Over the time I’ve been interested in CG, I’ve seen a lot of renders. And often I see amazing scenes that for some reason still look fake. They have perfect lighting, Perfect textures, perfect topology in there models.
But somethings still wrong, they are too, well.. Perfect! And that’s what this article is all about. Getting rid of perfectly rendered images and perfect cubes and making them look imperfect. So read on and find out how!
1.) Depth of Field
Depth of field is a very important thing you can do to make your render realistic. Almost every real photograph has it. Even when you take a picture with your iPhone it focuses on something. Sometimes you can just barely notice it. but it’s always there.
Blender’s Camera has dof (Depth of field) build right in. Just scroll down to the “Depth of field” tab and set the “Aperture” to “F/stop” and set the F/stop number to what ever you want until it looks good.I recommend adding an empty and setting it has the Focus object. then you can move the empty to where ever you want the camera to focus. If you don’t want to use an empty you can just set the distance slider.
2.) Focal Length
Focal length isn’t always needed but sometimes it can really help a render. The higher you set it the farther an object looks. Every Camera lens has a set focal length. By default Blender’s Camera is set to 35mm. Which is a good preset. it’s a very common focal length. But not ideal for a lot of situations.
I’m not going to go into what different focal lengths are for, because I found This great article explaining them all, it’s for photographers. But that’s fine since it’s the same concept for CG.
3.) Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds doesn’t exactly add to realism, but it certainly improves the quality, so I’m including it anyways.
The rule of thirds is something that’s been around since about 1800. And it’s still as useful as it was then. The rule of thirds basically divides the image into nine equal parts and then you put the main focal point of the scene at one of the 4 center corners.
Blender has a rule of thirds guide under this tab in the Camera settings.
Putting the focus of the image at one of the 4 points adds interest and energy to the image. There are a lot of other rules of composition like the rule of thirds that can also be important. So check out this article by Justin Lupica for more tips.
4.) Lens Effects
Lens effects are basically flaws in a camera. Photographers often try to avoid them to try to get a perfect picture. But as CG artists we try to do the exact opposite. That’s what makes CG hard. Adding in all the imperfections. So here is a short list of some of the most common effects:
Dust and Scratches.
And that’s just naming a few. A lot of these effects are build right into Blender’s compositor. Others have to be added in Photoshop or Gimp. Search in Google these effects and learn why they happen and how to create them. If you can master these effects then you will be well on your way to a photorealistic render.
5.) Texture Maps
Texture maps are for creating variation in materials. There are lots of different kinds of maps. but the most common are Displacement, Normal and Specular. For creating these maps you will need to buy a Texture Map creation program. I recommend Crazybump and Knald. There are some free alternatives, but they don’t give very good results. Its well worth $100 to buy one if you are a dedicated artist.
To use these maps check out this tutorial by Andrew Price. Using texture maps is probably the most important thing to do for a realistic render. They add more detail than modeling most likely ever will.
Look at the objects around you. everything has at least a very small bevel. even a knife is beveled ever so slightly. In Blender we can duplicate this by beveling with CTRL-B or adding a bevel modifier. Even if you set it to a very small bevel it will help. adding that little highlight to every edge.
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