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Maya Practice: Ambient Occlusion and Lighting Tutorials 03/02/2017

I already knew about the Ambient Occlusion, however, I wasn't aware of some of the tips, tricks and terminology associated with it. This post is two tutorials in one so this is really here just to remind me of what can be done with Maya.

High Samples

Low Samples
Right, so basically samples are the quality of your Ambient Occlusion if you have a lower sample rate your image will appear grainy, however, if you have a high sample rate then the picture will be very smooth.

No Spread 
Restricted Max Distance

High Spread
Max Distance and Spread do kinda fall under the same category, the spread indicates how much the ambient occlusion spreads and the max distance is how far the occlusion goes.

Whenever Ambient Occlusion mentions anything about units, it's describing the measurement for a distance in Maya, roughly the same size as a single square on the grid.

How to turn on Render Layers

Render Layers Render
Okay, so I was aware of render layers before, but I had no idea how to get them working. Turns out they need to be switched on in the preferences menu. You also need to close and re-open Maya in order for this function to work. Having the render layers is super handy because in a nutshell it's basically like an extra layer for rendering. So if I ever wanted to crack out a quick Ambient Occlusion render, just set up a render layer and render. So you don't have to constantly reapply Ambient Occlusion, therefore saving effort and time.

Physical Sun & Sky
Portal Lights 
Lighting Refined

Window Reflection Added
So the last part of this tutorial was about the physical sun and sky, as well as portal lights. This render effect really makes the scene look so much more realistic, portal lights basically enhance the lighting and can be accessed from the hypershade.