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Basic Lighting Tutorial

Setup 3 point lighting, render passes for post processing and combine in Photoshop.
Copyright Niko Mkel 2!. http"##$$$.cgmascot.com
Tutorial should come with:
lo$%poly model of the character bust used in tutorial. &'(%format.
higher%poly )ersion of the same model*subdi)ided+. &'(.
e,ample Modo%scene *Modo )er. 3 and abo)e+. -.&.
Photoshop%file*psd+ sho$ing the minor post processing / did
/f you don0t the ha)e the files, please check the site $here you got this P12. 2iles are also
a)ailable at my site.
The tutorial and files are for personal use. Sharing is fine but sale or any other
commercial use is not allo$ed. 3his is free learning material. 4l$ays mention the
source $hen you share any of the files any$here, thank you.
-oad the model to your preferred soft$are. Creature.ob5 is built $ith subdi)ision in
mind, so please acti)ate that on your model or subdi)ide the model once or t$ice. 6ou
need some detail to get nice shading on the surface. &r you can load in the second &'(%
file" creature7subdi)ided.ob5
'asic -ighting 3utorial by Niko Mkel. 8er. !.!. 2ebruary 2!. !#9
3 Point Lighting
3his type of lighting is common for presenting ob5ects or characters. /t is used e)en in
motion, like for characters in animation production. Characters may ha)e their uni:ue
lighting rig mo)ing and rotating $ith them, adding s$eet lighting on top of the scene
lighting they *may+ also recei)e. /n this tutorial $e use a character bust by yours truly,
$hich pro)ides enough cur)es and cre)ices to make lighting interesting.
/ use only spotlighs in this tutorial because they are directional, ease to control, ha)e
falloff and render :uickly. 6ou could go $ith other light types if you like, but use some
sort of directional light as that0s $hat this techni:ue is more or less based on. Point is to
model with light % define those shapes $ith ligth and shado$. So there is little point in
using $ide or other$ise 0o)erall0 light that $ashes shado$s a$ay. ;e $ant to accent our
sub5ect0s shape, yes<
1. Camera is important here. 4ll lights $ill be placed relati)e to the camera. Place
your camera so you can get a good shot of the sub5ect. Choose something you
really like, as changing the camera later $ill mean changing lighting as $ell.
2. Scene. =ill all light in the scene % turn lights off and remo)e all ambient light.
3urn >lobal /llumination off . 6ou can enable it again in the end if you like $hat
it adds to the final, but for the
tutorial it should be off. -ea)e
one light on for ne,t step. /t
$ill be your =ey light. 3he
namesake 3 0points0 are key,
fill and rim lights. ;ork $ith
one at a time % turn the other
off for a $hile and $hen happy
try them together again.
3. Key Light is usually placed in
front of the sub5ect, slightly
o)er one side and pointing
do$n. /t could be !?%9?
degrees of to the side of the
camera and !?%9? degrees
abo)e. 6ou can get creati)e
$ith this, but if you do please
ad5ust your other light angles
accordingly.
=ey should usually be the
brightest light in the scene,
though @im may go e)en
brighter as long as you use it
only for the rim. 4d5ust =ey to your liking, make it look good and don0t let any
part of your image 0burn out0.
'asic -ighting 3utorial by Niko Mkel. 8er. !.!. 2ebruary 2!. 2#9
3ake a note of $here shado$ is cast. Shado$ going straight to the side means
your =ey is too lo$ and too much to the side. Aye%areas going all dark, 0raccoon0,
means your light is too high and#or at too steep an angle. Bse light to place the
shado$ $here it looks nice and prefereably help define the sub5ect shape.
4. Fill Light
2ill pro)ides supporting ambient light and is placed on the opposite side of the camera
than $here the =ey is. 4ngle to the camera, side$ise, is about C%!2 degrees. /f =ey is
up, 2ill should be lo$er. 'ut a)oid going much belo$ camera le)el as lo$%angle light is
often some$hat unflattering for the sub5ect.
1epending on the needs of your scene, you may need to add more 2ills. Make sure the
amount of light they add do the scene is not more than half of $hat =ey adds, because if
you go higher $ith 2ill*s+ you start to lose the form*shado$ and light contrast+. /f you
find yourself fi,ing =ey%light results $ith 2ills, better fi, the =ey instead.
3he ratio bet$een your =ey and 2ill*s+ light po$er in the scene is called =ey%to%2ill%ratio.
-o$ ratio*3"!+ stands for scenes $here 2ill*s+ contribute more than third of the light.
Digh ratio is for those moody scenes $ith strong shado$s*like C"!+.
5. Rim Light separates your
model from the background. /t
can also be for the coolness%
factor, if you like $hat it does.
Set your @im*s+ so that they
illuminate mainly 5ust the
sub5ect edges, aka rim. 4d5ust
intensity to your liking.
/0)e turned off the specular
effect for my @ims to a)oid a
too bright specular highlight on
the rim.
'asic -ighting 3utorial by Niko Mkel. 8er. !.!. 2ebruary 2!. 3#9
6. Rendering
@ender should be ok already , but a bit more t$eaking
as post process couldn0t hurt. 3o do that you need
images to $ork $ith, so render $ith each of your 3
lights *or light groups + separately. 3hen do one more
render $ith all lights acti)e and this time output more
passes"
Main render
4lpha
1epth
4mbient &cclusion
and $hate)er other passes you like
6ou $ill use these to enhance your render in
Photoshop*or in some other+.
Post processing in Photoshop
(or in other image editing software
3his is $ill be brief. Note that if in other soft$are than Photoshop, the layer effects may differ.
Place basic all%lights render on the bottom layer E all the rest go abo)e it $ith some layer
mode enabled.
4dd more shado$ing and dirt#grime#life $ith 4mbient &cclusion layer*multiply+.
/f you like, make your picture 0pop0 $ith addition of rim%light layer*color dodge+.
Make a copy of $hat you ha)e no$*AditFCopy Merged or ShiftGC3@-GC+
4dd more contrast to depth%layer and use the layer to make selection of areas outside the
focus%point*face+. /n other $ords select the $hitest area*face+, and in)ert selection. No$
go back to the copy%merged layer, and, using the selection you 5ust made, apply >aussian
'lur to your liking. 6ou should get passable depth of field%effect and nice glo$ around
your ob5ect.
3hat0s all for me. 1epending on ho$ many different passes you rendered, you may ha)e a lot
more options for post processing. 3ry $ith the separate light passes $e did. Play $ith layers,
ha)e funH 4nd if you like this tutorial, please say so on my blog. 3hank you.
http"##$$$.cgmascot.com
!ther "esources
3here0s a lots of tutorials about lighting on the net, but / $ould recommend a book" 1igital
-ighting I @endering by (eremy 'irn. http"##$$$.3drender.com#light#inde,.html
'asic -ighting 3utorial by Niko Mkel. 8er. !.!. 2ebruary 2!. 9#9