View Full Version : Lighting Nightmare

08-03-2003, 10:10 AM
OK, I've been doing this for the last twenty nine days and I'm sick of the sight of it. The lighting was a nightmare and I'm still not convinced that it's alright but I'm past the point where I can see it properly anymore.
Really could do with some opinions.


08-03-2003, 12:41 PM

You modelled all of that? It looks pretty damn impressive to me, as does the lighting. Probably not what you wanted to hear so apologies...-)

Are you using this in an animation as well (the lid coming off and the parts flying out for example)?

Could you explain why the lighting was a nightmare and how you overcame problems (lighting is not my strong point at the moment).

Anyway nice work!


08-03-2003, 12:45 PM
Amazing! Incredible detail!

Some of the grey plastic/metal chassis (?) bits inside look a bit dull...

The electronic board, green on the left... Should show some bump there to show the solder etc. on that board... Bits of light...

Maybe some translucency for resin the orange boards... they always seems like that... especially against the light.

Maybe change the background from white too... Unless it is required...

Great work!

08-03-2003, 12:49 PM
Could be matter of style, but since you have a lot of shiny bits, maybe a reflection map? It could give some atmosphere to for instance the front panel... On the front panel, the glass/LCD part could use more specularity...

Did you use radiosity? It must be difficult to light with all these layers of parts etc.

08-03-2003, 03:47 PM
Well Adrian. It's a nightmare to light because all those boards and other objects are floating about in mid air just dying to cast ugly shadows on one another, and as fast as you change a light to improve one section it messes up another section and so on. There are ten spotlights in there trying to co exist in some kind of harmony. And yes I am planning to do just the kind of animation you mention......................Eventually.

Richpr. Yes I know the plastic is a bit dull but I've had to tone it down a bit because the multiple lighting was creating some very messy effects. The solder blobs are already bump mapped but with the board in question its nearly edge on so the effect is being destroyed. I like the idea of the reflection map on the front panel. No I didn't use radiosity as I didn't think there would be much point on an object this size.

Any how, thanks for the encouragement I was feeling that it had turned out really bad, been on it too long I guess.

08-04-2003, 06:17 AM
Greets from across the pond!

First off, Holy Crap what a model! Seriously good stuff there. WOW!
As for the textures, I think (some of) the metals could reflect more, but that's about it.
As for the lighting, I believe in LW you can specify which lights affect which objects, I'm fairly certain you can do this per object. I'm at work now and don't have LW in front of me, so it's a guess for me to say you can find this in the object properties panel. I think there's a "Lights" tab, and under there you can turn off (or on?) each light, per object. That way you could have a single light per board, not affecting anything around it. Be careful of light direction though, you'll want your shadows matching up.
So there's one way.
Another way is to make the shadow color a much lighter grey, and soften the shadows more, spread 'em out.
So there's another.
I never use black shadows. Does anybody?
Good luck.


08-04-2003, 06:28 AM
Amazing model !
I have never seen such a level of detail. I would have gone nuts after 29 minutes if I'd had to model that.
Regarding the lighting, have you considered shadowless spotlights ? This is a kind of 3D diagram, so except the shadow cast on itself by the top of the casing, maybe selfshadowing could be sufficient.
Anyway, stunning work !


08-04-2003, 09:03 AM
Ahhhhhh fond memories! We had that model of VCR in my yoof!

Amazing detail! You must've destroyed one in the process!!!

Re: Lighting, to me it looks a little single spotlight lit, whether that's true or not I dunno, but have you tried using a few area lights (with only one set to shadow) and backdrop radiosity?

Works very well I think . . .

08-04-2003, 11:51 AM
Great looking model!

I've done a lot of work like this for HP and usually when the components become so overwhelming I use selective lighting for each piece being removed. I always render the shadows seperately sometimes in layers and sometimes all together.

Then composite, composite, composite ;)

Ohh and if none of you have ever worked with a cad model of some sort of computer or electronic device - they model every screw, the hole with threads, nut and bolt - you name it. Sometimes I'll bring the wireframe into LW and all I see is solid white mass in wireframe view. Ugh ;)

08-04-2003, 01:19 PM
Wow, great stuff. But I can't believe you seriously tried to light this all as a single object! Talk about masochist! I'm sure you could have saved yourself a huge amount of work by just rendering each element seperately and putting them together in Photoshop.

Ya know what, I think the lighting is fine but what would help no end is a softened background colour. The white background is quite harsh and doesn't help the eye focus on the details. The white hilights of the plastic and metal get lost, and it makes the whole image a little confusing (which I suspect might be what's causing your lack of satisfaction with it). I've posted a lo-res mockup of your image with a simple gradient behind it. I think it helps, see what you think.

Anyway, I take my hat off to you. You obviously have a huge amount of patience! Great work :)



08-04-2003, 02:57 PM
Thanks for the suggestions everyone, they all make a great deal of sense. Strange that fxnut suggested compositing it in PhotoShop as that is what I've been doing to it this afternoon. Still don't like it though. ;) I also tried area lights with shadows turned off which made 50% of it look really great and the other half really crap. I think I've got to leave it alone for a week or so and then come back and try out all these ideas.

Liquidpope. Yeah the shadows are to harsh, that's a lot to do with the problem. I really want the shadows to be just hinted at. Shall give it a go.

08-04-2003, 03:46 PM
this baby screams to be lit with a skydome.



08-04-2003, 05:00 PM
....damn dude...you are a machine modelling all that.

as for lighting...not sure only a newbie

Scott Wilkinson
08-06-2003, 05:25 AM

Try making a cube of area lights that surrounds the whole model. (size the lights so that all of the ends touch each other.... I.e. make it a real cube.)

You can set these lights fairly low (and play with colors). Then, ad one more area light as your key light.

This should work very nicely with your piece.

Sincerely, Scott

08-08-2003, 10:40 AM
Well I've taken a little bit of advice from everybody. Thought it out, experimented with area lights switched off some shadows, and done a bit of compositing not to mention a little retouch here and there, and now I'm happy with it. So I thought I'd stick it back up again just to show that I appreciate your help.
Thanks again.


08-08-2003, 03:12 PM
Looks great! And that modeling? Plain crazy!
You've got it pretty much nailed, but as far as lighting stuff like this I thought I'd throw in my two cents. This lighting technique isn't so much for setting a mood or what have you, but more for what we're looking at here; product illustration.

I got a three word tip from a photographer that has helped my video/photography immensely, and I've been able to employ the same practice in 3D with good success as well.

Where I work we manufacture equipment that I have to video, photograph, and sometimes recreate in 3D. Not exactly the same detail, but I think the concepts still apply.

We used to have a portrait photographer come in to do the stills of the machines. One day I asked him what his lighting technique was and he told me, "Less is More." He explained that when you use too many lights, one runs into the same problems you did when setting up this shot; using lights to fill shadows from lights used to fill shadows, etc.. etc... and all you wind up doing is chasing shadows. The trick, he told me, is to use just one key light (he used a soft box) as close to the lens axis as possible. He would set up the soft box directly over the camera as close as he could get it. Being a diffuse light source the soft box provides some fill, as does the ambient light of the room, while keeping extraneous shadows to a minimum. I've been using the same technique and I'll be darned if it doesn't work.

Applying this to 3D I may use some spots or distant lights for fills, perhaps even an area light if I get a wild hair, but these are pretty much kept to a minimum and are at times almost unnecessary. The trick is using a single key light pretty much in line with the camera. This provides the majority of the light and just a touch of shadow for depth. Again, some diffuse shadows can help, so it can be a spot or an area light.

As I said, the technique isn't for all shots, but I've found it quite effective at times for adding that little extra something, and it might do just the trick for a shot like this. Give it a try sometime.

08-10-2003, 05:15 AM
I'd go HDRI with this all the way, it'll look great.