In a previous post I've described how to generate objects in blender through python. In this document I will describe how to use such python scripts from the command line to render animations.


This small guide will allow you to make the following gif using the command line and python.

Blender Python Script

This script below generates a rain of randomly sized and colored cubes. You can paste this code into the blender command line to see the result.

# filename:

import bpy
import math 
import random
import uuid

def select_type(meshtype="Cube"):
    for ob in bpy.context.scene.objects: = ob.type == 'MESH' and

def deltype(meshtype="Cube"):

def makeMaterial(name, diffuse, specular, alpha):
    mat =
    mat.diffuse_color = diffuse
    mat.specular_color = specular
    mat.alpha = alpha
    return mat

def randomMaterial():
    randvec = (random.random(), random.random(), random.random())
    return makeMaterial('mat' + uuid.uuid4().hex[0:6], randvec, (1,1,1), 1)

def setMaterial(ob, mat):
    me =


def block(x,y,z,rot):
    bpy.ops.mesh.primitive_cube_add( radius=random.random(), location = (x,y,z/2.0) )
    bpy.context.active_object.rigid_body.type = 'ACTIVE'
    rand_axis = (random.random(),random.random(),random.random())
    bpy.ops.transform.rotate(value=rot, axis=rand_axis)
    setMaterial(bpy.context.object, randomMaterial())

def blocks(x,y,z):
    for i in range(4):
        x = x + random.random()*2
        y = y + random.random()*2
        rot = random.random()*2*math.pi

for z in range(2,100):

Then if you run this next code, blender will start rendering images for the animation.

# these are the render settings['Scene'].render.engine = 'CYCLES'['Scene'].cycles.samples = 10['Scene'].frame_end = 100['Scene'].render.fps = 100
bpy.context.scene.render.resolution_x = 600
bpy.context.scene.render.resolution_y = 400

# this command signals the actual render 
bpy.ops.render.render(animation=True, use_viewport=True)

The python script renders a scene, fills it with boxes, sets up a camera and applies render settings. This code can be run from blender but it could also be called from the command line. The two main benefits of doing this:

  • we are not slowed down by the also rendering a GUI
  • we can use a server to do the calculation for us, leaving our working computer free to do other things.

Blender from the command line

Getting the CL to work.

We will first need to make sure that we can run blender from the command line. If you are running this on a mac you will need to make sure your .bash_profile knows where to find the blender command. On open source operating systems you will need to do something similar unless you installed it via apt-get install blender.

alias blender=/Applications/

For more info see this link.

Running the CL

The blender command line offers many opportunities to automate things. Consider the following command:

$ blender -y -b -x 1 -o /some/output/dir/ --engine CYCLES --python /path/to/script/

The python script contains rendering details, so blender will just run these and output them in the specified folder. This command will not prompt the user to confirm anything (via -y) and it will run in the background (so no gui, via -b). Note that for extra performance you can specify a higher number of threads (-t) if your machine supports it.

You can get more option info via blender --help.

Viewing the output

In the output dir we will now see that files have been created. These are images. With a simple command line they can be joined together in a gif.

convert -delay 10 -loop 0 *.png animation.gif

For this command line app you may need to need to apt-get/brew install imagemagick.


Blender can make an exellent tool to learn python, making these scripts is fun stuff.

For people who want to do more with blender I would like to point out that any button in blender can be set via python as well. If you keep your mouse over a button, the python code that's needed appears. That also means that you can code the render settings, which is useful if you don't want to spend too many resources.