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Render plug-in information for Rhino V4.x

Summary: Render engine database
This page needs to be updated for Rhino 5

Rendering is the process of creating photorealistic two dimensional images from three dimensional models. This is a very broad definition, but the field is such an extensive one that it would be hard to narrow it down. Rendering typically comes in several flavours that might blend together at the edges, some rendering software only implements a very simple rendering, others intriduce features such as animation and phsyics-based simulation.

There is a lot of information available on all of the render software, usually through sites maintained by the companies that develop them, but also through user-controlled domains. This page does not aim to make a comparison, it simply lists the available products and provides links for those who want to know more.

Rendering Software

The following is a list of rendering software and plugins that are available for Rhino v4.x.

Name Developer Price Special features
BrazilSplutterfish + McNeelBetaVery flexible (non)photorealism
FlamingoMcNeel$495Ease of use, plant generator, HDRI support, RPCs
Flamingo nXtMcNeel$249New core technology is in early development
Fry Renderfryrender795€–$1082Photometric simulation
Indigo RenderNicholas ChapmanFreePhotometric simulation
KeyShotLuxion$995-$2495Realtime ray tracing, global illumination, HDR Editor for 3D rendering and animation
Maxwell Render, the light simulatorNext Limit Technologies$995Photometric simulation (uber-realism), Multilight
PENGUINMcNeel$195Non-photorealistic (cartoon & sketch), vector output, very fast. Real time NPR in Penguin 2.0
RhinoAir + Air/TweakAir/BakeAirSiTex Graphics $375-$750Photorealism and illustration; interactive shading & lighting; texture baking
Rhino GLSL ViewportMcNeelIn 5.0In development. Real time display with shadows, etc.
RHINOMANBrian PerryFreeRenderMan user interface, must be used with a RenderMan compatible renderer below
Rhino RendererMcNeelIncludedExtreme ease of use
Rhino ViewportMcNeelIncludedReal time display
ToucanMcNeelAlphaCore technology for the Rhino Renderer
VRayChaos group + ASGvis$799Flexible and fast photorealism
VSR Realtime RendererVirtual Shape Research$745Real-time renderer which is totally embedded into the 3D-graphics of Rhinoceros®, allowing the user to switch from the modeling mode to a photo-realistic environment at any time.

Render engines that run through RHINOMAN

AirSitex Graphics$375High-end engine, very complete feature list
3DelightThe 3Delight TeamFreeComplete feature list, new release available recently
AqsisOpen sourceFreeOpen source and still in development, no raytracing support
Photorealistic RendermanPixar$3500High-end, used in motion picture industry
Render Dot CDot C Software$595High-end, used motion picture industry, no raytracing support
PixieOpen sourceFreeOpen source and still in development, somewhat unstable, but has raytracing

RhinoMan is a frontend for all RenderMan compliant render engines.

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Brazil is one of the worlds best render platforms and it is used extensively in high-end professional environments. The product itself is developed by Splutterfish and originally Brazil was strictly a 3D Studio Max product. With the release of Brazil 2.0 a Rhino implementation will be available as well. The feature list of Brazil is impressive, and so is the user-base. Many professional companies use Brazil both to render stills and animations, photorealistic content and conceptual graphics. The frontend for Brazil in Rhino is developed by McNeel to ensure seamless integration. Brazil for Rhino is currently still in WIP (work-in-progress) phase, but all Rhino users can download a free beta copy.


  • Full global illumination support
  • Physical simulation of light and materials
  • Non-photorealistic shaders for toon and schematic effects
  • Over and undersampling
  • Intuitive material hierarchies
  • In fact, many more can be found here

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Flamingo (and Accurender for AUTOCAD ) is an older engine developed by McNeel¹ which has been around for a long time and thus has acuired for itself a large user base. Flamingo adds many features to the native renderer such as decals (a specific type of texture mapping), more advanced materials, large material libraries and also a plant generator.

Accurender is mostly used by architects, but Flamingo (perhaps due to lack of competition) supports a much wider range of users including jewelers, marine design and car design.

Flamingo and Accurender core libraries were (and still are) written by Roy Hirshkowitz.

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KeyShot is an application built on Luxion's internally-developed rendering engine. KeyShot is the first realtime ray tracing and global illumination program for 3D rendering and animation that uses a physically correct rendering engine certified by the CIE (International Commission on Illumination).


  • Realtime Ray tracing
  • Instant real world lighting
  • 700+ scientifically accurate materials
  • 64-bit architecture, Apple and PC
  • 100% CPU based
  • Interactive labeling
  • Realtime animation
  • Realtime HDRI Editor
  • Advanced bump, color and opacity maps
  • Render Queue
  • Network Rendering
  • Largest file format support, over 20 3D file formats
  • 3D Mouse Support
  • Direct import of Rhino models, Rhino import plugin

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(Rhino/TechGems/Maxwell/HDRi lightning)

Maxwell Render™ is a new render engine based on the physics of real light. Its algorithms and equations reproduce the behavior of light in a completely accurate way.

All of the elements in Maxwell, such as light sets, physical materials and cameras, are entirely based on physically accurate models. So, Maxwell support emitter materials, but not native Rhino lights. For example, if a spot light is needed, then a model of a spot with emitter and reflector must be created. The natural vignetting of the physical camera (like a pinhole camera) can not be enabled. Lens distortion effects are not supported.

Maxwell Render™ can fully capture all light interactions between all elements in a scene no matter how complex they are.

All parameters in Maxwell use real-world units. You don’t need to learn strange concepts, set a long list of uncertain parameters or “launch photons” anymore. With Maxwell, just pick a 100-watt incandescent lamp or a marble material from the material gallery, and that’s all. Render times are dependent from the amount of indirect light. So interior renderings need much more time (several hours) than exterior or studio setups.

Multilight feature : For the first time in the industry, it is possible to have unlimited variations of lighting from just one render.


  • Complete Maxwell Render Scene creation, management, and rendering without ever leaving the RhinoCeros environment.
  • Support for the built-in Rhino Animation Tools.
  • Modeless operation, full-function integrated Maxwell material editor, implementation of an Interactive Color Temperature picker, enable/disable all textures, Material delete/ undelete, pack and go and more.
  • Maxwell Material and MXM browsers with fully resizable Material thumbnails, drag-and-drop functionality and more.

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Penguin brings freehand sketching, watercolor painting and cartoon-like rendering to Rhino and AutoCAD.

Penguin is a conceptual, sketch and cartoon, non-photometric scan line renderer for creating stylized images of your models.

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Illustration by Clement Greiner combining ambient occlusion with subtle outlines for a stylized look.

RhinoAir is a new plugin for rendering with SiTex Graphics Air renderer from within Rhino 4. The new RhinoAir plugin allows new users to quickly start rendering using familiar Rhino materials and lights, while also providing easy access to Air’s advanced features.

When used with TweakAir, the RhinoAir plugin provides full scene interactive shading and lighting. View the effects of material and lighting changes as you make them.

With BakeAir RhinoAir allows shading and lighting to be rendered or “baked” to texture maps for use with realtime rendering.


  • Native NURB surface rendering (no meshing in Rhino required)
  • Interactive Preview Rendering (IPR) with TweakAir
  • Texture baking with BakeAir
  • Custom programmable shaders (Air comes with more than 50 ready-to-use shaders)
  • Global illumination including ambient occlusion
  • Support for all Rhino lights including linear and rectangle area lights
  • Outlines for illustration
  • True sub-pixel, micro-polygon render-time Displacement
  • Bongo animation and integrated view animation
  • DarkTree procedural shaders (
  • Depth of field
  • Subsurface scattering (SSS)
  • Smooth curves, dimensions and text as true 3D entities
  • Subdivision surfaces, blobbies, and volume primitives
  • Easy decal placement
  • Export of displaced meshes for rapid prototyping
  • Distributed rendering of single images over multiple machines
  • Multiple output values from a single rendering
  • Background rendering as a separate process from Rhino
  • Multiprocessor support
  • Render queue for unattended rendering of multiple jobs

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Rendering by Clement Greiner. Features depth of field and Displacement mapped threads (the screw threads were not modeled).

RhinoMan is a Rhino rendering plug-in that provides a graphical user interface for several RenderMan compliant rendering applications. You can render directly from Rhino without exporting to another application. RenderMan is a modeler-renderer communication standard developed by Pixar which renderer developers can use. Pixar sells its own RenderMan compliant rendering application called “Photorealistic Renderman” (PrMan for short) and is the application used to generate all of Pixars' animated films. PrMan is also used heavily in the movie industry by many different special effects houses.

There are several RenderMan compliant rendering applications developed by different vendors, some are free and some are not and all have different capabilities.


  • Full global illumination support including: Monte Carlo Irradiance, ambient occlusion, and raytraced caustics (when used with AIR, PrMan, 3Delight)
  • Programmable shading language
  • Background rendering (work while rendering finishes in background)
  • Multiprocessor rendering support
  • True displacement, bump mapping, and volumetric rendering
  • Toon and hidden-line rendering support
  • Depth of Field
  • Renders NURBs surfaces, curves, points, meshes, or Rhino render meshes.

The Rhino 3 version has been available for a couple years and the Rhino 4 version will be available soon.

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Rhino Renderer


Every version of Rhino ships with a native render engine which is available to all users. Rhino 3.0 was shipped with a stripped down version of Flamingo 1.1 and Rhino 4.0 has an all new Toucan-based engine. It supports all aspects of the native Rhino material (textures, emapping, bump, highlights etc.) and it is capable of high anti-aliasing and shadows.

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Rhino Viewport (Real-time display)


Rhino is a 3-D modeler and it thus has to display its geometry on the screen. According to the definition at the top of this page that qualifies the viewports as a render-platform. The rendering in this case is a real-time process. The viewport pipeline in Rhino supports standard 3D working modes such as wireframe, shaded and analytical modes.

The real-time renderer is under continuous development and proposed features for Rhino 4 include vertex and pixel shaders, real time shadows and bump mapping.

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“Toucan” is the code-name for an in-house render engine which has been in development at McNeel since the beginning of the Rhino 4.0 project. It is currently incomplete and no decision has been made about when or how it will be released to the public. The full Toucan plug-in will many more features typically found in high-end render engines such as caustics, depth-of-field, refraction, reflection, dispersion, occlusion and more. Although Toucan is still under development, a test page with images made with an early internal alpha version is available here.

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Fully integrated modern render engine. Plugin is tested and improved for daily use. Released since summer 2006. Demo available.


  • Full global illumination support based on various methods
  • Material editor with unlimited layers
  • HDRI environments, textured emitter, HDRI render output, tone mapping
  • Rhino lights supported
  • different camera modes (spherical, 360° panorama, cylindrical, box, fish eye)
  • ready for animation per Bongo or Rhino script
  • enhanced Depth of Field with camera effects like Bokeh
  • transparency mapping (good for Billboard and low poly trees), Decals
  • SSS
  • Caustic
  • anisotropic reflections (brush metal effect)
  • physical sky and physical camera
  • very fast render engine
  • rendering of highres renderings
  • multi core support and distributed rendering
  • full integrated in Rhino3D

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it/rhino/renderpluginlist.txt · Last modified: 2015/09/14 (external edit)