Finding the right lighiting settings

Hello fellow artists!

After two years using blender only to make game assets, I’m slowly trying to learn how to use as rendering engine as well. What is really giving me troubles right now is how to create the lighting setup I want for a given scene. I tried to look up for some tutorials, but I don’t seem to grasp the right solution for every situation.

I’m currently working on a realistic render based on this photo:

but, again, I can’t find the right lighting setup to apply. I’ve tried all the five predefined lights, but as you can see below, the results are everything but encouraging, materials (they are temporary of course) look extremely toonish and the shadows are way too sharp:

Instead, while using an emitting plane to cast the light, shadows are way more realistic and defined. Not all the shadows are as the original picture, but I believe that to be due to the topology more than the inclination/intensity of the light:

So, what am I missing here? Why the predefined lights are so bad in my case, is it usual or it’s just my fault?

83 views and not a single comment… Come on, help a newbie! :stuck_out_tongue:

The softness of the shadows depend on the size and distance of the lightsource, a plane as you have is recommended.
The rest of the reflections, that are not bright enough to influence much the main lightsource, comes from the environment itself. Work on that, like find some HDRI with similar properties. Without a mirror sphere in the original it’s hard to determine what that environment would actually look like.

IMO it’s not as bad as you say. You can use planes or area lights.
Do you use Filmic color management ? maybe you need to use it and give lamp more power.

Material and lighting are co-dependent , you can setup your light with a clay/gray render and make your materials accordingly.
Or make a neutral light rig , make your materials according to that, then work the final light.

There is a book
It’s a gold mine if you want to learn more about the theory behind lighting, what light to choose and how to use them, how to cheat.

Using lights in 3D is rather simple but it need a bit of theory and photography culture to use them wisely

Use a HDRI map in your scene like @CarlG said, the metal texture without something to reflect can look very bland, depending on your scene of course. You can use that HDRI map to emit light as well. There are a lot of tutorials on how to do that if you’re not familiar with how HDRI works.

Thank you all for the suggestions guys! I’ll try to improve the lighting next weekend, and hopefully I’ll come back with better results soon :slight_smile:

I would guess the light in the reference is from a window, so try to simulate a window.