Ambient occlusion does an excellent job of creating well defined shadow areas and a pseudo-GI solution, but it does not take into account color contribution from surrounding objects. Using Blender’s radiosity method produces well saturated scenes with color bleed, but not accurate shadows. Can I combine the two? I’m curious if there’s a way to do this.
Here’s a simple cornell box style render with ambient occlusion and area shadows (creaes excellent penumbras!).
The full render uses a 16 sample raytraced area light with specular turned off and A.O. with 16 samples, but reduced energy. You can try the test scene for yourself with the original blend.
The problem comes when I try to use radiosity rendering first. By making any materials emit light, they become unshadowed, and if I use the full subdivision radiosity method, the materials are replaced by vertex lit ones.