About POV-Ray

POV-Ray is an excellent ray-tracer and it is completely free. All the images in my 3d images and animations are made with POV-Ray. POV-Ray can be used to make very photo-realistic images as well as abstract, surrealistic or toony images or whatever you like.

POV-Ray can be downloaded from here: http://www.povray.org

This page describes how I discovered POV-Ray, what I think of it now, and is also meant to encourage other people to begin using POV-Ray.

How I discovered POV-Ray

How I discovered POV-Ray In the beginning of 1998 I found POV-Ray 3.01 on a cheap CD I bought with different freeware and shareware 3D graphic tools (3D Designers Toolkit by CD Factory). When I first saw it I quickly rejected it because it seemed very complicated to me. I had absolutely no prior programming or scripting experience, so it was pretty intimidating. Just a lot of text - and when I pressed a button an image suddenly appeared out of nowhere ???

A month later I gave it another try though. I read the tutorials in the manual and slowly I began to understand how it worked. I remember being puzzled at complicated nested CSG. Sure I understood a difference{} of two primitives, but how did it work when a difference{} contained another difference{}? Later the glorious moment happened when the logic way of POV-Ray script (and any scripting and programming language for that matter) struck me: When handling a nested CSG object, I didn't need to simultaneously keep track of the CSG operations on all levels. I only needed to keep track of the resulting shapes from the lower levels, regardless of how these shapes were created. This "one thing at a time" way of thinking - where you can work with functions that use other functions without having to remember the details of those other functions - seemed to apply to everything in scripting and programming.

The funny thing is - after my brain was wrapped around this basic way of programmic thinking, it went very smooth from there and I coded more and more complicated scenes. For several years it was the only scripting language I knew, and I can't imagine any more cool introduction to programming.

My Experience with POV-Ray

My Experience with POV-Ray I like POV-Ray very much. It is the first 3D program I have ever worked with. Now, I have acces to a proffesional 3D package too, but I never use it. I prefer to write my scenes in POV-Ray code rather than making them with a graphical-interfaced polygon-based modeler. Also, I think the quality of the final output is better with POV-Ray.

There are certain things POV-Ray is not very good at. You can't easily model realistic organic things such as people or animals. This is simply next to impossible with a text-based interface. But you can make such models in external modelers and import them into POV-Ray. This is one thing that I don't have experience with at all, but other people have done it with great success.

What I'm most into is the programming aspect of POV-Ray. I like programming various simulations that result in impressive animations. But besides being a programmer, I also consider myself an artist, so I try to also make my works have an artistic appeal when possible.

Different versions

Different versions In the beginning I used to sometimes use the official POV-Ray 3.1 and sometimes the unofficial version called MegaPov. MegaPov has a lot of very usefull features which I use in some of my scenes. Later the official POV-Ray 3.5 was released, and it had all the best features from the old MegaPov included (though rewritten from scratch to ensure high quality code). There has also been made a new MegaPOV 1.0 based on POV-Ray 3.5 which I use now and then. Now POV-Ray 3.6 has been released with no new features but with better stability and a few bugfixes. Eventually there will be an official POV-Ray 4.0, but that will take quite a while (think many years), as it will be completely rewritten.

The POV-Ray community

To work with POV-Ray is exciting. But it gets much more exciting when you can share you interest for POV-Ray with other POV-Ray users. That is why the POV-Ray newsgroups exist. There's more than 25 newsgroups and the most popular of them are rather big. The people using the newsgroups are very kind. When you post a message you can be almost sure to get a reply. It's the place where people ask questions, answer questions, share ideas, discuss tecniques, show their work, tell jokes, and much more. You can get to the groups either by your newsgroup client or by web-view through this address: news.povray.org.