I wanted to play around with POV-Ray, a program capable of creating ray traced images. Basically, this program can create some amazing photo-realistic scenes. Check out their Hall of Fame to get an idea of what some people have done with the tool.

I first checked out POV-Ray years ago and tested it out on an ancient 386. I just happened to remember it, and wanted to try it out again to have some fun.

As with many software packages out there today, a 64-bit binary version is not available. So, here are some instructions on how to compile it for yourself quickly and easily.

First, we need to add some packages:

[gaarai@home ~]$ sudo apt-get install libx11-dev libxt-dev

Next we need to get the source ready:

[gaarai@home ~]$ wget http://www.povray.org/redirect/www.povray.org/ftp/pub/povray/Official/Unix/povray-3.6.tar.bz2
[gaarai@home ~]$ tar xvfj povray-3.6.tar.bz2
[gaarai@home ~]$ cd povray-3.6

As with most software compilation processes, you first need to run the configure tool. For POV-Ray, you have to provide details about who compiled it. Make sure you supply your own name and email address.

[gaarai@home ~/povray-3.6]$ ./configure --with-x COMPILED_BY="Chris Jean <email@domain.com>"

Then we just need to compile the source and install it:

[gaarai@home ~/povray-3.6]$ make
[gaarai@home ~/povray-3.6]$ sudo make install

You can simply run POV-Ray by running povray from the command line.

The POV-Ray source folder came with a large number of scenes for you to try. You can find these in the scenes folder. To run a quick render of one of the scenes, run the povray command and pass a file path to one of the *.pov files to it. For example:

[gaarai@home ~]$ cd povray-3.6/scenes/advanced/glasschess
[gaarai@home ~/povray-3.6/scenes/advanced/glasschess]$ povray glasschess.pov

If you open up a provided pov file, you can see what settings the author used to produce some renders. For glasschess.pov, you see that one of the recommended settings are -w800 -h600 +a0.3. You can run this as follows:

[gaarai@home ~/povray-3.6/scenes/advanced/glasschess]$ povray glasschess.pov -w800 -h600 +a0.3

Depending on the power of your hardware, it could take anywhere from a few minutes to more than half an hour to render the scene.

By default, when a scene is rendered, a PNG file with the same name of the pov file will be put in the folder where the comand was run from. So, the glasschess.pov scene will create a glasschess.png file by default when rendered.

If you’re interested in trying out POV-Ray for yourself, I highly recommend that you read through the documentation.

Have fun. 🙂

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