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Twilight is a very popular and inexpensive third-party renderer for SketchUp. This course shows how to create highly realistic 3D architectural drawings (including interior/exterior elements) with the lights, materials, camera, and render options in Twilight. Author Brian Bradley explains the importance of reflectance in materials, and shows how to manage and save rendering presets, how to correct for perspective, tone, and exposure in the camera, and how to create a variety of material types. The final chapter covers rendering your complete arch-viz scene for a couple types of output, including animation and composites.
Oftentimes, when rendering shots out of Twilight we will want to add a photographic effect that can enhance both the artistic and realistic aspects of our image. One way to do this would be by adding a photographic depth-of-field effect. We can accomplish this in a very straightforward manner using Twilight's tools. As Twilight's controls conform to general photographic principles, some experience working with cameras can go a long way when it comes to setting up a depth-of-field effect, but of course it isn't essential for us to work with the Twilight controls.
To work with those, we need to of course come up to the Twilight toolbar, click on the Open Twilight Render icon. That will bring the Render dialog up for us. Once in here, we need to come into the Camera Tab, because the primary tool we are interested in is this Camera F-Number option. This F-Number, or F-Stop, control, just as with a real camera, will control the depth-of-field effect in our scene. Just as with a real camera, higher F-Number values will give us a less pronounced depth-of-field effect in the scene. This is often known as a deeper depth of field.
Of course, lower F-number values will increase the blurriness of our depth-of-field effect. This is again known as a shallower depth of field. The default setting of Pinhole of course gives us infinite focus in the scene. Now, to correctly set up a depth-to-field effect, we do need to use this F-number value in conjunction with Twilight's Scene View tool. This will allow us to specify a point of focus in the scene. Otherwise, we could find our depth of field effect working in the wrong place. So, let's dismiss our Render dialog and go and set the point of focus in the scene.
We need to select our Scene View tool. As soon as we roll into our viewport, of course we will get our 3 x 3 grid. And now, if we hold down the Ctrl key, you can see we get this target icon that allows us to use a simple left-mouse-click to set the focal point of the scene. I'm going to choose this sphere in the middle of our outdoor pool here and just left-mouse-click, and now we have set that as the point of focus in the scene. Once that's done, I can just use spacebar to return to my normal Select tool, and I can again go and access the Render dialog.
What I need to do now is set up my F-Number value. Now, to get a fairly strong or pronounced depth-of-field effect in this particular scene, I'm going to use an F-Number value of 2.8. Do remember that this will work in conjunction also with the focal length of your lens. You get different depth-of-field effects from different focal lengths. So, with that set, let's go and take a test render. And as you can see, with just a few simple steps, we have a very nice depth-of- field effect taking place. And as you have seen, we can very easily change the point of focus in our scene and so produce a completely different depth-of-field effect.
One thing we do need to point out here is that the F-Number value on our Twilight camera, unlike a real- world camera, doesn't affect exposure. So we can set this value to anything we like; it will not change the exposure of our scene. Don't forget of course that we could very easily change our depth-of-field effect at this point in time. If we came and raised our F-Number value, we would get a subtler blurring in our render. And of course, the opposite would happen if we drop this value down; we would get a much stronger depth-of-field effect. We could also alter the depth-of-field effect by working with our focal lengths.
But do remember, if we work with the focal lengths in our scene, then we're going to change our camera setup and composition. So, oftentimes it's easier to just work with the F-Number value to create a different depth-of-field render for ourselves. One quick workflow tip that we can give after setting up our F-Number value, if we want to make certain that our camera focal point is stored with our scene, we just need to come right-click on our Scene Tab and use the Update option to make certain that all of that is fixed for ourselves. So, there is no doubt that creating effects such as depth of field in our renders really is a great way to add both an artistic and realistic touch to our final output.
And of course using Twilight tools, it really couldn't be any simpler.
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