LightWave and Photoshop tutorials:
Modeling, part one
Lighting, part one
Surfacing, part two

9. Lights

I doubt I'm the only one that regards the LightWave's default lighting scheme a bit on the flat side. I often turn the LW ambient all the way to zero, and do all my illumination with lamps. I recently had an idea for a basic outdoor ambient setup, so let's give it a try. First, clear the scene, as we will make a default ambient scene now.

I guess you remembered to save the scene before clearing? ;-)

Load an object, any object. I (surprisingly) Use the cow here.

When the default light's intensity is turned off, we can see what the default ambient looks like:

Hey, LW turned to 2D program ;-)

Ok, let's turn the ambient down to 10%, and reset the default light's position and rotation. Let's point it 90? downwards (Pitch), and set the intensity to 20%. Oh, and turn off both specular highlights and shadows.

Then let's clone the light, point it straight up and set it's intensity to -10%.

As you can see, we have here an ambient setup with a bit more light from the sky and almost nothing from the ground.

Get rid of the cow and save the scene as "Ambient.lws".

Here's a version where I tripled all the light and ambient values, giving a good start for an cloudy day. Combined with D. Jerrard's spinning lights for soft shadows (Yes, it's in the same place where the tree tutorial was - hope you bookmarked it ;-) this is an easy way to simulate light through a cloud cover.

Let's open our tutorial scene again.

Set the ambient to 10% and go to objects panel. Click load from scene. Locate the ambient scene, and say yes to load lights as well as objects. We have now replaced the default LW ambient with our custom setup.

The difference is subtle, but noticeable. The clouds have more depth. The trees are more natural.

But let's do something a bit more radical. Let's make this a sunset scene (The obligatory eye candy!). It's faster than you could imagine ;-)

First of all, let's target our main light (It should be light#1) to the ground object. As the object isn't going to move, the light will always point to the center of the universe. Next let's move the light to 1000 m Z, 0 X, 0Y.

Add a null object, and rename it to "light handle".

You can rename null objects by saving them in the objects panel.

Surprise! Parent the light to "light handle" null. Rotate the null heading so that the light comes from the side, about 15? over the horizon. (In my case I rotated the null to -45? heading and -15? pitch). The reason for this parenting is that if we use the light as a lens flare too, it always points to the right direction from the flare. We could just have the light rotated, but then the flare would have to be separately placed to match the lighting conditions.

As the light is very far away, you will have to adjust the grid size in order to see it.

All right, let's set the light to a warm tone, and crank up the intensity:

And test render:

As you can see, our clouds behaved surprisingly well through this change in lighting. But now our background gradient is not correct anymore.


By adding a FX_transparency shader to the clouds the result looks like this: Search for the free FX_transparency plugin!

Next we will experiment with fake caustics.

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