The Cycles Encyclopedia

by BlenderDiplom in Training

With The Cycles render engine you have more than 77 material nodes at your disposal. Who could possibly remember them all? Well, you can, with the help of this book.

The Cycles Encyclopedia is an in-depth book covering all nodes and settings of the Cycles render engine. It's a professional documentation project by the Blender experts Frederik Steinmetz & Gottfried Hofmann, both Blender Foundation Certified Trainers.

  • Detailed explanation of every node and setting in Cycles
  • Graphics and drawings explaining how the nodes work internally
  • Pre-rendered comparisons of node settings
  • Bonus chapters on render performance, camera settings and Python snippets to use with Cycles
  • Find out how a path tracer works internally and how use that knowledge to your advantage
  • eBook in PDF format (319 pages A4)
  • More than 300 figures and images
  • Available in both English and German
  • Blender version: 2.79b
  • Lifetime free updates - subscribe to our newsletter to get notified of each update.
  • Current version of The Cycles Encyclopedia: 1.5

Blender users about The Cycles Encyclopedia:

This book has been the result of an effort to bring Cycles material nodes closer to the Blender audience, and it is the best one hands down- Spyros Mintzas, Blendernation

Very cool repository. It saved me hours of time in understanding cycles. And the best: updates for free! - Tobias Günther, elaspix

"The Cycles Encyclopedia" by Gottfriend Hofmann and Frederik Steinmetz is your definitive atlas for all things Cycles-related. Very handy and well-tought-out reference! - Reynante Martinez

If you want to know what any given Cycles node does (including input and output) without wading through a heap of tutorials, this is absolutely the resource you've been looking for. Bought a copy of this at BConf 2014 within minutes of it being announced and haven't been disappointed. Top work Gottfried Hofmann and Frederik Steinmetz! - S J Bennet

Excellent eBook, if you use Blender Cycles you probably need this book. - Terry Wallwork, Adventures in Blender

This encyclopedia will prove a very useful tool for me in the future and will save a lot of time. I would say that it will do the same for you too if you are a beginner, an experienced user or seasoned 3d user who wants to get into Blender and master the Cycles renderer. - James Abell

To get a an overview of how changing a setting in Cycles will alter the look of a shader the book includes several comparison sheets, at least one per shader. Here an example for the glass shader:


To help you understand how Cycles shaders work internally The Cycles Encyclopedia has drawings included to visualize what is going on behind the scenes, here an example for the ambient occlusion shader:

ambient occlusion shader in Cycles 
Ambient occlusion is computed by shooting rays of a defined length in a hemisphere from the sampling point. Rays that hit geometry result in a darker shading.

The Cycles Encyclopedia also includes many hints and tips on how to use shaders and other Cycles features. The ambient occlusion distance for example should be about half of the ceiling height for interiors for perfect results:

cylces ambient occlusion distance 
Ambient Occlusion (AO) is great for clay renderings. Using the material override option for render layers, an entire scene can be rendered just with AO. For interiors, using a value of half the ceiling height results in perfectly smooth gradients along the walls and all objects (left). When the AO distance is set too low, large parts of the image will be bleached out with no depth (right).


But also the more technical aspects of Cycles are explained using drawings, like the feature sample all direct in branched path tracing:

samle all direct branched path tracing cycles 
Branched path tracing with sample all direct. For the first bounce (#0), shadow rays are cast towards all light sources in the scene. For subsequent bounces, one random light source is chosen (#1, #2).


The Cycles Encyclopedia works on three levels:

  1. A place to look up all you need to know about every node and setting in Cycles.
  2. A reference sheet for the look of shaders and textures.
  3. A guide to path tracers in general.

You want speed and quality? This book is made for you!

After purchasing, you can download four different files. You can chose between English and German versions. Of couse you can download both of them as well.

From time to time there will be updates to the book. To get the updates the only thing you need to do is download the files again.

What is the current version of the Cycles Encylopedia?

The current version is 1.5

How do I get the free updates?

Whenever the book receives an update you can download it again to get the latest version.

Will this work on my device?

The ebook ships in PDF format which is compatible with almost all devices. If in doubt, check whether your device supports at least one of those formats.

Is this a real book or an eBook?

It is an eBook, so digital download only.

Item Rating

This item has an average rating of 5 from 1 ratings by the community.

  • Ľuboš Černák over 1 year ago

    I hesitated few weeks, and I did not have to do it. This is "a must" for everyone who want get the best from Cycles. Plenty of useful informations and comparisons of different nodes setup. I recommend to everyone who want seriously deal with Cycles. This really worth the money.

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