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Lighting and rendering

With a character modeled, now we can work on setting up the lighting and outputting the scene to an image ("rendering").

The default Blender scene has a cube, a lamp, and a camera. In the first step of this tutorial, we deleted all of that so we had a fresh scene. Now we'll add a camera to the scene so we can render it, and lamps for lighting.

Add a camera

A camera is a special kind of object in Blender. The camera's view will determine the view of the final output, whether it's an image or an animation.

  • Move the 3D Cursor somewhere where you can see it (LMB Template-LMB.png).
The camera.
  • Switch to Front View (1 NumPad).
  • Add a camera with Space>>Camera. This will add a camera wherever the 3D Cursor is, but it doens't matter where that happens to be. We're going to move the camera. Note there's now another object in the scene (The camera). The square part is the front of the camera, and a black arrow points up so you know which direction the camera is facing.

Camera view.
  • Switch to camera view with 0 NumPad. You know you're in camera view when you when you see the rectangular outlines near the center of the 3D Window (Camera view). The middle outline shows the boundary of the camera's view. The outer solid line is the camera object itself.

Moving to a new view.
  • To get out of camera view, use another view control (MMB Template-MMB.png or one of the NumPad keys). Do this now, and move the view in the 3D Window to a view you want the camera to point at (Moving to a new view).

New camera view, using CtrlAlt0 NumPad.
  • Snap the camera to this view with CtrlAlt0 NumPad. This automatically puts you in camera view (New camera view).
  • Select the camera object if it isn't already selected (RMB Template-RMB.png on the outer solid line)

Same camera view, but zoomed with G-MMB Template-MMB.png.
  • Move the camera by using G, and zoom the camera using G-MMB Template-MMB.png.

Camera keyboard controls

0 NumPad - camera view.
CtrlAlt0 NumPad - snap camera to current view.
G-MMB Template-MMB.png while in camera view (and with camera selected) to zoom
MMB Template-MMB.png or NumPad views to exit camera view.
Ctrl0 NumPad - turn selected object into the camera (Watch out! See the "Camera troubles" note)

Camera troubles?

Sometimes when you're snapping the camera to the current view with CtrlAlt0 NumPad, it's easy to miss the Alt key. If that happens, you actually press Ctrl0 NumPad, which turns the selected object into a camera. This is possible because Blender is very flexible, and any object can act as a camera. When you do this by mistake, though, it can be very frustrating.

If it seems like your camera is not working as expected, it may be that you turned the selected object into a camera.

To fix this:

  • Select the Camera object you recently created above. It may be tricky to find, so use ↖ Home to view entire scene.
  • With the Camera object selected, use Ctrl0 NumPad to turn the Camera object into the scene's camera.
  • Now rotate the view to your desired camera angle, and hit CtrlAlt0 NumPad (make sure the Alt is pressed!). You should be viewing the scene through the Camera object now.

Add a Lamp

Now we will add a light to the scene. This will be a very simple lighting setup: a single lamp will be used.

  • Switch out of camera view.
The new Hemi lamp.
  • Add a 'Hemi lamp at the 3D Cursor with Space>>Lamp>>Hemi (The new Hemi lamp). "Hemi" is short for "hemispherical", and simulates the uniform light of the sky. Since it simulates an infinitely large light source, the position of a Hemi lamp doesn't matter, only its rotation. You can read about this and other lamp types at Doc:Manual/Lighting/Lamps.

Hemi lamp, rotation cleared.
  • With the Hemi lamp still selected, press AltR to clear rotation (Hemi lamp, rotation cleared). This resets the lamp to point straight downward. Its direction is indicated by the long dashed line: now it's pointing straight down.
  • You can move the Hemi lamp anywhere you'd like, I ended up moving it upward and out of the way. Remember for a Hemi lamp, only the rotation matters.

Test Render

With at least one light in the scene, we can now do a test render. Rendering is the process of calculating how light bounces off of each object and turning those calculations into an image on the screen. Depending on the complexity of your scene, rendering can take a long time. For now, we'll just use the default settings for rendering.

Test render.
  • Press F12 to render. A new window comes up, the render window, showing you what the final product looks like.
  • If you'd like to save the image, press F3 for the save window.
  • Press Esc or close the render window to return to the main Blender window.

Let's make the lamp a little brighter.

The Lamp buttons.
The Lamp panel.
  • Select the Hemi lamp.
  • In the Lamp buttons (The Lamp buttons), look for the Lamp panel.

Settings for the Hemi lamp.
  • Name the lamp ("Lamp" by default) to Hemi (Settings for the Hemi lamp).
  • Change the Energy to 1.5 either by moving the slider or by clicking on the number and typing it in. This will make the Hemi lamp a little bit brighter. Feel free to play around with the Energy settings. Even a small change (like from 1.0 to 1.5) is noticeable.

Test render with a brighter lamp.
  • Try out your lighting by rendering with F12.

Blender:Render Window Info/Tips

  • When Rendering a complex scene you may want to abort the render, pressing Esc cancels and closes the render window.
  • While a scene is in the process of being rendered the main Blender window and GUI buttons will be unresponsive.
  • Once a render has been completed it is possible to leave the render window open and go back to the main Blender window by clicking on the main Blender window.
  • The Blender Render window is able to store two different renders of a scene. To see this in action, render a scene with F12, then when the render is complete press J. This will store what is in the render window and then switch to the next render window, also the name of the render window will change to Blender:Render (previous). Now change your scene and render it with F12. This will now render the scene in the second render window space. You can now toggle between the two renders with J, allowing you to see any difference between them.


Render buttons.

Settings for rendering can be found in the Render buttons.
Of particular note are:

Output panel.

You can indicate where you want the renders to be saved in the top row of the Output panel, although this is more for animations than for stills. You can always use F3 in the render window to save the render to disk. A file browser window will open for you to choose where to save.

Render panel.

The OSA button stands for oversampling, also known as anti-ailiasing. Anti-ailiasing is a way of smoothing out edges and making the image look better at the expense of computation time. Disable this button to speed up rendering if you are just doing quick renders, but enable it for any image you want to look nice. The numbers below the OSA button indicate the number of samples: more samples results in a better image, but takes longer to render.

The Render button does the same thing as pressing F12.

Format panel.

In the Format panel you can set the size of the rendered image with the SizeX and SizeY number boxes.

You can also set the image type from the menu. This is the type of image that will be saved when you hit F3 after a render.

Instead of pressing F12 all the time while experimenting to find the right lighting setup or materials, try using the Render Preview:

Render Preview.
  • In the 3D Window, press ⇧ ShiftP.
  • Wait a moment for the preview to update (depends on the speed of your computer)
  • Move the view with MMB Template-MMB.png and watch the preview update.

Render Preview - Caution!

When ⇧ ShiftP (Render Preview) is used some things are not rendered as faithfully as they would be in a true full render with F12. The advantage is Render Preview is much quicker and most of the time gives a very good representation of what a render result will look like. If a full render does not match a Render Preview, this could be the reason.

We added a camera and some lights, and did some test renders to check the lighting. In the next section of the tutorial, we'll add materials to the skin and eyes to get rid of that ugly shiny gray look.

Next: BSoD/Introduction_to_Character_Animation/Materials_and_textures

Previous: Torso, legs, and feet

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