Install the IRRLICHT module

This is a run-time visualization system for interactive 3D viewing of Chrono simulations.

Read the introduction to modules for a technical background on the modularity of the Chrono project.


The IRRLICHT module is used to display Chrono simulations in an interactive 3D view. Here are the main features:

  • Supports all visualization shapes specified as assets on Chrono physics objects (bodies, links, etc)
  • The following default mouse and key controls are supported:
    • mouse left button for camera rotation
    • mouse right button for camera x z motion
    • mouse wheel rotation for camera forward/backward
    • press 'i' to see a setting panel,
    • press arrows to have x z camera motion, press page up & down for y vertical motion
    • press 'print screen' to start saving screenshots to disk
  • Contacts can be optionally drawn with vectors in 3D view
  • Link coordinate systems can be plotted on the 3D view


  • To Chrono::Irrlicht requires the Irrlicht SDK

Installing prerequisistes

  1. Download Irrlicht Engine; the newest tested version is 1.8.4
  2. Unzip it in a directory of your choice. For example, here we suppose that you unzipped it in C:/workspace/libraries/irrlicht-1.8.4.

Some Windows users may experience issues (black rendering window) when using shadow lights, as done in a few Chrono demos.
In such situations, we recommend either disabling use of shadows, or else installing the appropriate legacy DirectX SDK from Microsoft.
Irrlicht 1.8.4 requires the June 2010 DirectX SDK.

On Linux, Irrlicht may also be installed through a package manager: irrlicht, libirrlicht-dev, irrlicht-devel.

The best way to install irrlicht on the Mac is: brew install irrlicht (release v.1.8.5). On MacOS 12 (Monterey) you have to set IRRLICHT_INSTALL_DIR to /opt/homebrew.

If you encounter any problem with version 1.8.4 please try to roll back to release 1.8.2.
Previous versions must be built from source.
Release v.1.8.3 does not contain the precompiled 64bit DLL.
Release v.1.8.0 has issues with soft shadows.

Building instructions

Instructions on how to install the Chrono::Irrlicht library are already reported on the Chrono installation page. They are repeated here in more details.

  1. Download Irrlicht Engine
  2. Unzip in the desired directory.
    For example, here we suppose that to be C:/engine_demos/irrlicht-1.8.4
  3. Repeat the instructions for the full installation
  4. During CMake configuration, set ENABLE_MODULE_IRRLICHT to 'on', then press 'Configure'
  5. Set the directory in IRRLICHT_INSTALL_DIR: it must contain the path to your unzipped Irrlicht directory.
    In our example, browse to C:/engine_demos/irrlicht-1.8.4
  6. The corresponding IRRLICHT_LIBRARY should be found automatically: it must contain the file of the Irrlicht.lib.
    In our example, browse to C:/engine_demos/irrlicht-1.8.4/lib/Win64-visualStudio/Irrlicht.lib.
  7. Press 'Configure' again, then 'Generate', and proceed as usual in the installation instructions.

How to use it

  • Consult the API section of this module for documentation about classes and functions.
  • Consult the C++ source of demos to learn how to use the functions of this module.