realistic area-sun shadows

I figured out how to get the new area light feature working, (turning on ray trace, etc). Now my area lights cast realistic shadows, but how can I make it look like the sun? The sun lamp works ok but doesn’t cast realistic shadows. The area lamp does nice shadows, but the shadows aren’t parallel so it looks like the sun is too close to the Earth.

Would moving the area lamp way back to an extreme distance cause any problems later on as my scene gets more complex?

Oh, I’m new to the 3D scene so please use small words. :slight_smile:

I suggest making the area light square as big as you can get and get it close to the scene that’s in the view. If the scene is too big for the light to illuminate properly scale the whole scene down to a size that the light can easily illuminate.

With the settings I have on, that makes a big diffuse light, which would be like a cloudy sky or frosted window. The shadows I’m trying for are outdoor, like with clear sky, direct sunlight kind of shadows.

I did the tutorials but they all cover only up to 2.3 and a lot has changed since then it seems. None of the tutorials take into account the area lights casting shadows. I’m also not sure what effects that turning on ray-tracing has, other than allowing the area light to work which is all I need it for.

For sunlight shadows, use (amazingly enough) a sun lamp and switch on ray shadows. This will give you crisp shadows like in direct sun. If you want something a little less sharp, I’d suggest a spot light with buffer shadows. An area light is completely the wrong light to use for sunlight shadows - for all intents and purposes, the sun is a point light source, not an area.

Have you check the disrtibuted raytracing build?:
http://dani2.chez.tiscali.fr/

Pick the “my latest patch”. This build don’t have some of the feature that the latest build have but it got soft shadow for lamp, spot and sun, and also blur reflection and refraction.

If you want to fake sun like shadow with arealight, just make the area light square smaller.

2.34 has soft ray shadows, download it when it’s officially released.

Spotlight with buffer shadow, as broken suggested. Move it far away and adjust the clipping. 1-sample ray shadows are just plain ugly.

What does ‘buffer shadow’ mean? Is that the same as turning Ray button off and using only spot lamps to generate the shadows?

Yes, buffer shadows are the non-raytraced shadows that can only be done with spotlights.