Realistic lighting can often be simulated by using a photograph or an image as a light source. Learn about and understand how to create image-based lighting in Arnold for Maya. In this video, George takes an environmental image and uses it as a light source in a 3D scene within Maya. The image creates light that is realistic and accurate to the environment.
- [Voiceover] Image-based lighting is a great way to create environmental lighting. So let's take a look at how to create a sky using image-based lighting in Arnold. Now, image-based lighting basically just takes a bitmap image and uses that as the color source for light casting into the scene. So, it's great for environmental lighting such as a sky. So here I have a scene without a sky, and let's just go ahead and do a quick render so we can see what that looks like.
So when I render this, you can see how I get a decent amount of light in the scene but I have a black sky. Now I'm going to go ahead and hang on to this image so we can see the difference in the lighting between this and the one with image-based lighting. So let's go ahead and save this image out, and I'm going to minimize my Render View. So now if we want to add image-based lighting, we can do it through the Render Settings window. So I'm going to go ahead and click on Render Settings and go into the Arnold Renderer Tab.
Now under this, we have an Environment rollout, and the one we're looking for is called Background. So if I click here, it's going to give me three options. I can create a Sky Shader, Physical Sky Shader, or a Ray Switch Shader. Now the Physical Sky Shader is something that Maya itself generates or Arnold within Maya, and Sky Shader is where we can actually place a bitmap. So let's go ahead and create a Sky Shader, and when we do, look what happens.
We get this sphere that's around our scene. In fact, if I hop out to a Four View, you can see this a little bit more easily. Now I can place a bitmap on that sphere, and that bitmap will become a light source. So I want to make sure that this is selected. Go into Attribute Editor. Now when I have it selected, notice how it's called aiSky, and under Sky Attributes, we have Color and Intensity. Right now the color is white, but if I click here, I can add any sort of render node that I want.
In this case, I want to add a bitmap so I'm going to select File. And I'm going to go into Source Images and find Clouds.jpg. Now this is a JPEG image, so it's only eight-bit depth. If you want to use a bitmap as a light source, it always is better to use a higher bit-depth image. So you could use something like a TIFF file that has 16 bits or go even deeper and use something like an HDR file which has even more bit depth.
But for the purposes of this demonstration, I'm just going to go ahead and use this JPEG. So I'm going to select Clouds.jpg and select Open. Now watch what happens. That image is now projected onto the sphere. And if we go into our Camera View, you can see that we now have a nice cloudy background. So let's go back into our Render View, and let's do another render. So here we have the render, and notice how we have the sky in the background.
And in fact, if we switch between this and the other scene, notice how we get kind of a bluish tint to the scene, and that's because the sky is blue, so it's casting a bluish light into our scene. And we also get a much softer light in our scene. So notice how underneath the hood of the car, we have this dark shadow, and now that shadow is less. So now that we have our image-based lighting in place, we can also modify it. So all I have do is select that aiSky.
Now if we want, we can increase or decrease the intensity to bring the amount of light up or down. The amount of light is not necessarily connected to how bright the image is. The image will always be there, it's just how much of that light is actually going into the scene. So as you can see, this is a great way to create environmental and realistic lighting in Arnold.
It starts with the basics of selecting and manipulating objects and organizing scenes, as you learn the interface and explore Maya's features. Author George Maestri then takes you through polygonal modeling, creating and refining meshes, sculpting, and NURBS modeling. Once you understand modeling, George will show how to create and apply materials to surfaces—adding color, texture, and reflectivity. He'll then integrate cameras, lighting, and depth-of-field effects into the rendering process, using the built-in software renderer, mental ray, and the new Arnold for Maya renderer. Last but not least, he'll show how to add movement and life to your work with Maya's animation tools.
- Getting familiar with the Maya interface
- Configuring viewports and workspaces
- Selecting and manipulating objects
- Creating hierarchies and layers in scenes
- Creating polygonal objects
- Modeling and refining polygonal meshes
- Working with subdivision surfaces
- Sculpting a basic landscape
- NURBs modeling
- Projecting curves on surfaces
- Creating and applying materials and textures
- Adding lights and cameras to a scene
- Adding depth of field and motion blur
- Animating in Maya
Skill Level Beginner
Modeling a Cartoon Character in Mayawith George Maestri3h 6m Intermediate
Rigging Mechanical Objects in Mayawith George Maestri1h 27m Intermediate
1. The Maya Interface
2. Select and Manipulate Objects
3. Organize Maya Scenes
4. Create Polygonal Models
5. Model Polygonal Meshes
6. Refine Polygonal Meshes
7. Sculpt Meshes
Sculpt a basic landscape4m 51s
8. NURBS Modeling Techniques
9. Refine NURBS Models
10. Create Materials
11. Apply Materials and Textures
12. Render in Maya
13. Animate in Maya
14. Render in Arnold
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