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Another way to add light into your scene is to use environmental lighting. In other words, light from the environment. Now this can either be a solid color, or an environment image, such as an HDRI or an image file. So let's take a look at our scene. Turn on the Render here. I'm going to render it. Let's make sure we're in the World tab, and turn off Ambient Occlusion, because I want to show you the exact effect of an environmental light.
Now we can add that in by adding a surface to the World. Now a lot of these are standard Surfaces. But the one we want to add here is called Background. So, when we add that in, it brings in just some standard stuff that we normally see in a Shader such as Color and Strength. If I wanted to, I could change the color of my environment. And you can see how this affects the way that the scene renders.
So the color kind of adds an overall tint to the scene. And then we have a Strength value here where we turn that up or down. You can see how it not only turns up and down the light, it also turns up and down the background environment color. Let's say I brought it up to 2. You can see this will over -saturate fairly quickly. So you really want to keep this between 0 and 1. Another way to affect this is to simply bring down the value of the light, which is almost exactly the same as taking down the Strength.
Another way to do this is to add something other than a solid color. We can add bitmaps into our environment, not only to create light, but also to create a background image. So we can do this by adding a texture into our Color. So I'm going to click here and we have a number of different Textures. Now, typically, you want to have an Image or an Environment Texture. You can also have a Sky Texture, which is a procedural sky.
In this case, I'm going to use what's called an Environment Texture. Now this is a little bit different than an Image Texture, in that it will wrap around the scene. By default, it puts in this very loud color. But we can certainly open up an image file here. And I have one here in my Chapter 3 folder called Panorama.jpg. This is a JPEG file. If you want, you can load in an HDRI file, which will have a much higher dynamic range and will work a lot better as a light source.
But I've got this image here, which is basically just some mountains, and they're actually creating a light source in the scene. If I want, I can again bring the Strength up or down and you can see how this affects the light in the scene here. So if I brought it up to, say, maybe 0.5 or something like that, you can see how this actually creates light. And if you look really closely, you'll see that this is reflecting on the glass as well.
Those are some basic ways to add environmental lighting into a Cycles render. Now remember, you can add in either a solid Color or a Texture just as long as you add a Background Surface to the World.
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