The Ambient Occlusion Mystery

I must admit up until recently I’d always been a fan of using ambient occlusion on my renders, it saved me having to mess around with lights and the results weren’t bad. I’d always assumed it to be a kind of fake global illumination which it sort of is but sort of isn’t at the same time.

If anyone asked me to describe what it does, I’d have probably started with the line “it lights up your scene…” but actually it doesn’t. The clue is in the name. Occlusion. It actually darkens areas that are enclosed in cracks, corners or are generally blocked. I need to do some renders to really understand how it works with different lighting setups but as I’m learning about lighting techniques things are starting to make sense. At least, I think they are…