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Blender 2.6 Essential Training
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Ambient occlusion


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Blender 2.6 Essential Training

with George Maestri

Video: Ambient occlusion

Another popular form of lighting in Blender is called ambient occlusion. Now this is very similar to ambient lighting, but it adds in additional shading that gives it a much more realistic effect. So let's take a look at this scene. I have my standard cup and saucer, but I've removed all the textures so you can see the effect more clearly. Now let's go ahead and render this scene. And as you can see, there are no lights in the scene. Now ambient occlusion does not need a light to work.
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  1. 3m 42s
    1. Welcome
      1m 22s
    2. Using the exercise files
      28s
    3. Downloading Blender
      34s
    4. Using Blender on a Mac
      42s
    5. Using Blender on a laptop
      36s
  2. 30m 32s
    1. Overview of the Blender interface
      6m 6s
    2. Understanding 3D view windows
      5m 23s
    3. Navigating in 3D space
      6m 35s
    4. Configuring user preferences
      6m 24s
    5. Creating custom layouts
      6m 4s
  3. 32m 29s
    1. Selecting objects
      6m 12s
    2. Moving objects
      4m 35s
    3. Rotating objects
      2m 48s
    4. Scaling objects
      2m 16s
    5. Understanding transform orientation
      3m 53s
    6. Changing an object's origin
      5m 27s
    7. Selecting pivot points
      3m 22s
    8. Using Snap to move objects precisely
      3m 56s
  4. 44m 15s
    1. Creating mesh primitives
      6m 36s
    2. Selecting vertices, edges, and faces
      4m 48s
    3. Editing mesh objects
      7m 39s
    4. Proportional editing
      3m 52s
    5. Sculpt mode
      4m 45s
    6. Working with edges and edge loops
      3m 42s
    7. Extrusions
      5m 18s
    8. Smooth shading objects
      2m 23s
    9. Subdividing meshes
      5m 12s
  5. 50m 31s
    1. Working with modifiers
      5m 52s
    2. Working with subdivision surfaces
      3m 48s
    3. Creating a simple creature
      7m 54s
    4. Symmetrical modeling with the Mirror modifier
      8m 21s
    5. Joining mesh objects
      3m 37s
    6. Stitching vertices
      4m 52s
    7. Finalizing a simple creature
      4m 48s
    8. Creating text
      3m 29s
    9. Boolean tools
      2m 59s
    10. Vertex groups
      4m 51s
  6. 22m 36s
    1. Using the Outliner
      8m 22s
    2. Using layers
      4m 30s
    3. Creating groups
      2m 48s
    4. Working with scenes
      4m 2s
    5. Creating hierarchies
      2m 54s
  7. 54m 26s
    1. Assigning materials to objects
      8m 4s
    2. Diffuse shaders
      6m 47s
    3. Working with specularity
      5m 56s
    4. Using the Ramp Shader options
      9m 45s
    5. Additional shading options
      2m 37s
    6. Creating reflections
      8m 29s
    7. Adding transparency and refractions
      6m 49s
    8. Subsurface scattering
      5m 59s
  8. 51m 48s
    1. Adding a simple texture
      6m 11s
    2. Using bitmaps
      6m 53s
    3. Mapping textures in the UV Editor
      8m 28s
    4. Using UV projections
      5m 56s
    5. UV mapping a character
      6m 11s
    6. Fine-tuning UV mapping
      6m 7s
    7. Creating Bump and Normal maps
      3m 15s
    8. Displacement mapping
      3m 48s
    9. Using the Node Editor
      4m 59s
  9. 53m 9s
    1. Adding lamps to a scene
      8m 44s
    2. Fine-tuning ray-trace shadows
      4m 32s
    3. Using spot lamps
      4m 20s
    4. Fine-tuning buffer shadows
      6m 19s
    5. Using Hemi lamps
      2m 32s
    6. Working with Area lamps
      5m 17s
    7. Creating sky and ambient light
      4m 49s
    8. Adding background images
      3m 19s
    9. Creating sunlight
      6m 6s
    10. Ambient occlusion
      7m 11s
  10. 30m 8s
    1. Working with cameras
      4m 47s
    2. Creating camera targets with constraints
      3m 43s
    3. Render properties
      5m 7s
    4. Rendering animation
      5m 13s
    5. Adding motion blur
      4m 10s
    6. Creating depth of field
      7m 8s
  11. 32m 30s
    1. Understanding the Timeline
      4m 3s
    2. Animating objects
      6m 26s
    3. Animating properties
      4m 0s
    4. Editing animation in the Graph Editor
      8m 36s
    5. Using the Dope Sheet
      4m 53s
    6. Path animation
      4m 32s
  12. 39m 59s
    1. Facial animation using shape keys
      4m 40s
    2. Understanding armatures
      6m 2s
    3. Fitting an armature to a creature
      7m 23s
    4. Deforming a character with an armature
      3m 49s
    5. Setting up inverse kinematics
      3m 53s
    6. Controlling the hips and body
      2m 1s
    7. Animating in Pose mode
      2m 47s
    8. Creating a test animation
      9m 24s
  13. 15s
    1. Goodbye
      15s

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Blender 2.6 Essential Training
7h 26m Beginner Dec 21, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Navigating in 3D space
  • Selecting, rotating, and scaling objects
  • Using Snap to move objects precisely
  • Creating mesh primitives and extrusions
  • Subdividing meshes
  • Creating a simple creature
  • Joining mesh objects and stitching vertices
  • Organizing a scene with layers, groups, and hierarchies
  • Assigning glossy and reflective materials to objects
  • Creating bump maps
  • Creating sky and ambient light
  • Understanding ambient occlusion
  • Adding motion blur and depth of field
  • Editing animation in the Graph Editor
  • Building and animating a simple character
Subject:
3D + Animation
Software:
Blender
Author:
George Maestri

Ambient occlusion

Another popular form of lighting in Blender is called ambient occlusion. Now this is very similar to ambient lighting, but it adds in additional shading that gives it a much more realistic effect. So let's take a look at this scene. I have my standard cup and saucer, but I've removed all the textures so you can see the effect more clearly. Now let's go ahead and render this scene. And as you can see, there are no lights in the scene. Now ambient occlusion does not need a light to work.

It's kind of like ambient lighting, in that it's just an overall lighting in the scene. It's not a specific light. So we can get to ambient occlusion by going into our World panel and scrolling down to Ambient Occlusion. When I click that on, you'll notice how two panels light up: Ambient Occlusion and Gather. Let's just go ahead and do a quick render of ambient occlusion. Now as you can see, we get shading in the scene. That's because we're creating an overall ambient light.

Now ambient occlusion can be controlled. So we have a factor here, which is basically how much ambient lighting are we adding into this scene? We can either add or multiply against the existing background. So if we turn this down, say to 0.24, 0.25 or so, and do a quick render, you'll see that the overall ambient lighting has been reduced, and this is great if you're going to be using this in conjunction with other lights, so that you can have another light actually doing this specular of the diffuse, but you still have an overall ambient lighting in this scene.

I'm going to go ahead and turn this up to 1.00 again. Now the color of the ambience is based on the Ambient Color in the World setting. So right now it's black, so my darkest Ambient Color is going to be black. I can change this to any color I want. Usually we can change it to something like a dark gray to give it just a little bit of a brighter effect. Or if we want, we can tint this by adding in a color. So if I wanted to, for example, make this a green color, I could, and you'll see that now my overall ambient lighting is green.

I'm going to go ahead and turn that back down to a dark gray, something like that, and then let's just do one more render. Now another way to control how this effect looks is to go down to the Gather tab. By default, it's set to Raytrace, and so it uses ray tracing to create that overall ambient effect. Now ray tracing can be expensive in terms of render time. So we have a number of samples here that can control how much ray tracing it uses.

So with the default sample of 5, you can see how in this particular image we still get a little bit of graininess. But if we want to, we can turn that up. Let's say we bring it up to 10. We can render that again, and you can see how with more samples it smoothes out the graininess. But it also adds render time. So you have to find balance between acceptable graininess and the render time. So if we want, we can also do another type of gathering, and that's called Approximate.

And what this does is it just approximates the ambient occlusion effect, and sometimes this may just be good enough. If we do a render with the default settings here, you'll find that in this particular scene we get kind of a harsh effect. You'll see that the dark areas are very dark and the light areas are very light, but we can smooth that out by using sampling. So if I bring up my Sampling passes just to 1, you'll see that this moves out very nicely. But again, the more passes you have, the more render time.

But overall Approximate Gather is actually a little bit faster than ray tracing, at the expense of accuracy. Now I'm going to go ahead back to Raytrace and turn my samples down to 5. Now we have another way of doing ambient occlusion, and that's using what's called Environment Lighting. Now if I switch off ambient occlusion and turn on Environment Lightning, if I render that, you'll see I get pretty much the same effect, because really Environment Lightning is just another form of the ambient occlusion.

Now Environment Lightning pulls its color not from the Ambient color here, but from a selection that we have. By default it's at white, but we can use the Sky Color or the Sky Texture. So if I change this to Sky Color, I can turn on my Blend Sky here and give it a Horizon color, let's say a dark blue, and a Zenith color, let's say a very pale, blue, and what we can do now is use that to create my ambient occlusion.

So when I hit Render on this, the dark areas will be my Horizon color, the light areas will be my Zenith color, so you can see I get an overall tint of the scene. Now if I wanted to change this a lot, I could for example, change my Zenith color to a yellow or something like that, and then again render and you can see how it goes from yellow to blue. Now another way to do this is with a Sky Texture. Now we did this before in a previous lesson, but if we want to, we can go over to the Texture panel and add in a new texture.

By default, it's set to Clouds, but let's go ahead and pull in an image. We're going to pull in that same sky background that we used in the previous lesson. Now in order for this to show through, we need to change our Influence. So I'm going to go ahead and turn my Blend down to 0 and turn on Horizon and Zenith, and this will go ahead and make this bitmap show up as the background. Now if I go back to my World settings and make sure this is set to Paper Sky, I can use this to create my ambient lighting.

So if I turn this Environment Lightning on to Sky Texture, it will now derive my Environment Lighting from this bitmap texture. So if I hit Render, you'll see how this works. So with that render complete, you can see how it's pulling the colors from my sky. This is a great way to get very realistic lighting. You create a Sky texture, turn on Environment Lighting, and then you can balance this using the energy in the scene against the real lighting.

So just to refresh, ambient occlusion creates an overall ambient lighting, and we have two forms: we have ambient occlusion, which is just a simple color or if we want to have more complex lighting, we can use Environment Lighting.

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