7 Practical Tips for Pleasing Renders

How would you like to go from this:

To this:

Notice that the geometry is all the same in the scene (except for plane which got scaled up)

The first picture looks very I-Just-Got-This-Cool-Program-Called-Blender-And-Look-What-I-Was-Able-To-Make-!!!!111!!eleven……

The second picture on the other, looks much more professional. It’s not exactly very artistic, but let your imagination carry on with how these tips can help your renders look better.

1) Occlude the Sky

In other words, don’t let your sky show unless you are rendering a landscape scene, or when you are using a shadow-only plane. In our case all I did was scale up the plane so that it filled the camera’s view.

2) Soften your material’s specularity

Either turn the spec value all the way down, or set it to something very low with a low hardness value. This will result in very soft highlights. It’s all too common to see shiny/plasticy materials on everything. Remember, not everything is made out of plastic.

3) Use AAO (Approximated Ambient Occlusion)

AAO gives you very soft lighting without having to waste time rendering with raytraced ambient occlusion. But should you run into difficulties with AAO, try to use raytraced AO.

4) Use Soft Raytraced shadows

Normal shadows are awkward and don’t work very well. They will often flicker in an animation. Raytraced lighting gives you accurate shadows. Not only do they have technical issues, their also perfectly ‘hard’ edged. Real shadows fade away at the edges and so should yours!


5) Keep Your Lights Bright!

Many beginner renders are very dark and hard to see. In digital visual arts it’s not a good idea to use dark scenes either on purpose to try to convey some message or mood or just out of habit/inability. The reason is that monitors of all types make dark scenes very hard to see. Instead, try to create mood with subtle colors such like you would see in a professional film. If you’re interested more in mood creation with colors give this article a read.

6) Don’t Use Wide Camera Angles Unnecessarily

If you’re not going for some special effect with extreme wide angles on your virtual camera, stick to lens values above 100. Higher lens values minimize lens distortion and can help cut down on white space in your image composition.

7) Keep your material brightness down.

Pure whites, and other very bright colors on your objects prevent specular highlights from being seen. In other words, if you material’s diffuse color is too bright, the highlight can’t go much brighter to give your object a 3D feel which can results in your scene looking very flat.

Bonus Tip:

Bevel your edges! No physical object in this world has perfectly sharp edges. To give your object in blender a nice bevel either use a subsurf modifier with some loop cuts near the edges. It’s possible to use the bevel modifier but it doesn’t work as good as the subsurf modifier. If you’re interested in knowing why, just drop me a comment.

There’s that! Please don’t think that these are rules that you might find engraved in stone. They’re just a few practical tips that I’ve picked up over the years and wanted to share. Happy Blendering!

This entry was posted in improve, Intermediate, Render. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 7 Practical Tips for Pleasing Renders

  1. Cal McGaugh says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I’ve only been Blending about 1mo, but have had trouble
    with lighting, at least the subtle professional type above. Will try it ASAP. =)

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