Project 4a: Three Point Lighting

Goal To get exposure to basic lighting techniques.
Prerequisite Exercises

Relevant Hotkeys/Tools ← Click!

Lighting Hotkeys

  • t - When a maya light is selected, pressing t will give you an extra manipulator tool to move the light
  • [ - Undo camera move or undo light position in "Look through selected tool"
  • ] - Redo camera move or redo light position in "Look through selected tool"
  • f - While using "Look through selected tool", select the object and f to focus light on selected object. Careful, it will move the position of your light.

Part 1: Three Point Lighting

With the first assignment we're going to learn about the three point set-up, which is a basic way to light an object or person in a scene.

The assignment will walk you through a basic three point lighting setup. The first part of the assignment is fairly straight forward, but you have a chance to use your creativity at the end. We will be using the Pawn file for this assignment as well as the Rendering menu set. Make sure you are rendering using Arnold.

  1. Open the Pawn file for this assignment
  2. Set Maya to Rendering Menu
  3. After you've opened up the file, there should be a pawn, a background and a render camera.

    In order to see your lights in a scene, you render out an image. If you were to render out your current scene with Arnold, it will show a black scene, like the image below, since no lights have been added. We're going to start improving the scene by applying a simple lighting scheme called three point lighting.

    Three point lighting involves: A key light, a fill light, and a rim light.

    This is the overall setup we'll be doing with the lights, camera, and pawn.

  4. First we're going to make a Key light.

    Key light - Is the subject's main source of illumination and defines the most visible shadow. The key light represents the main dominant light source such as the sun, a window, or ceiling light. It's usually placed 45 degrees on either side of the camera (placed above the subject and a bit to the left or right), but can be placed anywhere. The key light will help determine the overall look, and other lights will support the key light.

  5. Go to Panels → Perspective and select "persp" to go into perspective view. First we're going to create a new spotlight by going to Create → Lights → Spot Light.
  6. Place spotlight in position (x, y, z) = (13, 27, 21). Click on the t key for the light's manipulator tool, to show the light's "target". Place the target inside of the pawn and in the attribute editor, change the Intensity of the light to 4500 and the color (H, S, V) to (60, 0.134, 1). H= Hue (The color of the light) S=Saturation (How pure the color is) V=Value (How bright/dark the color is).
  7. So now we're going to name the spotlight to something that will help us remember what it belongs to, such as "pawn_key" or "pawn_keylight". Go to the Outliner and rename the key light to "pawn_key".

    NOTE: Always name your lights in the Outliner

  8. The area of illumination of the key light is a bit too harshly delineated, which unless you are creating a stage light, is rather unusual. Set the Cone Angle to 20, the Penumbra Angle to 25, and the Dropoff to 0.5. This will give a nice, soft edge to the Spotlight.

    Cone Angle: The size of the light cone angle. The higher the number, larger the cone angle size.

    Penumbra: The softness and hardness of the light fall. It is part of the shadow where light makes it past whatever is casting the shadow. The higher the Penumbra angle, the softer the edge will be for the spotlight.

    Dropoff: Controls the rate at which light intensity decreases from the center to the edge of the spot light beam.

  9. We're now going to soften the shadow up a bit. Select the key light and open the Attribute Editor. Under Arnold check Cast Shadows and change the Radius to 1.569, and Samples to 4.

    Cast Shadows: Creates shadows a hard shadow taking the shape of the object into account

    Radius: softens the edges of shadows

    Samples: Increasing the quality of a shadow, adding more detail to its shape, but will slow down render time.

    Shadow Density: Controls the shadow's opacity, but not used for this shadow

  10. Next we're going to make a fill light.

    Fill light - The fill light is used to fill in shadows from the key light. With only a key light, the scene would have deep shadows that reduce details in the objects of a scene. The fill light shouldn't create a second shadow; if it does then the intensity of the light needs to be turned down. Unlike the real word, you can also simply turn off shadows in maya when staging lights. Typically in the real world, fill light is created by dimming a light, moving a light further away from the object, using a scrim net to diffuse light, or reflectors to reflect light onto the object.

  11. Create a second spotlight and in the outliner, name it "pawn_fill".
  12. Place the fill light at (x, y, z) = (-19, 17, 20). Select the light and under Panels, click on Look Through Selected Camera to point the light at the pawn. Set the Intensity to 4000, the Cone Angle to 40, the Penumbra Angle to 0, the Dropoff to 1.25, and the Color (H, S, V) to (240, 0.388, 0.721). Since there should only be a cast shadow of the pawn from the keylight, uncheck "Cast Shadows" in the Arnold tab.
  13. Under the Arnold and visibility tab change Specular to 0 so that only the key light casts specular highlights on the front of the pawn.
  14. Lastly, we're going to create a rim light.

    Rim light - The rim light provides definition to the silhouette of your subject and helps separate it from the background. Rim lights are typically positioned behind the subject and have a higher intensity than the key light. Most of the contribution of the rim comes from the specular component of the light. Therefore, the quality of your rim lights will depend on the specular attributes of the material applied to your subject.

  15. Create a spotlight for the rim light. Name the spotlight, "pawn_rim".
  16. Place the rim light at the position (x, y, z) = (-4, 14, -25) and point the light at the pawn. Set the Intensity to 6000 and the Color (H, S, V) to (60, 0.366, 1) Turn off all shadows. Uncheck Illuminate by Default and link the light in the light linking editor
  17. You'll notice that the rim casts a cone of light on the ground. If this rim light was an important light in our light setup we might want to soften it, but in this case we will unlink the light from the ground completely. To connect the light to the pawn and the background, first uncheck illuminate by default so that the pawn isn't tied to anything. Next to Windows → Relationship Editor → Light-Linking → Light Centric to open up the Light-Linking Editor and click the key light and then click the pawn to link the light to the pawn.

    Select the rim light in the light linking editor de-link it from the background.

  18. Once you're finished, render out a frame of the pawn.
  19. Part 2

    For the second part of this assignment you are to use lighting to create three different moods, Sad, Angry, Happy using the provided pawn and background. The lighting setups don't need to be complicated as long as they are expressive. Store each setup in the same Maya file and divide them up by grouping each set of lights. By toggling a group's visibility on or off you also enable or disable contained lights.

    It's best to research and look up good reference images for moods you want to create.

    Have fun!

    Turn In You will be graded on the following:
    • Following instructions
    • Three point lighting that resembles example
    • A reasonable amount of effort put into the three moods
    • Clean Outliner

    Turn in the following into the ASSIGNMENT TURN-IN folder in \\csenetid\cs\unix\projects\instr\capstone2\ASSIGNMENT TURN-IN\458\assignment_4:

      Note: You may create a ZIP folder with all of your files if that is more convenient. Just be sure to use the same naming conventions, and test it to make sure it unzips correctly before turn-in!

    • A Maya file containing all of the lights you used with the following name convention: [lastname]_[firstname]

    • Render of the initial pawn lighting setup:

    • [All your texture files using the exact same names as when you linked them from Maya. Note that you may not even have any texture files depending on what you did for your mood lighting schemes.]

    • A render of the three point lighting and a render of each of the three moods you created:
      • [lastname]_[firstname]_[sad].png
      • [lastname]_[firstname]_[angry].png
      • [lastname]_[firstname]_[happy].png