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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.
In the real world, lights actually cast shadows, areas where light is blocked. Now in a 3D program you can turn shadows on and off, and we have multiple types of shadows. So let's take a look at ray-trace shadows in Blender. Now I have this basic scene setup, which is our point light shining on a cup and a saucer, and let's just do a quick render of that scene. So as you can see, we get shading on the side of the cup, but the scene doesn't look realistic because there is no shadow. And we can add that in very simply.
Now this is a point light so we have an option for no shadow or ray-traced shadows. Let's go ahead and turn this on, but when you turn on shadows, you do need to make sure they are turned on in renderer as well. So I am going to introduce you to this panel here, which looks like a little camera, and that's our Render panel. And if we scroll down here, you'll see under Shading, we have a number of options. One is, do we want to see textures, another is, do we want to see ray tracing, and that's things like the reflections in the table? And because we're using ray- trace shadows, we need to make sure that this is turned on, and obviously we also need to make sure that these Shadows option is turned on as well.
So once we have Ray Tracing and Shadows turned on, we can go ahead and do a quick render. Now notice as soon as we turn on Shadows, the render time goes down just a little bit, and that's because shadows do take time to render. But we do have a very defined shadow here. Now, it's pretty black, and it's kind of hard edged, but we can change that as well. But we are getting shadows in the scene. Now if you don't want actual black shadows, there are a number of ways to get rid of them.
One is to add more ambient light in the scene, but another easy way is just to change the color of the shadow, and this color picker allows you to do that. So I am going to go ahead and just change the color of the shadow to a dark gray, instead of black, and let's just do a quick render. So as you can see, even a dark-gray shadow adds a little bit more realism. We can actually see into the shadows. They are not completely black and opaque. We can actually see what's beyond that shadow.
So that actually adds a little bit of realism. If we want to, we don't have to have just gray shadows; we can certainly make them a different color. So if I wanted to make a dark blue shadow, I could do that as well. Now in this scene, a dark blue shadow might not be the exact thing we want, but if we had something that was semi-transparent or something like that, that might work very well. So I am going to go ahead and make sure I turn off my saturation here and just make it into a dark shadow. Now this shadow that we have is very hard edged.
You can see here, we have got here a very crisp edge, that shadow, and sometimes we want that, but there are times where we don't want a hard-edged shadow; we want something as a little bit fuzzier. We can change that under the Sampling option. One is the number of samples. So when we ray-trace we fire rays of light towards the object and that will give us our shadows. So with only one ray, we are going to get that sharp edge. So what we need to do is bring this up.
So I am going to bring it up to 8. But we also need to affect this value here for Soft, and so we want to bring that up a bit. So let's bring it up to about 1.5 or so. And now with 8 samples and a Soft value of 1.5, you will see that we are actually going to get a softer edge on this shadow. So one thing you'll notice is that with more samples you have longer render times, so you have to kind of balance quality against the number of samples.
In this case, I'm looking at the shadow and it's a little modeled. It's not quite smooth enough. So I'm going to actually bring up my samples to say 16, which again will increase my render time, but it should give me a more accurate result. So with 16 samples you see you get a much softer edge with a little less graininess. So higher samples increase render time but also increase the quality of the soft shadows.
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