Effective Scene Lighting for CG Space... Organic
In the previous lesson we looked at lighting organic-based ships: those with lots of curved surfaces rather than those with angular, flat panels.
All my beta-buddies (Fabio, Craig Clark etc.) have told me that this lesson is uneccessary, following the previous lighting lesson, so I will compromise and make this a short one.
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Luckily, the techiques involved in lighting curvy, organic ships are very similar to those used in lighting tech-based ships
For this lesson, I will be using my Whitestar v4.0 as the ship that we will be lighting.
Open Lightwave Layout with a fresh scene, and use the Load from Scene function to load in the Whitestar template scene, which will also load up the lights attached to the ship. The instructions for using this object are included with the zip archive,
When lighting organic ships, it is always important to make sure that your object does not appear too flat. When you are lighting tech-based ships, the very nature of the shapes you are lighting ensures that the 3D form of the objects is apparent (so long as you do not use ambient light, that is).
Once again, however, it is the highlights and shadows that will bring out the best when you are lighting this type of ship.
With organic ships, however, there are rarely any large, flat panels that will act as huge reflectors for light, so we can be a little more free with our light positioning, without destroying the look of the ship.
The key light is always the most important light when illuminating organic ships. The curved nature of the surfaces on organic ships means that highlights will tend to accumulate on areas of the ship where there are 'corners' or 'edges' in the hull. This works to our advantage, as it can often give a good visual cue as to the true shape of the surfaces. The fact that sharp highlights form easily also means that we often do not need to use such high intensities for our key lights.
Spend some time getting your key light positioned just right. Don't worry if the majority of your ship is in darkness, so long as you have at least one really nice highlight that shows off the shape of your ship. We can always combat the darkness later on with fill lights.
I plan to add a red nebula to this scene, so I am going to now lighten-up the lower portions of the ship with a very red fill light.
For your information, these are the light settings used in the scene I have been demonstrating:
That concludes our look at scene lighting. Obviously, lighting a scene is one of the most subjective parts of any CG scene setup, but I hope that these lessons will give you some good ideas for setting up your own lighting rigs, and help you to avoid that nasty, flat lighting that is all too commonly seen.