Cycles Encyclopedia (English)


Downloadable product only. Updated for V2.83.

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.


With The Cycles render engine you have more than 90 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 is a professional documentation project by the Blender experts Frederik Steinmetz & Gottfried Hofmann, both Blender Foundation Certified Trainers.

  • Updated for Blender 3.0! English only.
  • 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 (362 pages A4) – compatible with most e-reader devices, smartphones and tablets.

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 is 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:

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:

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:

Author Frederik Steinmetz about The Cycles Enyclopedia: I had no idea Cycles really was this powerful!

Every once in a while I needed to look up something. I had to go online, search for it and if it was something fairly special, it took me forever to find it.

So I was longing for an ultimate guide that has ALL the information I need in ONE place.

That is when I started to do my own research, and I found out so much more than I was looking for! So I decided to write down my findings. Pretty soon the collection started to grow, and it became the book you can see here.

While the work was progressing, my partner and now co-author – Gottfried Hofmann – mentioned: Why only include all the material nodes, why not include EVERYTHING? Which was when we teamed up on this project and it now includes camera settings, render settings, the node wrangler addon and much more.

My work greatly benefited from all the knowledge in this book and so can yours! Not convinced? Try it out, if you are not completely satisfied, let us know and get your money back, no questions asked.

Co-Author Gottfried Hofmann about The Cycles Encyclopedia: I use this book regularly in production.

When Frederik showed me the first preview version it was immediately clear to me: This book is über-useful. I am doing a lot of training und consulting and having all the information about Cycles available at one place really helps when troubleshooting or optimizing shaders. Since then I am keeping the book with me all the time. I also joined forces to add all my theoretic knowledge about Cycles and path tracing.

So the book now works on three levels:

  1. A place to look up all 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.

We hope you will find the book useful and will enjoy reading it!

Check out the volume sample chapter or the normals sample chapter here.




  1. Bryan Applegate (verified owner)

    Hits on everything I feel I need to know to really utilize Nodes like a pro! Has an incredible amount of under-the-hood maths that are vital but delivered in a way that’s easy to approach. On Samsung Tablet, table of contents don’t jump like HTML links; I’d suggest adding page numbers if possible in the TOC for redundancy.

  2. David Bauguess (verified owner)

    Extremely useful, and I love how much detail was put into it. This book upped my game right away, worth every penny! Thank you so much, guys!

  3. Paul Smith (verified owner)

    Just downloaded and very impressed. Thank you for such a valuable reference asset. Can’t wait to get started with (now empowered)experimentation projects. 🙂

  4. (verified owner)

    Today I’ve downloaded the new version of that book. That version is ABSOLUTELY RECOMMENDABLE to everyone who uses Blender 2.9. What a perfect introduction to Cycles. Very intuitive, a lot of valuable screenshots. Simply PERFECT.
    I really want to thank both authors for the wonderful work they did. I am deeply elated.

    Kind regards

  5. James (verified owner)

    OMG This book is simply AMAZING.
    Why is this only 30$?! Blender should be charging more with these kinds of absolute masterpiece (please don’t).
    This book is packed with useful information and trivia about cycles. From how cycles treats light and renders them to what each shader does. No amount of tutorial or payed course explains this amount of useful information about cycles and rendering. Thank you for this amazing book.

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