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Chapter 10. Organic Modeling > Surfacing and Lighting the Model

Surfacing and Lighting the Model

Surfacing and lighting cannot really be separated from one another. They both have a more or less equal role in how your rendered object will look. Because lights can have such a dramatic effect, it’s important to have a decent lighting setup before you start surfacing. LightWave’s default lighting is not a desired setup. This is because the default lighting is nothing more than a single distant light, with a high ambient intensity. This next exercise will teach you how to set up a basic lighting situation.

Exercise 10.23 A Basic Lighting Rig

Open Layout and load the layered LW_Head object.

It should bring in the SubPatch skin mesh, the eyeballs, the corneas, and the eyelashes as separate objects.

Parent the corneas to the eyeballs, and then parent both the eyeballs and the eyelashes to the head. You can do this in the Scene Editor, or through the Motion Options panel (press m for the selected object).

Go under the Item Properties tab for the cornea objects (press p with the object selected) and make sure the Shadow Casting options are turned off. Do this for both cornea objects. Although these are transparent objects, LightWave still sees their geometry and calculates shadows, making the eyeballs below the corneas dark.

In the Render panel, turn on all the Raytracing options: Ray Trace Shadows, Ray Trace Reflection, and Ray Trace Refraction.

Aim the camera so that the girl’s head fills the frame well.

Try tilting the camera up at the subject slightly and just off to one side. Try adding a couple of bones and twisting the head around the neck slightly as well. This will give a bit of tension to the character and make the composition a bit more interesting. Chapter 11, “Character Construction,” contains more information on bones.

Okay, time to sort out the lighting.

Change the default light to a spotlight and change the shadow casting options to Shadow Map. Rename this light Key Light.

Increase the Light Intensity to around 130 percent and make it slightly yellow or off-white. Clone this light two times. Change the first clone’s name to Fill Light. Change the second clone’s name to Rim Light.

Decrease the Fill light’s intensity to around 50 percent and tint the color with a bit of blue.

Click the No Specularity button and turn off shadow casting.

Increase the Rim light’s intensity to 250 percent, and decrease the ambient light level to 0 percent.

Place the key light above and to the left of the head, just behind the camera. Use the Light view to make sure the head is centered and fills the shadow map area (the light cone angle). Narrow the cone angle if it doesn’t.


You now have the basis for a classic three-light rig. Most lighting setups in cinema and still photography are based on these three types of light:

  • Key light is the primary light source and will usually provide most of the direct illumination. It’s the dominant source of light in the scene.

  • Fill light is used to lighten and, hence, soften the areas in the subject that are shadowed by the key light, playing an important part in how much contrast there is in the lighting.

  • Rim light generally means light coming from the backside of the subject toward the camera at an oblique angle (usually creating a bright rim around one edge of the subject). It is used to counterpoint the key light, adding interest and drama as well as controlling how much the subject stands out from a dark background.

How you use these three kinds of light (their direction, intensity, softness, and color) together with the choice of camera angle and lens can have a dramatic effect on the mood of a scene. In general, try to come up with interesting lighting schemes. Don’t be afraid to drop half the face in shadow, for instance, if it will lend your image a nice dramatic air. A common mistake, particularly when someone has spent a lot of time modeling something, is to bathe every nook and cranny in a broad, flat light from the front with little contrast.

The simplistic setup in Figure 10.95 (three spots) can be surprisingly versatile and effective in achieving a wide variety of looks and moods. For now, however, you just want a nicely lit view of the head with a reasonable amount of contrast so that you can see how the textures react across a range of light and shade. (More lighting information is found in Chapter 7, “Lighting and Atmospheres.”)

Figure 10.95. The basic three-light setup looks like this.


You can switch Layout to Light view (5 on the Numeric keypad) to help properly aim the lights. You also can change your viewport layout to a multiple view (through the Display Options panel) to keep an eye on placement and effect.

Place the fill light to the right and below the subject, again just behind the camera, making sure that it’s lined up by using the Light view.

Finally, place the rim light behind, above, and to the left of the subject, looking back toward the camera and the back of the head.

Activate VIPER from the toolbar and make a quick test render (F9) to make sure you’re happy with the lights’ positioning and their relative intensities. Adjust them if necessary. You might want to experiment with alternative light positions, but this setup works reasonably well for texturing purposes. (That is, the figure is well lit without looking boring.) Figure 10.96 shows the result. Save your work.

Figure 10.96. Here is the untextured object after an initial test render.



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