Rendering Using Cycles in Blender
Illustration by Richard Downs

Exploring lighting types for Cycles


From:

Rendering Using Cycles in Blender

with George Maestri

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Video: Exploring lighting types for Cycles

Once you understand Materials and Surfaces, the next step in the rendering process is to add light. Previously we've actually had a light in the scene but I've deleted all the lights from the scene. And let's go ahead and just take a render of this. We have a completely black scene. That's because we have no light in the scene. Blender has a number of default lights that we can use and these are pretty much the same that we would use for the regular Blender Renderer.
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Watch the Online Video Course Rendering Using Cycles in Blender
1h 28m Intermediate Jan 24, 2013

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The open-source 3D graphics suite Blender now offers Cycles, a rendering engine that adds a new degree of realism and professionalism to your projects. In this course, George Maestri introduces Cycles, and reviews its lighting types, materials, and render settings. Learn how to layer shaders, enhance surfaces with texture and gloss, and add lifelike lighting and shadows to your scenes. In the final chapter, follow along with a small, self-contained project, where a simple architectural interior will be rendered.

Topics include:
  • Controlling interactive rendering
  • Using the shader node system
  • Adding textures to materials
  • Adding bumps and displacements
  • Adding primary and secondary lights
  • Using ambient occlusion
  • Using objects as light sources
  • Creating cameras
Subject:
3D + Animation
Software:
Blender
Author:
George Maestri

Exploring lighting types for Cycles

Once you understand Materials and Surfaces, the next step in the rendering process is to add light. Previously we've actually had a light in the scene but I've deleted all the lights from the scene. And let's go ahead and just take a render of this. We have a completely black scene. That's because we have no light in the scene. Blender has a number of default lights that we can use and these are pretty much the same that we would use for the regular Blender Renderer.

And these are found under Lamps. So each light is called a Lamp. So I'm going to go ahead and select a Spot. When I bring that in, it brings it in at my 3D cursor here, which I had set up here. We've got just a little bit of light in the scene. So if I go over to my Object panel here for my light, you'll see that I've got a number of parameters. I have the Size of the light; I have whether or not it casts a shadow.

And then I have a Surface Node, because lights actually are just Surfaces, so if I click on this, you can see I've got all my other Shaders, and one of the Shaders is called Emission and that's the Shader that emits light. We're going to use this a little bit later to turn objects into light, but just be aware that all of your default lights actually have that as part of the Materials panel. Now we also have a Color panel here, so we can pick a color for the light.

And we also have a Strength for the light. And in this case our light, it really isn't as strong as we need it, so I can go ahead and just left-click on that and turn up the light. You can see here as I turn that light up, we get a little bit more light in the scene. And I can go ahead and reposition this light if I want, and get my Spot light in the scene the way that I want. So I'm actually going to bring it a little bit out here on the Camera side, and I'm going to rotate that in, so that way I can actually have that light centered.

There we go. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and turn this onto Local. So that way I can push this light in and out. So as I push this light closer, notice how the intensity gets bigger. In fact, I'm going to go ahead and bring up my Strength a little bit more of my light and you can see how I'm really blowing out the scene there. But as I pull the light back, the light actually falls off, so these are very much real world lights.

So if I were to pull this way back, you could see how the light falls off with distance. Unlike the regular Blender lights, you cannot select whether or not these lights have fall-off, so all of your basic lights actually have inverse square fall-off. So positioning of the light is important. The closer the light is, the brighter it will be. And so this will affect your Strength value. We also have additional parameters for this light, because it is a Spot light, we have our Spot light Shape and the Blend, which is basically that soft edge.

Now we have a number of other types of lights that are supported in Cycles. So you can see here all of our Lamps are Point, Sun, Spot, Hemi and Area. And we can also change this existing Lamp to one of those. So let's just go through it here. We have Point lights, which you should be familiar with, which are basically just the bare light bulb in the room. And so these really just have the Color and Strength parameter and the light basically emits in all directions.

The next light is a Sun light. Now this light is different than the other lights, in that it doesn't have fall-off. Point light will get brighter or dimmer depending upon how far away you are. The Sun does not, because the Sun is basically at almost infinite distance, so you will have to dial down your Strength quite a bit if you're going to use the Sun parameter. So I'm going to go ahead and bring my Strength to say about 4, which would be a pretty even illumination.

And you can see that as I bring this back and forth, it really isn't affecting the brightness like the other lights will. So Sun is the one light that does not fall off. Now we just played with Spot and we also have one called Hemi, but technically Hemi is not supported; it's just interpreted as a Sun Lamp. For the regular Blender Renderer, Hemi is basically just a unidirectional Spot light that comes from a very parallel beam of light.

This is basically the same as the Sun. The last light is the Area light, and again, that is a light that has fall-off. So I am going to have to bring up the Strength of this light. This light is an Area light which means it emits from a Rectangular Area. So I can increase the size of this and you can see here this dotted line indicates the size of that light. And we also have two different types of lights.

We have a Rectangular light. We can change Size in X and Y. And we have a Square light and typically I keep this on Square. And again, we just have Color and Strength. So those are the types of lights that we have available in Blender and you can see how each one has its own uses.

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