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How To Preview Your Renders In Eevee

It's not much more than ticking a few boxes.

For almost all tasks, Cycles is the best way to render in Blender.

But Cycles is really bad at one thing: realtime rendering. It has a lag, a delay before you see the final picture.

When you need to preview something you’re creating, when you need to work on materials and lighting, you turn to Eevee, where you can see changes as you make them.

They said it was “realtime,” right?

And it is. But as you switch it on, you realize that, for all its speed, it has turned your scene into the ugliest, most horrible, flattest render you’ve ever seen.

So you stop and give up.

Today we’ll fix that. I’ll walk you through the settings I use in Eevee to preview my scene with at least a small measure of realism, which is quite useful, especially when you’re working with an animated or simulated scene.

Here’s the settings I’m talking about:

First, the AO. AO stands for Ambient Occlusion, and it means “dark shadows in the corners.”

When you enable Eevee’s Ambient Occlusion, it makes your renders a whole lot less flat-looking. There’s also a Distance setting you can adjust, for more darkness or less darkness.

Next, turn on Bloom. This is like adding a Glare node in the compositor: it just overlays a nice blurry bright spot over anything really bright. There’s a Threshold value you can tweak if you want, to control what gets bloom.

Screen Space Reflection fixes the problem of no reflections. It doesn’t fix it all the way, though. All it does is render screen space reflections, which means generating mostly accurate reflections for shiny materials using what’s already been rendered onscreen. There is more you can do to get good reflections in Eevee, but don’t do it. It’ll get complicated and start slowing things down, and at that point you might as well use Cycles.

Last up is Motion Blur, which is enabled by default in Cycles, but not in Eevee. All it does is add motion blur to moving objects. I’ve had good and bad luck with this, ranging from “cool, realistic motion blur” to “Eevee just rendered my scene, flipped it upside-down, and pasted it somewhere else in the scene.”

So watch out for that kind of thing.

To conclude: use Eevee for previewing your Cycles-intended scene. Make it look nicer by enabling AO, Bloom, and Screen Space Reflections. If Eevee ends up slowing down, go back to Cycles, since it’s already slow and looks much, much nicer.

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