So now you have a 3D object and now you want to see what it will look like when everything is complete. To quickly render your object with all the defaults, the usual way is to hit F12 on your keyboard. If you use Mac, you might have to use FN [Function] + F12. In this case, this will show you what a pretty basic Monopoly-style house looks like in relation to where the 3D model, camera and light source are right now. To go back to your 3D window, hit the ESC key.

Camera and Light Source


When rendering your images, two important factors to consider are your camera and your light source. Move your light source to the left side of your scene, and it could look radically different than if you place it on the right side. To select your light source, make sure you deselect everything by hitting A, and then right-click on the light source. On the Properties pane on the right side of your screen, you'll see a button called Object Data, which looks like a sun symbol with arrows that imply rays radiating out. Click on it, and you will see options for adjusting your light source. You might like seeing what your scene will look like under different lamps, such as Point, Sun, Spot, Hemi and Area. It really does make a difference if you're trying to create a realistic woodland scene.


Now select the camera, and you'll notice new options in the Properties pane. You could render your objects in Perspective and Orthographic views and choose a panorama option. You can emulate several popular cameras like Canon and Nikon models by choosing from the Camera Presets drop-down menu. When you are working with the camera and want to rotate it, press R on your keyboard. Play with using the X-axis (X on your keyboard) Y-axis (Y) and Z-axis (Z) to rotate the camera because this does take some getting used to. For instance, if I want to angle the camera up and down, I actually hit X. If I want to angle it left and right, I hit Z.


To see what your camera is seeing from right this second, hit 0 on your number pad. This basically lets you see through the camera Lens. You can move your camera angle by hitting SHIFT + F. Move your mouse left and right or up and down. It can be slow. You can use the WASD keys to do about the same thing, but be careful because this can accelerate out of control. You can also dolly your camera by using SHIFT + F, and then holding down the scroll wheel on your mouse and moving it around. Forgetting to use SHIFT + F before holding down the scroll wheel will just get you out of the camera view and move around in 3D view.

You can also move the light source and the camera the same way you would move an object, by using the G button on your keyboard and then dragging it to its new location.

When Should I Start Experimenting with Camera And Lights?

As soon as possible! Even for making simple 3D objects like the Monopoly house, I like to see what it looks like from different angles and lighting schemes. (Okay, it's not really a Monopoly house, but I like to call it that.) Believe me, the exact right lighting can mean the difference between that woodland scene you worked so hard on looking realistic, and the same thing looking like a cartoon. Same with camera angles. If you want to do anything serious with animations, you don't want to be shooting them all from the same angle and that goes double if you're into creating games where everything moves around dynamically in three dimensions. So experiment as much as you want so that you get a good feel for what your scenes will look like from different camera angles and lighting conditions.