How to Create Realistic Outdoor Lighting

Discover how to light your scene like a boss

50 minutes
Blender 2.5
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.8/5 (112 votes cast)

In this tutorial you will discover:

  • How to create realistic outdoor lighting
  • How to model and texture oil barrels
  • How to create bounce lighting

At times, lighting a scene in blender can seem like uphill battle with no end in sight. You spend hours tweaking lamp settings and adjusting world options, but it still doesn’t look right!

Is Blender’s internal render engine to blame?

Yes and no.

Whilst it’s no secret that Blender’s internal render is a little behind the times, external rendering engines like VRay don’t always provide a quick fix either.

If you read the book ‘Digital Lighting and Rendering‘ you will discover (as I have) that no matter what software you use, good lighting always takes time. Lighting isn’t as simple as making the objects visible, it’s about studying the scene and deciding on the story and emotion you want to portray, then experimenting with setups until you find what works best.

3d World magazine once featured an interview with a lighting artist from Pixar who revealed that they rarely used global illumination because it ‘takes away the control from the artist’.

So whilst external render engines may be technically superior, you are learning valuable lessons in lighting whilst you tinker around with Blender.

Let’s get into the tutorial…

Finished Result

Red Barrels Inc. - Where the bad guys go to deck out their fortresses

Textures used in this tutorial:

At a Glance

Screenshots from the video:

Further Inspiration

Not sure where to go with this tutorial? Check out these inspiring links:

What topics would you like to see covered in future tutorials? Leave a comment below.

Download finished .blend How to Create Realistic Outdoor Lighting, 4.8 out of 5 based on 112 ratings

About Andrew Price

User of Blender for 9+ years. I've written tutorials for 3d World Magazine and spoken at three Blender conferences. My goal is to help artists get employed in the industry by making training accessible and easy to understand. I'm an Aussie and I live in South Korea ;)
  • omar ahmed

    hi andrew, this tutorial is very good
    can you slow down when you do the compositing in the futuer tutorials
    and thanks for all the tutorials that you do.

  • Gabrielle

    Hi Andrew, this is my final render of the tutorial. I personalized the barrels so it would look like a rainbow.

  • Paul

    I was trying to do a project using this method and it
    works in Blender Render but in Cycles Render material roll out I can’t find the equivalent of..
    ‘change the mapping to coordinates – UV and Projection – Flat..’
    Any ideas anyone? Thanks.

  • Hussain Khalil

    Your final result, rendered at 1080 x 1920 with 16 anti-aliasing samples on Blender 2.69:

  • thiago

    incredible!!!! Great work!! I learn a lot with you tutorials, it always full of details and nice tips . thank you for create this tutorials. keep on it. because you are helping many people.

  • Claudio

    Thank you for all these very useful tutorials! I tried to follow this one using Blender Cycles instead of the internal renderer. This is my result:

  • Petar Georgiev

    So here it is mine :)

  • guest

    good tutorial the speed and pace worked for me no problems. Maybe one day I’ll model things that fast. Here is the fruit of my labor

  • David

    Here is my finished product!

  • Josh Mitchell

    Any Chance You’d be able to make an outdoor lighting tutorial for Cycles ? I cannot get a Sun to work effectively ( not mesh , not lamp , nothing.)

    • William Barber

      What exactly are you finding difficult with it? Perhaps I can help.

  • AravindaKumar Venugopal

    Thanks man, Nice tutorial. But I had few difficulties in Bounce Lighting and saving final image after compositing.