Choosing the right render engine is a critical decision regarding rendering in Blender. Blender has two powerful render engines – Eevee and Cycles. Both of them have their own strengths and weaknesses. This article will closely examine both of these engines to figure out the areas where each one performs best.

Understanding the Basics

For a basic understanding, we can look at Eevee as a real-time render engine and Cycles as a ray-tracing render engine that requires longer processing time.

Eevee is designed for its speed and interactivity. It utilizes rasterization similar to game engines and is used mostly for previews, animations, and quick renders.

Whereas Cycles emphasizes photorealism and accurate lighting. It utilizes path tracing to simulate real-world lighting. It is mostly used for high-quality still images as well as realistic animations.

Eevee: The Real-time Powerhouse

Now that we understand the basics of the Eevee engine let's look into some of its pros and cons.

Pros

Speed

Compared to Cycles, Eevee is exceptionally fast, which allows real-time feedback. It is perfect for artists who need quick previews during their modelling and rendering process. Making changes to the materials, lighting, and even camera angles are all super quick with Eevee.

Interactivity

With Eevee, the changes made to the scene are instant. This makes the rendering process much more interactive since we can see the changes made to the scene as we make the changes.

Toon Shading

Toon shading is a cartoonish style of rendering, which is only possible with Eevee. Since Eevee is great at creating non-photorealistic styles, it is ideal for rendering cartoonish and illustrative animation.

Gaming and Animation

Real-time rendering is crucial for game development. Since Eevee already uses rasterization, which game engines do, Eevee is a good match for the game development industry.

Cons

Realism Limitations

Since Eevee creates cartoonish and non-photorealistic renders, it doesn't even come close to achieving the photo realism that Cycles can get.

Limited Ray Tracing

Eevee doesn't have the advanced ray tracing that Cycles has. For scenes with complex light interactions or complex global illuminations are where Eevee doesn't perform well.

Eevee is best used in the Gaming and Animation industry and in Graphic Design and illustration.

Cycles: The Photorealism Champion

Eevee is faster and better at non-photorealism, so Cycles is the better option for realistic renders. Let's take a closer look at what the Cycles' engine offers and how it is used.

Pros

Photorealism

The one true calling of the Cycles render engine is to produce highly realistic images with accurate lighting, shadows, and even reflections. Which makes it the perfect choice for architectural visualization and product rendering.

Global Illumination

Cycles engine works great with global illumination and even complex lighting scenes, which creates lifelike lighting and shadows.

Ray Tracing

At ray tracing, it outperforms Eevee significantly. It has advanced ray tracing capabilities, which creates realistic renders of reflections and refractions.

Materials

The materials in cycles are almost too realistic. It's great for creating renders with realistic surfaces.

Cons

Slower Rendering

Since Cycles uses ray-tracing to create those super realistic renders, it consumes more time and computing power. So, it can't really be used for quick previews or animations.

Interactive Limitations

Since cycles take much longer to render one image frame, it cannot match Eevee's real-time interactivity. Which makes it difficult to use during the iterative design process.

Cycles is great for creating photorealistic renders of buildings and interior spaces to show how a 3D design or mockup will look in real life. It is also great to showcase products still in the development phase or see how an idea transforms realistically.

Choosing the Right Engine

It all boils down to what you are trying to achieve with your project. If it is photorealism and rendering time isn't a constraint, then Cycles will be a great choice. But for quick renders, previews, and animation tests, Eevee is the best option.

Why Eevee?

    • For quick previews, interactive modelling, and animation projects.
    • If you're aiming for a stylized or non-photorealistic look.
    • When speed and real-time feedback are crucial.

Why Cycles?

    • For high-quality, photorealistic still images and architectural visualization.
    • When you need precise global illumination and ray-tracing effects.
    • For projects where rendering time is less critical, you can afford longer render times for exceptional results.

I prefer to use Eevee for my modelling, texturing, and rendering process since I prefer a more stylized render in the end. However, most Blender users prefer to use Eevee during the modelling process and to set up the rendered scene. Then, switch to Cycles for the final render, making the best use of both engines.

Which one do you prefer? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Catch you in the next one!