In this tutorial, you will learn how to do some basic compositing in Blender!

Quick links: Introduction | InterfacePropertiesNavigation | ModelingShading | Texturing | Lighting | Sculpting | Animation | Particles | Physics | Rendering | Video Editing | Compositing

As we reach the final post of the Blender Beginner tutorial series, I thought I would give a brief introduction to the Blender compositor! I mainly use the compositor to take my renders to the next level. If I find my renders to be 100% good looking, using the compositor sometimes pops it up to 110-120%. We use the compositor to add that final pop to our image. We make our CG-looking renders stand out and come alive.

The compositor can be used to give your scenes a different mood. By changing a few settings in the compositor, you can make your scene look happy and cheerful to moody and menacing. With the compositor, you can do things like add glow effects, lens flares, vignettes, professional color-grading, DoF, misty effects, light leaks, chromatic aberration and so on. It really is quite powerful and what I always use on my own films. I don’t think I’ve ever released any work without some form of compositing applied.

How compositing works

Compositing is basically a bunch of nodes working together to give you a nicer image (that’s not the dictionary meaning, just my own interpretation). To put simply. you have a node containing your render. You then plug in a bunch of nodes. Say a node that makes an image brighter, another node that makes an image glow, and so on. When you connect the image node to the input of the image brightening node, the result or output from the image brightening node, is the original image that is now brighter . Then when you connect the output of the image brightening node to the input of the glow node, the output of the glow node is a brightened image that now glows. I hope that made sense..

Perhaps working by example will help.

Make an image brighter.

So here are the steps to start working with compositing in Blender:

  1. Change the layout from ‘Default’ to ‘Compositing’.
  2. Enable ‘Use Nodes’, ‘Free Unused Nodes’ and ‘Backdrop’.
  3. There’s not much compositing you can do with a grey cube on a grey background, so let’s use an image instead. Select the Render Layers node by right-clicking the node. Then press X.
  4. Add an Image node (Shift+A -> Input -> Image). Press Open on the node and select an image that you have. You can use the image here if you like.
  5. Now connect the output of the image node to the Image input of the Compositing node. You do this by left-click dragging from the output of the image node and letting go of the mouse when you reach the input of Compositing node. This means your image will now be rendered as is.
  6. Now add a Viewer node so that we can see our change as we are working. Press Shift+A -> Output -> Viewer.
  7. Similarly like you did to the Compositing node, connect the output of the Image node to the image input of the Viewer node. You should immediately see your image as a background.
  8. Let’s make it look brighter! Add a Bright/Contrast node by pressing Shift+A -> Color -> Bright/Contrast.
  9. Now let’s connect it to the original image. You can do the whole connecting from one input to another but a quick way is to drag the Bright/Contrast node (by pressing G) and hover it around the middle of the line between the Image node and the Viewer node. When you see that line turn orange, press Enter or left-click. You should see the lines automatically re-connect.
  10. Now let’s make the image brighter. Turn up the brightness and observe your image change and become brighter.
  11. Note that you can work with the nodes similar to when modeling. For example, duplicate the Bright/Contrast node (by pressing Shift+D) and place it between the Viewer node and the original Bright/Contrast node. The result is an even MORE brighter image.

And that’s it! That also concludes the Blender Beginner Tutorial series! I hope you enjoyed this series and learnt a lot from it. You are now getting closer to mastering Blender and making your own epic animated movie or game. The more you actually practice using Blender, the better you will get. I know when I first started out, I didn’t give Blender that much love. I even rejected it for a few years before I decided to come back. Persistence really is key and I know you will learn to love Blender better than me because there is just SO MUCH tutorials out there right now. It seems like there’s a tutorial to do pretty much anything in Blender nowadays. If you would like some clarification or help, or suggestions for tutorials, please feel free to drop a comment below. I will check them out and do my best to help 🙂

Quick links: Introduction | InterfacePropertiesNavigation | ModelingShading | Texturing | Lighting | Sculpting | Animation | Particles | Physics | Rendering | Video Editing | Compositing