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Turning on the Lights

Now that you have materials set up, it’s time to make the scene look more realistic with some light and shadows. Lights are compatible with Blender Render and Cycles, but given the different natures of these render engines, the lights have different effects, so if you switch from one render engine to another, you may need to adjust their parameters. Also, one of the benefits of Cycles is that because it is a realistic render engine, it allows you to use emissive materials, which can turn any mesh into a light emitter to illuminate the scene. This feature can simulate cool, very realistic effects that cannot be achieved with normal lights. In this first scene, you use only a couple of point lights. (Chapter 14, “Lighting, Compositing, and Rendering,” provides more information about lighting.)

Light Options in Blender Render

In Blender Render, go to the Lamp tab of the Properties Editor. (The icon will change depending on the type of lamp that you select, but it will always be yellow.) You’ll find options such as Color and Energy (Intensity). You can select the type of light as well. Also, in the Shadow panel, you can deactivate the shadows or control how they look. The Soft Size parameter makes the shadow softer, but you may need to increase samples to make it look better. Usually, 7 is adequate, but go higher if you need more quality; fewer samples result in a noisy shadow. Keep in mind that adding samples increases render time.

Lights Options in Cycles

When you access the same Lamp tab in Cycles, the options for light properties are different. You may need to click the Use Nodes button to activate all the options. You can also control the type of light. The Size parameter adjusts the softness of the shadows, and on the Nodes panel, you can set the light’s color and strength.

Light options in Cycles may look rather simplistic because Cycles is a physically realistic render engine with no artificial settings such as shadow quality.

Adding Lights to Your Scene

Follow these steps to create a basic lighting scheme for your scene (and remember that you can access the menu for adding new objects to the scene by pressing Shift+A):

  1. Select the light in your scene or create a new one if you don’t have a light yet.

  2. Duplicate the light, and place it on the other side of the scene to fill the shadow areas.

  3. Arrange the intensity and colors of your lights so that the one on the right is brighter, while the one on the left is dimmer and a different color. You want the main light to come from the right, so that light should be brighter.

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