Jagged edges problem

New at blender and been learning for 3 weeks. Made my first ‘proper’ render but it has flaws and need some advice on how to improve.

  1. I am getting seriously nasty jagged edges on the shadows

  2. Shadows are flat (would prefer darker centres fading out to a soft edge)

  3. Background horizon (plane) would look better blurred or softer but can’t see how to achieve this

Any ideas gratefully recieved

For the jagged edges of the shadows: I would propose to increase the shadow buffer size. That should help in the first place.

  1. For softer shadows I suggest using an Area Lamp of fairly good Size, Ray shadows and relatively high Samples rate (8 is a good starting point). Good umbra/penumbra structure that way. Increases render time, though. In the Spot Lamp settings you also have a Soft Size setting that you can use, though that may only apply to the spot edges (been a while since I set one up).

  2. You can use an Alpha mask to fade the plane’s edges. Or extend it farther into the BG and use the World Mist setting to create a fadeout.

Thanks for the help folks. I’ll give those a go and see what i can do. Cheers.