#59: SHADOWS & LIGHT (Vue)
#58: ADVANCED DIRT MAPPING (Vue)
#57: SSS IN VUE 9, AND THE "SPECKLE" PROBLEM
#56: THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL OF ART
#55: FIXING POSER CLOTHING
#54: MAKING "FOREST WAR - GOBLIN SHAMAN"
#53: MAKING A STUDIO RENDER FOR VUE
(and other apps)
#49: NEBULA MKIII (Vue)
#48: RENDER SETTINGS FOR VUE (Vue)
#47: POSTWORK - MAKING A RENDER INTENSE (Any)
#46: MAKING RIVERS THAT FOLLOW TERRAIN HEIGHTS (Vue or Bryce)

TUTORIAL #59: SHADOWS & LIGHT


As noted in several of my tutorials, lighting is crucial to the finished render, and lighting of course, also produces shadows.

here I explain some tips on getting lighting and shadows looking good for your renders, mostly about indoor renders where such are extremely important because they show up so well,but applicable elsewhere of course :)


The image below has a standard quadratic light, but with the render and shadow/light settings very high.
It produces a good picture but as you can see, the light power is FAR too strong for what a flaming torch would be!

Now, IMPORTANT POINTS!

  1. Always think of what the light source actually is in a scene.
    Candles and torches do not produce "white" light, it's always somewhat coloured.
    Bonfires, burning buildings, special effects like magic or lasers etc, and especially hot coals like a forge produce very strongly coloured light. So adjust that to suit.
  2. Many light sources do not produce hard shadows, and often tend to throw their light further but less strongly into a scene than the settings of default light are set in Vue. This softness issue applies to the Sun, at sunset in particular the light maybe very soft.
    Remember, fantasy, and many other settings won't have dazzlingly strong light sources like a searchlight or powerful LED light bulb.
    You need to tweak the light so it's not so blazingly bright up close and yet goes a reasonable distance.
  3. Outdoors, or in scenes with very rough ground/scenery, shadow quality is usually much less of an issue because the shadows are broken up by the rough ground, rubble, plants etc so won't be seen a smuch and you often don't need ot get too finicky about this. Indoors especially where there are smooth surfaces is where shadow quality becomes extremeley important, for example, a character walking on smooth marble flooring should produce a very high quality shadow or it won't be believable. Alas, the more quality you need from shadows...the longer a scene takes to render
  4. Usually, always edit the SHADOW DENSITY for a light source as they are always created initially at 100% Shadow Density, which is unrealistic, because that's absolute black hard shadows. Instead, set it somewhere between 80% (softer/larger light sources) and 95% (harder sharper lights like say a powerful light bulb)


 

 

LIGHT SOURCE IS TOO OVERPOWERING FOR THIS SCENE!


I tweaked the Light Attenuation setting, udner the Light's properties (Lighting).
Like any filter you can alter it to suit, now the light seems reasonably strong and throws light far enough to
be both believable, and effectively light a scene.

the filter is reducing the strength of the light source from it's INITIAL point (on left of filter), so it's not overly bright, but still reaches out far.


 

 

 

 

 

THERE, THE LIGHT SOURCE IS NOW SUITABLE!

 

Of course, render settings also affect how good an image is, here I render the same scene
three times, in Preview, Final and Ultra quality to show you.

here I tweak the SOFTNESS QUALITY of the light's settings.
It does improve the final shadows but often adds to render times.



AREA LIGHTS

Area lights provide gorgeous lighting.
Real lights do not come form "points" but areas of burning gas, etc.

Using a sphere, or other object , even duplicated part of a model like the "flames" in a torch, you can create area lights.
very easy to do, just select an object (but NOT a metacloud, you can convert a metablob to a mesh and use that), edit it, and "convert to area light"
Then adjust light strength, softness etc as normal.

I found out how to get "invisible" area lights working again ;)
You can make an area light invisible on rendering, just leaving the light, but not showing it's source.
This is an awesome trick, since you can duplicate objects or have large spehres or whatever as lights but not show up as obviously wrong/fake things in the final render.

what to do is make a new layer in Vue, then set that layer to be HIDDEN
Move the area light into that layer
Go to "render settings", select "Render only visible",
Ta da! you see the light but not its source ;)

Note that placement, size and shape of an area light is CRUCIAL for perfect realism.
Note in picture below, the light comes from a hidden sphere, it's slightly too big and too high above the torch, thus fails to make a shadow BELOW the torch as it should.


AREA LIGHT, USING A SPHERE HIDDEN FROM RENDER

IMPROVING SHADOW QUALITY OF AREA LIGHT
USING "SOFTNESS QUALITY"

 

IMPROVING SHADOW QUALITY OF AREA LIGHT
USING "SHADOW SMOOTHING"
note this is faster than "softness quality" but not as good

IMPROVING SHADOW QUALITY OF AREA LIGHT
USING "SHADOW SMOOTHING & SOFTNESS QUALITY"


AREA LIGHT USED FOR SPECIFIC SCENE

here I squashed sphere down into a flat ovid for use as an area light


Now, compare that to a tweaked quadratic light in the same scene, simply roll the mouse over the picture below.
As you can see the area light has "broader" throw of light, so shadows do not come from one perfect point.

ON HOW TO MAKE COALS OR SUCH BRIGHTER

simply add illumination to the material property of coals, candle flames etc, but you will need to tweak it to get it so the right areas are bright, using filters

here I Multiply Filtered the texture's greyscale image, to get just black/white to drive a setting, which is then used to drive the Luminous channel
Obviously coals not burning wouldn't be glowing, so it's got to be "giving off light OR not" and so you need to boost the greyscale a bit, hence use of Multiply


 
I hope you find this of use! :)

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All original art, writing on this site, copyright of Steven James, "Silverblade the Enchanter" ©2012