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Twilight is a very popular and inexpensive third-party renderer for SketchUp. This course shows how to create highly realistic 3D architectural drawings (including interior/exterior elements) with the lights, materials, camera, and render options in Twilight. Author Brian Bradley explains the importance of reflectance in materials, and shows how to manage and save rendering presets, how to correct for perspective, tone, and exposure in the camera, and how to create a variety of material types. The final chapter covers rendering your complete arch-viz scene for a couple types of output, including animation and composites.
Tone mapping is simply the modification of an image to control the representation of the brightest and darkest values found in the pixels. Oftentimes, tone mapping is used to achieve a particular look or style for a final image. To access Twilight's tone mapping controls, we need to open up the Render dialog. So, let's come up to the Twilight toolbar and click on the Open Twilight Render icon. Here, as you can see, we have a render of our scene. This was taken using the easy 10 preset, which of course is a progressive unbiased method.
If we select the Camera tab, you can see at the end of the bottom we have our Tone Mapping controls. If we take a look at the options in the dropdown, you can see we have three choices available to us. At this moment in time, the render you're looking at is making use of this first option, which is None. As the name suggested, this mode produces an as-is image. No alteration of pixel values is taking place. And of course, as you can see, we have no controls with which to effect any changes. What we see is what we get.
However, just so that we are clear on the importance of tone mapping, it has to be noted that a form of tone mapping has already taken place inside of the Twilight render engine, so as to produce the pixel values that we are seeing. We just don't have access to any extra controls. We can't make any alterations using this particular mode. The second choice available in our dropdown list, and the default in Twilight, is the Simple option. Now of course tone mapping or the filtering of our tone mapping inside of Twilight is a post render process.
This means that in order to use the different tone mapping filter types, we have no need to rerender our image. We can just simply switch to another tone mapping filter. So, when we switch to simple, you can see we do indeed make a big difference to the look of our pixel values. At this moment in time of course our Exposure level is blowing out our render, so let's drop this down to a value of 1, which will essentially return us to the same end result as our None option. From this point of course we can tweak our Exposure levels up or down, although we do need to be careful because it is very easy to ruin the look of our image by overdoing or underdoing our exposure levels.
So, as you can see, we can increase the brightness of our overall image, or indeed, we can drop our exposure level down and darken the image. We also, as you can see, have a Gamma Adjustment option available to us. This essentially allows us to change the contrast ratio in our image on the fly. It allows us to remap the midtones. So, let's just set this to a value of 2, and you can see we lose a lot of contrast in the image. We flattened midtones out quite a lot. And if we drop this down, you can see we do exactly the opposite.
We produce a much contrastier-looking image. The final of our tone mapping filter types is Linear. With this option we only have control over the brightest and darkest pixel values in the image. We don't have any ability to affect the midtones in a separate manner. Essentially, now the application will decide what is a bright pixel, what is a dark pixel, and as we make alterations to our values, it will be remap them accordingly. So, if we take our Brightness level and increase it, you can see, Twilight decides what a bright pixel is and will add to that.
If we take our Darkness level and decrease, you see Twilight will decide what constitutes a dark pixel and darken that down. Without tone mapping in some form, we wouldn't get any kind of usable images out of render engines. But with Twilight's simple and straightforward controls we do get a nice simple way to apply some measure of tone mapping to our images. However, if we want greater control over the mapping of pixel values in our renders, then perhaps our best option would be to render out of Twilight using the None Tone Mapping Filter type and then saving our renders out as floating-point images.
That way we can use the extensive tools available to us in postproduction applications such as Photoshop to really fine-tune and tweak our pixel values.
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