Regardless of how much we talk about lighting, the importance of lighting in 3D renders can’t be stressed enough.
Even if you create impeccable renders of the most beautiful creations, the render simply won’t have the effect it’s supposed to have without good lighting.
But, if you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of the critical role lighting has in your 3D renders and are eager to learn about some valuable tips and tricks that can make your 3D renders stand out.
Without further ado, let’s go over some of the best tips you can implement to master your skills related to the creation of 3D lighting.
First things first, it’s important to look at the overall composition. The composition often dictates what type of lighting is required, so it’s easier to decide.
For instance, if you’re working with a render of a park filled with flowers in bloom, choosing stronger lighting is better to imitate the nice and sunny weather people will probably experience while visiting the park.
However, a render of a wooden cottage house with a fireplace won’t achieve the same effect with equally nice weather. To make the space feel more cozy and warm, try muting the lighting a bit to imitate the lighting caused by dark clouds and gloomy weather.
Since lighting is something you’ll work with near the end of your 3D render, you’ll have an almost-finished composition to refer to. Each composition will be best complemented with a different type and strength of lighting, so considering the composition is one of the first things you need to do.
The position of your light source will dictate everything in your 3D render — the direction of the light, the angle of shadows, which areas get highlighted as a result, and many other vital features. Therefore, thinking about the position of your light source is another thing you need to do before completing this step.
The position of the light source will dictate the overall atmosphere of your 3D render because it has the powerful effect of playing around with the subjects of your shot.
For example, nighttime renders will have moonlight or a streetlamp as the primary source of light, which typically illuminate only a specific render area. However, natural light is much stronger when it comes to the place it highlights.
Similarly, choosing color tints will also depend on the position and direction of the light source. Sunrise and sunset 3D renders typically have an overpowering orange tint, while daytime shots have a subtle yellow hue. If the primary light source for your render is a moon, try going with a subtle bluish hue.
Whichever type of lighting you go with, they all have something in common — they’ll highlight specific areas in 3D renders and thus make the entire composition more dimensional. But, since each type of lighting is different, light source positioning can determine which areas in your render get highlighted.
The best thing about 3D renders is that you can manipulate the lighting and achieve the exact results you’re aiming at. Therefore, you can use the type of lighting that highlights the essential areas in your render and brings them to the focal point.
If you have a part of your render that you want to put focus on, introducing a type of lighting that’ll compliment your vision is essential. Again, various light positions and directions will have different effects, so finding the light source that highlights the crucial areas is a process at first.
When working as a 3D artist, you have complete freedom to do whatever you like with your 3D creations because software tools don’t limit your possibilities whatsoever.
While this is great for artistic reasons, artists trying to mimic real-life situations might quickly go overboard with artificial lighting. In fact, most 3D visualization beginners choose lighting colors that are too saturated or not saturated enough.
Finding the balance between the two and creating surfaces that respond realistically is challenging, especially when faced with so many possibilities and choices. A good rule of thumb is to keep the red, blue, and green values anywhere between 0.2 and 0.8.
That way, you won’t oversaturate your renders to look artificial, but they won’t be undersaturated either.
No one created a 3D render with perfect lighting on the first try. Mastering lighting is a long and demanding process, so there’s nothing wrong with looking at reference images to get an idea of how different lighting sources work and behave on objects.
The internet is filled with outstanding photographs, portfolios, and renders on all kinds of topics. You can download and collect these to begin learning about the dos and don’ts of lighting.
Carefully consider every detail of the images you’re using for reference. Observing and studying the examples can help you a lot to progress faster.
All artists entering the world of 3D visualization are attracted to experimenting with the light spill in their renders. While light spill can transform the mood and atmosphere of the entire composition, it needs to be used carefully to achieve the most believable effects.
The secret to creating realistic light spills is to use them with subtlety. For instance, sunbeams shouldn’t be harsh. Instead, try adding a soft spill around it to make the render more realistic and natural.
Additionally, learning what the light spills illuminate and cast shadows to in your render can dictate the position and angle of the light spill and the primary source of light.
Mastering the techniques required for the creation of natural and realistic lighting isn’t an easy process. This isn’t something you’ll perfect with your first render, but it’s important to keep trying. With practice and each new render, you’ll get better and better.
By following the tips mentioned in this post, you’ll be able to learn a lot and immediately improve your skills.