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How to have different configurations for multiple Render Engines in Blender 3D.

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

This is a requested tutorial. The Blender artist who is very curious and like to experiment different setups, plugins and render engines, like me, can optimize the workflow by having a specific configuration for each case, for example: I have a configuration for vanilla Blender, other to use Renderman, other to use AMD Pro Render and other to use Octane Render; without have to have to occupy my hard drive with many Blender 3D installations - I only use one. Though, this tutorial also can be used to have a specific configuration file for different Blender versions.


First of all, the Blender artist should be familiarized with the Blender environment variables. The best research it's done in the Blender 3D manual . Second, it's necessary to have a basic knowledge of the command line interface (in this tutorial I'm using Windows) and how to create a .bat file.


The Blender environment variables and the folders to store each configuration are set up in the .bat file. Then, the artist can execute directly the .bat file or create a shortcut on the desktop for it.


Then, let's dive in. First, the artist should create the folders to store the config files. It can be created anywhere. The artist should choose a convenient place. In my case I use my root C drive directory: C:/.


Slick3d.art main folder structure for Blender.
Slick3d.art main folder structure for Blender.

Note in the image above that I have:

  • The Blender_node_groups folder to store node setups;

  • The blender-3.6_LTS folder which is the Blender 3D installation;

  • The Blender-ACES-Config-main folder which stores my OCIO configuration file for Blender;

  • The BlenderBridge folder which is used by a plugin to import and export meshes from Zbrush;

  • The BlenderCFG folder which contains the different configuration files for each render engine or different Blender 3d versions;

  • The BlenderScripts folder which stores the plugins I use.

For this tutorial, the artist must create a folder for the configuration files and another one for the plugins.


My Blender 3D config folder has the following subfolders:

Slick3d.art Blender 3D config folder structure.
Slick3d.art Blender 3D config folder structure.
  • The 3.6_LTS folder which stores the config files for the vanilla version of Blender 3D;

  • The 3.6_LTS_prman folder which contains the config to use the Renderman Renderer;

  • The octane folder which contains the configuration for the standard version of Blender Octane;

  • The Octane_addon folder which stores the configuration for the Octane Render addon version;

  • The rpr folder which contains the configuration to use AMD Pro Render as a default render.

Inside of each folder listed above, there are the Blender startup config files as the ones shown below.

Each config folder has a similar list of files.
Each config folder has a similar list of files.

These files are created after the first Blender session or when the artist saves a default configuration:

Note that the kekit_prefs.json is a file created by the Kekit plugin.
Note that the kekit_prefs.json is a file created by the Kekit plugin.

Inside the BlenderScripts folder, I only have these two subfolders:


The BlenderScripts folder contains the add-ons installed by me, staying apart from the add-ons that are shipped with Blender 3D.
The BlenderScripts folder contains the add-ons installed by me, staying apart from the add-ons that are shipped with Blender 3D.

The 3.6_LTS folder is the main one, also used by the Octane add-on version. The octane folder is used by the standard version of Blender Octane. Each of it contains the add-ons I had installed. The artist can create a folder for a different Blender distribution also, as is the case of the octane folder. This is an excellent way to have control on the add-ons that are being used.


Now, it's time to create the .bat files. I also stored them in my C drive root folder, but probably the artist will have trouble to directly creates the file in the root folder. Then, I created them in my desktop first and moved them to the root folder. As I already said, choose a convenient location for you.


On the Desktop, right mouse click > New > Text document. In this example I created the blender_octane.bat file.


Then, the artist can edit the file using notepad. Right mouse click on the file icon > Show more options (in Windows 11) > Edit.



My .bat file looks like this:


The BLENDER_USER_CONFIG environment variable defines the folder where the config files will be stored. The artist have to set up the correct path to the folder, of course. Then, you have to replace C:\BlenderCFG\Octane_addon with the path you are using.


The BLENDER_USER_SCRIPTS environment variable defines the folder where the user add-ons will be installed. The same case of above: replace C:\BlenderScripts\3.6_LTS with the path you are using.


The START instruction should appoint to the Blender execute file. Again, the artist should replace C:\blender-3.6_LTS\blender.exe by the path where the desired Blender distribution is installed.


After this, save the file and move it to the folder of your choice, or keep it on your desktop, it's your choice, In my case, I moved it to my C drive root folder.


This one is my .bat file to run Blender with Renderman as default render engine:

My .bat file to run Blender with Renderman as the default render engine.
My .bat file to run Blender with Renderman as the default render engine.

In the case above, the environment variable OCIO defines the OpenColorIO file used to have the ACEScg colorspace available for Renderman. The BLENDER_USER_CONFIG appoints to the folder that stores the config files for run Renderman as the default render engine. The files where created by saving the default startup file as already shown. I set up Renderman as the Renderer and saved the startup file. In doing so, when Blender reads the file will always set Renderman as the render engine. This will not affect the others configurations, of course. Then, having a .bat file which appoints to a different config folder, is the way to have different Blender configurations using the same Blender 3D distribution. It's not needed to have many installations of Blender to do this, please.


The BLENDER_USER_SCRIPTS uses the same 3.6_LTS folder though. If you set up a different script folder for each config, bear in mind that this will result in duplicates of the add-ons installed by you. For example, if you install animation nodes for each configuration, each different script folder will have the animation nodes add-on installed. To avoid this, I use the same script folder to all configs, with the exception of the Blender Octane standard version.


The instruction START appoints to the same Blender installation.


Then, what's happening? I have a split config to start Blender with a different render engine selected. The config folders are different, but the scripts folder is the same. Therefore, all my add-ons are available always, but not all of them are enabled. For example, when I use the vanilla Blender I have the Octane addon available but not enabled. When I use Renderman I only have this renderer and Cycles enabled. Octane and Pro Render are available but not enabled. This avoids, for example, the mess that Octane do with the Blender icons. Using different configs, I can use the vanilla Blender without the Octane icon issue.

The Octane plugin mess up with the Blender icons.
The Octane plugin mess up with the Blender icons.
Not having the Octane Addon enabled when using the vanilla Blender, avoids the icon issue.
Not having the Octane Addon enabled when using the vanilla Blender, avoids the icon issue.

The last step is to create the shortcut to the .bat file. This is a more friendly way to call Blender using your own config than to have to open up the command line interface and type the .bat file name.

Right mouse click on the Desktop > New > Shortcut and then browse to the .bat file location and click on it. Click on next, type the shortcut name and it's done. The artist can right mouse click on the shortcut and change the icon to the Blender icon. The video below shows the process.



Below are some of the shortcuts I have on my desktop to call blender with a specific configuration:


Shortcut to start Blender with Renderman as default render.
Shortcut to start Blender with Renderman as default render.

Shortcut to start Blender with AMD Pro Render as default render.
Shortcut to start Blender with AMD Pro Render as default render.

Shortcut to start the vanilla Blender.
Shortcut to start the vanilla Blender.

I also use this method with other 3D softwares. This avoids to mess up with the Windows environment variables and allows the artist to have more control over the software configuration.


What's Next?


Slick3d.art has created a set of vector displacement brushes that are hard surface brushes. This is the first set. The brushes will be update soon. They're available on the Slick3d.art Gumroad page and on the Slick3d.art Blendermarket page.


One last thing you should know:


Slick3d.art was selected as one of the Top 20 3D Art Blogs on the web by FeedSpot. It is a great victory to me. It is a huge effort in very hard times. Besides, Slick3d.art encompasses my love for design and writing that started in my teen years. I am very grateful for the recognition that was a total surprise. Click here to go to FeedSpot Top 20 list or click on the image down below.


And do not forget: Donation = Loving ❤

Help me to do more tutorials. Please, consider to make a donation if this content helped you.


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