I don't know about you but, the perpetual grayness of working in Blender not only tends to hurt my eyes, it also makes it difficult to see the placement of varying objects and often can mess with your extrusion work, at least it does with mine. Sure, you could add materials, such as color or, 

Often, those teaching beginning courses leave out little things we might never think of to help those of us new to Blender or, maybe they just don't know how to remedy this either! So, I am going to give you a quick tip/trick I learned while taking the Creating 3D Environment in Blender Course by Rob Tuytel over at

The feature we are going to look at today is Blender's Ambient Occlusion shading feature, which was released at the same time as the Depth Field feature. Both of these features appear to have been implemented in the 2.74 version of Blender (2.74 release notes). So if you are currently using revision 2.77 or the recently upgrade to 2.78 version of Blender, you will have this option available to you.  The Ambient Occlusion feature is really simple to use and hopefully may be as useful to you as it has been to me.

While your mouse is hovering in the 3D Viewport...
  1. Hit the N key to bring up the N properties panel.  
  2. Scroll down to Shading (it's between the Display and Motion Tracking panels). If the panel is not open, click on the arrow to the left of word Shading.
  3. Click on the left hand box, next to the work Ambient Occlusion and you are done!
Here are a couple of before and after screen shots of a project I am creating for Rob's course that should demonstrate the usefulness of Ambient Occlusion Shading. 

This first image is a full frontal shot and you can only sort of see some of the windows peeking out at the sides but, you cannot see the windows or the doors on the front.  This really really difficult to work with unless you are using wire frame mode; however, wire frame creates different challenges, especially for beginners.

Front Ortho View Ambient Occlusion Not Enabled
This next shot is a partial front/side view. We are starting to see most of our features but not that well.  While we can work at this angle, it still is less than optimal to do so in my opinion.

Partial Fron/Side Shot Before Enabling Ambient Occlusion Shading
This next  shot is at the same angle as the one above but, Ambient Occlusion shading has been enabled. Wow!  The difference is astounding! 

Partial Front/Side Shot After Enabling Ambient Occlusion Shading
Having Ambient Occlusion turned on is even more amazing when we look at a full frontal shot.

Full Frontal Shot After Enabling Ambient Occlusion Shading
Enabling Ambient Occlusion utterly amazing don't you think? 

I want to thank Rob Tuytel for sharing this tip/trick in his Creating 3D Environment in Blender Course.  This tip/trick certainly makes a huge difference on the eyes and being able to actually see what you are modeling!

P.S. I will be talking a bit more about Rob, and his course in a future post!

Happy Creating!



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