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 (more than 360 pages A4)
  • More than 300 figures and images
  • Available in both English and German
  • Blender version: 3.0
  • Lifetime free updates - subscribe to our newsletter to get notified of each update.
  • Current version of The Cycles Encyclopedia: 3.0

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 node:

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!

Sales 500+
Customer Ratings 7
Average Rating
Dev Fund Contributor
Published over 7 years ago
Blender Version 2.8, 2.81, 2.82, 2.83, 2.9, 2.91, 2.92, 2.93, 3.0
Render Engine Used Cycles
License Royalty Free
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