While there are many rendering methods in Cinema 4D, there are four main third-party render engines that you need to know about, if you are working on a 3D configurator project: Arnold, Octane, Redshift and Cycles. In a series of articles, we’ll take a closer look at the four different tools and discuss why you might prefer one or the other for rendering in Cinema 4D.

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In this article we introduce you to the Arnold Render Engine from Solid Angle. This article should give you a good overview if you’ve never heard of Arnold or if you’re curious about using it in Cinema 4D.

A solid background.

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The following is a brief timeline to help you understand the most important events about Solid Angle and the Arnold render engine:

  • Solid Angle was founded in 1997 by Marcos Fajardo.
  • Arnold was born in 1998.
  • The first license was sold in 2001.
  • Sony Pictures Imageworks has adopted Arnold as its main render engine.
  • In 2006, Monster House, which Arnold used, was nominated for an Academy Award and has since been used for many other major motion pictures.
  • Solid Angle Autodesk joined in 2016.
  • In 2017, the Academy Awards honored Arnold with a Scientific and Engineering Award.

So what’s the Arnold renderer?

Solid Angle’s website states, “Arnold is an advanced Monte Carlo raytracing renderer designed to meet the needs of animation and visual effects.

In summary, Arnold is an unbiased CPU render engine that uses a technique, Monte Carlo, for rendering.

This means that Arnold is proud to receive photorealistic renderings that go far beyond what you can get from the standard and physical renderings in Cinema 4D. This leads us very well to the question of why you should consider Arnold in the future.

Why should you be interested in Arnold?

The purpose of this article is not a comparison. We will do that shortly. These are just the facts so that you can make an informed decision in your career.

Solid is in the name of Solid Angle for good reason.

Arnold is extremely solid. You can throw gigantic scene files at it and be confident that you have to worry about Arnold crashing and not being able to handle the scene. Why else would it be so widely used in VFX and movies?

Arnold looks beautiful.

Arnold has a quality that can bring images as close to photorealistic as possible. Part of this is that Arnold is an unbiased render engine. That is, it tries to imitate the real world as closely as possible without making shortcuts. It also has to do with the algorithms it uses behind the scenes to calculate its images.

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Increase your workflow speed with the IPR (Interactive Preview Region).

This is not something only Arnold can do, but it is a great advantage when using third-party rendering software. An interactive preview area is a window that shows you what your rendered scene looks like in real time. You no longer have to press Ctrl/Cmd-R and wait 10 minutes to see if your scene is fine with the new lighting configuration. If you update your scene, the IPR updates itself almost simultaneously and exponentially increases your workflow.

You can use Arnold anywhere.

Arnold is almost everywhere. If Cinema 4D isn’t the only 3D application you use, it’s likely that Solid Angle has released a plugin for everything else you use. Currently, Arnold has plugins for Cinema 4D, Maya, 3ds Max, Houdini, Kartana and Softimage. Solid Angle also doesn’t charge you for using additional plugins. You can easily switch between 3D applications without spending more money.

Arnold’s workflow translates Wells into other engines.

Learning Arnold is a great way to create a foundation that can be transferred to other render engines. Arnold’s shader and materials system uses a common technology and node-based workflow found in other render engines. If you’re on a team that uses Arnold and moves to another shop that uses Redshift, you’ll find many similarities. It’s like learning to drive in a Toyota and then driving in a Ford. There are differences, but it is basically all the same.

Arnold is CPU based.

Arnold is a third-party CPU render engine, which means it works on both Windows and Mac. You can now download it to any workstation. If you’re a hardcore Mac user, that’s a really big deal. We’ve read so many threads about Mac users switching to Windows that they can switch to using GPU-based render engines. They don’t necessarily have to upgrade their hardware to use Arnold. This is a big advantage of the CPU over the GPU.

There is a lot of support for the render farm.

Since Arnold has been available since the late 90s, it has a large fan base. This means that you can easily find a render farm that supports Arnold. If you have a really big job and your scene needs 15 minutes per image to produce it, send it to a service like PixelPlow and get it back the same day. There are a few render farms that support GPU render engines, but it’s not like CPU and Arnold support.

Why shouldn’t I consider using Arnold?

Cinema 4D and other 3D applications cost a lot of money. In addition, adding something else is not always feasible or desirable. Especially as a freelancer.

You’ll need some training. It is not a one-to-one correlation to the standard and physical materials in Cinema 4D. If you’re a beginner, or if you’re not used to what Cinema 4D is ready to go, you probably aren’t ready to move to a third-party engine.

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After all, Arnold is a CPU engine at this point, if everything is moving in the direction of GPUs. We’ve said that this is an advantage, but it’s also an obstacle. It won’t be as fast rendering locally and you have to take advantage of rendering farms.

That should have been the Arnold Render Engine first. If you have any comments or questions about Arnold, please feel free to contact our experts in our forum.