Join Dan Ablan for an in-depth discussion in this video Employing environmental lighting, part of LightWave 10 Essential Training.
Setting up lights in the 3D scene is always a skill that you are going to be perfecting and learning as you grow. But sometimes you want to do something even more realistic and the way to do that is with environmental lighting and what that means is that is the environment that your object and your scene lives in that can be used as a lighting source. Let me show you what I mean. I am going to come over here to the Perspective tab. This is what we have in our scene. We have got our coffee cup scene. This is the 06_06_EnvironmentBegin file. It has got one default distant light. It has got a black backdrop, a few cups and our light and our camera.
So what I am going to do is come over to the Render tab, open up Render Globals and then under Global Illumination, I am going to click Enable Radiosity and look what happens. Not a whole lot. you can see it change a little bit. But what is happening there is it is using the environment as a light source. So let me jump down to the Camera view, turn on Radiosity, and see how much brighter it got? Let's do this. Let's open up Windows and choose Backdrop Options. Let me put on Backdrop Color.
I am going to make it just almost white. Close the panel, click into the Layout a bit, and what you are going to see is a much brighter environment there that's helping light the scene. So I will turn this off and turn it on, and now this full white environment is actually what's lighting the scene. What I am going to do is turn off the overlay for the OpenGL as well as the wireframe. And that way you can get a better sense of the scene. I am going to press my Lights at the bottom of the screen and open Properties, and our distant light that was in there by default, I am going to say do not affect the diffuse values, meaning turn off the light.
It is still going to affect the shine, the Specularity right here. However, if you wanted to get rid of that you could, but sometimes your object is going to look too flat. So I am going to keep that on. So what I have effectively done is put on a white backdrop, an environment that is fully white, and I will just go to Perspective view here, you can see it. My environment and my entire LightWave universe is white. That is now strong enough because of Global Illumination, just by clicking that on, 2.03] that is actually my light source.
So there is no lights in the scene that are lighting it, just that white environment, and the beauty of that is that it creates this very realistic looking scene. However, a problem with this is, is that you can get this blotchiness down here because you are relying too much on the engine to calculate that light source. Now you can increase the quality of your render on output, but typically, what I like to do is use a Global Illumination, use that Radiosity, to enhance my lighting. All right! So let me show you that. I am going to come back and open up my Lights, hit the Properties.
I am going to turn the Diffuse Value back on for the main light and then I'm going to just bring that value down about 30% and what happens now is I still have a main light source, but the Radiosity, the global environmental lighting, is helping create the soft shadows. It is filling in the other areas where normally I would have to put a lot more light in there and it gives it even a more realistic approach. In the real world, if you've got a lamp on your desk, that lamp is hitting the desk.
It's bouncing all around. Hitting the walls, the color from the walls is being diffused through the scene. That's what you're doing in the computer. You do not want the entire environment only lightened. You wanted to add as a bonus, as a fill. I am just kind of thinking those terms and you lend up with a little bit better look than you would traditionally. So I will warm up that light just a little bit just to give a little color. The other thing I can do to help that to it is change that light to an area light and that would help create softer shadows. But what we might have to do, going to a Perspective view and put your Overlay on, so you can see your light.
It has changed that light and make sure that the size of it, under Modify > Size, is big enough to create a soft shadow that matches the environmental lighting, and then let's move it just back just a little bit. Check back in the Camera view by clicking up here on the left and now we have got soft shadows that match our environmental shadows and we get a much better look and now you can play with the Intensity just to make that light a little more prominent and have a little more purpose.
So the environmental lighting is a terrific way to just enhance your scene, create a more realistic product shot, and this also can work for outdoor shots as well. You can put an image in your environment and we will go over here to Windows and choose Backdrop Options and down here under Add Environment, you can load Image World and with Image World on, you can see it certainly gets dark. I can load an image, you can just double-click this, and Light Probe Image, if you have an HDR, High Dynamic Range, image you can load that.
I don't really have one here but I want to show you this you don't necessarily need one. I am going to go to the Chapter 5 folder and under Images, I am going to load the clouds from our previous project, and you'll see that even something as simple as a cloud image can be used to enhance your scene. Do you see that? So the blue from the cloud, and I am going to open up our Image Editor. This blue and white image now is being used to light the scene.
So while it is not a High Dynamic Range image, it actually has enough strength to add more enhancement to the environment. Render > Render Globals. Just a few other options here. You can tell the Global Illumination to use Transparency, to have Ambient Occlusion, to use any Gradients you have put in your scene, use the Bump Maps. You can increase the Intensity if you want. Just like I did right there and that increases that Global Illumination Intensity. The more indirect bounces you have, the cleaner it will be, but of course, the longer it will take to render.
As well as the Rays Per Evaluation and the Secondary Bounce Rays. If I bring these rays down, it will calculate in a finer detail. You can change the Pixel Spacing. so how much ray is calculated per pixel, as well as the Pixel Spacing for the maximum value and basically the finer detail you have there, the finer calculations will be, the less blotchy it would be. But for most part, often the default settings will work well if you balance environmental lighting, Radiosity, with your normal lighting.
The other type other than Monte Carlo is a Final Gather and it is just a different algorithm and you can change that depending on, you are doing indoor or outdoor, and how your final render could look. I have found that the Monte Carlo works quite well for most things. So environmental lighting is a terrific way to add an enhancement to your scene without adding extra lights and calculating environmental lighting.
- Understanding and navigating 3D space
- Configuring menu and keyboard settings
- Molding basic geometric shapes
- Creating detail using subdivisions
- Casting reflections and creating surface textures
- Building and lighting a 3D scene
- Incorporating and animating cameras
- Simulating collisions using dynamics
- Determining the proper anti-aliasing filter for renders
- Rendering a project as movie files and image sequences
- Exporting a full scene