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CINEMA 4D Essentials 4: Materials, Texturing, and Lights
Illustration by Richard Downs

Understanding light types


From:

CINEMA 4D Essentials 4: Materials, Texturing, and Lights

with Rob Garrott

Video: Understanding light types

In CINEMA 4D, there are several different types of lights, and they're all designed to be used in different situations to help you get just the lighting look that you need. I've got a very simple scene here with a sphere and a floor, and let's add a light to the scene. So underneath the light icon here are the different types of light that you can add, and so let's tear this off. I'm going to highlight this little double line and tear off this menu and have it float as a palette, and that's going to allow me to add the different lights without having to go back to this. I could always close this up and then tear it off again by doing that.

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CINEMA 4D Essentials 4: Materials, Texturing, and Lights
2h 24m Beginner Sep 20, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

CINEMA 4D Essentials with Rob Garrott is a graduated introduction to this complex 3D modeling, rendering, and animation program, which breaks down into installments that can be completed within 2 hours. This course shows how to lend 3D objects color, transparency, and life with materials, textures, and lights. Author Rob Garrott explains how to create a variety of surface textures, from smooth and reflective to bumpy and flat, and how to add dramatic depth and shadows to your scenes with the different light types in CINEMA 4D. The final chapter discusses texturing in 3D with the BodyPaint module, which can also help hide UV seams.

Topics include:
  • Understanding material channels
  • Applying materials via projection
  • Limiting materials with selection tags
  • Texturing type
  • Using Falloff to limit the effects of lights
  • Working with visible or volumetric light
  • Painting on objects and textures with brushes in BodyPaint
  • Hiding seams with projection painting
Subjects:
3D + Animation Rendering Textures Materials Visual Effects
Software:
CINEMA 4D
Author:
Rob Garrott

Understanding light types

In CINEMA 4D, there are several different types of lights, and they're all designed to be used in different situations to help you get just the lighting look that you need. I've got a very simple scene here with a sphere and a floor, and let's add a light to the scene. So underneath the light icon here are the different types of light that you can add, and so let's tear this off. I'm going to highlight this little double line and tear off this menu and have it float as a palette, and that's going to allow me to add the different lights without having to go back to this. I could always close this up and then tear it off again by doing that.

So let's bring that over here to the left-hand side of the window. So the very first type of light we want to add is something called a basic light and it's an omni light. And so if I click that, I get a dark scene. Now, why is that? The reason I get a dark scene is because when CINEMA 4D adds objects, it adds them to the center of the world. The center of the world in this case is in the floor and below the sphere, and so it's not illuminating anything. So let's hit Command+R or Ctrl+R on the keyboard and you'll see that in fact our scene is dark. So I'll hit A on the keyboard to redraw the frame.

So let's hit E on the keyboard to get the Move tool and then drag it up on the Y axis, up above the sphere. Now, when we drag it up, let's use the 1 key and pan down a little bit. You could see that the icon for this light is a little star that has little lines pointing in all directions. That's because the Omni light shines equally in all directions. When I hit Command+R or Ctrl+R to render, you could see that my light is shining in a spherical area, all around my sphere, just above it. And you could see that I've got this falloff region of light where it transitions from bright to dark, down below.

I don't have shadows; that's because shadows are off by default. The other thing you'll notice is that the light is passing through the sphere and illuminating the floor, and that is one of the most important characteristics: light passes through objects and it does not bounce. To illustrate how the omni light is shining in all directions, I'm going to hold down the Control key and drag a copy of the sphere up. So let's first select the sphere. I'll click on it in the Object Manager. And then I'm going to hold down the Control key and drag up on the Y axis handle. When I do that, I'm making a copy of the sphere, and I'm going to drag it up above.

And let's bring it down just a bit, so we can see both of these, and you'll see that when we render--Command+R or Ctrl+R--you can see that the light is exactly the same above the sphere as it is below the sphere. That is an omni light, and an omni light shines equally in all directions. I don't normally use it. There are a few very special instances where I do, but most of the time I prefer to use the area lights or spot lights. So let's take a look at those next. I'm going to delete both the upper sphere and the light source, so I'll hold down the Shift key to grab both of those and hit Delete. And now we're back to our original scene. And if I add a spot Light to the scene, you can see that a spot light is this cone, and when I hit Command+R or Ctrl+R, I get nothing.

And that's because our light is at the center of the world and there is nothing inside the cone right now. So let's hit A on the keyboard to redraw it, and let's drag up on the Y axis, and then on the Z axis we'll drag until our light is hitting the sphere. Then let's also rotate it down just a bit. Hit R on the keyboard and grab the red axis band and point it down until it's hitting your sphere. Now, don't worry about matching my angle exactly. That's not really important. Let's hit Command+R or Ctrl+R to render the scene. And you can see that our spot light is indeed a cone of light that's hitting the sphere, and nothing outside the cone of light is being illuminated.

So this is a directional light source contained within a cone. One of the cool things about that light is that if you click on the light and look at its attributes, under the Details property, there is an Inner and Outer Angle, and the Inner and Outer Angle, along with the Aspect Ratio, allow you to control the shape of that cone. So I can take the outer angle-- the outer angle is this white line here and the inner angle is going to be an inner zone that's based on this light gray line. So, right now the inner angle is 0. If I take the inner angle from 0 and drag it outward, you could see I get a second cone on the inside.

And look what happens to my shape. Let's hit Command+R or Ctrl+R on the keyboard. You will see the region of falloff, the transition from the dark area to the light area, has gotten a lot sharper. Let's take the inner angle and bring it all the way up to the outer angle, and you can see, I've got a very hard falloff region now. In fact, it's given me a choppiness here. And that's not really good, so I'm going to bring that back down, but that gives you an illustration of what that inner angle does. Let's bring that back down to 0. The next thing is the Aspect Ratio. The aspect ratio controls the relationship of this circle. How high is it related to how wide it is? And so we can adjust the aspect ratio and make it an oval this way, or we can flatten it out and make it an oval that way.

And if we make it too small this way, we can always adjust the outer angle to make that cone of light spread out. I'm going to delete this light source again to get back to our basic scene. The next thing we're going to add is an area light. Now, I don't need to click and hold on this light button over here, because I've got the light tab pulled off over here and floating, so I'll add an area light to the scene. And you can see, an area light comes in to the center of the world. Let's move it on its Z axis and see. It's a rectangle. And this rectangle of light is used to simulate things like windows and doorways and that sort of thing.

It's also used like a soft light in photography. It becomes a big rectangle of light that really softens out the way that light hits your objects. When I hit Command+R or Ctrl+R on the keyboard, you can see that that rectangle of light shines in two directions along its Z axis, and that's what's giving me this dark line. Because it's a plane that's infinitely thin, you get no light emitting from the edges of that plane. And so if I go to the Light and look at the Details tab, at the very bottom is a Z Direction Only. And I click on that and now my light is only going to shine along the +Z axis.

And I'll hit Command+R or Ctrl+R, and again render that frame. You can see that there is our light shine only on the Z axis. So the area light can be used to great effect. I really use the area light most often. Let's delete our area and then add a target light. The Target Light is one of the few objects that doesn't come into the center of the world. When I click it, I'm going to get a spot light that is automatically shining down at the center of the world. Let's back up a little bit so we can see what's going on here. On our light source, we have this little target tag, and the tag is telling the light to always point at this light target null object.

If I move that that light target null, you could see that the light always follows it. And if I grab the light and move it around, the light always tries to point at that light target. No matter where I drag it around, it will always orient towards that light. Now the target light comes in as a spot light, and I don't use spot lights very often. I prefer to use area lights. And so, one of the great things about lights in C4D is that you can change them from one light type to another. Let's go to the light object and then under the General properties, I can change the Type from Spot and change it to Area light, and so now I've got a target area.

And if I want to make this area bigger, I can drag on these handles and make it larger, and that works for all the light types except for the Omni. I can make that light much larger and now when I render, you can see I've got a much better illumination. Of course, there's that problem. I can always go back to the Details tab and turn off that Z Direction. So now it's only going to shine along the +Z. Command+R or Ctrl+R, and there's a much better illumination of my scene. The last light type that I want to talk about in detail is the Infinite Light. These other two light sources I don't really use very often. I'll explain what they do.

The infinite light, when you add it to the scene, is a directional light source that is an infinite wall of lights. Let's delete our main light, which is this Light here and the Light Target. I'll delete those out of the scene. And the way the infinite light works is that it's an infinite wall of light that shines in all directions. Now, this is really intended to simulate how we perceive the sun. The sun is millions of millions of miles away, but the light coming off the sun is effectively parallel to us, because we're so small compared to that light source. And we perceive that parallel light as an infinite wall of light shining down on us.

Now, if I render the scene--Command+R or Ctrl+R--what you'll notice is that it's not illuminating the floor. That's because the light is moving parallel to the Z axis of this light source. And because the plane is parallel to that Z axis, it's not being illuminated, so I need to rotate this light. I'll hit R on the keyboard and select the light source and then I'll rotate it around. And as I rotate, you'll see that the floor becomes illuminated. And now let's hit Command+R or Ctrl+R again. When I do that, you could see that my plane, the floor object, goes off to infinity, to the horizon, but so does the light; it travels off to infinity in all directions.

And so this is a really great light to use when you're illuminating outdoor scenes. If you're building a model of a city or if you're doing an architectural rending where you're putting a house on a work site, then the infinite light is a great way to start the lightning in your scene, because it behaves a lot like the sun does. And of course that begs a questions: What is this Sun Light here? The Sun Light is something I don't normally ever use. If I click and hold on it and add it to the scene, the sun light has this special tag on it that allows you to simulate different locations on the Earth at times of the year. So it's got a Calendar function and a Time function and a Longitude and Latitude function.

This light was added for architects who have to be a very specific about the location and time of day that they're trying to simulate. So they've given us this tag that allows you to correct how that light looks at that location in space and time. Now I don't normally use it because I try to stylize my light more, but it's there if you need it. The last type of light is this IES light. And I'll delete the sun light from the scene and delete the other light source, the infinite light, and let's add an IES light. Now, when I add an IES light, what it's asking for is an IES file, and I don't have any IES files on my machine, so I'll just cancel this out.

What that relates to is a special codebook for lights that all lightning designers refer to. And so if you're working on a set, you're building a set for a reference, or if you're doing an architectural rendering where your client specified very specific types of lights, these lights can be looked up in the IES table and the properties of those lights can be simulated here in C4D. So that's--once again that's something I normally do, because I'm a motion graphics artist, but if you're doing architectural renderings, it's a really valuable technique. That's a quick summary of the different types of lights that you have in C4D.

The most important thing to remember about them is that you're not limited to having just one type of light in the scene. You can have any number of lights in the scene, and you can use those light types to simulate all kinds of different light behavior.

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