Blender 3D: Noob to Pro/Quickie Lighting

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Blender263DefaultRender.png

Open a new default Blender document. Without doing anything else, hit  F12  to render the default cube with the default settings. The result should look something like at right.

Note how, because the default light is at the upper right from the camera viewpoint, the lower left visible face of the cube is completely black.

Blender263ShadelessRender.png

Go back from the render to the 3D view ( F11 ). Now select (with  RMB ) the default light, and either delete it or move it to another layer (with  M ). Go to your World tab Blender255WorldContextButton.png in the Properties Blender269PropertiesIcon.png window, and look for the Environment Lighting panel Blender263WorldEnvironmentLightingSettings.png; check the box next to the title, and leave the “E:” (energy) value at its default 1.0. This gives us a pervasive, directionless light, illuminating all objects equally from all directions, which means there will be no shadows. Do another render, and it should now look like at right.

See how we have gone from one extreme—inky-black shadows—to the other—no shadows at all. In the real world, lighting is almost never perfectly uniform, and this variation of light and shade is important to help us distinguish details of the scene around us; without such variations, everything devolves into featureless blobs.

Blender263SoftenedDefaultRender.png

Now undo your deletion of the default lamp (or move it back to layer 1 from the layer where you hid it). Enable Environment Lighting again, but this time lower the Energy value to 0.1. Do a new render, and it should now look like at right: the shadowed face is still shadowed, but not enough to make it impossible to see any details it may have. This is usually the sort of effect you want, unless you are aiming for really dramatic contrasts.

So the lesson is:

Note:

A single light is rarely enough for a good-looking scene.

 

As you learn more, you will find that it is common to use two or three lights, or even more, to ensure proper illumination of a scene. But in the simpler tutorials, where no explicit details are given about lighting, you can probably get by with the default light, plus a little extra touch of environment lighting to soften the shadows as you added above.