K-Cycles - Ultra Lighting, Performance, Ultra Denoiser, & Post FX

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Exciting New Features for K-Cycles!

  • Ultra Lighting - Light Groups, Light Linking, Light Mixing with Tone Mapping and More.
  • Animation Denoiser.
  • Mist Viewport/Final Render Post FX.
  • Mask Post FX.
  • Viewport Match to Output Resolution.

What is K-Cycles?

K-Cycles is a highly optimized custom build of Cycles-X render engine, ultra lighting, post FX, ultra denoiser and realtime viewport lighting and effects for Blender. It is fully compatible with Cycles and designed for Nvidia GPUs. Features include:

  • Ultimate rendering performance for viewport and final renders.
  • Amazing Ultra Lighting the most powerful and complete lighting features for Cycles.
  • New Ultra Denoiser with the latest Intel denoiser technology and multi pass for clean and super sharp images.
  • Ultra Denoiser works inside Blender without needing the compositor and has great performance avoiding complicated compositor nodes.
  • Animation Denoiser uses the latest OptiX temporal denoising to improve animation render times up to 2x.
  • Even faster renders using intelligent scene and settings optimizations preset modes with higher K-Cycles performance while still maintaining good image quality.
  • Amazing viewport Ultra Lighting, Post FX including BLOOM effects, FLARES with glare, anamorphic and ghosts, Tone Mapping and Lens effects that elevates your art to the next level.
  • All K-Cycles Ultra Lighting and Post FX effects are animation ready with all the settings fully keyable and with previews on the viewport.
  • The K-Cycles Ultra Lighting, Post FX effects can be done in the viewport or final render both in GPU or CPU.
  • Cycles image quality with less render noise.
  • Fully compatible with Cycles and all Blender addons.
  • Regular stable release and alpha builds updates with the latest features from the Blender.
  • One version optimized for both Optix and Cuda.
  • Easy to use without the need of changing Cycles settings for fast performance.

Ultimate Lighting, Post FX, Denoiser and performance for your Cycles rendering!

Hi, I’m Eric Klein. Some of you may know me from the Blender forums and my focus on creating the most photo-realistic renders possible in EEVEE and Cycles.

I have spent a lot of time on how best to obtain near photo results, with the purpose of speeding up my Archviz interior renders with EEVEE and Cycles. I found Cycles renders to always be better. And of course with Cycles, it’s mostly just pointing the camera and taking a picture– no elaborate steps necessary.

So, for the past two years, I’ve set about creating my own version of Blender, and relentless testing using various settings and optimizations, all focused towards creating the most powerful, complete features and blazing fast Cycles and now Cycles-X rendering, and in many cases it can even compete with EEVEE render times.

Why K-Cycles?

K-Cycles is for Blender users who want to speed up their Cycles viewport and rendering and bring art to the next level with ease and immediate results. Using the powerful ultra lighting and Post FX effects both viewport/final render with amazing sharp ultra denoiser. It’s intelligent preset modes

is a breeze to use and needs virtually no ramp up time. Just launch it and start rendering.

K-Cycles is tested with many of the top addons, including Hard Ops, Boxcutter, KIT OPS, SYNTH and many others. It is updated regularly and includes updates to the latest alpha releases.

Plans for adding even more features to the K-Cycles engine. Stay tuned!

What is K-Cycles Ultra Lighting

  • Interactive real-time viewport and final lighting workflow.
  • Ultimate Lightgroups features with ease of use.
  • Solo preview lightgroup mode.
  • Compositor mode.
  • Remainder lightgroup mode.
  • Complete accurate lighting setup.
  • Real-time light mixing for viewport and final render
  • Light linking in real-time with many options.
  • Tone mapping per lightgroup.
  • Full and fast denosing for all the lightgroups.

Ultra Lighting

The most complete and powerful lighting system for Cycles. Lighting is critical in bringing your art to the next level. Using ultra lighting features like lightgroups, light mixing, light linking and tone mapping lightgroup with ease of use to get amazing lighting results. Fully denoise lightgroups layers to continue work in the compositor if needed. See below all ultra lighting options:

Video on K-Cycles Ultra Lighting:

Video on K-Cycles Ultra Lighting - Compositor Mode and Apply Tone Mapping:

Video on K-Cycles Sci-Fi Ultra Lighting and Post FX:

K-Cycles Animation Denoiser

  • Uses the latest OptiX temporal denoising technology
  • Improve animation render times by 2x or more.
  • Easy to use interface…

K-Cycles Ultra Denoiser

  • New Ultra Denoiser with the latest Intel denoising technology.
  • Multi pass feature for noise free and very sharp detail.
  • Has amazing detail at very low render samples.
  • Artifact free and smooth volumetrics.
  • Works inside Blender without needing the compositor.
  • Has great performance avoiding complicated compositor nodes.

K-Cycles Ultra Denoiser

Using the best denoiser technology with the addition of Multi Pass. Get great results without the compositor. Noise free and sharp images at very low render samples save valuable rendering time. High quality volumetrics and great performance inside Blender.

Example of the Dark Interior by Entity Designer.

Denoise with Cycles-X at 9 render samples:

Using “Ultra Denoiser” with Multi Pass at 9 render samples:

Example of volumetrics from the Hall Scene by GREEZEBEAR.

Denoise with Cycles-X at 16 render samples:

Using “Ultra Denoiser” with Multi Pass at 16 render samples:

Post FX Mask, Viewport Match and Presets

  • Mask allows to include/exclude objects and collections to have the specific Post FX applied.
  • Presets saves the Post FX settings and are like other presets used in Blender
  • Changes the Cycles preview to match exactly the output resolution.

Post FX Mast. Allows to include/exclude objects and collections to have the specific Post FX applied. Quite Useful for controlling which objects to apply the bloom and flares, or tone mapping for visual importance.

Post FX Presets saves the Post FX settings and are like other presets used in Blender. On the right of the Post FX header or individual effects like Bloom or other effects is the preset button. The Post FX preset button adjusts the settings for all the Post FX. The other individual effects presets settings are specific to that effect only.

Post FX Viewport match to output resolution. Changes the Cycles preview to match exactly the output resolution. This is very useful for pixel based effects like Bloom and Flares because the amount of the effects depends on the render resolution. While in this preview render mode it is possible to make adjustments exactly like they would appear in the final render. It will also disable viewport selected outlines for better visibility. This feature can have other uses for better accuracy in adjusting materials, depth of field, etc.

Video on K-Cycles Post FX Mask, Viewport Match and Presets:

Post FX Bloom

  • K-Cycles Bloom is the only Cycles implementation of Bloom in the viewpoint.
  • BETTER implementation of Bloom than the compositor, many more controls for manipulating your bloom PLUS more accurate bloom as well.
  • EASY to use and works just like you would expect.

A feature that Eevee users have used and enjoyed is now available with K-Cycles. Dynamically interact with the scene in the viewport. Adjusting quickly the Bloom settings with fast performance in the preview render viewport. Creating beautiful Bloom effects in no time. The Bloom settings has all the options that are needed to design and easily create and customize your Bloom effect.

Higher quality than Eevee. Eevee blurs and loses the light definition. See below:

Eevee Bloom:
EeveeBloomCrop

K-Cycles Bloom:
K-CyclesBloomCrop

Chipp Walters (chippwalters) KIT OPS, SYNTH, BEVEL, BATCH, SMART SKETCH, CHALK STYLE PRO, QUICK SHOT, EEVEE Materials System and SIMPLE TABS creator

“Bloom is always so hard to get just right in post. Now, you can achieve superior results in the viewport!” – Chipp Walters

Splash Fox by Daniel Bystedt - Render with K-Cycles and Bloom

Video on K-Cycles Bloom:

Post FX Flares

  • K-Cycles Flares is the only Cycles lens flare implementation in the viewport.
  • Lens flare types include glare, anamorphic and ghosts effects.
  • Flares are physically based on light brightness, size and color.
  • K-Cycles Flares have many artistic controls to create all types of amazing flare effects.
  • Animation ready with all the settings fully keyable and with previews on the viewport.
  • Works with Cycles "Sky Texture” like Nishita and others, commercial sky addons, HDRI’s, or real and emission lights.
  • EASY to use and design to give great results without the need of Photoshop or compositor.

Dynamically interact with the scene in the viewport. Adjusting quickly the lens flare settings with fast performance in the preview render viewport. Create great lens flare effects as seen in movies, tv shows or photographic stills. Improve the visual quality with realism to your art with Flares effects with speed and ease of use. The Flares settings have the most useful options that are needed for your image to stand out or have the final polish without the need of Photoshop or compositor right in the viewport.

Vanke Future by 3D Shaker - Render with K-Cycles Flares and Bloom:

BMW scene K-Cycles Flares and Bloom:

Video on K-Cycles Lens Flares:

Post FX Tone Mapping

  • K-Cycles Tone Mapping is the only Cycles Tone Mapping implementation in the viewport.
  • Tone Mapping controls allows you to create a more dynamic scene or change the mood of the scene in no time.
  • EASY to use and design to give great results without the need of Photoshop or compositor…

Dynamically interact with the scene in the viewport. Adjusting quickly the Tone Mapping settings with fast performance in the preview render viewport. Improve the visual quality or change the mood of your scene with Tone Mapping effects with speed and ease of use. The Tone Mapping settings have the most useful options that are needed for your image to stand out or have the final polish without the need of Photoshop or compositor right in the viewport.

Pavillon scene adjusted to a warmer tone and and vivid colors with K-Cycles tone mapping:

Video of K-Cycles Tone Mapping:

Post FX Lens

  • K-Cycles Lens is the only Cycles Lens effects implementation in the viewport.
  • Lens allow you to add realism to your scene with lens and photographic effects.
  • EASY to use and design to give great results without the need of Photoshop or compositor.

Dynamically interact with the scene in the viewport. Adjusting quickly the Lens settings with fast performance in the preview render viewport. Improve the visual quality by adding lens and photographic effects with imperfections to your scene. Add a new level of realism with Lens effects with speed and ease of use. The Lens settings have the most useful options that are needed for your image to stand out or have the final polish without the need of Photoshop or compositor right in the viewport.

“Monster Under the Bed” scene by Metin Seven adjusted with K-Cycles Tone Mapping and Lens effects with distortion, chromatic aberration, vignette and film grain for a more photographic and realistic image:


Video of K-Cycles Lens Effects:

Post FX Presets and Alpha Transparency

K-Cycles Post FX presets are like other presets in Blender. The Post FX preset button adjusts the settings for all or individual Post FX. Can have many presets and quickly switch between them. These presets can be saved and shared with other users.

K-Cycles Post FX transparency with Film->Transparent is supported with all the Post FX effects. Great for decal, sprites, animation, parallax and others.

Video on K-Cycles Presets and Alpha Transparency:

What the Artists Say

Jerry Perkins (masterxeon1001) hardOps and boxcutter creator

“K-Cycles provides an alternative way to utilize the power of the RTX in ways vanilla Cycles cannot. From the moment you begin rendering with it you’ll notice an immense difference in speed and performance. I am proud of the work that has gone into optimizing such a classic renderer. Even in a post EEVEE work Cycles can prove itself competitive and giving a result that just can’t be matched. And with K-Cycles you’ll get there in a fraction of the time”

Chipp Walters (chippwalters) KIT OPS, SYNTH, BEVEL, BATCH, SMART SKETCH, CHALK STYLE PRO, QUICK SHOT, EEVEE Materials System and SIMPLE TABS creator

“I created the very first course on Interior Rendering with EEVEE, and what luck it was to have Eric as a beta tester. There is no one who knows more about Interior Rendering in Blender, both EEVEE and Cycles, than Eric. His technical expertise is unsurpassed. So, when he asked me to test K-Cycles, I jumped at the chance. Most will tell you I almost always render in EEVEE– but not anymore. I can’t believe the speed increases I now have rendering in K-Cycles. It’s a must have for any serious Blender artist!”

Andrew Markert (GREEZYBEAR) KPACKS creator:

“K-Cycles has been an awesome addition to my workflow by utilizing my GPU in order to render Cycles. I have a Nvidia RTX Titan graphics card and this is such a LEAP from CPU rendering to now GPU rendering! My render times have increased 3-4x faster than my current Blender 2.91. I feel this is a solid build and runs very smoothly. The image quality is also better to me and the viewport display has much more detail in it when in dev and render views. I am seriously impressed with the render times in K-Cycles and would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves to use the GPU for rendering!”

Please visit us on Discord at: https://discord.gg/hseXQq8Z

20 Likes

Hi. Is the source code provided ?

As you surely already know, to comply with the GPL license, softwares that are released under this license have to feature the source code or a text informing the user where he/she can download it.


Will the price increase for the 2022 versions?


Is it a fork of E-Cycles? Is it based on its source code? (not that it would be a bad thing ; it’s perfectly allowed by the license).

1 Like

Yes I will provide source code to buyer when request. Similar to what E-Cycles does.

I plan keep price for 2022 very affordable to reach the wider Blender user base. As you can see performance wise (see charts) K-Cycles RTX compares very favorably with E-Cycles RTX at $300.

This is not a fork of E-Cycles. Notice that performance chart have differences compare with E-Cycles. This is my custom build that I have being working and optimizing for couple years. At the high level it is adjusting the SOBOL sampling based on the work from Lukas Stockner combine with high GPU utilization optimization to achieve 100% GPU usage. Their are other improvements and features like K-Cycles smart preset modes that I have added to make very easy to achieve great performance with the same visual quality of Cycles.

2 Likes

For Mac OS users, is there any advantage to using K-Cycles if only utilizing the CPU? Have you run any CPU-only tests and if so, what are the speed gains when only rendering with the CPU?

1 Like

Unfortunately the CPU gains for K-Cycles are small compare to default Cycles. So I don’t recommended at this time.

1 Like

Will it be available for Linux? If I buy the Windows version, can I also download the Linux version when it is available?
How does it handle animations?
Can I open the project in regular Blender saved with K-Cycles without any problems?

2 Likes

I just spent the last hour testing K-Cycles and have used E-Cycles for all of 2020. I no longer own E-Cycles so I couldn’t compare them directly.

The Viewport render improvement is AWESOME by the way and almost worth the full price by itself.

Vanilla Cycles 2.92 vs K-Cycles 2.92
1920x1080 @ 2000 samples
RTX 3090 x 2
Default High Quality Preset
Auto-Tile Size On

K-Cycles(Left) - Vanilla (Right)


Viewport Test @ 256 samples
Vanilla 33 secs
K-Cycles 19 secs


Viewport Test @ 256 samples
Vanilla 29 sec
K-Cycles 16 secs


Viewport Test @ 256 samples
Vanilla 34 secs
K-Cycles 28 secs

NOTE: This last test was invalid. Accidentally left NVlink mode on for the K-Cycles render. Second time around K-Cycles was almost 30 seconds faster.

Image quality is nearly identical to Vanilla but not always. In two of these renders I noticed a very slight difference which I then confirmed in scopes.

(These tests were for myself as I had no intention of posting them so I apologize ahead of time for not having them all perfectly side-by-side).

Possible Bugs: the viewport denoiser is bugged on my end. Denoising doesn’t happen until sampling is completed no matter what Start Sample is set to.

Task Manager Performance tab set to Cuda and Compute-1 show both GPU’s rendering at 100%. As soon as one tile finishes, one of the GPU’s drops to 0%. It would seem that one card becomes completely inactive while waiting for the 2nd tile to finish rendering. Visual bug?

Additionally, you won’t get the full performance boost without using Auto-Tile Size. This is a bit annoying as the final render is done in two massive tiles so you don’t see the results till the end. Not a biggie but worth mentioning.

Conclusion: Buy it. It’s more or less the same performance of E-Cycles with an even better viewport. None of the features of E-Cycles like Light Groups/Persistent Data. Unless the features of E-Cycles are important to you, for a fraction of the cost, this is a clear winner.

Edit: Now with Light Groups & Light Linking, K-Cycles is the clear winner for me.

4 Likes

yfile,

Looks like I am getting plenty of interest for Linux. So I do have on queue of task to do next and will be included with K-Cycles at no extra charge.

It does great in animations and their are new K-Cycles modes go renders even faster great for animation.

No problem saving Blender scenes in K-Cycles to use in Blender.

1 Like

Domiek,

Thank you for such detail analysis on the viewport performance.

Viewport denoising is not a bug it is done at the end of the viewport samples it is slightly faster that way. Soon I will add a checkbox option update the viewport denoiser at intervals like Blender does now with the smudge painterly look of the denoiser. Both workflows will be supported.

1 Like

What’s your upgrade path? Will this be on a subscription basis or perpetual?
Your price point is an easy yes.

Thanks.
My little suggestion for optimising animation: adding multi instance rendering (if it fits in the GPU memory - it would need to add scene / memory size checker). My tests show that you can cut the animation rendering time by up to half this way.

It will support all the blender updates through the end 2021. It will also have a stable release and a current update from the Blender master. The 2022 update will be price very reasonable I want to keep a wide Blender user base as possible.

Domiek,

You can get great performance without the “Auto-Tile Size”. It is convenient to use to get the best performance automatically. The key to remember is to have high GPU utilization K-Cycles tiles need be large at least 1k-1k. Auto-Tile Size is set to 2k by default 1k. This will give the fastest performance. If you do 4k image which K-Cycles performance is great you will get 4 tiles.

1 Like

Does this mean that a configuration with, say, 6 graphics cards will not give a significant speedup compared to Cycles (especially with Full HD rendering)?

yfile,

It will still give an speed improvement compare to Cycles in Full HD rendering just less of a performance improvement. Typically high number graphics card we do well 4K. At 2k K-Cycles is very fast already with 1/ 2 cards.

Is it works ok and use memory pooling for NVLink multi GPU?

NVLink multi GPU should work including memory pooling. It needs to be enable in the device preferences. I personally have not tested, since I don’t have a dual GPU.

So you pay for 1 year of updates? Like E-Cycles

Actually, the author of E-Cycles is currently violating the GPL license because waiting for the user (the customer) to ask for the source code is not compliant with the license.

The user shouldn’t have to request it, it’s the opposite: it’s up to the author of a GPL software to always provide the source code or a direct link (at no extra cost) to the source code.

7 Likes

Norton doesent like K-Cycles