Kent Trammell

Match your favorite lighting example

If you're like me, as you scour the internet for inspirational 3D art, you run into some amazing CG lighting setups. You know, the ones that make you want to be better! Well why should we let them have all the fun? Why can't we give it a go?

Therefore, the challenge here is to select one of your favorite lighting examples and do your best to match it in Blender. If you don't keep a collection of your favorites, feel free to use mine. Analyze light colors, number of lights, position, etc and recreate. Use either lamps or HDRi's or both - whatever you need to get the result.

Once you select your favorite, open up one of your models (or download this posed Baker model), do your best to match the lighting and materials, and post it here. Here's my attempts:

Source render by Bruno Ortolland

Image Credit: "Lüfor"by Alexandre Aroul

Image Credit: "Super Mario" by Mark Henriksen

Image Credit: "Sci Fi Pilot" by binqi chen

Image Credit: "Female sculpting session 01" by Daniel Crossland

Image Credit: "Tribal Frog" by Paul Braddock

Image Credit: "Danbo in Autumn" by tomatoes

Image Credit: "The Mad Professor's Ride" by Ruairidh MacNeill

  • Great idea Kent!

    I have an inspirational folder of my favorite images and a lot of them are in there purely because of lighting. I am keen to give this a try asap :)  

  • I have an CGI Inspiration folder as well, it is full of inspiration, it inspires me. Though you have to be careful, some days you can go in there and have the opposite effect. I'm giving this a try also. 

  • crew

    frikkr dostovel Excellent! I'm quite keen to see what you guys do 🤘

  • Ok so I had a play around in the free couple of hours I had last night. I didn't have a suitable HDRi so I had to adapt one in Photoshop. I also added the rain effect in post processing as I did not have time to do any blender magic with that. 

    It was pretty tricky getting a similar result to this because I think a lot of the lighting is affected by the atmospheric elements going on in the scene. But it was really fun to do. I thought the toy plane model I had from one of my first ever tutorials would be a fun one to use for this scene. If you are new to Blender and want to give it a shot at creating the plane model, the tutorial by Jonathan Williamson can be found HERE

    The final lighting setup included a lot of hidden "mask" planes behind the model to stop the light that was creating the big glow behind the cockpit glass from interfering with the beam cast on the floor. I also had to use some volumetrics to get a visible glow and a simple displacement wave texture on the floor for the rippled , puddle feel.   As usual in CG, a lot of trickery was needed.

    I chose this reference because I love the balance between the detail that is revealed from the lighting on the front of the plane, and the form that is shown from the silhouette at the back , which  is all cleverly divided up by the strong beam of light that is cast across the wet floor.

    Thanks for inspiring me to have a play around, Kent. I'm going to try to do a few more of these in the near future. 


    Image credit "Spitfire" by Jama Jurabaev


    Click here for FULL SIZE IMAGE

  • Oooh, fun!! I might try it, myself! But I have a LOT of inspirational images...hmmm... Been awhile since I did any...well, lighting studies! I also haven't been doing any 3D stuff because of other stuff, but wow, it would be fun!

    I don't know where to many lights...I love lights...

  • frikkr Did you use any of the render passes Blender has? You know, to do some Compositing extravaganza. 

    I'm becoming more and more certain that those images with kind of a film look are heavily post-processed and our render passes are great for that control. Here's a link to what I mean, that kind of HDR toning

  • crew

    Splendid job frikkr! You totally nailed the look and feel of the lighting from your goal. And wow, what a striking example it is.

    I know that when I try to match someone else's lighting, it really makes me respect that person's work all the more.

    Thanks for participating! I'm going to try to do more examples as well.

  • crew

    You could certainly do multiple if you find it hard picking just one to do. I plan to do multiple.

  • Thanks theluthier , it was just a quick attempt and hopefully I'll find time to give my next attempt more attention and finesse. 

    And yes, you really respect the artist more when you start trying to replicate it and soon realise how much effort had to be put in to get that sort of result. 

  • Wow Omar, those tutorials look great, i'm actually gonna sign up for them straight away because I really need to learn more about post processing. I always feel my work stops dead at the PP stage as I just haven't enough knowledge to do much to it once its rendered. 

    And yes I completely agree with you, but I felt that theluthier 's challenge was to replicate the lighting mainly,  so I stayed away from PP as much as possible. I even felt bad adding the rain effect in Photoshop because I felt like doing anything other than using lights in Blender was cheating a bit in regards to the actual challenge. But yes, I think to have got my attempt any closer to the goal image, I would have had to use a lot of render layer/compositing trickery... 

  • You kinda hit on a topic that has been on my mind, As a bit of an off-topic, Have you seen people online talking about post-processing as cheating. Have you notice that? anyone feels that way? 

    I don't think you have to "Honor" a render and calling it done as it comes out raw out of the render engine. That's only half of the work, That's like going to Wendys, ordering a hamburger and leaving out the ranch dressings, toppings sweet seeds, spicy bits, guacamole, blue cheese, roasted pecans, honey mustard... just give me the bun and the meat, sir, you should've added all that stuff while it was cooking.

  • I'm on your side with that one , I don't think it's cheating at all. I think you need to PP to give your renders that final touch, and there are a lot of things that are so much quicker to do in PP than during your render. I don't think I've ever done a single project without finishing off in Photoshop with some finessing. Maybe you could start a thread on it to see what the community view is? Plus it means that we don't hijack Kent's challenge thread. 

    As for my result, I only felt it was "cheating" to post-process in this particular instance because the challenge was focused on replicating lighting...

  • Apologies for such a small sample but my PC is down so I had to do a small preview grab on my Mac.

    The image on the right is from an old MaxCookie tutorial if I am not mistaken and I always liked the contrast in it.

  • Great work Anthony , good to see you are still about :) 

  • crew

    I used Blender's compositor a little bit to tweak colors, so I'm not opposed to PP.

  • crew

    Great job anthonyc! You managed to match it very closely. Good stuff.

  • Amazing light and man, i loved the little Spitfire !

  • First attempt. I'll try a simple one next. That was way too much hours of tweaking. At the end you always just give up and post away. 

  • Thankyou! I appreciate the kind words :) 

  • crew

    dostovel Beautiful work, sir! Wow, they're so similar. Great example tool. What's one thing you learned along the way?