Kent Trammell (theluthier)

109 replies · posted

Match your favorite lighting example

If you're like me, as you scour the internet for inspirational 3D art, you run into some amazing CG lighting setups. You know, the ones that make you want to be better! Well why should we let them have all the fun? Why can't we give it a go?

Therefore, the challenge here is to select one of your favorite lighting examples and do your best to match it in Blender. If you don't keep a collection of your favorites, feel free to use mine. Analyze light colors, number of lights, position, etc and recreate. Use either lamps or HDRi's or both - whatever you need to get the result.

Once you select your favorite, open up one of your models (or download this posed Baker model), do your best to match the lighting and materials, and post it here. Here's my attempts:

Original by Julien Kaspar

Source render by Bruno Ortolland

Image Credit: "Lüfor"by Alexandre Aroul

Image Credit: "Super Mario" by Mark Henriksen

Image Credit: "Sci Fi Pilot" by binqi chen

Image Credit: "Female sculpting session 01" by Daniel Crossland

Image Credit: "Tribal Frog" by Paul Braddock

Image Credit: "Danbo in Autumn" by tomatoes

Image Credit: "The Mad Professor's Ride" by Ruairidh MacNeill

  • crew

    dostovel OMAR!!! That's sick, dude! You nailed it. Thanks for sharing.

    BTW did you miss the stream this week?!?! 😳

    • theluthier Yes 😔

      I missed the Elephants Dreams movie review. It was Independence Day here, holiday and stuff. But I'll take it as a big compliment that you notice it when I don't show up.  💪🏼

      I've been appreciating composition more and more each time I do one of these exercise. Everytime I start fiddling around trying to match what I see, there is a point at the beginning where it looks horrible and you feel like quitting, like it's never going to look good. But you keep adding to it and the composition becomes richer and there is an instant where it starts to click, and that is the point where your mind goes "Hum, if only I had placed all those stuff there from the start, I'd finish instantly"

      It's like searching for a buried treasure, you don't know where it is so you start digging, you make 27 holes and in the 28th the treasure shows up and you're like "hum, if I had dug in this spot first, I would've saved some digging." But how could you had known. 

    • crew

      Heh no worries. I guess I'm ok with you missing 1 stream....

      Compositing is super powerful. It's pretty amazing how talented compositors can take ok, even poor quality assets and make a convincing composition out of it. Sean Kennedy is one of those.

  • Kent's latest twit inspired me to start rendering my stuffs.


  • theluthier  This exercise has proven to be very fun and educational, I'd like to take it up a notch. Do you mind if I use this model?


    Pre-posed, default material, everyone has access to it. Using this model, make up your own lighting scheme, camera placement, compositing and composition. No reference, just your judgement. Endure the pain of making endless tweaks, because an artwork is never finished, only abandoned. 

  • I had a go at it. It's weird without any reference, you don't know how it turned out just be judging it yourself. 

    • crew

      Taking it up a notch dostovel - I like it! And yes of course you/others can use the creature model. Do I understand the point to be applying what we've learned from imitation?

      I like your go at it. It's interesting, where it seems like a lot of light sources (4 to my count, is that right?) but a lot of the model is still shrouded in shadow. Makes for a mysterious effect.

  • crew

    Did another one today. What I liked about this goal was that if felt like "painting with light". In this case I didn't give any usual thought to key light, or sunlight, or environment light. It was just an exercise in placing a bunch of very saturated spot lamps all around the subject - 7 all total, which I've never done for a single character.

    If you're interested, here's a gif showing the seven lamps that got me close:

    • theluthier How do you make those gifs you post on Twitter and here? Those are a great way to show stuff. 

      The lighting looks awesome. More evidence that you can have and awesome model with awesome topology with great shading and it can all fail miserably if you don't light it well. And on the other hand you can have a low poly model with a white default material and it can come to life with great lighting as well. So 👍🏼👍🏼for lighting. 

    • crew

      dostovel I use Camtasia which I used to record tutorials with. I discovered it's got a very capable/convenient gif export option. So it's quick and easy 1. Screen recording 2. video editing 3. gif export. But surely there's several free and/or web based versions out there too.

      Heh you made me think of a new challenge: Make the default cube as pretty as possible with lighting only 😅

  • For Class BC4-1810. Will need to credit the artist, who made the Girl Bust Marluz_yaphets  from blendswap and Dan Crossland for his lighting setup. 

  • It's not the most impressive lighting for this character, but here it is...

    • crew

      sirchced Brilliant match, Chris. I like how you matched the surface bumpy texture as well. My one critique is that the white light from screen-left and the yellower light from screen-right look more like rim-lights in the source image - meaning it's a shaper crisp focus on the edges. But a tweak like that would only take it from like a 9.5 to a 10. You're super close! Good stuff 👏

  • Oh!! I'm doing a 30-day lighting challenge, Kent, and I think I want to try that cube idea you said a little while ago! I have nothing I want to model, so why not some lighting? XD I' bad at lighting still, so I wanna complete this challenge for myself!

    I had no idea you used so many lights for one of the character models--I'd been afraid to use more than three!

  • Went along the lifestream.

  • theluthier I loved the stream, and you know I like lighting, and all the techniques on the procedural sparks and the bloom and the light bouncing and everything naturally inspired me to try and quickly do some experimenting of my own. 

    • crew

      You know I like your lighting, sir. This looks awesome! How did you do the swirly background pieces? They almost look like VR pen scribbles. Really neat effect.

    • theluthier Oh I wish I had something fancy to show, but it was just serendipity really. I didn't know you could get all creative with the  emission socket until I saw you do it on the livestream. I wanted to try it for myself and I tested it on the ground which was already being displaced and the texture plugged into the emission wrapped around the displacement. In the end I used the ground as a background and left Bob floating. The stream might have been short but it was packed with cool stuff. 

    • crew

      dostovel That's really clever, dude. Definitely an effective background. I'll have to remember that one 🤘

  • My attempt!

    Artstation link to show setup: 

  • First attempt. The volume box won't work in Blender 2.9 so I just used the plan.



    • crew

      It's cool to see some life in this thread!

      Your little t-rex is quite cute. I'm curious what you mean by the volume box not working with 2.9? It's working for me like usual 🤔 Can you elaborate on your experience?