Part 6: Multiple Views, Lighting, and Materials

In this sixth part of our Blender guide, we go into using multiple views, lighting, and touch on materials.

Previously, we talked about some advanced editing techniques, creating loop cuts, and even touched on shaders and modifiers. While we are starting to get the hang of creating models, it would be nice to add some colour to our models. Additionally, we will cover lighting and how to modify our view to see things in different ways at the same time.

Adjusting and Creating Multiple Views

As you are working, you might feel like you are a bit limited in what you can see at any given time. One way you can save screen space is by removing ththe left side panel. This panel is known as the tool’s menu. So, to remove or bring it back, we can use “T” for “t”ools.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if we could have multiple views at the same time? That is very easily done. First, in your main view port, look for the little diagonal lines on the top right hand corner:

When you see this, click and drag it to the left. You’ll find yourself duplicating your window:

Now, let’s say I want to create a horizontal view. As highlighted above, there is a similar set of diagonal lines on the lower left hand corner as well. Click and drag this up and you should be able to achieve something like this:

The resulting view is completely independent from one another. If you get a different perspective on one, the others will remain the same. This can be very useful if you are referencing something while modelling or just using different views to modify your scene. Now, to collapse one, click and drag on those same diagonal lines and click and drag over the screen you want to remove. You should see a faint arrow like this:

Now, the rule is, as long as the screens have identical width or height, you can collapse in to that screen. If they don’t, then you can’t.

Let’s say you created a view space that is completely unmanageable. Is there an easy way to get what you saw before? That’s easy. Just click on “File”, then “Load Factory Settings”:

You’ll be reset to the default view settings:

This will become useful later on in this guide part. Just remember that you’ll have to re-tick off emulated mouse buttons, numpads, and selecting with left click when you do this.

Adding in a Material

Now that we have a good understanding of basic modelling, now would be a good time to start adding some nice fancy colour, right? The basic colours are handled through what are known as materials.

First, let’s raise our cube above that grid and add a plane to set it on:

Next, we are going to switch engines from Blender Render to Cycles Render:

Then, we are going to click on the Materials button which looks like a little sphere in the right panel:

Next, we are going to click on the diffuse colour bar:

Then, in the colour picker, we can select any colour we want. It doesn’t really matter which colour you pick, but I went ahead and picked blue:

You might think, “hey cool! That was easy! Now I know what my cube will look like!” Well, this may only show a general colour and not what we can see in the final render. To determine what we can see in the final render, we need to look at render view:

When you click on this, your computer will do a quick and dirty render. It may have a lot of noise, but it’s trying to give you a quick idea of what you might see in the final render:

One thing to point out right away is that how quickly this is generated depends on the power of your computer and/or graphics card. If you have a powerful machine, then this will take a few seconds to generate. If you are on a slower laptop, well, you are, for one, really working your laptop hard, and for another, it’ll probably take longer to generate this. So, we are now getting into the heavy lifting from the computers perspective at this point.

The Node Editor

While we did get our colour across, this does leave a lot to be desired, right? The lighting is kind of bad and the colour is rather plain. The first problem is that there is no shine on the cube. It’s just a quick and dirty diffuse colour. Everything has some kind of shine to it. Whether it is the chrome on your fork handle or a dirty rock, everything has some amount of shine to it.

While we could try and add something via the right hand side model, this panel will only limit us to one colour. The question is, can we add more than one thing to our material? The answer is most definitely yes. First, let’s split our view horizontally:

Next, as highlighted above, we are going to click on our view button. We are going to go from our 3D view to our node editor:

You’ll notice that I highlighted a little check box along the bottom that says “Use Nodes”. Tick that and you’ll be able to start using nodes:

Your first reaction is probably the same as mine: “Uh, small much?” No problem. A lot of our navigation abilities used early on in the guide can be duplicated here. Use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out. If you want to pan left, right, up, or down, then just hold down the middle mouse button/middle scroll wheel and drag the mouse.

You’ll immediately see that we have a little box on the left called the Diffuse BSDF. This is the exact same thing as the diffuse colour we added earlier. Only now, it has become a single node. On the right hand side, we have the “Material Output”. This is the end result. Additionally, we can see that a line connects the two. Think of it as two devices that need to plug into each other. The diffuse adds colour. The output holds everything together and applies it to our cube. Both need to connect it, so we have our diffuse plugged in to our output. Hopefully this along with the above picture makes some sense. If you’ve ever used Propellorheads Reason, this should be second nature to you already.

Let’s say I want to disconnect the diffuse node. That is actually very easy. Just click on the point where it plugs into that and drag it away. You should see something like this:

Now, when you release the left mouse button, the connection will be severed and you’ll see the end result of the above cube shown in rendered mode:

You’ll see that my cube has turned black. This is because the diffuse is no longer connected to anything. As a result, the diffuse is no longer applied. With no materials applied, the cube will just turn black. Now, what do we need to do to put it back? Simply click and draw the green circle on the diffuse node and re-connect the cord to the output node like so:

When you let go of your left mouse button, you should see the connection restored and your cube is now back to being the colour you originally set it as.

Let’s say you aren’t happy with the colour you picked. That can easily be corrected by clicking on the little blue bar in the diffuse node and selecting a new colour:

The changes will take effect and you don’t have to go back to the left panel and change anything. Everything is nicely handled within the node itself. Pretty convenient if you ask me. While we can play with the roughness already, we want to add in a gloss. So, remember way back when we added in a new mesh in the 3D view port? We can add in an additional node in the same way: Shift + A:

You’ll get a new menu of a whole bunch of different nodes that you can get. There are a lot of nodes you can add – and I do mean A LOT! However, we are only after the gloss node. So, lets hover our mouse over “Shader”, then click on “Glossy BSDF”. This will add our gloss node to our node editor:

You’ll notice that your node is sticking to your cursor at that point. Just left click wherever it is convenient for you to place it into the editor. Now, what happens if I try and connect the gloss node directly into the surface?

Yup, our first node gets disconnected. Under most circumstances, we can only plug in one node at a time. Our cube updated to just have gloss as well. So, what do we do to rectify the situation? We add in what is known as a mix shader. So, let’s do our Shift A again and add in our mix shader:

When we click, we’ll see it stick to our cursor. What I’m going to do is put it between the gloss and output node so it runs right through like so:

When I left click, the cord will connect between the gloss and the mix shader. A new cord will then connect between the mix shader and the output node. Well that’s convenient.

The cool thing about the mix shader is that you can mix two different shaders into one. So, I put the gloss to the bottom green shader input, then connect the diffuse shader to the top shader in the mix shader like so:

Well look at that! It worked like a charm. My diffuse is going through and the gloss is going through.

You’ll notice that there is an “FAC” in our mix shader. This tells how much of our diffuse vs gloss we want to add. In the above example, if you set it to a low value, you’ll see more diffuse than gloss. Set it to a high value and you’ll see more gloss than diffuse. Now, let’s say I want to type in a specific amount. Just click on the “FAC” number and type in the number you want from 0.0 to 1.0. 0.5 is right down the middle and what you had at the beginning.

Now, you can tweak the roughness of both the gloss and the diffuse if you wish. It’s whatever will give you the desired effect that you are after.

If we want to modify the material on the floor, we can certainly do that too. Just click on the floor we created earlier in the 3D view port. You’ll see your nodes vanish. A new material is set for our floor:

From there, we can just repeat our steps by assigning it a mix shader, gloss node, and connecting everything together like before.

On a final note on this, let’s say you selected a node while adding something new. How do we get rid of it? Just click on the node you do not want and hit “X” on your keyboard. Node gone!

For those who are curious, here is what I set my floor to if you really want to copy everything I have:

Really, getting an exact copy isn’t really necessary. You can assign your own values and it’ll probably work just as well. Just put together something that you are happy with.

That’s a quick rundown of the node editor!


Now that we have our pretty colours set up, it’s time to address the other problem with our scene: lighting. It’s really not the greatest. We can adjust this, however. First, I’m going to switch the bottom window to the 3D viewport:

Next, I’m going to select my lamp (as also shown above). I can move it around until I find a convenient location.

Well, it’s a bit better, but there is a bright spot where it is located on the floor and the lighting itself is far from perfect. Luckily, this isn’t the only lamp available. First, let’s delete the lamp with “X”. Then, let’s add a new lamp through shift + A:

Spot Lamp

You’ll notice that there are a lot of different lights available. One light is the spot lamp.

I can move this lamp around and rotate it like any other object. In the above screen shot, I am rotating it so that it is angled towards the cube.

You might think that this is rather weak, but there are a number of options available on the left hand panel that adjusts this. First, we have the strength that we can change:

I’m just typing in a value of 500 because clicking and dragging didn’t go fast enough. I just set it at a value of 500. You’ll also note that you can also change the colour in the option just above this.

Next, I can adjust the cone angle (in this case, I set it to just above 60 degrees).

Finally, I can adjust the blend which adds some colour blur on the outside of the light circle. Now, if you notice the shadow cast by the cube, you can adjust the harshness of that shadow simply by adjusting the lamp size:

Area Lamp

OK, so we took a look at the spotlight. Now, I’m going to let you explore the other lamps on your own, but for the purpose of showing you the lamps we are going to be using later, I’m going to select the area lamp. After moving it to a different location, this is what my scene looks like:

Next, I’m going to “s”cale the lamp. It should look something like this:

Now, I’m going to “R”otate it to be at a 90 degree angle (again, you can type in “X” for the axis and “90” for the angle):

OK, that’s a bit better. I’ll just move it back away from the cube so it lights up everything and eliminates the light edge. After moving it to a good spot, I’m going to increase the strength just like my spotlight:

Next, I’m going to give a bit of warmth to the light, so I’m going to adjust the colour to give it a yellowish tint to it by adjusting the colour picker:

Hey, that looks pretty good! OK, if I’m happy and satisfied with that particular lamp, it’s time to move on to the second lamp. Of course, that was a lot of work getting the right colours in place. How can we duplicate that lamp anyway? Simple solution: shift + D:

After moving the new lamp along the axis, I can make sure that there are no weird shadows along the left hand edge. Once I am happy with the positioning, I can adjust the colour accordingly.

Here, I’ve just added a slight hint of orange to the light. Finally, since I’m satisfied with the angle already, I’m going to adjust the strength to make the scene a bit more pleasing to the eye:

When I’m happy, it’s off to the third lamp. Here’s what I put in for the third one (note location, strength, and colour if you are wanting to duplicate, but try and focus on what you are happy with):

Lamp number 4 (same colour as lamp 3):

Lamp number 5 (same strength and colour as 4) to give the right hand side an effect of windows being off scene:

Finally, one last lamp to better light the subject:

By no means is this lighting set-up perfect. You could probably adjust the size of the lamps so as to simply knock the numbers down to 3. However, the idea is that you set up your lighting system one at a time. If you are fully satisfied with the first lamp with strength, size, strength, and colour, then move on to the next lamp. Repeat the process until you have something decent. Don’t just dump a bunch of lights and start adjusting because it becomes more difficult to figure out which lamp you need to adjust and fix after the fact.

By all means, once you are done, adjust lamps afterwards to fine tune them. It’s not always easy to tell if you got the right lamp once you are done your set-up. Also, don’t feel obligated to remove all shadows. Shadows can be good too to give the scene character and realism. Really, you can spend hours tweaking the lighting to get it better and better. If you feel you can do better than me, knock yourself out. It’s definitely more than possible. You can adjust the gloss and diffuse of the floor and the cube and pull off a far better result than the above.

So, that’s it for lighting. Hopefully, you found some of this useful at least.

Keyboard Shortcut Roundup

For those of you who are practising and don’t want to read through paragraphs of content to get to the keyboard shortcuts, here is a list of everything we covered in this part:

  • T = Toggle tools panel
  • (While in node editor) Shift + A = Add a node
  • (While in node editor) X = Delete node
  • Shift + D = Duplicate (duplicates nodes in node editor, duplicates selected object in 3D view)

Below is a list of commands previously covered in other parts of the guide and mentioned in this part:

  • (While in 3D view) Shift + A = Add
  • (While in 3D view) X = Delete selected object
  • (While in 3D view) R = Rotate
  • (While in 3D view) S = Scale
  • (While in 3D view) (while rotating, moving, or scaling) X/Y/Z – Constrain movements to X/Y/Z axis

< Advanced Editing, Shaders, and Modifiers | Index | Adding Text and Decorating a Scene >

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top