full design capabilities, 1,000 rendering/month/account, and so much more.
You can contact the sales team to book a demo or request a custom pricing quote for the team subscription plan.
5. D5 Render – Best For Windows OS
Free Real-Time Rendering Software With Ray Tracing [Free | $38/mo]
Aside from Blender, D5 Render is another excellent rendering software that features real-time rendering, a prominent technique used to create an interactive experience.
It’s often used by professionals creating films, games, and other interactive graphics.
It can consistently deliver outstanding results because it uses RTX real-time ray tracing. This feature provides accurate lighting, shadows, and reflections in scenes.
D5 Render’s interface has an adaptive capability to refresh effects when the lighting condition is changed instantly.
World Space Denoiser (WSD) and Screen Space Denoiser (SSD) are also provided for full control of noise reduction. To complete the package, Dimension 5 Techs also added the following:
- Large scene capability
- FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR)
- Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS)
Everything you need to create a real-life scene, D5 Render can deliver.
If you want to create day or night, you can use its geo and sky feature to add real geographic information. For environmental effects like rain and fog, you can take advantage of its weather system.
When it comes to creating specific objects, the software is equipped with a PBR material library.
Currently, it supports 10 material categories, and these are:
- Grass (new)
- Custom Alpha – For hallow effects
- Displacement – Uses parallax mapping
- Emissive – For creating light-related sources
- Transparent – For making glass (clear, frosted, etc.)
- Water – To simulate bodies of water (different depths)
- Car paint – To craft textures and high-reflective coatings
On top of the PBR materials, you can also get access to its 3D Asset library. Here’s what’s included:
- Outdoor scene (new)
- Dynamic particle assets
- Animated 3D models (new)
- Modern furniture and decorations
Pros And Cons Of D5 Render
|Has image and video rendering||No available support for Mac and Linux operating systems|
|Offers an online asset library for quick access (contain 5,000+ models and 1,400+ PBR materials)||Requires higher graphic card specification|
|Supports abc, skp, 3dm, and fbx file formats|
|Enables various workflow plugins|
D5 Render Pricing Plan
D5 Render has free and paid plans. Whichever you choose, you will get to manage unlimited projects in your account and access all its features.
The only difference with the Pro subscription plan is that you’ll get additional access to its cloud-based assets library. It is available in monthly ($38/month) and annual ($360/year) billing periods.
Subscribe to your desired plan now to get started.
6. LuxCoreRender – Supports Multiple Camera Settings
Physically Based Rendering (PBR) Software [Free]
LuxCoreRender is built with a physically-based rendering engine to implement a realistic flow of light.
As standard, it’s equipped with a wide variety of material types. It ranges from generic to the most accurate representation of car paint, glass, and metals.
It also provides support for interactive and dynamic scene editing.
Since rendering requires excellent speed, LuxCoreRender is equipped with OpenCL and CUDA. Use any of these frameworks and ease your mind that your CPU or GPU will work with favorable performance.
Its developers understand that it needs more advanced features to capture real-life phenomena accurately.
For this reason, they’ve added various render algorithms. Here are a few of them, including the sample scenes it’s best to use:
- Path Tracing: This one is for basic scenes and exteriors.
- Light Tracing: This is best used for interiors and any scene/model that’s considered caustics.
- Bidirectional Path Tracing With Metropolis Sampling: This is utilized for complex lighting scenes.
It also added multiple camera settings to capture every angle of the scene/model. Currently, LuxCoreRender supports perspective, orthographic, and environment cameras.
Pros And Cons Of LuxCoreRender
|Provides support via the community forum, Discord, and online documentation||Limited app options for integrations (supports only 3DS Max)|
|Suitable for personal and commercial use||Latest version of API SDK (v2.5) doesn’t support Mac OS|
|Runs on major operating systems (Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux)|
|Offers a broad range of materials and textures (modifiable)|
LuxCoreRender Pricing Plan
LuxCoreRender is 100% free. Download the version that’s compatible with your device to get started.
7. appleseed – Best For Animation & Visual Effects
Physically-Based Rendering Software With A Built-In Cornell Box Scene [Free]
Like with LuxCoreRender, appleseed is pretty straightforward when it comes to its interface design.
While for its functionalities, all features and tools are focused on delivering top-notch animation and visual effects. They provide this by providing multiple rendering modes.
There are a total of eight rendering modes available on the platform:
- RGB rendering
- Interactive rendering
- Multi-pass rendering
- Progressive rendering
- Single-pass rendering
- Time-limited progressive rendering
- Scene editing during interactive rendering
- Spectral rendering (31 bands in 400-700 nm)
Non-photorealistic rendering is also provided to freely create models or scenes inspired by digital arts (cartoons, sketches, paintings, etc.).
Additionally, unidirectional path tracing was added to implement the most accurate flow of light.
It is also equipped with a global illumination algorithm called Stochastic Progressive Photon mapping. You can use this to implement complex light settings.
There’s a long list of advanced features inside LuxCoreRender, and all can support the entire rendering production.
Pros And Cons Of appleseed
|Offers eight different rendering modes||Latest version is still in the beta version|
|Works well on Windows, Linux, and macOS (64-bit)|
|Provides 1,500 built-in unit tests and 100+ performance tests|
|Includes plugins for 3ds Max, Maya, Blender, and Gaffer|
|Supports via Discord is responsive and updated|
appleseed Pricing Plan
appleseed won’t cost you anything to use. Get the latest version to begin using this rendering software.
8. Wings 3D – Feature Context-Sensitive Interface
Advanced Subdivision Modelling Software With Automatic UV Mapping Facility [Free]
Wings 3D is a subdivision modeler by inception. Most designers connect it to their preferred rendering and animation software to achieve the desired results.
But for anyone with simple rendering needs, this free rendering software can do the job right.
Since the platform is open-source, you can customize the interface to fit your needs. It’s also designed context-sensitive to understand your needs at work better.
It also features basic OpenGL rendering facilities, modeling tools, and a wide range of:
- UV mapper
- Vertex colors
It also features a built-in AutoUV mapping facility to help you achieve the surface of your scene or model. This is often used for painting and texturing.
To ensure you’ll achieve the look and feel of your design, Wings 3D is completed with the following tools:
- Navigation tools
- Smooth preview
- Tweak and sculpt
- Magnets and magnet masking
- Edge loop and edge ring selection
- Virtual Mirror – Used for symmetrical modeling
- Standard tools – Enables bevel, bridge, cut, extrude, move, scale, rotate, and weld
- Advanced tools – Lets you create bend, cut, circularise, intersect, sweep, shear, plane, and inset
Pros And Cons Of Wings 3D
|Built with multi-language and customizable interface (support 15 languages)||No available tools or features for animation|
|Runs well on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux Ubuntu, and other Unix-based platforms||Only features basic OpenGL rendering facilities|
|Provides standard and advanced tools for mesh modeling and selection tools|
Wings 3D Pricing Plan
Wings 3D is totally free of cost. Visit their website to begin using this top-tier software.
Rendering software is an indispensable and cost-effective solution for creatives to bring their designs to life. I have to pick Blender as the best option out of all the ones that I’ve listed.
It is a platform that continuously drives to improve its existing features, and it also has an amazing library of assets available from integrations with Quixel Megascans as an example. Blender is a perfect tool for those looking to get into rendering, modeling, and animations. It’s a great basket for both hobbyists and professionals to train and unleash their full creativity and potential.
If you’re looking to get started with your dreams of being a professional animator, artist, rigger, or even VFX specialist – Blender gives you the chance to do that all for free.
Do you have any favorite free rendering software? Share it with us through the comment section.