More on lighting in Poser

Fox Demon: Chusont'rai Shen-ro

Fox Demon: Chusont'rai Shen-ro

My revelation with regards to lighting in Poser (I use 7 pro) began with the purchase of Blackhearted’s BH Pro Studio, over at Rendo. The tutorial alone in that product is worth the price, as I’m sure we’ve said here a bunch over the past year. Smile But the main thing I took away was using an IBL as a bit of fill light, and a different use of point and spot lights than most people start out with.

Point Lights

I used to think “Point lights = candles” or some other such specific point source. Well, that’s still true, but what I discovered is that you can get your textures to really sing if you use point lights and set a falloff range, like DistEnd = 6 (feet). Or whatever. (At least I think that’s close to the name of the parameter.) Rolling Eyes The trick is to position a light so the figure is near the edge of its falloff zone. Not for every light in the scene–that depends on the logic of the scene itself. And how bright the scene is supposed to be. And if the falloff is right but the light too dark, set it to over 100%. I will often set falloffs to just past the distance between the light and the main figure, with 120% brightness.

Set shadows to 0.77 to 0.88 or even lower, sometimes – not to 1.0. A 1.0 setting makes them not so much dark as just smudgy. They should be mysterious and transparent, not *black*–a sensibility I acquired as a painter. But I *always* use raytraced shadows on every light except IBLs (of course).

I do not put ambient occlusion on the lights–it tends to give you that X-files black-oil-eyes look with the effects of soot caught in the creases of everything. Yuck.

Spot Lights

I also discovered that you can do similar things with spot lights and get some wonderful looming-out-of-the-dark effects. Use a point light for the main light, set up an IBL (at about 40% brightness for starters), and then, if you need some more illumination with directionality, create a spot light with a very narrow End Angle, such as 20 to 45 degrees, and put it far away–like 20 poser-feet, so the light is spreading a lot by the time it hits your main figure, and use a falloff to just cover the back of the visible scene. Again, put shadows to 0.88.

Also, set all shadow biases to 0.333 or even 0.222. The default 0.888 comes out too grainy. I never use shadow maps.

I also use some helper scripts for lighting by SemiDieu over at RDNA to more easily create and delete lights. His IBL creation script will make what is called “Olivier’s IBL”, which lets you specify six colors for the IBL regions to match your scene! Very worthwhile. I generally love SemiDieu’s utility scripts.

And every time I add or adjust a light, I do a ray-traced test render at screen portal size and fairly low-quality settings, just to check things out. The thing that lets me know if the lights are doing their job, most specifically, is if the shadows give a proper feeling of shape, or “modeling” as it is used in painting. FYI, I will almost never, ever, have a main light straight face on, full face to the camera, either, for this reason–it comes out looking like a bad flash photograph and flat as hell, both in terms of modeling and texture response to the lights.

In the pic below, I used points, spot, and IBL as described. While it’s not the most compelling image in the world, the lighting works fairly well.

Clicky for larger…

Sorrows' Soldiers: Kerry

Sorrows' Soldiers: Kerry

Mind you, I still do postwork. Poser lights may, even with a lot of effort, still not come out with a sufficient dynamic range of light and dark in the image, so some small adjustment in Photoshop may be required to get a more dramatic effect. I will also add a subtle color cast and pump up the saturation a little–not a whole lot, mind you–using Mystical Tone Tint & Color 2 filters, which have been worth every penny. The point of doing any of that is to hone in on the picture’s focal point and give unity to the image, using light, shadow, and overall tone.

(Oh…and please, please, do not get ultra-happy with the Photoshop filters. I swear, most of them should be tried out and forgotten. Forever. Or used very, very sparingly.)

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