Você está na página 1de 66

This series of five tutorials will focus on the topic of outdoor lighting and more specifically the task

of setting up different light rigs to reflect a variety of weather scenarios. Each of the chapters will use the same base scene as a starting point and show a step by step guide to finding a lighting and rendering solution to describe a set time of day under different conditions ranging from a damp foggy night to sunset / sunrise. The tutorials will explain the type of lights used and how to set up their parameters alongside the combined rendering settings in order to achieve an effective result. The manipulation of textures will also be covered in order to turn a daylight scene into night for example, as well as a look at some useful post production techniques in Photoshop in order to enhance a final still.

+ mental ray

Chapter 1 | This Issue


Fog/Mist at Night-Time

Chapter 2 | Next Issue


Sunrise/Sunset

Chapter 3 | March Issue 055


Moonlight

Chapter 4 | April Issue 056


Midday Sun

Chapter 5 | May Issue 057


Overcast

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the original scene files and textures + the artist final scene setting up

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time Chapter 1 - Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time
Software Used: 3ds Max + Mental Ray

Introduction
During this exterior lighting series I will be covering the techniques I used to create various time and weather conditions using 3DS Max and the Mental Ray renderer. I will be concentrating on describing my lighting methods rather than any modelling or texturing that may need to be done. I have created as much of the image as I can in Max; leaving Photoshop polish to a bare minimum to achieve the final result. For this first chapter, I will be covering setting up a foggy and damp night time atmosphere with the intention of making the viewer climb into the image and want to explore the environment. Whats up those stairs? Is there anyone in the houses? Whats behind that door? Whats the story here? I hope you enjoy reading my tutorial and learn something you can apply to your own work. moonlight to cascade down the stairs and spill through the archway. There are also the many windows and doors that I can use to add life to the image. The archway and stairs are central to this image; if lit correctly they can add depth and help to make the viewer want to climb into the image as I described earlier. In contrast with Ive highlighted the possible light sources that can be used. The most obvious of these is the lantern illuminating the street but I also want the a daylight scene, the shadows in this scene should be very soft so I used MR-Area Omni lights to light the entire scene. The weather conditions (a foggy evening) also generate their own light so I had to take care not to wash the image out. However I used the fog to my advantage, creating further depth; light disperses through the fog creating a glowing effect, enhancing the mysterious look I wanted to achieve. At this stage, however I needed to concentrate on simply getting the lighting right. I will return to how I created the foggy look later in the tutorial.

Identifying light sources


Here is the raw image (Fig.01).

Setup draft render


When lighting any image, you cant expect to achieve the final result first time. In anticipation of a lot of tweaking, I did many test renders. As this could potentially be very time-consuming, I setup the renderer to a draft setting so it speeded up the render times to a more workable rate. Firstly I assigned Mental Ray as the renderer and used these settings for draft renders (Fig.02).

Base lighting
By base lighting I mean natural lighting; for this scene it is the moon and its bounce light. The moonlight in this image is very important, I used it to help focus the viewers eye into the centre of the image and help create depth. I didnt

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 91

Issue 053 January 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time: Environment Lighting


want the moon itself to be visible as I thought it would interfere with the composition of the image, so I kept it hidden behind the buildings. I placed a MR-Area Omni light just behind the archway, about halfway up the stairs. I used the attenuation settings to give me more control over the falloff of the light so it starts and ends when I tell it to. You can achieve this control by editing the attenuation settings and adjusting the start and end values. Here are the settings I used for the moon light (Fig.03). Here is an image of the placed light (Fig.04). I also added moon light to the upper right of the image using a MR_Area Spotlight. I gave it a white with a light blue tint and a power of 2.0 I positioned it so it was pointing across the surface of the wall; this also gave me a soft shadow from the roofing tiles and helped to pick out the bump map giving more detail to the image. Here is the light in the scene (Fig.05). Here is a render of the moon lighting applied (Fig.06). As you can see the moonlight cascades down the stairs and through the archway, creating a very soft arched shadow over the cobbled stones. Its a little dark and flat around the front of the buildings, even at night you get some bounce light illuminating the shadowed areas. So I placed another MR_Area Omni light at the Here are the settings for the Night bounce light (Fig.07). Here is a render of all the base lighting applied (Fig.08). The image Is still dark and uninteresting but once I apply the environmental lighting it will create more life in the scene. front of the scene above the buildings. This will make the detail at the front of the building pop out.

Environment lighting
Environment lighting was my favourite aspect of this tutorial. For this scene, the most important part of the lighting comes from the street lamp as it serves as a focal point and plays a big part in creating the illusion of a foggy night. Before

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 92

Issue 053 January 2010

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time


I placed the light in the lamp itself, I needed to setup the lamp object so it interacted correctly with the light once added. I had to alter some of the settings in the glass geometry of the lamp so it didnt cause any unwanted light interaction. To do this I selected the glass panel object, right clicked and selected object properties from the quad menu. In the window pop-up I needed to de-select cast shadows and accept shadows. After making these changes, when I placed a light inside the lamp object the glass panels didnt cast shadows and block out the light being cast. The only shadows that should now be cast are from the lamp object onto the walls and floor, but these shadows should be so diffused you will not notice them. I added a MR-Area Omni light in the scene and moved it to sit inside the lamp object, roughly where a light bulb would normally sit. Here are the settings I used to get the right result (Fig.09). Here is a render of what we have now (Fig.11). Here is an image of the placement of the light (Fig.10). The lamplight is quite an expensive light as it has multiple effects applied to it to obtain the Looking at the latest render you can see that it still required more work; there was something missing. The image still looks a little flat and uninteresting: what was missing was life. In foggy effect. I will revisit this in more detail later on in the tutorial. By expensive I mean it took more time to calculate the render. However as this is the centrepiece of the lighting, I feel it is worth the extra time for a more realistic finish. order to bring life into the image I needed to apply lighting to the windows and doors. I did this in two ways: (i) by using textures to create a self illuminating material giving the illusion of light being cast from inside and (ii) from physically carving out the geometry and forming fake rooms behind the windows and doors and using a real light to illuminate the scene. This technique also gives us the option to add environmental effects such as Volume lighting; further enhancing the lifelike look I was trying to achieve. As I used both techniques in this tutorial, I will outline them both so I can demonstrate the differences. Lets start with the doors on the left hand side. Firstly, I needed to cut out the door from the geometry and create a fake room behind it. To do this, I created an open end box which surrounds the doorway, making sure all holes are welded and the geometry was solid. This reduced any lighting anomalies that may occur later on in the render. I wanted the light to come from inside the fake room and spill out onto the cobbled stone road. I only wanted this room to emit a small amount of light as I didnt want it to be too overpowering and draw the viewers eye away from the archway. For this reason, I rotated the door 10 degrees inwards to allow just enough light to escape the fake room.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 93

Issue 053 January 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time: Environment Lighting


Here is an image of the new geometry and the rotated door (Fig.12). I then place a MR-Area Spotlight in the fake room and positioned it so it was pointing out of the door opening. Here is an image of the positioned light (Fig.13). I then edited the attenuation settings to give me control over when the light starts and ends. I decided to use a spotlight for this because I wanted the light to be pointing downwards towards the street. If I were to use an Omni light the light would also go upwards. And here is a render of what we now have (Fig.15). Here is an image of the settings I used for this spotlight (Fig.14). At this stage, I was starting to add more life to the image but it was still missing something so I moved onto the windows. For the windows I again decided to carve out a fake room behind and use a real light to illuminate this area. Using the same techniques for the doors on the left I cut out the windows and created a simple box room. This second fake room also keeps the light from escaping behind the buildings. Here is an image of the geometry after Ive carved the windows out of the building geometry (Fig.16). Note: I have only cut out the tops of the windows because I wanted to use the self illuminating material to light up the remaining window. This will give the effect of something blocking the window from the inside and help create a more realistic fake room. Also if I cut out the entire window the light that escapes would over-power the image and ruin the look. To create a self illumination map you need to create a black and white image of the texture, black being not illuminated and white being illuminated. The black and white image is placed in the self illumination slot of the material. For the real lights I used two MR-Area Omni lights and placed them inside the fake room. Here are the settings I used (Fig.17). I used the light from the windows to help define the building on the left and make sure it stands out from the background building.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 94

Issue 053 January 2010

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time


Here is a render of the image so far (Fig.18). Here you can see the light creating an outline of the building on the left making it stand out from the background building. Also the variation of colour difference from the self illuminated windows and the real windows gives the impression of an actual room with genuine atmosphere inside. Once the windows were lit in the foreground, the building above the archway began to lack detail and got lost in comparison with the other buildings in the scene. There is a window to the right of the door. I used the same methods as before and cut out the window and hollowed out a fake room behind, duplicating the same MRArea Omni light that was used in the other fake rooms. I placed the light behind the window and kept the settings the same. And here is a render of what we now have (Fig.19). With the bulk of the lighting complete, it is now time to move on to the weather!

Weather
Fog is fairly simple to create and is quite quick to render, nothing needs to be setup in the scene in order to make this work. Its as simple as enabling it in the environment window. Firstly I hit the number key 8 to bring up the Environment Settings tab. I then scrolled down to the Atmosphere settings and clicked Add. This brings up another window with multiple choices of the type of effects you want to activate so I clicked Fog and pressed OK. This enables Fog to be added to the Atmosphere section on the Environment Settings tab. From this tab, I then selected Fog to enable the options to become visible. Here are the settings I used for the Fog (Fig.20). The fog provides a layered effect and silhouettes the buildings, helping to maintain the structures even in this dull weather condition. Here is a render with the fog applied (Fig.21).

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 95

Issue 053 January 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time: Environment Lighting

Street Lamp Lens Effects.


The street lamp is the main focus so this needed to have more than just volume light applied to it. I used some Lens effects to give the impression of a light bulb glaring in the fog, casting shadows in the atmosphere. The final tweak was to make the light in the street lamp give off real characteristics of a light bulb. To get this effect I added Lens Effects to the MROmni light. This is done under the Atmosphere & effects tab of the light settings and adding a Lens effect from the add menu, the same way you would add volume lighting. Now that the Lens Effect has been activated on the light we can edit the settings in the Environment and effects window. Here you are presented with multiple options for effects, but for this scene I will only add Glow and Ray Here are the settings I used for the Glow and Ray effect (Fig.22). point, was a bit of bounce light to illuminate the doors and windows. This will add more detail to the image and make the image a lot more interesting. I could add bounce light in the Mental Ray renderer but I wanted a bit more control and to be a bit more artistic with the bounce light rather than leaving it to be mathematically correct. I started with the doors on the left. I added a low intensity MR-Omni Area light with a small attenuation to only affect the nearby geometry. I removed shadows cast so I didnt get any unwanted lighting issues. With the tweaking completed, it was time for a medium settings render so I could see if there were any errors that needed fixing before taking the plunge and setting up a final settings render. Here is an image of the settings used for the bounce light (Fig.23).

Medium Render
I set the renderer to medium image precision and medium Final Gather settings. At this point, I still hadnt enabled bounce light as it would have dramatically increased the render times. With the new settings I was able to see any problems that may occur. Here are the settings for the render (Fig.24). I was quite happy with the medium render and I couldnt see any major issues. Some colour correction needed to be done in Photoshop but this is normal with any image; it adds that extra bit of polish to the image. I was now ready to go ahead and set up a high quality render.

Tweaking
What I felt was lacking from the image at this

Final render setup


The render times for the final render will be quite long, so be prepared to not be able to use your computer for a day depending on how good your PC is. Here are the settings I used to get the final render (Fig.25).

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 96

Issue 053 January 2010

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time


The size of the image is quite large because the image might be used for printing purposes and the larger the image the better. You should always aim to render your image for printing purposes just in case your image gets accepted into a magazine gallery or art book. You dont want to have to re-render your image at a later stage and re-do any post work that you apply. So with everything setup its time to hit that render button for one last time. Here is the final Image rendered straight out of Mental Ray (Fig.26).

Photoshop
In Photoshop I used 3 adjustment layers to create the final image, namely Levels, Colour Balance and Photo Filter Here are the settings I used for the 3 adjustment layers (Fig.27). I also used Lens blur to provide Depth of Field. Using a Zdepth render element, I placed this image in the Alpha channel of the PSD. I then selected Lens Blur from the effects menu in Photoshop which adds a little photographic realism to your image. You will notice the highlights on the steps in the background become over exposed and really twinkle with these specular highlights adding to the Damp feel we wish to achieve. Here are the settings I used for Depth of Field (Fig.28). Here is the finished product (Fig.29). Im quite happy with the end result and I think I achieved what I set out to do. Hopefully it tells a story and makes you want to see whats behind that door or whats on the other side of the archway. Most importantly I hope you were able to follow this tutorial and learn something from it. I actually learned a lot making it and enjoyed myself too. Thanks for reading and happy lighting! Tutorial by:

Andrew Finch
For more from this artist please contact them: afinchy@googlemail.com

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 97

Issue 053 January 2010

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the original scene files and textures + the artist final scene setting up

This series of five tutorials will focus on the topic of outdoor lighting and more specifically the task of setting up different light rigs to reflect a variety of weather scenarios. Each of the chapters will use the same base scene as a starting point and show a step by step guide to finding a lighting and rendering solution to describe a set time of day under different conditions ranging from a damp foggy night to sunset / sunrise. The tutorials will explain the type of lights used and how to set up their parameters alongside the combined rendering settings in order to achieve an effective result. The manipulation of textures will also be covered in order to turn a daylight scene into night for example, as well as a look at some useful post production techniques in Photoshop in order to enhance a final still.

+ v-ray

Chapter 1 | This Issue


Fog/Mist at Night-Time

Chapter 2 | Next Issue


Sunrise/Sunset

Chapter 3 | March Issue 055


Moonlight

Chapter 4 | April Issue 056


Midday Sun

Chapter 5 | May Issue 057


Overcast

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the original scene files and textures + the artist final scene setting up

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time Chapter 1 - Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time
Software Used: 3ds Max + V-Ray Before placing a single light in 3d software, its good to spend a while, looking at the scene, and thinking, imagining a bit. The assignment is pretty clear fog/mist (damp), at night - thats the prime directive. But that is not all that matters. Composition of the image is important, regardless of the lighting scenario we have to achieve and that too can influence light placement, strength and color. Visual style and art direction is important also is it supposed to look real, photo real, stylized? Finding some reference can suggest a few ideas about how to achieve our task. Its also good to think about the technical aspects is it going to be a still image, or is it for animation, should it render really fast, or maybe we have some computing power at our disposal? But nowadays, when the computers are fast, its not always that important. So how does all that theory work in a real life case? Lets take a look at the viewport capture (Fig.01) of our scene. First important things I noticed, were the lamp (marked red), and cobbled street surface (marked red, as well). The street would be a great tool to suggest the dampness, while the lamp would make a nice main light source, especially if it could cast a highlight on the road surface. That lamp would not be enough, so Ive decided to suggest more lamps along the street, just behind the archway (that should give us a nice depth in the image), marked blue. Also, I decided to light up some windows. But which ones should I choose? The square one facing the camera (green), or one of the two on the right side (orange)? I dont want any lit windows on the walls facing the camera (marked violet) that would break the composition thats starting to form in my head, by leading the eye towards the edges of the image. That still does not cover all the light that should be in the scene. We need some ambient lighting, to suggest we are outdoors. I dont mean ambient settings in the 3d software, but rather the light coming from the environment: sky, moon, distant city lights, that kind of thing. In our case, it should come from above, and slightly from the front. The way I see it, artificial lights should be warm, the ambient neutral, or slightly cold/blue. The final tuning of that To render the scene, Im using 3dsmax with Vray. Recent releases of Vray contain a very nice tool VrayEnvironmentFog. Its main advantage over standard max fog is that it reacts to the light sources, just like real life fog. balance will be handled in post-production. And we need the fog this is crucial, without fog all the above would give us a clear night after the rain.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 101

Issue 053 January 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time: Environment Lighting


That means we wont have to fake it by using volume lights and old-style fog we will work with lights, and let Vray handle the heavy lifting of providing the atmosphere. Note of caution here. While VrayEnvironmentFog can produce very nice images, it also can take a long time to render, especially when there are a lot of light sources, not mentioning the GI. For now in the initial steps it can stay off, we will add it later on. First thing I usually do, is set the Color Mapping to Exponential (Fig.02). While this isnt probably the most physically correct way, it has some advantages. The way it works, is by preventing over bright hotspots, and oversaturated color transitions. Its also very tolerant its really hard to whiteout the image, and the lights have a very wide range of usable multiplier/strength settings (but that range often ends up being pretty high, like 512 or so, especially with the fog on). It has downsides, too, making the colors look desaturated, and decreasing the contrast of the image. I actually like it that way, because I can easily bring back the contrast and saturation in post production, and for some scenes it just fits but if you dont like it, theres HSV exponential mode, which better retains the color. Generally though, I mainly use the default setting with Linear Multiply for rendering some additional passes such as masks. Next thing was to set up the road surface (Fig.03). A simple Vray material, VrayDisplacement modifier, and we are good to go. First light Ive placed was the spherical Vray Light in place of the main lamp (Fig.04). I started with a very, very saturated orange. I actually did it with the all other lights as well I have a tendency to use strong, colored lights that sometimes get the better of me. That usually gets fixed in later stages. That first light was duplicated along the stairway, lighting up the way into the image. It took some tweaking of their placement and strength - finally I decided to place them on the left wall, and add one on the right (Fig.05). Now its time for the windows. I started by placing a Plane (default type) Vray Light in place of the closer window on the right wall (Fig.06) kind of by accident really, as it was supposed to be the other window. But that placement gave me a nice illumination of the left building, picking up the bump detail there, so I decided to keep it. I did try the other window, but didnt

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 102

Issue 053 January 2010

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time

like it as it lit the arch wall way too much. The same way I lit up the little square window above the arch (Fig.07). A little trick here. As you may have noticed, I use double-sided lights. Its just for preview purposes, as it illuminates the window behind it, giving me a clue that the window is bright without me having to do it the proper way. It looks wrong, but good enough to experiment with placing window lights, and will be fixed shortly. Somewhere at this stage, Ive turned the fog on. It took me a while to find the right settings its good to know general scene dimensions, but its a case of trial and error (Fig.08). Its worth noticing, that the fog absorbs quite a lot of light, making the image darker than before and requiring some adjustment to the lights main light intensity was bumped up to 700. Another solution is to adjust the exposure. To do that in Vray, we need to use VRayPhysicalCamera, which allows us to work in a photographic manner setting f-number, ISO, and shutter speed, among others. I aligned it to the original camera using the Align tool - but it still needed some offset to match. After some attempts, I settled on the settings pictured in (Fig.09). VRayPhysicalCamera also provides the settings for vignetting, very handy even if it will be finely tuned during post production. While playing with exposure, we may continue with a more photographic approach, and change the white balance. When doing night photography, playing with WB can give nice, rich colors in seemingly plain light (Fig.10). I took these photos using Shaded / Cloudy settings, and tried to achieve some of that look in the scene, even if it was a starting to look bit too warm. To illuminate the fog a bit, we need more light we need the aforementioned ambient light. But we are not going to use the Ambient setting, nor will we use a Skylight solution. Sky will be handled by a big Vray Light above the whole scene, colored teal (Fig.11), and one smaller Vray Light, angled slightly towards the camera, placed just above the

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 103

Issue 053 January 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time: Environment Lighting

roof. Moonlight will be done using a standard Max Directional light, placed above the camera. Because I dont want the front facing walls to be lit too much, I built a simple shadow-caster object, simulating the other side of the street (Fig.12). For placing such lights, where shadow is even more important than the light, its good to use viewport shadows display. I use it for almost all lights in the scene, but it really works well with one or two as with any more they tend to cancel each other out. I didnt want any direct light on the front facing walls, but I wanted to suggest some world off screen. I used three Omni lights, projecting a quickly stitched image of tree branches, to simulate some streetlights hidden behind the trees (Fig.13). At this stage with the main light sources in place, I took the low quality rendering into Photoshop, and started tweaking a bit. I quickly confirmed that most of the colors were way too saturated, producing an image that was way too warm. Quick try with Adjustment Layers provided the direction I should try (Fig.14). I also noticed that the side walls could use some specularity to accentuate the damp feeling and that there was no nice main specular on the street... I proceeded to fix those things. Light colors got desaturated and even turned slightly blue. The light coming from the sky was now almost gray. Sure, but looks good, and I couldnt achieve it The lack of specular on the street was fixed by duplicating the main light, turning off Affect Diffuse option, and using the Place Highlight tool to position it in the right spot (Fig.15). Fake? with the main lamp placed where its placed in the scene. If it was a real life movie set, it would probably be handled in a similar way by placing a light source just so. The whole composition was starting to look unbalanced, gravitating towards the right side. I therefore added a light in the doorway down on the street level to the left in order to balance it a bit. Theres also an angled box, invisible to

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 104

Issue 053 January 2010

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 1: Fog/Mist (Damp) at Night-Time


the camera, shaping the hotspot to resemble an open door yet another trick here (Fig.16). The walls were turned into a Shellac Material, with a VrayMtl in the shellac slot (Fig.17). After some tweaking, I achieved a nice looking, damp wall, catching the highlight from that little square window. The image was starting to look quite good now but a few tweaks were still required. The metal railings needed a reflective VrayMtl, the little metal roof high above the street needed to look wet, too. But the main problem was my preview windows. I solved that by turning the lights to be single sided, and duplicating them. The duplicate is way weaker, as it serves only to illuminate the wall recession around the window. Now whats behind the window is another fake its simply a self-illumination map, using a photo of a window from the outside, at night (Fig.18). Itll do for a still image, but it wont hold up for camera movement we would need at least some simple interior then. Fortunately we are working with a still this time. those things are too small to write about, they A few more slight tweaks remained I constantly find something to tweak, even if are always there. Change the hue here, by a tiny bit, tweak the material there, that kind of stuff. When thats done, we can try to finally render the image at higher resolution. This scene is quite time-consuming to render, due to the fog overnight is a good idea. For test renders, I use low resolution, fixed image sampling, and lowered subdivs in the fog. Again, note of caution Fixed sampling produces a lot of bright noise in specular areas appearing as though there should be nice, crisp detail when you do a full render. Much of this disappears and gets filtered down and smoothed, providing a much softer looking result in the end. This is something to bear in mind and so be prepared to do more than one higher quality render. The image took 22 hours to render, but I used a 3-year old machine. Most of the post-production I had already sorted out, throwing my test renders into that first PSD test-image. I used a few radial gradients to enhance the atmosphere, some color corrections to bring back the cold, blue

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 105

Issue 053 January 2010

hues, upping the gamma a bit, overlaying some photographic smoke images, some subtle chromatic aberration - simple things, really, but as always, crucial to a good looking image. (Fig.19) shows most of the things I added. The final image is on (Fig.20). Id like to point out that this image does not use GI. Sure, it wouldnt do any harm but it works quite well even without it, mainly due to the fog which adds some bright fill to the scene. Apart from this its nighttime whereupon the bounced light is way weaker than during the daytime (no sun, no bright sky). Tutorial by:

Andrzej Sykut
For more from this artist visit: http://azazel.carbonmade.com/ Or contact them: eltazaar@gmail.com

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the original scene files and textures + the artist final scene setting up

This series of five tutorials will focus on the topic of outdoor lighting and more specifically the task of setting up different light rigs to reflect a variety of weather scenarios. Each of the chapters will use the same base scene as a starting point and show a step by step guide to finding a lighting and rendering solution to describe a set time of day under different conditions ranging from a damp foggy night to sunset / sunrise. The tutorials will explain the type of lights used and how to set up their parameters alongside the combined rendering settings in order to achieve an effective result. The manipulation of textures will also be covered in order to turn a daylight scene into night for example, as well as a look at some useful post production techniques in Photoshop in order to enhance a final still.

+ mental ray

Chapter 1 | January Issue 053


Fog/Mist at Night-Time

Chapter 2 | This Issue


Sunrise/Sunset

Chapter 3 | Next Issue


Moonlight

Chapter 4 | April Issue 056


Midday Sun

Chapter 5 | May Issue 057


Overcast

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset Chapter 2 - Sunrise / Sunset
Software Used: 3ds Max + Mental Ray I want to create something interesting and imaginative for this scene, when searching the internet you will get a lot of the more traditional golden mediteranian sunsets. So we need to refine our search a bit to get something more interesting. Sunsets can be quite colourfull depending on many factors such as; time of year, location and weather. In my mind Im thinking of deep reds, purples and blues maybe something like Russia. So Ill do another search for sunsets in Russia or colder locations. This gives me a lot of useful reference to use to show me the colours I need to get into my scene. main source of light in order to create something interesting. There are two places I would expect the sun to be in this image, the first is behind the building allowing the sun light to cascade down the stairs. This will give us a nice shadow of the archway but the downside of this sun position is that the rest of the image will be in shadow and I fear will create an uninteresting image and allow all the detail in the buildings to be lost. Also this will restrict us and in the end restrict our creativity. The second position for the sun is from behind the camera pointing at the front of building. This will give us a lot of light to play with and keep all our detail in the buildings. Here is the raw image in the Max view port (Fig.01).

Introduction
During this exterior lighting series I will be covering the techniques I used to create various time and weather conditions using 3DS Max and the Mental Ray renderer. I will be concentrating on describing my lighting methods rather than any modelling or texturing that may need to be done. I have created as much of the image as I can in Max; leaving the Photoshop polish to a bear minimum to achieve the final result. Before I start lighting any scene I collect reference for the type on lighting setup I want to create. So Ill do an internet search for sunsets, this will bring up a lot of images so theres plenty of reference to get a good end result.

Identifying light sources


For a sunset environment we will need to rely on the natural lighting to illuminate the scene. This will mean we will need to be imaginative with the

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 109

Issue 054 February 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset: Environment Lighting


The archway and stairs are central to this image; the shadows in this scene should be very soft so I used MR-Area lights to light the entire scene. These lights give us the ability to create soft diffused shadows helping to create the illusion of the soft light being cast by the sun.

The weather conditions


The weather changes the lighting in the environment so we need to think about what kind of weather we want. I think an almost clear sky with thin whispy clouds high in the sky and near the sun. As the sun is behind us we will get a nice glimps of blue at the top of the image from the small amount of sky that is visible. This will add a lot to the final image. I will add some slight environment fogging to give us some atmosphere and add depth to the image making the end scene more believable and realistic. inderiect illumination tab I set the Final Gather to draft and the bounce light to 0. This will allow me to render out as quickly as possible. Here is an image of the position of the light in the scene (Fig.02). Here is a render of what we have so far with just the sun light applied. (Fig.03). I like the colour of the sunlight being cast but I feel it is to over powering and the whole scene is washed out and un interesting. A good way of adding interest to a scene is to add shadows this serves two purposes. One being it will break up the mass of light being cast over the scene adding some interest. Second it will create the illusion of a environment behind the camera further adding realism to the image. This is a very simple process and gives us a lot of reward so is well worth doing. I started by creating two simple boxes and positioning them just behind the camera so theyre not rendered, but must be in front of the main sun light in order to cast shadows in to the alley way. I will then do a quick test render to see what the shadows look like and if there position is suitable. With some tweaking in the position of the boxes I was able to get them in a good enough location to cast some nice shadow effects across the front of the building.

Setup draft render


When lighting any image, you cant expect to achieve the final result first time. In anticipation of a lot of tweaking, I did many test renders. As this could potentially be very time-consuming, I setup the renderer to a draft setting so it speeded up the render times to a more workable rate. I set the render size to 360*480 and in the

Sun light
For the sun light I will use a MR-Area Spot light and point it down the alley way I set the sunlight multiplier to 3 and enabled area shadows this would give us a soft shadow. And gave it a warm red/orange colour.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 110

Issue 054 February 2010

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset

The boxes are very simple at the moment and it shows in the render so in order to get something a little more interesting I will add some extra faces to the boxes and create a simple siloette of a typical building shape. Here is a perspective view of the whole scene with my fake simple buildings positioned correctly. (Fig.04) Here is a render of the newly placed shadows. (Fig.05). Now that the background shadows are in place a new problem occurs to me. The shadows are to dark and black. If this was in the real world the shadows would be lighter and the blueness of the sky would add a blue tint to the shadows. So to solve this problem I simply added a Mr-Area Omni light in the middle of the scene and about half as high as the buildings. I gave the light an intensity of 0.7 and a bluish colour. This light would effect the whole of the environment not just the shadows. This shouldnt be a problem as it will give us a sort of global ambience effect. Time for another test render. Here is a test render of the scene so far (Fig.06). As you can see this immediately adds a whole other life to the scene and improves the image so much. Everything is looking good so I moved onto the tweaking stage.

Adding specular highlights


To add more of a punch to the lighting I need to add some bounce light and specular highlights to simulate the sun reflecting back at the camera. I like the position of the sun light and the way the shadows get cast. So I dont want to alter this to get good bounce light, so I will add some MRArea Omni lights with a small radius to add that little bit of extra punch to the surface. Firstly I will add a small Omni light to the curb with the same colour as the sun light I will alter the Omni lights attenuation settings in order to get a gradual falloff to the light this will help make it look natural. The settings I used for this are: Near Attenuation End 0.07 and Far Attenuation Start 0.07 End 0.4 Here is the position of the light (Fig.07).

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 111

Issue 054 February 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset: Environment Lighting


I like the way the sun hits the blue shutter windows on the top left of the image but again its not strong enough for me so I will use the same technique and place a MR-Area Omni light with a larger attenuation setting this time and placed it just in front of the doors. The settings I used for this are: Near Attenuation End 0.25 and Far Attenuation Start 0.36 End 0.6 The wall above the archway is strongly lit. This will cause the area to be almost self lit by the light bouncing off the walls. But at the moment I feel the shadows are quite dark here and the building on the right hand side needs to be a bit brighter where it joins the back wall. So I will place a MR-Area Omni light with a larger radius than previously used and place it just in front and above of the white concrete patch. The intensity will be a bit lower because the wall is already getting the full force of the sunlight and I dont want to over power this area to much. Here is an image of the position and settings used for this light (Fig.08). The street lantern is fading into the background a little so in order to make this stand out a bit more I will add some specular highlights to the metal. So I placed MR-Area Omni light with a very small radius in front and just above the lantern this will add a specular highlight to the metal lantern and hopefully help make it stand out more. Here is an image of the positon of the light (Fig.09). Lastly I would like to add more specular highlight to the window on the back wall. If I use the same technique as previously used I will add to much light to this area. As I mentioned earlier this area was already at risk of being to exposed. So I used a little trick to effect the window only. Going into editable poly mode and selecting the window polys only I detached them from the main building object and named the new object Back Window I then placed a MR-Area Omni light in front of the window. I edited the Attenuation settings to get a falloff of the light being cast I wanted it to fade as it hit the side walls. With the light still selected I clicked the exclude button in the lights General settings tab. A new window will appear with a list of all the objects in your scene, and an option at the top saying Include or Exclude These options allow you to include or exlude objects from the lighting cast by this Omni Light. So I will check the Include option and select the Back Window object. This will include only the window object and exclude everything else from this light. The window will now receive a strong specular reflection from the light giving us the illusion of the sun light reflecting off the glass and into the camera.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 112

Issue 054 February 2010

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset


After adding those little tweaks its time for a medium sized render to give us a clearer picture of what the final render will look like and show us any problems that may need resolving before we start a final render.

Medium Render
I set the renderer to medium image precision and medium Final Gather settings. I still havent enabled bounce light yet as it would increase the render times. I increased the size of the render to 800*600 With these setting I was able to see any problems that may occur. Here is the medium render (Fig.10). I was quite happy with the medium sized render and I couldnt see any major issues. Some colour correction needed to be done in Photoshop but this is normal with any image; it adds that extra bit of polish to the art work. I was now ready to go ahead and set up a high quality render.

Final render setup


Here are the settings used for the large final render (Fig.11). I shall use Alpha and ZDepth render elements and composite them in Photoshop to help me get the best image possible. So with everything setup its time to hit that render button for one last time! Here is an final out come from the Mental Ray renderer. (Fig.12). Now that we have everything we need we can import them into Photoshop and start the polishing stage. added a Colour Balance Adjustment layer and brought out the reds and blues a little more as these were the most important colours in this Render, its easy to over do it at this stage and get carried away but be careful not to stray away from the Colour setup we had in mind at the beginning of this project. I then added a little Depth of Field to give us photorealism. I achieved this by putting the Z-depth render

Photoshop composite
I used a Levels adjustment layer to bring out the darks and highlights a little more this adds a lot of quality to your image and is an important stage of the polishing process. I then

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 113

Issue 054 February 2010

element into the Alpha channel of the image and in the effects menu added a Lens Blur and set it to use the Alpha channel. After adjusting the settings I was able to get a realistic effect again be careful not to over do it. The good thing about Lens Blur is you can add specular blur to your highlights in the image further enhancing the photorealism we want to achieve. Here it is, the finished product. (Fig.13).

Conclusion
I set out to create a sun set scene and I think I achieved that. I wanted to create something a little more exciting than the more traditional sunset scene. I liked the colours that come with this particular scenario and think it helped bring the image to life. Im pleased with the end result and hope you found this tutorial useful.

Tutorial by:

Andrew Finch
For more from this artist please contact them: afinchy@googlemail.com

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

This series of five tutorials will focus on the topic of outdoor lighting and more specifically the task of setting up different light rigs to reflect a variety of weather scenarios. Each of the chapters will use the same base scene as a starting point and show a step by step guide to finding a lighting and rendering solution to describe a set time of day under different conditions ranging from a damp foggy night to sunset / sunrise. The tutorials will explain the type of lights used and how to set up their parameters alongside the combined rendering settings in order to achieve an effective result. The manipulation of textures will also be covered in order to turn a daylight scene into night for example, as well as a look at some useful post production techniques in Photoshop in order to enhance a final still.

+ v-ray

Chapter 1 | January Issue 053


Fog/Mist at Night-Time

Chapter 2 | This Issue


Sunrise/Sunset

Chapter 3 | Next Issue


Moonlight

Chapter 4 | April Issue 056


Midday Sun

Chapter 5 | May Issue 057


Overcast

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset Chapter 2 - Sunrise / Sunset
Software Used: 3ds Max + V-Ray Before placing a single light in a 3d software, its good to spend a while, looking at the scene, and thinking, imagining a bit. The assignment is pretty clear - sunset/sunrise - thats the prime directive. But that is not all that matters. Composition of the image is important, regardless of the lighting scenario we have to achieve and that too can influence light placement, strength and color. Visual style, art direction is important as well is it supposed to look real, photo real, stylized? Finding some reference can suggest few ideas, how to achieve our task. Its also good to think about technical aspects is it going to be a still image, or is it for animation, should it render really fast, or maybe we have some computing power at our disposal? But nowadays, when the computers are fast, its not always that important. So how does all that theory work in real life case? Well, there are two most obvious (and easy to recognize) ways of showing a sunset. In the first one, the sun is behind the camera. The shadows of the buildings, especially offscreen ones, can become a very important element of the scene. Because there are parts of the image in warm sunlight, and some in the cooler shadows, there can be quite a lot of color variation (Fig.01), and the contrast isnt very high. Second approach, we are looking at the sun theres a lot of bright light, things are shiny (because of the glancing angle of the sun rays), there are nice, long shadows, and the overall contrast can be quite high, but there can be little in a way of color variation (Fig.02). Both ways differ in mood quite a bit - of course, you can choose somewhere in between it depends on the scene, and on the story you want to tell. There are similarities, too. In both cases, sun is our main (key) light source. Sky acts as a fill but the ratio between the two is different. This looks like a great candidate to use Vray Sun&Sky system as a base of our light setup, at least at first glance. While it should work for the first scenario, it may not be flexible enough for the second one in that particular scene. The arch at the end of the street blocks the horizon, (Fig.03, marked red) and whole scene would be in shadow... unless we try something else.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 117

Issue 054 February 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset: Environment Lighting


Lets start with the first approach. To render the scene, Im using 3dsmax with Vray, with GI turned on. I most often use Irradiance Map for first bounce and Brute Force for the secondary bounces that is the default setting, which works for me in most cases (Fig.04 preview setting). Detailed settings, like number of bounces, or Irradiance Map size of course vary over time low quality for previews, Next thing I did was setting the Color Mapping to Exponential (Fig.05). While this isnt probably the most physically correct way, it has some advantages. The way it works, it prevents overbright hotspots, and oversaturated color transitions. Its also very tolerant its really hard to whiteout the image, and the lights have a very wide range of usable multiplier/strength setting (but that range often ends up being pretty high, like 512 or so, especially with the fog on). It has downsides, too, making the colors look desaturated, and decreasing the contrast of the image. I actually like it that way, because I can easily bring back the contrast and saturation in post production, and for some scenes it just fits but if you dont like it, theres HSV exponential mode, which keeps the colors better. Generally, though, main use I have for default, Linear Multiply, is rendering some additional passes, like masks. Then, Ive set up the road surface (Fig.06). A simple Vray material, VrayDisplacement modifier, and we are good to go. I also added some reflections to the windows (using blend material, VrayMtl for the windows, and a b&w mask). Metal parts, like railings and lamp also use shiny, reflective VrayMtl. higher for final rendering. For still images, as in this case, I try to use fastest (lowest) setting possible, while still getting acceptable result. For animation, the Medium Animation setting is usually safe, flicker free option. I also use a hint of global Ambient Occlusion to add some detail to shadowed parts of the image.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 118

Issue 054 February 2010

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset

Now its time to create the sun. Lets choose VraySun. The pop-up will appear, asking about adding VraySky in the Environment slot I hit OK, since Ill need it. Next I switched VraySky to manual sun node, and pointed the newly created VraySun as the sun node (Fig.07). To have a bit more control, I used two variants of the sky one for lighting, using Vrays environment override, and one to be visible. The difference is in the sun intensity multiplier. To position the sun, its good to display shadows in the viewport (Fig.08). That way I can see the shadows in real-time, and finding a nice composition is really fast... but wait, theres nothing that could cast shadows on our street. Its easy to fix just draw few skyline-shaped, angular splines, and extrude them a bit, then place roughly where the

other side of the street would be, and tweak from there (Fig.09). Here I chose the to have a nice, lit path into the image, and dark shapes on both sides. Before rendering anything, I created VRayPhysicalCamera, so I could control the brightness of the scene in more intuitive way (as I have a bit of photographic experience). The settings pictured on (Fig.10) took some trial and error to get them right generally, if the scene is moreor less build in real world scale, the settings that would work if we were to take a photo of that scene in real life, are a good starting point. The Vignetting option is quite useful here, darkening the corners of the image, and focusing the viewers attention at the central part of the image. I also adjusted the sun brightness, and size, to get nice, soft shadows.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 119

Issue 054 February 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset: Environment Lighting

Lets see what weve got (Fig.11). Not that bad, but could be better Id like some more blue in the shadows, and some more light in the central part of the image. I added a big blueish Vray Light above and to the front of the scene (Fig.12). This gives more color variation, and, as it is, looks more like a sunrise, - but its easy to go back into sunset territory, with few tweaks in post-production. Another, smaller light further along the street (Fig.13) lights up the arch wall, which was bit too dark for my taste. Ive also added a small light behind the arch, so theres no big flat dark spot in the center of the image (Fig.14).

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 120

Issue 054 February 2010

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset

Now, lets take the image into Photoshop, and see what we can do with it. Using Curves Adjustment Layer, I brought down most of the blue/violet from the shadows, giving the whole image a warmer tone (Fig.15), played with vignetting, and some glows, and heres the final result: (Fig.16). All in all, this wasnt too hard, was it?

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 121

Issue 054 February 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset: Environment Lighting

The second scenario is bit more tricky. Lets start with the scene Ive just finished, and remove all lights except the sun. If I set the sun where I want it, and render, the colors are all wrong cold, blue, instead of war browns and oranges. Simply the sun is too high to

have proper warm color (Fig.17). If I swap the VraySun for the standard Directional Light, I can have full control of its color. I replaced the VraySky (the one doing the lighting, in Vray override tab) with a HDR photo of a sunset (To be honest, the scene would probably work even without it, as its effect is subtle, and most of the lighting will be done by hand. Still, its some starting point.), bumped up the Primary Bounces multiplier, played with AO settings, and Vray camera settings (Fig.18) - and the colors start to look right, but the scene is way too dark (Fig.19). The walls of the street are in shade... as they probably should, but Id like them to catch some light, so I put a squashed, spherical Vray Light under the arch (Fig.20). The right wall has a slightly reflective material (added as a Shellac to the base shader), so there is a nice detailed pattern there. Another light was placed above the roof, to throw some back-light on the wall on the right (Fig.21).

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 124

Issue 054 February 2010

Environment Lighting: Outdoor Scene - Chapter 2: Sunrise / Sunset


Yet another, quite big one, placed above the street, simulates the light coming from the sky (Fig.22) - but its not enough, so theres another, even bigger one above the camera, facing the scene, providing some fill light on the forward-facing parts (Fig.23). Using big area lights has some advantages you can add light coming from certain direction, but without sharp shadows, which would clutter the image, and without a very characteristic in CG, point/spot light distribution, which is not always desired. Besides, it works like a big softbox/bounce in real world, either in photography studio, or on a movie set. The downside is rendertime, and sometimes noise, if the sampling of the shadows is not good enough. Before final rendering, I tweaked the backlight above the roof a bit less saturation, bit more intensity, and rotated it a bit no big deal, really. Theres another problem here a light bleeding in the corner. To fix that, I could use higher quality Irradiance Maps, or try to use Detail Enhancement - at the expense of rendertime but as the image will be rendered in high resolution, the settings I have now, should be enough (at high resolutions, even the low Irradiance Map settings provide enough information to get a clean rendering). Actually, Ive lowered them even more, but that required some slight fixing to be done. What the scene lacks is some atmosphere I left that for the very end, for the postproduction stage. I rendered a Zdepth pass, and added slight fog in Photoshop (Fig.24), along with some other simple tweaks. - and the final image looks like (Fig.25). Seeing those two approaches, we can draw some conclusions. The automatic Sun/Sky system is a great starting point, and in some cases, its probably good enough by itself. But as good as it is, it is not always flexible enough, and some scenes will greatly benefit from few well placed additional lights and some will have to be lit mostly by hand which is not that

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 125

Issue 054 February 2010

hard, once you have a clear direction of what you want to achieve. And thats where some research can be very helpful.

Tutorial by:

Andrzej Sykut
For more from this artist visit: http://azazel.carbonmade.com/ Or contact them: eltazaar@gmail.com

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

This series of five tutorials will focus on the topic of outdoor lighting and more specifically the task of setting up different light rigs to reflect a variety of weather scenarios. Each of the chapters will use the same base scene as a starting point and show a step by step guide to finding a lighting and rendering solution to describe a set time of day under different conditions ranging from a damp foggy night to sunset / sunrise. The tutorials will explain the type of lights used and how to set up their parameters alongside the combined rendering settings in order to achieve an effective result. The manipulation of textures will also be covered in order to turn a daylight scene into night for example, as well as a look at some useful post production techniques in Photoshop in order to enhance a final still.

+ mental ray

Chapter 1 | January Issue 053


Fog/Mist at Night-Time

Chapter 2 | February Issue 054


Sunrise/Sunset

Chapter 3 | This Issue


Moonlight

Chapter 4 | Next Issue


Midday Sun

Chapter 5 | May Issue 057


Overcast

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

Environment Lighting Outdoor Scene - Chapter 3: Moonlight Chapter 3 - Moonlight


Software Used: 3ds Max + Mental Ray tutorial in this series you can see I used interior lighting to help pick out detail within the image and help tell a story, which is the most important step of creating any art work. If an image doesnt tell you a story or give you something then what is the point of it? So I will again use the moon light to illuminate the scene but to add character I will use the internal lighting. went for tree shadows across the face of the buildings on the left and right. Because the moon light was coming from the rear a natural shadow of the trees would not be possible, to get round this you can use street lights that are again off camera but cast enough light so the tree shadows can be cast into the scene. For the interior lights I will use the same process as the previous tutorial Foggy and damp where I carved out fake rooms and placed a light to simulate an interior light source. Here is the Image before any lighting has been applied. (Fig.01)

Introduction
During this exterior lighting series I will be covering the techniques I used to create various time and weather conditions using 3DS Max and the Mental Ray renderer. I will be concentrating on describing my lighting methods rather than any modelling or texturing that may need to be done. I have created as much of the image as I can in Max; leaving the Photoshop polish to a bear minimum to achieve the final result. When I think of moon lit I automatically think of a full moon with no cloud cover. As with most urban night scenes you cant just rely on the moon light to light your image. Using the first

Identifying Light Sources


I want the moon light to come from behind the buildings and hit the right wall of the alley, this would give me a nice shadow from the roof tiles to add some interest. I would like to add some fake environment off camera to give me more points of interest similar to what was covered in the previous tutorial. Instead this time I wanted something more organic so I

Setup draft render


When lighting any image, you cant expect to achieve the final result first time. In anticipation of a lot of tweaking, I setup the renderer to a

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 115

Issue 055 March 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 3: Moonlight Environment Lighting

draft setting so it sped up the render times to a more workable rate. I set the render size to 360*480 and in the indirect illumination tab I set the Final Gather to draft and the bounce light to 0. This will allow me to render out as quickly as possible.

Moon Light
I used a MR-Area Spot light for the moon light and pointed it at the right wall of the alley way. I set the multiplier to 3 and enabled Ray traced shadows this would give us the harder edged shadow that you would typically get from a strong moon lit night. I gave the light a light blue colour. Here is an image of the position of the light in the scene (Fig.02) Here is a render of what we have so far with just the moon light applied. (Fig.03) Ok its not very interesting at the moment but it doesnt need to be, we just need to concentrate on getting the moon light to look good then we can fill the scene out and create a nice composition. For the tree shadows I used a projection spot light, this allows you to add a texture to the light, this texture will then cast light. So I used a black and white image of a tree silhouette (Just do a internet search for tree silhouette and you should be able to find a good black and white tree texture). The white areas of the image will be lit and the black area will

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 116

Issue 055 March 2010

Environment Lighting Outdoor Scene - Chapter 3: Moonlight


be in shadow. You then place that image in the projection map slot located in the Advanced Effects tab of the light settings. I pointed this light at the wall on the right hand side and gave it a yellow/orangey tint this gave the illusion of a street light casting the light. I then duplicated the light and pointed it at the wall on the left hand side. Here is a perspective view of the whole scene with my fake tree lights. (Fig.04) Here is a render of the newly placed tree shadows. (Fig.05) Im happy with the tree lights and the moon light but the shadowed areas are a little too dark.

With such a strong moon llight you would get some bounce light lightening up the shadowed areas so I placed a MR Area Omni light higher up in the scene and towards the front of the alley way. I gave this light a very low power of

0.1 and a grey/blue tint giving us the effect of the night sky brightening up the dark areas. Here is a render of the image with just the natural lighting applied.. (Fig.06) Im now happy with the environment lighting so I moved onto the interior lighting to add life to the image.

Adding the Interior Lighting


For the interior lighting I used the same methods as described in the first chapter of this series of exterior lighting. I carved out fake rooms and hollowed out the window panes so the lights inside can escape the rooms and help to illuminate the street. I decided I would light the top floors only for this image because not only do we have the street lamp lighting the alleyway we also have the tree projection lights on the walls and I dont want these to get washed out as they serve a purpose of setting the mood for the image.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 117

Issue 055 March 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 3: Moonlight Environment Lighting


I created a simple box that is open ended and made sure it surrounds the window area. I then cut out the window panes using the window texture as a guide. I used this technique for all the lit windows and doors. Here is an image of a fake room and cut out window panes (Fig.07) I used a MR_area_Omni light in all of the fake rooms, then duplicated them into all the other rooms keeping the setting the same for now. All the lights have an orangey colour and slightly different powers. The doors upper left of the image have a power of 7.0 this is the most powerful light as its closest to the camera and quite full on facing the camera. The windows upper right have a power of 5.0 again quite bright as its close to the camera. The light in the small window on the back wall has a power of 3.0 so slightly lower again as its getting further away also as it is supposed to be a little side room the light inside would not be too bright anyway. And lastly the light in the door on the back wall has a brightness of 2.0 as the opening in the door is quite large the amount of light that escapes the fake room will be quite high so a lower power will help maintain the escaped light. So with all the lights set up accept for the street lamp lets do a quick render to see how this looks. Here is a render of the scene so far (Fig.08) For the street light I used 2 Omni lights, the first light had a very small radius, just enough to include the interior of the street lamp object. This light would help to illuminate the inside of the lamp to give the illusion of a light bulb. This light had a power of 20 and had a lighter orangey colour. The second Omni light was placed outside the street lamp and had a larger radius but a lower power this would act as the light being cast from the light bulb illuminating Here is an image of the position of the lights (Fig.09) the alley way. The light had a power of 2 and had the same colour as the first light.

Medium Render
I set the renderer to medium image precision and medium Final Gather settings. I still havent enabled bounce light yet as it would increase

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 118

Issue 055 March 2010

Environment Lighting Outdoor Scene - Chapter 3: Moonlight


the render times. I increased the size of the render to 800*600 With these settings I was able to see any problems that may occur. I was quite happy with the medium sized render and I couldnt see any major issues. Some colour correction needed to be done in Photoshop but this is normal with any image; it adds that extra bit of polish to the art work. I was now ready to go ahead and set up a high quality render.

Final Render Setup


Here are the settings used for the large final render (Fig.10) I shall use Alpha and ZDepth render elements and composite them in Photoshop to help me get the best image possible. So with everything set up its time to hit that render button for one last time! Here is the final out come from the Mental Ray renderer. (Fig.11) Now that we have everything we need we can import them into Photoshop and start the polishing stage.

Photoshop Composite
The First thing I will do in Photoshop is import the render element Alpha Channel to the alpha channel of the rendered image. This cuts out the geometry from our render and leaves us with a empty sky area. At the beginning of this tutorial I said I wanted a clear sky so a good way to get that point across is to have stars visible. I dont want there to be to many stars, just

subtle enough to give the impression of clear sky but not grab your attention away from the street. So after a quick search on the internet for a night sky I found a good image with just the right amount of stars. So I placed this on a layer behind the rendered image and scaled it in place to get the desired effect. Once Im happy with the sky I flattened the image so Im only working with the one layer. I do this so its simpler for me to edit the image. I used a Levels adjustment layer to bring out the darks and highlights a little more this adds a lot of quality to your image and is an important stage of the polishing process. I then added a Colour Balance Adjustment layer and brought out the blues and greens a little more this would help to convince the viewer it was night time. I then added a little Depth of Field to give us a photorealism look. I achieved this by putting the Z-depth render element into the Alpha channel of the image and in the effects menu added a Lens Blur effect and set it to use the Alpha channel. After adjusting the settings I was able to get a realistic effect but be careful not to over do it, its easy to over blur the image and ruin the effect so subtlety is the key at this stage.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 119

Issue 055 March 2010

The good thing about Lens Blur is you can add specular blur to your highlights in the image further enhancing the photorealism we want to achieve. Here it is, the finished Image. (Fig.12)

Conclusion
In conclusion I feel I managed to create a good moon lit environment using different lighting techniques to create the desired mood and atmosphere. I hope this tutorial was easy enough to follow and help you to create some great lit environments. See you in the next tutorial. Tutorial by:

Andrew Finch
For more from this artist please contact them: afinchy@googlemail.com

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

This series of five tutorials will focus on the topic of outdoor lighting and more specifically the task of setting up different light rigs to reflect a variety of weather scenarios. Each of the chapters will use the same base scene as a starting point and show a step by step guide to finding a lighting and rendering solution to describe a set time of day under different conditions ranging from a damp foggy night to sunset / sunrise. The tutorials will explain the type of lights used and how to set up their parameters alongside the combined rendering settings in order to achieve an effective result. The manipulation of textures will also be covered in order to turn a daylight scene into night for example, as well as a look at some useful post production techniques in Photoshop in order to enhance a final still.

+ v-ray

Chapter 1 | January Issue 053


Fog/Mist at Night-Time

Chapter 2 | February Issue 054


Sunrise/Sunset

Chapter 3 | This Issue


Moonlight

Chapter 4 | Next Issue


Midday Sun

Chapter 5 | May Issue 057


Overcast

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

Environment Lighting Outdoor Scene - Chapter 3: Moonlight Chapter 3 - Moonlight


Software Used: 3ds Max + V-Ray Before placing a single light in a piece of 3d software, its good to spend a while, looking at the scene, and thinking, imagining a bit. The assignment is pretty clear moonlight is the prime directive. But that is not all that matters. Composition of the image is important, regardless of the lighting scenario we have to achieve and that too can influence light placement, strength and color. Visual style and art direction is important as well is it supposed to look real, photo real, stylized? Finding some reference can suggest a few ideas, how to achieve our task. Its also good to think about technicals is it going to be a still image, or is it for animation, should it render really fast, or maybe we have some computing power at our disposal? But nowadays, when the computers are fast, thats not always a problem. Creating a moonlit scene can be tricky. There are few reasons for that: - We dont often see moonlight at work. Sure, full moon nights with clear sky are common enough, but light pollution is even more common. Street - Well, its night, its dark we have to be careful, or the image will end up dim and low-contrast, with no depth and no colors. Not a very nice prospect. So what can we do to, if we need moonlight? Then same thing the filmmakers do, when shooting a night scene create the feeling, the impression of moonlit night, using some well known visual clues. - Color palette is crucial dark, often almost - Atmosphere (fog, mist, smoke) can be very useful, allowing us to use silhouettes of the objects but its usage depends on the required mood. You can achieve quite striking images by working with silhouettes alone. When looking at a night scene, we kind of expect to find some of the above properties. We are used to them, by years of watching the movies or paintings (just take a look at nocturne paintings by Grimshaw or Turner (Fig.01), compared to actual photos). And if we want our setting to be instantly recognizable, and visually attractive, its often good to keep them in mind. Now lets take a look at our scene (Fig.02). No - Fill is quite weak, so by contrast, the highlights seem brighter. For characters, a warm fill might work well. - Shadows are important. The Moon usually produces sharp shadows, unless its covered by clouds, which can soften the shadows quite a bit. - If we try to photograph a moonlit scene, and use long enough exposure time, well get an image looking almost like daylight, with tell-tale arcs left by stars, as the earth rotates. That kind of image, while it can be quite interesting, may not be instantly recognizable as moonlit night. - Also worth noting, such light will be at gazing angle to many surfaces in the scene, and will catch a strong highlight on the shiny ones. Special case of such surface is water it can reflect the moon in a really beautiful way, and, being very bright, can help balance the composition, acting as a visual counterweight to the bright moon face. - At night, human eye sees much less colors than film or digital sensor can see. Hence, what we see, and what we can photograph, can be two different things. lamps and other man-made light sources are much stronger, and at night, its those that are most visible. Even in the countryside, youll most likely see a glow from the nearby city or village. So pure moonlight is a rare sight. - Key light is quite strong, but is usually placed at an angle, or even at the back strong back light is quite characteristic here. Having the moon in the frame nicely motivates said back light. monochromatic, usually cool (most often in muted gray-blue hues, sometimes muted green shades as well), with few strong highlights. Saturation is usually quite low.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 123

Issue 055 March 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 3: Moonlight Environment Lighting

water surface here and only a tiny piece of the sky. We could try to use moon as a back light, but it could only reach a tiny part of the scene, with most of it left in the dark. That could work, but Id like to try something else. Something like a light coming from the side, filtered through the tree branches, with slightly soft shadows. Not much in a way of interesting silhouettes to play with, so some direct light will be needed. And as its light thats important here, not atmosphere, the fog will be very subtle. As youll see, the above rules are more like guidelines than law, and you can bend or break them, if you know what you want to achieve. To render the scene, Im using 3dsmax with Vray, with GI turned on. I most often use Irradiance Map for first bounce, and Brute Force for the secondary bounces that is the default setting, which works for me in most cases (Fig.03 preview settings). Detailed settings, like number of bounces, or Irradiance Map size of course vary over time low quality for previews, higher for final rendering. For still images, as in this case, I try to use fastest (lowest) setting possible, while still getting acceptable result. For animation, the Medium Animation setting is usually safe, flicker free option. I also use a hint of global Ambient Occlusion to add some detail to shadowed parts of the image. One of the first things I usually do is setting the Color Mapping to Exponential (Fig.04). While this isnt probably the most physically correct way, it has some advantages. The way it works, it prevents over bright hot spots, and over saturated color transitions. Its also very tolerant its really hard to whiteout the The scene needed some preparations adding VrayDisplacement to the street surface, some reflections to the windows (using blend material, VrayMtl for the windows, and a b&w mask). Metal parts, like railings and lamp also got a shiny, reflective VrayMtl. Before rendering anything, I created VRayPhysicalCamera, so I could control the brightness of the scene in more intuitive way (as I have a bit of photographic experience). The settings pictured on (Fig.05) took some trial and error to get them right generally, if the scene is more-or less build in real world scale, the image, and the lights have a very wide range of usable multiplier/strength setting (but that range often ends up being pretty high, like 512 or so, especially with the fog on). It has downsides, too, making the colors look desaturated, and decreasing the contrast of the image. I actually like it that way, because I can easily bring back the contrast and saturation in post production, and for some scenes it just fits but if you dont like it, theres HSV exponential mode, which keeps the colors better. Generally, though, main use I have for default, Linear Multiply, is rendering some additional passes, like masks.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 124

Issue 055 March 2010

Environment Lighting Outdoor Scene - Chapter 3: Moonlight

settings that would work if we were to take a photo of that scene in real life, are a good starting point. The Vignetting option is quite useful here, darkening the corners of the image, and focusing the viewers attention at the central part of the image here, I used it very sparingly. I started lighting by setting up the fill (Fig.06) in this case, a HDR image of a night city. In nicely introduces some subtle color variation. We need to add some geometry to block it from the front, though as in real life, where buildings on the other side of the street would occlude some of the sky. Next in line was the moon. It took some tries to find a nice angle, but the time it takes can be shortened by enabling Viewport Shadows display (Fig.07). The Moon is a standard blue-colored directional light, with Vray shadows, and hotspot tweaked to the scene size. I used a tiled black and white image of tree branches in the projection slot (Fig.08). The projected image is blurred a bit, to match the real shadow softness. Notice how nicely the bump mapping on the walls work thats one of the benefits of light angled to the side (or raking light, as its sometimes called). And as a last tweaks, I added an area light behind the arch, above the stairs, so they catch a nice subtle highlight, adding a bit of depth to the scene (Fig.09), and increased main light multiplier a bit. I was considering

adding some man-made light source, like a window-light or the street lamp, but in the end, I decided against it it would have lessened the impact of the moonlight in the scene. In post production, I did some subtle color correction, adding some red and green to the shadows, and blue/cyan to the highlights it works quite well, even if its the opposite of what Id do on a normal, daylight image. I also added a hint of fog using Zdepth pass, some highlight glow, some grain, and a tiny amount of chromatic aberration simple tweaks, really (Fig.10).

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 125

Issue 055 March 2010

As it turns out, achieving a moonlit scene was quite easy, with just two light sources and some GI (Fig.11 final image). While technically simple, that kind of scene requires some pondering and a bit of cheating I tried to think about our scene as a movie set, not only as a real street late at night.

Tutorial by:

Andrzej Sykut
For more from this artist visit: http://azazel.carbonmade.com/ Or contact them: eltazaar@gmail.com

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

This series of five tutorials will focus on the topic of outdoor lighting and more specifically the task of setting up different light rigs to reflect a variety of weather scenarios. Each of the chapters will use the same base scene as a starting point and show a step by step guide to finding a lighting and rendering solution to describe a set time of day under different conditions ranging from a damp foggy night to sunset / sunrise. The tutorials will explain the type of lights used and how to set up their parameters alongside the combined rendering settings in order to achieve an effective result. The manipulation of textures will also be covered in order to turn a daylight scene into night for example, as well as a look at some useful post production techniques in Photoshop in order to enhance a final still.

+ mental ray

Chapter 1 | January Issue 053


Fog/Mist at Night-Time

Chapter 2 | February Issue 054


Sunrise/Sunset

Chapter 3 | March Issue 055


Moonlight

Chapter 4 | This Issue


Midday Sun

Chapter 5 | Next Issue


Overcast

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

Environment Lighting Outdoor Scene - Chapter 4: Midday Sun Chapter 4 - Midday Sun
Software Used: 3ds Max + Mental Ray play an important part in this image, for midday the shadows need to be very sharp and at a steep angle to give the illusion of the sun being almost directly above you. I also imagine the sky to be a bright blue with no cloud cover. This blue sky will just show through at the top of the image adding a nice spot of color. A problem that we will need to overcome will be the intense light from the sun washing out the color of the buildings and removing the detail from the textures and bump maps. Here is the Image before any lighting has been applied. (Fig.01) There will be no artificial light in this scene as it is the middle of the day any interior lighting will not be visible. system to create a realistic looking sun and use a HDR map to help create the secondary light source.

Introduction
During this exterior lighting series I will be covering the techniques I used to create various time and weather conditions using 3DS Max and the Mental Ray renderer. I will be concentrating on describing my lighting methods rather than any modelling or texturing that may need to be done. I have created as much of the image as I can in Max; leaving the Photoshop polish to a bear minimum to achieve the final result. For midday sun I think of baking hot weather, sunlight bouncing off surfaces creating hot spots on the walls, and windows to show the intense light being cast by the sun. Shadows will also

Identifying Light Sources


There are 2 main sources of light in this image. The main one being the sun light and the second being the bounce light reflecting off the walls and filling the dark shadowed areas with light. For the sunlight I will be using the daylight

Setup Draft Render


When lighting any image, you cant expect to achieve the final result first time. In anticipation of a lot of tweaking, I setup the renderer to a draft setting so it speeds up the render time to a more workable rate. I set the render size to 360*480 and in the indirect illumination tab I set the Final Gather to draft and the bounce light to

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 95

Issue 056 April 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 4: Midday Sun Environment Lighting


0. This will allow me to render out as quickly as possible.

Sun Light
The sun is created using the Daylight system. This is located in the Create tab under systems. When you click on Daylight system you will be asked if you want to change the exposure settings. I clicked yes for this to give us better results in the final render. In the viewport you click and drag a compass, then when you release the mouse button the sun is created and you can position it quite high above the scene to simulate the high midday sun. Here is an image of the viewport containing the daylight system (Fig.02) If you hit render now you will get an uninteresting image but we are using the default settings. We need to alter many settings to get the desired effect, I will start from the top and work my way down the properties of the daylight system. Here is a render with the default daylight system settings. (Fig.03)

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 96

Issue 056 April 2010

Environment Lighting Outdoor Scene - Chapter 4: Midday Sun Daylight Parameters


Sunlight - mr Sun Skylight Skylight (This option allows us to use a HDR image for the GI) Position Manual (This allows us to move the sun to where we need it) Nonphysical Tuning Red/Blue Tint - 0.3 Saturation 1.0 Midtones 1.0 Shadows 0.2 Colour Saturation 1.0 Whitepoint 5400 Kelvin Vignetting 4.0 Physical scale Check Unitless 25000 Image of setting (Fig.05) Because the sun and environment is out of scale according to the real world we need to scale down the properties so we get a more accurate calculation of sun light I found a Physical Scale of 25000 worked well for this scene. With all the settings done we need to change some things with the HDR map. With the Here are the settings I used in this window: Environment and Effects window still open click and drag the .hdr map into an empty slot in the material editor and click Instance

Skylight Parameters
Multiplier 2.0 Sky Colour Check Use Scene Environment (we can now add a HDR map to the background in the Environment and Effects window). Image of settings (Fig.04) I got to the settings above by tweaking the values and test rendering until I was happy with the shadows, the color of light and the power of the light and bounce light. We also need to change the settings in Exposure Control to get a better render. This can be accessed by going to Rendering/Environment in the menus or by pressing 8

MR Sun Basic Parameters


Multiplier 5.0 Shadows On Softness Samples 24 Inherit from mrSky Unchecked

Common Parameters
Check Use Map I then added a HDR map in the map slot. I chose a bright sunny day map, they can be found quite easily if you search for them. I did a search for sunny HDR map and downloaded the one I liked the look of. I cant show it because of copyright issues but you should be able to find one easily. Note; This HDR image will now be rendered in the sky. Dont worry about this, you can use an Alpha channel render element to Cut Out the HDR sky and paste in our own nice blue sky.

Exposure Control
Select from the drop down menu mr Photographic Exposure Control

MR Photographic Exposure Control


Check Photographic Exposure Image Control Highlights - 0.25

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 97

Issue 056 April 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 4: Midday Sun Environment Lighting

Coordinates
Check Environ and change the Mapping to Spherical Environment This will wrap the .hdr image around the scene. Image of settings (Fig.06) So with all that done its time for a medium render and a check for any issues before we start the final large render.

Medium Render
I set the renderer to medium image precision and medium Final Gather settings. I still havent enabled bounce light yet as it would increase the render times. I increased the size of the render to 800*600. With these settings I was able to see any problems that may occur. From the medium render I was able to see a problem. The Colours are being washed out by the intense light being cast by the sun. The red archway doesnt stand out next to the beige and brown walls that surround it. This shouldnt be the case, being a red wall it needs to stand out. Also the blue shutters (upper left) are over exposed in places and washing away the blue colour. I think all of the textures could do with some touch ups in Photoshop, a simple levels adjust would do. The Levels adjustment brought out the detail and darkened the texture, now when the intense light hits the walls the textures wont be lost.

Here is a before and after of the textures (Fig.07) I hit render once more with the medium settings to check that texture were now displaying correctly. I was quite happy with the medium sized render and I couldnt see any major issues. I was now ready to go ahead and set up a high quality render.

Final render setup


Here are the settings used for the large final render (Fig.08) I shall use Alpha and ZDepth render elements and composite them in Photoshop to help me get the best image possible. So with everything set up its time to hit that render button for one last time!

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 98

Issue 056 April 2010

Environment Lighting Outdoor Scene - Chapter 4: Midday Sun

Here is the final out come from the Mental Ray renderer. (Fig.09) Now that we have everything we need we can import them into Photoshop and start the polishing stage.

now it was transparent. I then created a new layer underneath the render and filled with a nice sky blue colour. I then applied the following adjustment layers: Levels To enhance the darks and whites. Color Balance - Give the image a slight bluish tint to replicate the blue sky GI. Curves Enhance the whites more to get an over exposed look on the sun bleached wall. Lens Flare 105mm Prime, very low opacity and placed on the corner of the metal roof to the right of the green door above the archway. To give the illusion of the sun reflecting of the metal surface, and to further convince the viewer that it is a baking hot day. Here it is, the finished Image. (Fig.10)

Conclusion
I am happy with the final outcome for this render. I feel I have achieved a hot sunny day with plenty of hot spots and was able to keep the colour in the textures from being washed out under the intense light from the sun. The blue sky adds a nice touch to the composition. I tried a new approach to lighting in this tutorial than the others, I normally stick to mr-Area omni lights and mr-Area spotlights for my lighting rigs, but I wanted to show the daylight system and I thought a sunny day would be the best time to show off what it is capable of. I hope you have learned something new from this tutorial and I really enjoyed making this one. create Tutorial by:

Photoshop Composite
With this image there wasnt much Photoshop work that needed doing because the lighting was just right for the time of day, and with the color correction done in the textures earlier on, only a minimal amount of post work needed to be done. I started with the sky, because the HDR map is visible in the render we need to get rid of this. I created a layer mask and pasted in the Alpha render element, this Cut Out the HDR sky so

Andrew Finch
For more from this artist please contact them: afinchy@googlemail.com

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 99

Issue 056 April 2010

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

This series of five tutorials will focus on the topic of outdoor lighting and more specifically the task of setting up different light rigs to reflect a variety of weather scenarios. Each of the chapters will use the same base scene as a starting point and show a step by step guide to finding a lighting and rendering solution to describe a set time of day under different conditions ranging from a damp foggy night to sunset / sunrise. The tutorials will explain the type of lights used and how to set up their parameters alongside the combined rendering settings in order to achieve an effective result. The manipulation of textures will also be covered in order to turn a daylight scene into night for example, as well as a look at some useful post production techniques in Photoshop in order to enhance a final still.

+ v-ray

Chapter 1 | January Issue 053


Fog/Mist at Night-Time

Chapter 2 | February Issue 054


Sunrise/Sunset

Chapter 3 | March Issue 055


Moonlight

Chapter 4 | This Issue


Midday Sun

Chapter 5 | Next Issue


Overcast

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

Environment Lighting Outdoor Scene - Chapter 4: Midday Sun Chapter 4 - Midday Sun
Software Used: 3ds Max + V-Ray This months assignment is midday sunlight the kind you could see every day, if you are lucky. But since its so common sight, well have to be careful not to make it too plain. Of course, if you are working for a client/director, they may have another vision, but Id like the image to look good, maybe stylized a bit instead of plain, but realistic. The stylization I have in mind lies in color correction I like the colors of old film photos, like those on the (Fig.01), so Ill try to incorporate some of that look in our image. It comes from many sources from using Lomo camera, which was my childhood toy, way before becoming hip ;), from processing your film in wrong chemicals (so-called cross-processing), or from the film itself, often producing some color casts/distortions. This has little to do with the 3d part, and a lot to do with post-production, so more on that later. Lighting-wise, midday sunlight is pretty simple, strong sun as a key light, blues sky, leading to blue-tinted, hard-edged shadows. Thats it... well, not yet. Composition, as usual, is most important. The mentioned hard shadows can be pretty intense, creating shapes of their own. This case is a great occasion to use Vray sun & sky system thats what its made for. It should give us a good looking, but neutral generic image. Im using it in tandem with GI. I mainly use Irradiance Map for the first bounce and Brute Force for the secondary bounces that is the default setting which works for me in most cases (Fig.02 preview settings). Detailed settings like number of bounces, or Irradiance Map size of course vary over time low quality for previews, higher if the scene requires it. For still images, as in this case, I try to use fastest (lowest) setting possible, while still getting acceptable result. For animation, the Medium Animation setting is usually safe with the flicker free option. I also use a hint of global Ambient Occlusion to add some detail to the shadowed parts of the image. One of the first things I usually do is setting the Color Mapping to Exponential (Fig.03). Those shapes can either hurt the composition, becoming a distraction, or help it, guiding the eye to the focal parts of the image. Fortunately, its easy to try various sun positions quickly. Besides... those shadows quite often shouldnt even be blue neutral colors may work as well, depending on the situation.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 103

Issue 056 April 2010

Outdoor Scene - Chapter 4: Midday Sun Environment Lighting


While this isnt probably the most physically correct way, it has some advantages. The way it works is it prevents over bright hotspots, and oversaturated color transitions. Its also very tolerant its really hard to whiteout the image, and the lights have a very wide range of usable multiplier/strength setting (but that range often ends up being pretty high, like 512 or so, especially with the fog on). It has downsides also, making the colors look desaturated, and decreasing the contrast of the image. I actually like it that way, because I can easily bring back the contrast and saturation in post production, and for some scenes it just fits but if you dont like it, theres HSV exponential mode, which keeps the colors better. Generally though the main use I have for default, Linear Multiply, is rendering some additional passes, like masks. The scene needed some preparations adding Vray Displacement to the street surface, some reflections to the windows (using blend material, Vray Mtl for the windows, and a black & white mask). Metal parts, like railings and lamp also got a shiny reflective Vray Mtl. Before rendering anything I created VRayPhysicalCamera, so I could control the brightness of the scene in a more intuitive way (as I have a bit of photographic experience). If we look at the rendered image, we see that front facing walls are too bright, making the To position the sun, its good to display shadows in the viewport (Fig.06). That way I can see the shadows in real-time, and finding a nice composition is really fast. I chose to place the sun almost directly above the scene, so the road surface is brightly lit (Fig.07). Now its time to create the sun. Lets choose Vray Sun. The pop-up will appear, asking about adding Vray Sky in the Environment slot I hit OK, since Ill need it. Next I switched Vray Sky to manual sun node, and pointed the newly created Vray Sun as the sun node, and tweaked the parameters a bit (Fig.05). Decreased Turbidity means more blue sky, and adjusting the intensity allows me to tune the balance between sun and sky light. The settings pictured on (Fig.04) took some trial and error to get them right generally, if the scene is more-or less built in real world scale, the settings that would work if we were to take a photo of that scene in real life, are a good starting point. The Vignetting option is quite useful here, darkening the corners of the image, and focusing the viewers attention at the central part of the image.

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 104

Issue 056 April 2010

Environment Lighting Outdoor Scene - Chapter 4: Midday Sun


image look flat. The easiest way to darken them is by placing an object invisible to the camera, to occlude some of the skylight (simulating the buildings at the other side of the street) (Fig.08). Now comes the time for final rendering and post-production. I already did some tests on a low-res preview which is something I really recommend doing. Its easy to spot problems, and fix them, before rendering the high-res, and wasting many hours if its wrong in some way. What I want to do is to add a bit more contrast, and shift the highlights towards green, and shadows towards magenta. I did it by using Curves in Photoshop, and shaped the curves for each of the R, G, and B channels separately, as well as the default RGB one. (Fig.09) shows the curve shapes. I did some other mostly localized adjustments, some highlight, some glow and grain, etc pretty standard fare. As an afterthought, I decreased the saturation of the yellow highlights a bit, to get slightly more neutral image. (Fig.10) shows the final image. For situations like this, the built-in Sun & Sky system works great, and saves a lot of time. Of course, there may be a need to supplement it with additional lights - but here, its just enough. Theres a caveat, though images done that way tend to look quite bland and similar to each other, so its good to customize the settings a bit, and do some post-production magic to add a personal touch treating the rendered image as a raw material rather than final image..

Andrzej Sykut
For more from this artist visit: http://azazel.carbonmade.com/ Or contact them: eltazaar@gmail.com

- Free Scene & Textures


This download includes the artist final scene set up + textures

www.3dcreativemag.com

Page 105

Issue 056 April 2010