Create photorealistically-rendered images of your 3D models with Kerkythea

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Kerkythea is a free multiplatform standalone rendering software that can be used to create photorealistic image renderings using physically accurate materials and lighting when integrated with Blender, SketchUp, Wings3D, 3ds Max, Silo and any program that exports files in OBJ and 3DS formats.

A few months ago I reviewed SketchUp from Google, a great, easy to learn, yet powerful modeling program, and although Kerkythea can be used with most 3D modeling programs for the purposes of this interview I will write about using it with SketchUp.

SketchUp allows you to you make great models in nice graphic formats, but it stops short when it comes to photo-realistically rendered finished images: you cannot show reflections or shiny surfaces using SketchUp only, or, say, highlight an area with a spot-light to create a theatrical feeling.

The good news is that now on you can, with the powerful and free Kerkythea Rendering System that adds all that is missing from SketchUp.

Here are more notes on Kerkythea:

  • How it works: install into your SketchUp plugin folder. It will add new functions (e.g. many lights which you can use in the SketchUp components) that will become active once you export the model to Kerkythea. You can also open the files you have created with SketchUp straight into Kerkythea (the files will employ an XML internal format).
  • The user interface: is quite good and allows you to manipulate the lights, textures, and views. It will import the camera angles from SketchUp and in a few minutes of tweaking you can WWII plane renderingpress the render button and you will have your self an image that looks this (see screenshot to the right). Make sure you start with a 200×200 DPI test renders. The large files take a lot of time to finish.
  • The materials: there is an impressive range of supported materials (too numerous to list here).
  • The Kerkythea site: is great, and always growing. You can download all sorts of models and materials libraries and other resources.

Wish list:

  • The ability to move objects easier and do small edits in the Kerkythya system itself.
  • I wish the interface can keep toolbars on the side or take advantage of the right-clicking the mouse button for quick commands.
  • Faster rendering would be great ;)

The verdict: a great program that provides seamless integration with SketchUp. You don’t have to buy a few thousand dollars worth of software to produce great quality artistic renderings of

Quick Kerkythea rendered image

your models; Kerkythya delivers and is absolutely free.

Check out a video demo of Kerkythya renderings below:

[Note: this review was written by Khader Humeid of Metaform Studios in New York].

Version Tested: 2008 Echo Edition v.2.0.5

Compatibility: Windows, Linux, Mac.

Go to the Kerkythea program page to download the latest version (approx 3 megs).