The best way to learn how to use rayshade is to dive right in and start making pictures. Study the example input files that are packaged with rayshade. Run them through rayshade to see what the images they produce look like. Change the input files; move the camera, change the field of view, modify surface properties, and see what differences your changes make, all the while referring to the appropriate portions of this document. Browse through the individual chapters to see what rayshade can and cannot do. The rayshade quick reference guide may also help you sort out syntactical nasties.
Throughout this text, the typewriter type style is used to indicate keywords and other items that should be passed directly to rayshade. Where appropriate, items in an italic style indicate places where you should provide an appropriate number or string.
Vectors, which consist of three numerical values, are indicated by an up arrow in front of a name written in italic type style, e.g. ^vector. Items enclosed between [ and ] characters indicate that specifying those items is optional. Complex constructions that are described elsewhere in the text, such as surface or object specification, are denoted by enclosing descriptive text between < and > characters.