Character - looking for mood

Hey there,

first time for me on the focused critique part of this wonderful forum :slight_smile:

I am working on a character and I am looking for a certain mood in the render.
The character is a fantasy type rogue/thief/light blade fighter, a shady guy. So I want to present him in a dark, threatening mood, covered in darkness. As reference for the lighting I was using this cover here

This is about the mood I want to create. Right now I have produced the attached renders.

I’d like you to comment on the lighting setup, especially giving me hints as to how to create the setup in the image above (I guess there is some postpro involved, though).

How do I get a halo around the hair? I was trying a backlight, as you can see in the last attachment - to no avail.

Also, I’d like general c&c :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance, now off to shivering in anticipation.


a bit more light perhaps?
i know hes shady but hes not lightless…


Throw some hint of colour with halo spot lights. Not strong lights just a hint of light. His face is really good but you need to do something with his mouth. It’s either too low or something. Concentrate on that. If you add more coloured lights you can get a sense of the character without fully lighting it. there is a reference I wanted to show you but I can’t remember it right now. He does images for blender. One of a goblin or gargoyle which was featured in one of the magazines. That lighting is strong but you can bring it into your work to make it your own and not a generic image.
Hope that helps.

It may be worth a try to play with contrasts (in render nodes), that should be a good way to get some correctly lighted areas and some pitch black shadow.

Backlight may work in the hair if you set it to be slightly translucent

The lighting looks like one bright studio light on either side of him, slightly behind him, at slightly above head level. The ‘halo’ you see on the hair is so far as I can tell the hair reflecting the light, but the picture is very small, so I’m not sure.

If you’re trying to reproduce this lighting completely, especially the clear, stark way the light falls off, I think you should look into linear workflow techniques. A fairly in-depth thread is here.

And yes, the picture was definitely post-processed. :stuck_out_tongue:

Hey all!
Thanks for the quick replies!

Mihunai: 'right, now he’s lit up :slight_smile: (see below) What do you think?

Rore: I don’t know much about compositing nodes at the moment. I will try it later on, thanks for giving the hint!

I am not sure about the mouth - might it be the frown that bothers you?

And please do try to find that reference! :slight_smile:

Lastly, I tried to do what you said (see below). I added three halo spots, one from behind, the other two left and right of the camera with different angles (one from above, the other from eye level). All the halo spots are a light blue (night’s color, right? :wink: )

I’ll attach three versions: One with a rather strong halo effect, the other with low settings for the haloes. One of those is one halo only (refer to the file names).
What do you think?

P.S.: This didn’t give the hair a halo but it made it more visible. I’ve the value of tralu set to .8 by now!

Edit: ZombieJohn:Thanks for pointing out the presumable lighting setup. Sadly though, what you describe is quite the setup that I came up with. But I didn’t know about that thread you linked. Ugh, more reading, more learning, less easy way. shrugs So much for being “just a hobbyist”. :wink: :smiley:


hi bullits. I think you’ll get closer to the original by upping the contrast between light& dark.

breakdown the orignal picture into its basic elements. what I can see is that the orginal is that its done in a low major key. low- because the shadows dominate the lit parts and darker values are in the low part of of your value key. major because there is a good deal of contrast between the lights and darks. there is a ‘kicker’ to the right side of his face. the right side of his arm catches some bounce light. the key light comes in from the left.

With these elements indentified I think you should try and solo out you lights. render with only one light at a time to see exactly what each light is doing in your scene.

Thanks for your thoughts!
In the last couple days I’ve been tinkering with this one but couldn’t get the light right. I’ve found out that the Bourne picture actually is a colored one, made b/w afterwards. Obviously, there was a lot of tweaking of the contrasts.

ashess: I’ve played with the contrast in blender/compositing mode. I’ll try it again in Gimp later this week.
tyrant monkey: Thanks for your analysis of the lighting setup and hinting at trying one light at a time. I shall do that - later this week as well :slight_smile:

One more thing: I am sitting at another monitor right now and the attached renders look very dark (as in: Nothing to see). is it the same for you?! Because on my actual monitor which I am using for blendering and so on the pictures look about right.

Well, it took a lot longer than expected but after adding, deleting, repositioning and adjusting two spot lamps for key and rim light plus one blue halo as back light I’ve come up with the attached picture. I think it is as close to the reference picture as I can get without doing any postpro. Also, it provides most of the mood I was looking for.

What’s your opinion?

P.S.: Besides the picture’s being intentionally dark I am wondering whether you can see the character clearly. On my other monitor the picture is way too dark, as mentioned before. On my actual monitor I can see the face with exception to his right eye area, his hair and the armor. What about you?