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Shadows are very important in a scene, because they help define what it is you are looking at and then what you are not looking at, and if you want to hide something, you put in the shadows and then you can have it dramatically emerge from the shadows. As well as shadows give a whole sense of realism to the scene. If you seek shadows being cast by moving objects and everything, it just makes that scene much more convincing. In Blender there are four things that need to happen in order for you to get shadows. The first thing is down here in the Render sub-context.
In the Render panel there are two render pipelines that need to be enabled. The first is of course, Shadows. You've got to have Shadow Pass enabled if you are using Ray traced Shadows, you need to have Ray tracing enabled as part of the render pipeline. So that's the first setting. The second thing is you need a light. You need a light to cast some shadows. So if you look at the Shade Lamp settings for a lamp like the sun lamp, you can see that we have Ray Shadows turned on. If this was turned off, this lamp isn't going to cast any shadows.
It's going to light up Captain Knowledge here, but it's going to cast a shadow onto the ground plane. So the shadow has to be enabled as well. The third thing is you need something to actually cast the shadow and it needs to be detectable by Ray tracing. So if look here at Captain Knowledge and I take him off of being traceable by Ray tracing, even when I render, even though he is there and we can see him, he is not casting a shadow because the Ray tracing isn't picking up that he is blocking the light. So Traceable has to be on, and if any of the lights that are using him to block light are buffered lamps, then Shadow Buffers have to be turned on as well.
Finally, in the Material setting we have to have an Alpha setting of something greater than 0, because if he is perfectly transparent that light is going to pass right through him and not be able to cast a shadow, because there is no light being blocked. The fourth is that the material, the ground plane in this case needs to be able to receive the shadows. And receiving the shadows is down here in the Shaders panel and it has to be detectable by Ray tracing. Here under Shaders, the Shadows button needs to be enabled.
And if we want transparent shadows to be cast on to this material, then this button needs to be enabled as well. Now with all the lamps, the color of the shadow is usually black, as you can see here, but you can always change the color of the shadow. If I change the color of this shadow to light green to reflect that there is a lot of green light in the area, then the intensity of that shadow would not be nearly as distinct when it's shown on to the ground plane.
It's going to be a lot less of a shadow, as you can see it's not black. It's sort of this off-colored gray, because the colors are mixing. The other thing that I have seen people run into is if this hemisphere light or other lights were shining directly onto the ground plane and they were pretty bright, they might wash out the shadow as well and diminish the shadow to the point sometimes where you wouldn't even be able to see the shadow at all. So if you are not getting good shadows, first of all check all of these things to make sure that you are using shadows properly and that they add convincingly to the scene.
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