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Blender - Lighting

Lighting is required for virtually every scene you will want to 'render' in Blender. Initially, you're given one 'point' type lamp when you open blender (unless you've changed the opening scene). When viewing your scene in the OBJECT or EDIT modes, the lighting that you use has no effect. Rendering, is different in that respect.

When using 3D software, the rendering (final image/animation preview) takes into account the position of objects and the lighting so that the path of the light can be computed and the various objects lit properly and the proper shadows cast. Not all rendering is the same. The default render engine in Blender is Blender Render. The selection menu for the render options can be seen very near the top of the window below. Blender Render is old and may not be perfect but the other option is 'Cycles Render'. It's supposed to be more accurate but... Well, it's different. It's much slower so you have to decide which you want to use. For the beginner, Blender Render is likely the best option.

In the following image, you can see the shading menu open. Here, you will often choose only SOLID or WIREFRAME. Another option is RENDER. In the two previous modes, the movement (orbit, zoom...) when changing your viewpoint is essentially instantaneous. In render mode, the movements are choppy, take more time to settle and use more horsepower from your computer. In the Cycles Render mode, it can take minutes for a relatively simple image to finalize. Blender Render is sufficient for most of what the beginner will need so except for Using Cycles to see how it differs, there isn't much point in a novice using it.

As an example, the image above is the lighting01.blend file rendered with Blender Render. The one below, with Cycles Render. You can see how they differ. The rendering time for the image is given at the top of the 3D workspace. The time to render the top image was less than 1/2 second. The bottom, about 11 seconds. One more thing you should consider is the heat produced by your computer's processor. Whether it's the CPU or the GPU doing the work, they're going to produce much more heat with Cycles rendering. If the computer is properly designed, running it for extended periods at 100% duty cycle won't be an issue but it will stress components more than normal. Next, onto light sources.

There are 5 types of light sources readily available in Blender. Below are there general characteristics. Understand that there are differences in the light properties in the two rendering engines. These are mainly for Blender Render.

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