I’ve been re-viewing Jeremy Vickers’ tutorial on Gnomon about Efficient Cinematic Lighting. He’s a big fan of the old technique of using area lamps to emulate bounce light, instead of actually using bounce light (indirect lighting, global illumination) which takes longer to render and tends to be noisy.
So here is my living room scene with almost no bounce light. There is one bounce for spec because otherwise there would be no reflections, and transparency requires quite a few to objects to actually appear transparent, but apart from that, none.
I got pretty close to the render that did use indirect lighting. That was a bit warmer and I probably need to warm up my area lights, given the colour scheme of the room. I have used a touch of AO (added in the compositor) and raised the darkest tones a tad so the shadows did not appear so dark (again, the compositor). Plus I added some bloom for fun.
I’m not sure how much render time I saved, as I don’t think I recorded how long the other render took. I guess I could render again and find out.
What to do next? Jeremy (who works for Pixar as a lead lighting artist) says people want to look at fantastic scenes, not ordinary scenes. Fantastic but believable. I guess sitting rooms are pretty ordinary scenes. No wonder I get no comments on my work. I’ll have to thing of something more interesting to make.
I’ve previously tried a form of camera projection modelling/texturing by using fspy to match a camera to a photo, then model against the camera view and texturing by using Project from View to UV unwrap the object and apply the photo as an image texture. Works pretty well. However I’ve just found a tutorial on CGCookie that shows how to do proper camera projection using the UVproject modifier, which is pretty much the same kind of process as in Garrett Fry’s Gnomon tutorial that I first got inspired by.
Previously I set the image as a background to the camera and modelled against the image. However it is possible to texture the geo with the image by using it as an image texture and using Window as the vector source in the Texture Coordinate node. Later change this to UV once the model is finished. And don’t forget to set the correct x/y ratio in the uvproject modifiet.
I might go back to Garrett Fry’s original tutorial and try it again. It included some photogrammetry, which I’ve done for my scene, and it would be good to finish it off properly. I found it a very inspiring tutorial.
I’m sortof finished. Pretty happy with it actually, learned a lot especially about lighting in Blender/Cycles. However it’s not as good as it could be. Denoising has cleaned it up a lot without too many samples, but it has left some artefacts. I think the best plan would be to render it out at larger size and with more samples, maybe in layers to facilitate cleaning it up in post. Then apply my carefully honed pp skills developed for istock. I no longer have Photoshop but I can do a pretty good job with Krita. I do miss the blendif function though, especially being able to split the sliders to graduate the effect. Great for reducing noise in the shadows!
Not much interest on BA of course. It’s good actually. Being able to upload there gives a sense of finished, so I can stop obsessing about it, take a more level-headed evaluation afterwards, thinking of all the things I should have done, and then rework it as above. Finally post to ArtStation. I’ll see how that goes. BA does have a Focused Critique forum, but I don’t see a lot of useful activity there.
Sorted out the lighting – exposure to 5, sky strength at 1 but added some AO. Can’t avoid it really. Plus I had to make the duck slightly emissive to prevent the underside of the tail from being too dark. Plus I added an extra window on the right behind the camera (as there is in the actual room this is largely based on. It’s added a nice highlight to the copper bowl.
I tried a particle rug but Blender crashed, so I had to do with a diffuse texture and a magic texture at high scale for the bump. A bit too regular perhaps. Must remember to add in some distortion.
I bought the curtains from BlenderMarket for about $10. Added skirting board and architrave around the window using curves. Not too hard to do. Looking around the room I’m currently in there’s a massive amount of ‘stuff’. I guess I’ll have to add quite a bit to this scene to make it look a bit more realistic. Something in the bookshef for starters.
I wasn’t too happy with that ceiling fixture, so I took it out. And changed the image format so as not to have an expanse of white ceiling. I like it better. Plus I refreshed my knowledge of extruding a profile along a path (both curves) to produce the ceiling cornice. Must do the same for some skirting boards.
I’ve put one of my photos in the large picture frame, but perhaps it looks a bit too dominant. I’m not sure how to do the rug. I’d like to make it a bit like the rug I actually have in the room that looks a lot like this. Must do some research.
I guess I’ve come quite a way since my initial effort. Just a reminder of what that was:
I’ve gone for some brighter lighting. I needed a few more trees to soften the transition, but the light is quite nice. I’m really liking the way this is coming along.
I’ve changed the viewpoint to one that I think I like better. I did actually have to make the room smaller again to get a good framing, but no big deal. It’s still bigger than it originally was.
So I’ve obviously started using more textures. And brought in a couple of assets I had made previously. Lots to do still but I’m pretty happy with the way this is going. Maybe more light at the windows would be good. I’ll try a different HDRI. This one is Epping Forest. I may have been there.
I’ve also spent a bit of time organizing my assets, textures specifically. I’m not sure the NAS is any faster than the external drive is.
I’ve been trying to use area lights instead of too much indirect lighting, to cut down on render time. However there’s no doubt indirect lighting gives a better result, at least with my current skill in setting up the area lights. This image uses indirect lighting, but I managed to keep it down to 3 bounces instead of the default 12. Total render time was about 10 minutes at 256 samples.
I think the hard part is coming up – detailing. I tend to get bored working on details, which is probably why I never finish anything properly. Perhaps I just need to work on it a bit over a long period of time. After all, what’s the hurry?
I don’t know what’s happening about my new computer. I put in a dispute with Paypal at about 2am today, when the money did not appear in my account. However they say try to negotiate with the vendor, and if no luck they will escalate to relevant local authority in about 4 months time!! At least it appears that there is some kind of insurance (buyer protection) when using Paypal so I should get my money eventually, unless Joe finds a satisfactory unit of course. I haven’t heard from him since Monday.
The original room seemed very cramped, as I sit in my own roomy living/dining area working on this project. However using a wider angle lens to fit it all in has made the window area smaller, even though I’ve put in more window space in the wall. I’ve added a few plants both inside and out, and a duck of course. How far can I go with this project?
There’s a new course on Gnomon, an interior scene. so I decided to give it a go. I’m finding this one pretty accessible, and it gives me a chance to practise a few things I’ve been learning lately, such as how to cut render times in Cycles (especially for interior scenes like this). I’ve actually posted it as a WIP on BA. Last one of those I did was years ago. Let’s hope I’ve improved since then.