Book review: Blender Cycles Rendering and Lighting

I was asked by Packt Publishing to review Bernardo Iraci's book and I have to say I really enjoyed it.


  • cookbook style with many examples
  • thorough coverage of all things Cycles
  • gentle learning curve
  • some really great materials (especially carpaint and food)
  • addresses lighting as well
  • plenty of relevant external references


  • could do with some detail renders of the individual materials
  • doesn't cover volume shaders

The Cycles rendering engine has been available for some time now in Blender but it is still hot because it enables the artist to produce great results. However, its many options can overwhelm a person just starting out, so Bernardo's cookbook is a blessing both for beginners as well as for more accomplished artists.

The book is well written and covers almost everything from basic node setups to very complex ones, including subsurface scattering nodes and script nodes (It doesn't cover writing shaders in the Open Shading Language, for that you might consider my book Open Shading Language for Blender). The illustrations of the node setups are also very clear and although the book's style is a cookbook, the reasoning behind the creation of the materials is often explained as well which really helps to understand why the materials are set up the way the are.

I also like that the is a fair amount of information on lighting because now matter how good your materials are, without proper lighting your render won't shine. The book presents some useful lightning setups and covers both mesh lighting and HDRI lighting quite well.

The criticisms I have are minor indeed: the book doesn't cover the new volume shaders but this is of course not a fault of the author. Cycles evolves at a rapid pace and at the time of writing volume shaders were not yet available.

Also it would have been clearer of some of the many materials presented in this book would have closeup example renders; now there is just a larger overall render of a scene at the beginning of each chapter which doesn't show the smaller details very well. Of course the sample scenes are available to the reader so you can render them yourself but it would have made for an easier read.

All in all I really enjoyed reading this book and in my opinion it is one of the better ones on Blender published so far.


A well written book that delivers what it promises. Well worth its money.

A critical remark to all publishers

I read the pdf version of the book and potential buyers really should consider that too because the printed version is in black-and-white.

When will publishers realize that this kind of book should be printed in color or nit at all? Monochrome paper prints simply cannot convey the information presented in colorful illustrations very well and books on rendering are all about color!

So either invest in proper color plates as the print version already is quite expensive or just stick to e-book formats.

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