To start this tutorial less formal - Corona Renderer is a proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Actually, this is exactly how I felt when I put my hands on this rendering engine for the first time. It was just... wow. Speed, quality, ease of use... You may think that I'm doing some aggressive advertisement here but... well, let's just continue.
Corona is rendering engine created by a small team of Czech developers. Their official website states:
Corona renderer is a new (un)biased photorealistic renderer, available both as fully integrated 3ds MAX plugin and a standalone CLI application. While it is still under development, it's already widely used in production. Since Corona was started in 2009 by Ondra Karlík, it became a production-ready renderer capable of creating high quality results, with over 35 000 downloads already.
Being encouraged by both amazing artwork gallery as well as Blender plugin available for Corona Standalone version I've decided to give it a try. It was supposed to be just a quick test of how the rendering engine handles basic interior lighting situation. Eventually I ended up spending the entire weekend on just playing around which resulted in the following images:
Well, none of the pictures above took more than 30 minutes to render on my old Core i7-2600K 3.40Ghz. When you consider resolution, GI quality, noise amount and very basic post-production needed (some curves and color balance) you just have to say WOW... Not mentioning that it took me only one day to figure it out how the engine actually works, set up the scene and render all the shots. I'm pretty sure anyone dealing with architectural visualization doesn't need any extra arguments - this renderer is something groundbreaking.
With all this enthusiasm, I really hope you'll follow the next steps of this tutorial where I'll try explaining basic Corona and Blender wokflow - from installation to rendering and material setup!