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I'd like to emphasize the amount of Ambient Occlusion (AO) in a render- I might try the Ambient Occlusion option in the world tab, but this simply brightens up the scene far too much, and doesn't do much at all in terms of increasing AO (in Cycles).

So, how can I increase the amount of Ambient Occlusion in a Cycles render?

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  • $\begingroup$ I personally consider the Ambient occlusion option in the World tab as a quick way to get some AO. For fine tuning I usually use the compositor after enabling the needed passes. $\endgroup$ – Carlo May 1 '16 at 15:59
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I recommend you render the AO pass and do it is post production for more control.

1-Enable AO pass in render layers.

Render layesr

2-Open the node editor,enable use nodes and do the following.

AO

  • The RGB curve edit the contrast and the darkness of the AO which is helpful sometimes.
  • AO is a Grayscale image so you have to multiply it to the render result.

Additional Explanation

In Cycles, the Ambient occlusion option in the World tab is technically an additional homogeneous direct lighting (almost as adding an additional solid white world background lighting). However the Ambient occlusion in Blender Internal can be set as additional shading (acts like multiply blending in image editor programs or in the compositor). The AO pass in Cycles is basically the shadow data only, which you can use the get the Blender Internal behaviour back, or use in other ways.

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You can use the Renderlayer material setting to override all materials with a ambient occlusion material:

enter image description here

Hope that helps!

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    $\begingroup$ To make this a complete solution, this layer would need to be multiplied on top a combined pass with a Mix RGB node. $\endgroup$ – cegaton May 4 '16 at 16:30

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