Friday, August 4, 2017

Noir Style Tutorial, Pt. 10 - Step 5: Adjust Lighting

Last time we talked about the need to adjust the Preview Shadow Map Size for each light in your scene. Failure to do so will result in rough-looking renders with blocky shadows. In general, I recommend you use either 1024 or 4096.

By the way, since we are doing PREVIEW RENDERS in (primarily) black and white, setting your lights to very high map sizes will have almost no impact on your render times. Before I upgraded to my new powerhouse computer, I created my comics on my old Pentium Dual Core system. Here are the specs for each machine:
  • System 1: Alienware 17 laptop: Windows 10 Pro, 32GB RAM | Intel Core i7-6700HQ (Quad-Core, 6MB Cache 3.5GHz) | Onboard Video: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5 1028 CUDA Cores | Alienware Graphics Amplifier: GeForce GTX 980 ti 6GB (006G-P4-4996-KR)  2816 CUDA Cores
  • System 2: ASUS Essentio Desktop: Windows 10 Home, 16GB DDR3 RAM | Intel Pentium E5500 Dual Core @ 2.80GHz | GeForce GTX 960 (EVGA) 4GB (04G-P4-3962-KR) 1024 CUDA Cores
Even back when my old computer only had 4GB of RAM, I could churn out a 4000-pixel wide image in less than one minute. So, even if you're using old tech, you don't need to worry about your machine grinding to a halt.

Now that you need to know how Shadow Maps affect the lighting, let's take a look at how the different types of lighting affects the scene. As I said last time, I generally stick to these types of lights.

Poser Lights
  • Infinite Lights: Like the sun, lights everything in the scene from the same direction with the same intensity (no fall-off).
  • Spot Light: Like those found on stage or in movies, it points in a specific direction with an intensity that falls off the farther the object is from it. Very useful for highlighting specific objects or parts of a scene.
  • Point Light: Similar to a light bulb; emits light in 360 degrees, and it falls off the farther things are from it. Very useful to put next to a gun to simulate muzzle flash, or with a candle or flashlight.
Source: Poser 11 manual, pages 317 - 321

For the examples below, I'm going to change the Key Light to Infinite, and then I will modify the Main light so that you can see how the type of light affects the render.

Example 1: Key Light (the green one) is set to Infinite with no Shadows.
The Main Light (pink) is set the same way.

Example 2: With the Main Light shadows turned off, notice
how much brighter her face and side are.

Example 3: Spot with Shadows. Compare this to the Infinite Light with shadows.
Note how her entire face is dark and the wing now has no highlights.

Example 4: Turning off the shadows brings out her arm and more
of her side. Also note there are more highlights on her hair.
I'm not going to provide screenshots of the Point Light at this time because, when loaded in their default positions, the Spot and Point look almost identical. The key benefit from using a point light is best seen when you have a background or the figure is interacting with other figures or props. With a single figure in a white void, there's really no reason to use a point light.

Example 5: When you want clean outlines,
the Diffuse (IDL) light is the way to go!
No matter what my project goals are, I almost always make at least one render with the Diffuse Light on. As you can see, this gives me clean lines without shadows. Even with all the other detail going on in my work, this is useful to have as a reference, or as a way of punching up the outlines. Shadows seldom have much effect on the default IDL Light.

NEXT TIME: Render Settings

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