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This course provides an overview of modeling, animating, and rendering 3D graphics in the open-source software Blender 2.6. Beginning with a tour of the Blender interface, author George Maestri shows how to create and edit basic objects, work with modifiers and subdivision surfaces, and apply materials and textures. The course also demonstrates lighting 3D scenes, setting up and using cameras, animating objects, and assembling basic character rigs.
Now let's take a look at lighting in Blender. Lighting not only illuminates the scene, but it also can add mood and drama to your scene, so lighting is very important. So we are going to start off by taking a look at a very simple light called the point light, and then move on from there. So in this scene I have a simple cup and saucer, and it has no lights in the scene. If I hit F12 to render, you will see that, well, you won't see much actually, because there is no light in the scene; it renders black.
So we can fix this of course by adding a light. So I'm going to go into my Add menu. And lights in Blender or called lamps, so we have five different types of lamps. We have Point lamps, Sun, Spot, Hemi, and Area lamps, and I am going to select the Point lamp. Now when this comes up, you will see that I have it selected, and if I want to see a rough approximation of the light, I can turn on Textured mode, and you'll see that the light actually can be seen in my viewport.
So if I move the light up, you will see how it affects the lighting of the scene. Now this is a point light, which means it's kind of like the bare light bulb in the room. It generates energy in all directions. So with it directly above the cup, you'll see I am not getting any shading on the side of the cup, so I need to move this. I am going to move this in Y a little bit over here so I have a pretty nice illumination. Now with this light at default, it may or may not be bright enough. Let me go ahead and do a quick render and we will see what happens.
And this scene actually looks a little bit dim, and part of this is because of the way default lights work in Blender. If I have this light selected, I can go over to my Lighting panel, and this allows me to control all the different lights. For right now, let's just jump straight down to the Falloff value. And this is by default set to Inverse Square, which is actually natural lighting. Real-world lights fall off with the square of distance from the object.
That's why things get dimmer the further you are from the light. But for this, let's go ahead and set this to something else. We are going to set this to Constant, so this provides constant illumination, the light has no Falloff, and it illuminates everything evenly. So if I do a quick render, you will see that I get a pretty decent render here. So with this, let's go ahead and take a look at some of these other parameters for this lamp. Along the top here, we have a selection list of all the different types of lamps. So I selected Point Lamp from the Add menu and that's what I got, but if I want to decide to change it, I can, later; I can make it a Sun, a Spot, a Hemi or an Area lamp.
Now notice how when I change this, the controls I have for each light change as well. So each light is a little bit different in the way that it works. Now with the point light the first parameter that you will come across is this color picker, and this basically just allows us to change the color of light. And you can see that here in the camera perspective window. I can make my lights really any color I want. I am going to go ahead and leave it at the default of white. Now right below that we have an energy variable, and that is basically my light dimmer. It makes a light brighter or dimmer.
So if I bring it up, make it a larger number, say let's make it about 3, and I do a quick render, you will see that I have too much light in the scene, and it's blowing out the highlights. And this is actually a very common thing that you want to cross when lighting a scene is that you have too much light in the scene. So it's always best to pay careful attention to this energy variable. And if you have too much light in the scene, you can always turn the light down. So if I bring it down say below 1 and do a quick render, you can see how again the scene is getting a little bit dimmer because I have less light.
Now one reason why you have too much light in the scene is because you have more than one light, so always pay attention to that Energy value. I am going to return this to 1, and let's go through the rest of these. The next one is a negative light and this basically just allows the light to subtract light out of the scene. So if you had too much light in the scene, you can either turn down the energy, or you could turn on a negative light, which would suck out that much light out of a scene. So if this was a negative light with an Energy of 1, it would basically counterbalance that much light in the scene.
So this is kind of great for fine-tuning your lighting. Now below this we have Specular and Diffuse, and these are actually pretty important, and this allows us to separate out the specular and diffuse channels in the light, and we can turn it on and off. Now notice how in this render we have a little specular highlights around the rim of the cup and the rim of the handle. Now if I turn off Diffuse here and just render the Specular, you'll see what I mean. These are the specular areas. This is where my specular highlights are showing up.
So if I want to, I can just render those. And this is really nice for anything where you are going to do compositing later and you will want a separate render channel. Another cool way to use it is to have multiple lights: one illuminates specularity, the second illuminates diffuse, and you can mix and match and have separate lights that make the specularity pop or whatever. So if I turned off Specularity and just render Diffuse, you will see that, well, I get a pretty basic scene, but there is no highlights. It's pretty flat.
So I am going to go ahead and leave both of those on. Now if we circle all the way back around to our Falloff, we had it set to Constant, but we have a number of other options. We have Inverse Linear, which is basically a straight-line falloff. It's not quite inverse square, but it gives you a bit of a falloff for your lights. We also have Inverse Square, which we talked about, which is realistic lighting. We also have Custom Curves, which allow you to fall the light off however you want.
And we also have a weighted light, which, again, is more of a custom setting. I am going to go ahead and return this to Inverse Square, and let's again do a test render. But before I do that, let's go ahead and turn up the energy. Remember, this light is falling off with distance, so in order to get something a little bit brighter, we need to turn up the energy. So I am going to go ahead and turn this up to 8 and do a quick render. When I do that, you can see how now that light actually does illuminate the scene. In fact, it seems to be over- illuminating it just a bit, so we can certainly turn that down.
Let's turn that down to about 5 here and again just do a quick render. And you see how when you have a falloff set, your lights are going to have to be brighter to illuminate something than they would with a constant falloff. Now also notice when this energy goes up, your preview changes. Now this preview is kind of set for a constant value of lighting. It doesn't calculate falloff, so you are not going to get accurate representation in your viewports.
The last value we have is this Distance value. So if I dial this down, you see that there's actually a sphere that surrounds our light, and when we click that sphere on, we can see the maximum distance that this light can fall. So this is actually kind of nice. If you have a light that's maybe illuminating something it shouldn't, you can actually turn on the Sphere to look at the distance, to make sure that you're not illuminating something you shouldn't. It's a great way to limit the effect of lights in the scene.
So if I turn that on and render this, you'll see that it actually darkens the scene again, because what happens with this distance is at this line, the light is at half its intensity, so that's kind of your sphere of influence for that light. So those are some of the basics of how to use the point light. Now remember, the point light extends light in all directions, and you can have multiple types of falloff, as well as many different types of color.
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