Blender Eevee - First Impressions

Michal Franczak 2017-08-04 11:42 article  > All

A subjective look at the realtime renderer that is implemented in Blender 2.80.

Eevee is the latest „wow” thing in Blender. It’s interactive viewport renderer, that works in realtime and can be used for previz, simple animations, previewing shaders before exporting them to game engine, etc. Is it for you? Find out!

Who is it for?

Asset creators:

Eevee in its current state is useful for game assets creators that work mainly with PBR (physically based rendering) shaders that end up with exporting their models to Unreal Engine 4 or Unity. Now they can preview how model looks without the need of importing them to game engine, making corrections and re-importing again, etc. Their workflow can be greatly accelerated thanks to Eevee.

 

Animators:

Eevee can be useful as a nice tool for animators – it provides decent visual quality, it’s very fast and you have your all* Blender tools that you love – cameras, Dope Sheet editor, Curves editor, all the navigation you already know – you are in familiar area and that makes completing your work faster and more convenient.

*Well, currently not all Blender tools work in 2.80 version: many deforming modifiers do not work in current Blender 2.80 builds, you cannot access pose mode for rigged objects, those modifiers that are working are not updating object states in real-time, etc. We expect that it will change as development of Eevee progresses.

 

Arch-viz:

Eevee can be a great tool for arch-viz people. It’s obvious that it still lacks in certain areas, but if those flaws (that we are listing below) will be addressed, it can be a strong competition for game engines. Of course, probably we will not have Blender-based interactive applications in the future (opening doors, changing wall colors, etc) like we have in game engines, but if we will be able to render stills, animations and cubemaps in seconds, it will be great.

 

On the advantages side:

  • no more hassle with exporting assets and remaking materials in game engine.
  • Eevee will have Cycles compatible shaders (which means that we will be able to make some Eevee previz and then render in Cycles if everything looks ok).
  • We can use good Blender timeline for camera animation and we will be able to use particles animations too – some things that can be very cumbersome to achieve with game engines.

Cons:

  • game engines have better rendering quality than Eevee (for now) and better scalability.
  • They have many particle systems that are already set up and ready to use.
  • You can buy many assets for visual effects, interaction and increasing realism from dedicated markets.
  • They have a good tutorial base and if you want great looking realtime static scene they deliver outstanding results.

Our conclusion when it comes to using Eevee in the way we use Unreal / Unity: If Eevee developers want to compete with game engines when it comes to entertainment visualization, they have still a long way to go.

Eevee realtime renderer now supports:

  • Volumetric lighting and shadows
  • Screen space reflections
  • Ambient occlusion
  • Motion blur
  • Depth of field
  • Bloom
  • OpenGL antialiasing
  • it can use Blender Filmic Color Management which looks awesome
  • environment maps
  • uses own PBR shader (with transparency, emissive output, etc.)
  • Blender particle system

What it lacks?

Eevee is very young so it does not deliver everything that we would like to see at this point. There are some flaws, we made our subjective list:

  • Eevee makes point lights pixelated at some distance

shadows

  • Shadows often have jagged edges (it depends of geometry of an object that casts shadow and light distance) are are generally not tweakable (only two sliders control shadow quality, and they don’t work too well)
  • Screen space reflections can be grainy and you cannot increase their quality to avoid that
  • Sun lamp is not casting shadow, you need a spot light or point light for that
  • minor bugs and glitches, sometimes viewport goes into crazy black and white mode, restarting helps.
  • We would really like to see some compositing options (different output passes, shadow catcher, etc.)
  • It does not provide any realiable foliage painting / rendering solution that we have in game engines

VOLUME_SAMPLING

Volume Lighting / shadows sampling has a big effect on quality of the effect. Unfortunately, we cannot input more than 256 samples.

Summary

Eevee looks very promising, it’s in really early state of development so we can forgive all glitches, bugs and absence of many features. We hope that Blender developers want to make a great looking, scalable engine that will not end up as „previs” solution, but will be fully usable for entertainment and animation purposes (have you seen latest Unreal Summer reel? It’s amazing!). For now we recommend testing it, but not on your important files – make some new projects and have fun.

Our final verdict is: Eevee is definetely interesting renderer that we will watch closely. It has a potential to be usable for animators and arch-viz crowd, but it's not there yet and probably it will take a year or more to polish all the stuff. Fingers crossed and good luck, Blender Team! :)

Interested in Eevee?  It’s available on www.blender.org site as „bleeding edge” Blender 2.80 build (new build every day!) – you can test it yourself if you want to, just download Blender 2.80 branch for your system here.

TIP 1: Check out HDR lighting – it really can make things look pretty. The most important „look” factors when it comes to eevee are: quality of environment maps, textures quality and small color corrections in Filmic mode.

TIP 2: You can import black / grey / white / reflective spheres to your scene to check overall balance of colors in your scene.

TIP 3. Play with volumetric lighting. It just needs two steps:

  • step one: link „Volumetric Scatter” shader node to your „Volumetric” input of „World” node in world node editor, change density to ab. 0.015.
  • step two: enable "Volumetric" on rendering tab and place some light in the scene.

TIP 4: Blender 2.80 has problems with importing FBX and OBJ files, if you need to check them in Eevee, run Blender 2.79 and save a file in .blend format, then File > Append objects in Blender 2.80.

room02_d_pp

Top image: Evermotion chair, re-textured in Substance Painter and rendered in Blender 2.80 Eevee engine (by Michal Franczak).

Author: Michal Franczak Editor: Michał Franczak
Tags: blender blender eevee
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