Blender 2.7 Basics — Tutorial 10: Rendering in Cycles

Welcome to the tenth tutorial of the Blender Basics tutorial series. In this tutorial we will be looking at the Cycles Rendering Engine in Blender.

Blender Reference Manual —

Blender Hotkeys Reference —

Blender GPU Graphic Card Requirements —

Stone Texture —

Render Settings

The Cycles renderer in Blender is a much more photorealistic renderer. We can change to the Cycles renderer by going to the Information Editor and, using the drop-down menu, change the renderer from Blender to Cycles.

One of the nice things about using Cycles is that we can use the GPU on our systems to accelerate the rendering process if we have the proper graphics card. (You can find out more about the required graphics card in the Blender manual — link is in the description.)

In order to change to using the GPU instead of the CPU go to the Render tab and under the Render section change the Device option to GPU Compute.

We also get a Sampling section when we use the Cycles Render. If we open the Sampling section under the Render tab we notice that we have two presets — Final and Preview. It is possible to add or subtract other presets by using the plus and minus buttons.

If we choose Preview notice that our Samples are set to 6 which is a very low-quality render. If we render this Cube we can see how quick the render is but how low-quality the render appears to be. We can change that number to 60 for example and re-render the Cube. Now we see that the render would be of a higher quality.

In the Cycles Render we also have a new section under the Render tab called Metadata. Metadata allows us to create a Stamp on the output. This would allow us to add a watermark or information such as the camera lens to the Render. Let’s place a checkmark next to Stamp Output and leave all the defaults. When we render the Cube we now notice that we have information about the render on the actual render itself.

The Light Paths section determines how light is calculated in the scene. We have three default settings but more settings can be added or subtracted using the plus and minus buttons.

Direct Light uses only the lights in-scene without any bounced lighting or indirect lighting. This is what we have been using throughout this entire course. Full Global Illumination and Limited Global Illumination add bounced lighting in the scene.

We also have options for Motion Blur, Performance, and Post Processing available under the Render options when we use the Cycles Render

Creating Basic Materials

Creating Materials in Cycles is similar to creating Materials in the Blender Render Engine.

Let’s select the Lamp and change it to a Hemi Lamp in the Lamp panel. Now let’s select the Cube and change our view to Rendered and open the Materials tab.

If we want to add a material all we need to do is click on the plus and the click on New. We can twirl open the Preview section to see a preview of what we create. Under the Surface section we can change the type of material by clicking on the dot to the right of the Surface option. We have multiple options but we are going to use the default Diffuse BSDF option. We can change the color of the material. In this case we will make this a blue. Once we select the Default Material and delete it using the minus button we now see our blue Material. We can also set the Roughness and the Normal. We will just leave those at the defaults.

Under the Setting section notice that we can change the Specular options just like we can in the Blender Render. However, notice that we also have a Viewport Color option. If we go back into Solid Mode notice that we cannot see the blue Material that we added. However, if we click on the Viewport Color and, using the eyedropper, change it to blue we can now see the blue Material while in Solid Mode.

We can also use the Node Editor to manipulate basic Materials just like we did in the Blender Render. Let’s split the Viewport into two horizontal areas. Let’s change the top area into the Node Editor and click on Use Nodes and change the bottom area to the Rendered Mode.

Let’s make this Cube look like glass. Click on Add and under the Shader options choose Glass and place the Node between the already existing Nodes. Notice that this new Node will automatically be connected to the other Nodes. If we now look at the Rendered view we can see that our Cube has now turned into a see-through object.

Image Maps

Let’s now look at Image Maps. Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Start-Up File. Don’t forget to change the Render Engine to Cycles.

Make sure the Cube is selected and then go into Rendered Mode. Let’s go to the Materials tab and add a solid blue Diffuse color to the Cube.

In order to add a Texture to this Cube we need to click on the circle to the right of the Color Bar and choose Image Texture. Now, under the Color options we select Open and choose the stone texture from Pixabay (link is in the description).

Split the Viewport into two vertical areas and change the right side area to the UV Image Editor. Click on the arrows next to “New” and choose the stone texture. Tab into Edit Mode and unwrap the Cube using the shortcut U and then Smart UV Project. Now we can see the stone image being applied as a Texture to the Cube.

This Texture is too large so we need to resize the Texture. Go into the Texture tab and under the Mapping section change the X, Y, and Z Scale to 4 to scale down the image Texture.