Lights! why must you be so difficult!!!!

Wow I just can’t get this lighting thing. I don’t understand why putting a few lights here and there doesn’t look right. Or why the color ain’t right. It’s just confusing.
I’ve read things on lighting, alot. But I can’t make sense on what to do to get good lighting. I wanna get that digital lighting and rendering book but it might be awhile. Just know that I’ve researched and read stuf and even printed out things but I can’t make much sense of what I’m susposed to do to get it right.

I was just wondering if any of you would be so generous as to give me a few lighting techniques that you use. You know what lights to use for what, and where you place them and how you know where to put them to get it realistic. That really bugs me. I have not the slightest idea where to put them to acheive what theyre saying in the tuts and stuf I’ve read. How do you know?

Thanks so much.

Well, 3-point lighting is a start.

The ideas about lighting are:

  1. The subject (e.g. your character/scene) being framed can be seen (key light).
  2. A sense of background space is evident (back light).
  3. Depending on the type of mood you’re after in your scene, you need to consider shadows to be soft or hard. (fill light).

For a character in a scene, like my Super WuMan animation, I use something like:

(Buffer shadows, no raytracing)

Sun for main directional light (colour usually warm - reduced blue)

Spotlight exactly matching sun direction, shining on character, set to “Shadow Only”

Hemi Lamp, bluish-purple, reduced energy. Above scene, angled slightly opposed to sun.

Lamp or Sun bounce light, below ground level, warm earthy colour, low energy directed at character. No specular.

Sometimes include:

A blue reflected/fill light. Usually a spot with no specular and no shadow. Directed to opposite side of character from sun. This gives the shadow side a cool blue tint.

On rare occasions I also attach a low energy lamp to the camera. This acts as a low-level fill to ensure the front of the target object is being adequately lit (this is more for animation than stills)

The biggest problem with the above setup is that spot lamp buffer shadows are a logistical nightmare - even when set to shadow only. Using buffered spot shadows, I find it almost impossible to set ClipSta and ClipEnd to give both accurate shadows on the main character AND even lighting of the surrounding scene. Plus, the ClipSta and ClipEnd don’t work EXACTLY as you might expect from simple descriptions you might find. For best results, the two figures should be as close together as possible while still encompassing the things that you want to cast shadows.

Even when set to shadow only, the area outside the spot lamp’s perimter is darker than the regioninside the lamp perimeter - as if the lamp is lighting anyway. Also, if two shadow-only spots cross a region, you get a similar effect to what you’d expect from two normal lighting spots. It’s odd and a little frustrating.

If you have the power to handle ray tracing, it might be worthwhile using that instead. Alternatively, if you (or anyone) find anything that explains a useful approach to buffer shadow setups without spotlight effects, let us know here.

Thanks this helped alot. I’m getting it a alittle. but why put lights under ground level? wouldn’t the ground block the light? Well I’mm experiment.

And how did you know that you had to do that with you lights to get it right.

groundlevel: Only a light that casts shadows would be blocked. As long as an objects face is pointing toward a (shadowless) light it is lit regardless of any objects in front of it.

Okey I see now. That makes sense.

but how do I know what lights to use and were to use them. Does it have to do with colors or object placement? last question I promise

The difference seems to be the shape of the beam.
lamp - like a freestanding lightbulb (without a base), shines all over.
spot - like a stage light (shadows!), shines a cone.
area, sun, hemi - if I’m right, these cast a beam that seems to eminate from many directions… that’s a big IF.

What is the difference between the sun, area and hemi?

A Sun generates a directional light with parallel rays across the entirety of the scene. The light it produces is even.

The Hemi is basically hemi-spherical. You can control the primary direction of the light but the light is multi-directional (not omni-directional though - the light beams shine inwards toward a central point). Light energy is more concentrated towards the lamp centre. It is good for imitating the ambient light cast by the sky.

The Area light is as the name suggests - an area of light. It is directional and acts like a group of lights spread slightly apart but pointing in the same direction. Think of fluorescent office lights as a real-world example of area lighting.

The Lamp is omni-directional. It provides a point-source for light that emanates in all directions.

The Spot works just like a stage spotlight. The light is directional and conical with an adjustable beam diameter. Unlike all other lights, it can generate cast shadows without using ray-tracing.

The BSoD has an introduction to lighting. Unfortunately the exercises it offers use ray-tracing which is not necessarily a good thing for animating on the average home computer. Even Pixar upgraded their Renderman software to use ray-tracing for the first time for the recent movie “Cars”. Previously they used tricks as suggested earlier to create believable lighting results mimicking bounce, fill, ambient occlusion, etc. Pixar have slightly more render power than the average Blender user (and of course, slightly more complex scenes to render).

To use Blender lights effectively you must also understand the various shadow, diffuse and specular options at the very least.

I discovered this little gem earlier tonight. Enjoy.

Iden, glad you feel like you’re making progress. I know I’ve had difficulty with lighting.
if there are some specific scenes you’re trying to light, why don’t you post the picture and/or blend here?

short tutorial

Area lights are new, they are basically similar to spot lights - a LOT of them, to make soft shadows and broad even lighting, like a window (without direct sun), reflected light or a sky light. So they are slow.
Sun lights are sort of similar in concept, but like the sun - wide enough to cover everything with parallel beams of light, anywhere in the scene, no shadows.
Hemisphere lights are kind of like area lights, a cheap global illumination (think of a sky bowl light), but again, no shadows.
A sun + hemi gives reasonable outdoor scene, without the shadows.

long references and explains the above in detail,