Area Lighting...

How do I create that nice, bright area lighting that casts shadows everywhere? Like on the cover of the Blender 2.3 Guide…
To tell the truth, all my lighting looks lame and crappy… I want to create some good renders, but with my lighting as it stands… bleah.

Is there a method other than the SpotLight and Isosphere dupliverting method (very hard to perfect)?


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Lemmy’s referring to Ambient Occlusion.

It’s really simple to set up. In the Buttons window (the one with the buttons),
hit F8 to go to the World Buttons. On the tab that says “Amb Occ”, open it up and click the big button that says “Ambient Occlusion”. Voila!

You can try playing with the settings, but the default should be good, at least so you can see what it’s like.

You could also use Arealights with raytraced shadows, they give soft lighting and soft shadows.


To my way of thinking, the “icosphere and dupliverted lights” is more-or-less what Ambient Occlusion is able to replace. And both of these seem to be geared more toward soft, even lighting than for soft shadows.

“Shadow-only spots” are a very handy thing for getting shadow effects. You can use cheaper-to-calculate lights for the overall effect, then add a few shadow-spots to place the necessary shadows only where you want them. Fewer lights equals reduced render-time; especially spots.

You can usually “cheat” shadows, putting less shadows in than might really be there but focusing your attention on the shadows that really matter. In the real world, ambient light bounces around a lot and fills in a lot of shadows, but there remain a few shadows whose purpose is essential for defining depth, 3-D relationships and so-on. The eye will accept the absence of a lot of details which are “technically correct” as long as it does not encounter any jarring omissions or a breakdown of the 3D illusion. (Unless your name is M. C. Eischer, you don’t want that to happen.)

You can also “cheat” lights by using layers and specifying that the light should cast its beam only on certain layers. Ever wanted a light that could shine right through one thing and hit something else? You got it! Unlike school, you won’t get in trouble for “cheating” on a render, and it might save hours of render time. Visualize what you want the scene to look like and figure out the cheapest way to get “good 'enuf.” Then ship it.

Note: The Blender Documentation page at is the “bible” for this and lots of other related lighting topics.

Use a raytracer like Yafray? The ambient occlusion thing sounds like a dream come true!! Must try.

EDIT: Er-- it creates kinda the effect I want, but too dark and loads of noise… How do I get nice clear settings??

Blender has a raytracer built-in, you don’t have to use yafray.
AO is a raytraced effect too.


Use a raytracer like Yafray? The ambient occlusion thing sounds like a dream come true!! Must try.

EDIT: Er-- it creates kinda the effect I want, but too dark and loads of noise… How do I get nice clear settings??[/quote]

If you’re using blender–you can adjust the power of the OA effect. If you want less noise, render at 2 or 3 times the size of your final product and scale it down in gimp or photoshop. I get basically no noticable noise when I render at 3x size with 8 OA samples.



Or increase the # of samples, and OSA. Oh yeah, and just increase the energy to make it brighter, but DO NOT rely purely on AO for lighting. The SPCAO will come and get you. :stuck_out_tongue:


Ambient Occlusion looks very much like what I want, but-- it’s getting hard. Guess I should actually work on my modelling skills [ie nonexistant] first :frowning:

I learned alot about lighting thru the lighting tut at the site that showed how to set up three lights.

Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Ambient Occlusion. :wink:

I think that the image on the blender book is obtain using radiosity and not an arealight.

Yeah, radiosity caught my eye too… but does it cast shadow?

Yes radiosity cast shadows. But the shadows are very smooth, since radiosity does not calculate the shadows, but it is a consequence, since the area which receives less energy then other correspond to shadows.

If you want to have more sharp shadow, use radiosity and put little lights point near the emiting objects.

Yeah, which again brings me to having to use a Spot light aiming in all directions from that object… because Lamp lights don’t create shadow.

The lamp produces shadows. If you use the raytracing renderer of blender, you have to activate rayshadow for your lamp, but it works. I use shere to emit light for the radiosity and I put a lamp (with very little power) in the center to add shadows.

Yay, I love raytracing. Do you recommend Yafray or Blender’s internal?

Blender internal is a good renderer to start with, Yafray is a little harder to use and doesn’t support as much as in the way with textures but is also pretty good.

Well, I’m not having much luck at all. I’ll post some shots if you like.