How to use the Principled Volume shader in Blender

This is a short tutorial on how to add a volume shader (Principled Volume) in Blender to achieve an atmospheric and cinematic look. This is for users that are at least already familiar with the Blender UI as I will not be sharing details about scene setup, shortcuts or render settings.

My scene setup is fairly simple consisting of a few models, a plane with an added displacement/height map (terrain), a sun light and a spot light (for the antenna). As we can see from the screenshots below, the lightning looks very harsh because it illuminates the scene without any diffusion from small particles in the scene such as air/pollution. The scene looks rather plain and boring with no exciting photon action.

To make the magic happen, we are going to place a cube inside the scene and resize it to match the actual scene size.

Once we are finished adjusting the cube size, go to the shader editor and apply a “Principled Volume” shader to the cube. Adjust the “Density” and “Emission Strength” values as well as corresponding colors to get the desired fog/atmosphere effect. You can also play with the strength of the sun light that’s illuminating the entire scene to see how it will interact with this newly added volume. You may want to adjust the Prinicpled Volume values depending on the sun strength.

Once we are done tweaking and adjusting the volume options and lightning position, we can set up the camera for that perfect angle and wait a couple of minutes for our render to finish. Although by using this method you will get way longer rendering times, the final result is much better and has a more natural look and feel. The light is soft and diffused thanks to the added volume, which makes the scene alive and more present.

That’s all for now, and I hope someone gets inspired by this :)

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