Tutorial: Cycles Shadows Only: Shadow Catcher (Blender 2.70)

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/k7gKzgvFiGM/hqdefault.jpg



All information is in the description!

I thought I’d make a little video about the method I prefer for compositing in blender with cycles in order to get proper looking shadows. In case you missed it in the video (I know I was talking a little quickly), here’s the layout of which objects are where:

Layer 1: Objects you want to see
Layer 2: Objects you want to catch shadows
Both layer 1 & 2: Lights and camera

Render Layer 1: Takes Layer 1
Render Layer 2: Takes Layer 2
Render Layer 3: Takes layer 2, excludes layer 1

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25 thoughts on “Tutorial: Cycles Shadows Only: Shadow Catcher (Blender 2.70)

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    Fantastic. First of all, thank you very much for the very informative, very easy to understand and to follow tutorial. It's as clear as day, works like a charm, and teaches me a very much needed skill. Great job!

    That said, I'm having an unexpected problem: once I plug my background image, it comes out in black and white. My nodes look exactly like yours, but still the image is B&W, with my models and my shadows sitting prettily (and in color) on top of it. Is there an obvious reason for this?

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    As soon as I click the checkbox for transparent, my hdr image background goes away. I'm i supposed to render first then switch to transparent?

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    Damn… I enjoyed very much the last three days exploring Blender.. how sexy..
    ..and then Bam! No shadows catcher or not with Enviro, emission from geometry… pfff…
    Again some flip-normalst-plug-in-math-split-on-layers trick.
    Back, again, to Autodesk 🙁

    Thanks for the quality-tut though, indeed !

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    Over 2 years old and still the best tut on blender shadows. Works without shadow passes which means you don't need lamps and can use image based lighting. You get your caustics and bounced light and full control over shadow intensity. Great stuff.
    I think ther're introducing a shadow catcher material now with 2.78 but it will be interesting to see if it works as well as this.
    Thanks for posting.

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    Thk s work pretty well. For adjust the color of the shadw and the scene of course I experimetn with blackbody node connected into the light source and tweaking around value to get blueish greenish or warm tobne shadow

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    Works a charm in 2.7.5.
    When using HDRI remember to add the "Environment" output to one of the layers so you can add it in again as your "background" image.

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    Works for me. At first it was not working for me until I noticed that Alpha was checked in the Invert node, as well as RGB. unchecking Alpha was the fix. Thanks the tip!

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    How do I save my image after the composite? Can´t seem to do that in the compositor window and when I jump back to default and hit render it just rerenders the old layers.

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    From the Blender Reference Manual:
    "When an object is in the Scene Layers but not the Render Layer, it will still cast shadows and be visible in reflections, so it is still indirectly visible."
    Works like magic.

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    Sorry for the silly question but how can I rotate the background image? Because I used a HDRI as my lighting so I want to rotate the background so it can fit my lighting

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    Please don't say what you are doing (we can all see that) but why you are doing it. Especially in the note editor. Hope your cold got better in the mean time 😉

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    Thankyou so much! I've been looking into making shadow catchers for ages! Using shadow passes in renderlayers required massive node setups and there were some weird artefacts I couldn't get rid of.

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    Hi from Normandy France, I'm so disappointed because it's one more tuto I do and it just does not work for the clean shadow catcher…I've set my render layers as you did but the layer considered as only "plane rendered" (without shadows) is totally empty and transparent. I really wonder what is going wrong because I've dowloaded a file from a tuto and it works!!! Could help? Want me to upload the blender file? How should I do so?

    Peace&Banzaï
    Laurent

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    Have you had any luck in 2.75 with this?
    I cant seem to get it to work, but ive only applied your method to an existing project with only 2 layers and seems like the subract node in compositing is the hangup. So I might try your tutorial from scratch.

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    i were able to use video clip as background with your tutorial, thanks, and i want to add some crack marks on the table but i can't find the correct way, but again thank you very much.

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    thanks i found it. can we use this set up at camera tracking?  what i mean is use a movie clip instead of still image as background. again thank you.

  • November 27, 2017 at 21:59
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    please show how to see the image as seen before the rendering because when i click render the background it's like i zoom in several times. thanks

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