Shade Auto Smooth in Blender is a setting which allows for some parts of an object to be shaded smoothly and others to be shaded sharply. The shading will occur depending on the angle of the geometry.

Shade Auto Smooth in BLENDER 3D - Micro Tip

Shade Smooth vs Shade Flat

Historically in Blender there have been two quick options for how to shade objects. Shade smooth rounds the edges and gives objects a smooth look. Shade Flat (Previously called “Shade Smooth”) shades the objects as if they had sharp edges.

Some objects needed to be shaded smoothly while others needed to be shaded flat.

Industrial 3D Models in the Blender viewport.
Industrial greeble assets in Blender 3D viewport.

Shade Auto Smooth – The Best of Both Worlds

Shade Auto Smooth allows parts of an object to be shaded smoothly and other parts to be shaded flat. In the image below, neither “Shade Smooth” nor “Shade Flat” works because some parts are rounded while others have sharp edges.

An object shaded smooth in Blender.
An object shaded flat in Blender.

If we apply “Shade Auto Smooth” Blender shades the object based on the angle in which each face intersects another face. The result is parts needing to be sharp are shaded flat while parts needed to be round are shaded smooth.

How to Auto Shade Smooth in Blender

To apply “Auto Shade Smooth” to an object in Blender, select the object while in Object Mode. Right click on the object to open an options menu. Near the top, we see options for “Shade Smooth,” “Shade Auto Smooth,” and “Shade Flat.”

The option to shade auto smooth is highlighted in the Blender interface.

Select “Shade Auto Smooth” to apply automatic smooth shading to the object.

When to Use Auto Shade Smooth

You won’t necessarily need to apply “Auto Shade Smooth” to every object in Blender. But, if you have an object that has both rounded (smooth) surfaces as well as sharp edges, activate the setting.

There’s no downside to having “Auto Shade Smooth” activated on an object that doesn’t need it. So, in general, if you don’t know which to choose – Auto Shade Smooth is a safer bet than Shade Smooth or Shade Flat.

Two 3d human models
Human Generator Add-On for Blender

Adjust Shade Auto Smooth Settings

We can adjust how Blender automatically shades an object by going to the Object Data Properties in the Properties Panel.

The settings to adjust auto smooth located in the Blender properties panel.

Expand the tab labeled “Normals” and we find a box labeled “Auto Smooth.” If we have auto smooth enabled for the object, the box will already be checked.

We also see a slider value with an angle displayed. This is the angle at which the object’s intersecting faces will be shaded flat. Angles below this value will be shaded smooth.

The default value is 30 degrees. Increase it to have more smooth shading on angles and decrease it to have more angles shaded flat.

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