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Pinet
08-10-2010, 05:49 AM
Hi!

So i decided to write this, asking if anyone has any ressources to learn some basic lighting and skin shader for Cartoon characters. Formulas, DVD's, posts, tutorials, workflow, templates, name it.

I`m mostly an animator and i`ve been searching for years how to have a decent lightning to render my animated characters, with poor results.
I`ve tryed alot of renderers for 3DS Max (Scanline, MentalRay, VRay, FinalRender, Brazil)... Nothing good since i don`t know how to use em.

I`ve spent alot of time searching using keywords like
Cartoon Character lighting 3ds max 3-point light Vray Mental Ray Final Render Scanline SSS Skin Shader Animation and so on.
Results: some old topics not refering anything very relevant.
I mean, alot of tutorials that are NOT showing how to light Cartoon Characters (Cars, Architectures, objects, environments, realistic characters but No Cartoon Characters).

Maybe my keywords are bad but i Swear i spended Days and tryed alot of stuff.
I always end up having very average renders. Maybe i can post some pics if people are interested. Its hard for me to know whats not working, Light/Material/Rendering settings, i don`t know.

I just wish there would be a DVD named "Absolute Cartoon Character Lighting" including:
1- 3 Point Light Vs GI Vs HDRI Vs Skylight and combining em all
2- Raytracing or Shadow Map?
3- Scanline,Mental Ray, VRay, FinalRender or Brazil? (or ect..)
4- Basic Cool Skin Material! Bonus SSS and other more complex for Cartoon Characters with any renderer!
5- This one explains why textures are 100% necessary on Cartoon Characters.. Or Not
6- A Lot of Making of, Step by step tutorials explaining in detail ALL the settings to make professionnal or relatively good looking Cartoon Character Lighting/Shading/Texturing for animation.

If this DVD Exists please someone tell me.


Hope this thread may become usefull for me and others but i doubt since its so hard for me to find stuff about Cartoon Character Lighting !

patrickrowan
08-10-2010, 02:09 PM
Hi!



I`m mostly an animator and i`ve been searching for years how to have a decent lightning to render my animated characters, with poor results.
I`ve tryed alot of renderers for 3DS Max (Scanline, MentalRay, VRay, FinalRender, Brazil)... Nothing good since i don`t know how to use em.

I`ve spent alot of time searching using keywords like
Cartoon Character lighting 3ds max 3-point light Vray Mental Ray Final Render Scanline SSS Skin Shader Animation and so on.


Maybe my keywords are bad but i Swear i spended Days and tryed alot of stuff.

I just wish there would be a DVD named "Absolute Cartoon Character Lighting" including:
1- 3 Point Light Vs GI Vs HDRI Vs Skylight and combining em all
2- Raytracing or Shadow Map?
3- Scanline,Mental Ray, VRay, FinalRender or Brazil? (or ect..)
4- Basic Cool Skin Material! Bonus SSS and other more complex for Cartoon Characters with any renderer!
5- This one explains why textures are 100% necessary on Cartoon Characters.. Or Not
6- A Lot of Making of, Step by step tutorials explaining in detail ALL the settings to make professionnal or relatively good looking Cartoon Character Lighting/Shading/Texturing for animation.

If this DVD Exists please someone tell me.


Hope this thread may become usefull for me and others but i doubt since its so hard for me to find stuff about Cartoon Character Lighting !

This is just my 2 cent.

From this post it looks to me like you have been searching in the wrong places and been concentrating on all the wrong aspects on how to make nice pictures. Making nice pictures isnt about render settings and if you did find a dvd like the one you explained you still wouldnt be any better at the end of it.

The only way to making nice images of characters,enviroments or anything is about "SEEING". Your eye is the most important tool when lighting.Forget about worrying about render engines use mentalray because its free.dont stress about raytraced shdows,daylight systems or sss shaders. Focus on learning the ART of making beautifull images.Photgraphy,painting, Reel life whatever.You will start to see much more and that will translate into you cg work.

Go and watch a sunset with a friend and ask them to stand in front of you looking back. thats great character lighting.the hot warm light hitting there hair,the cool fill hitting there face and a long shadow,now go and do that in cg with no bells or whistles.keep it simple.hopefully you see where im going with this.study ART not settings:).

heres a couple of books that might help. I could name more and none of them would be cg related.

Painting-Light-John-Alton (http://www.amazon.com/Painting-Light-John-Alton/dp/0520089499)

Visual-Story-Second-Creating-Structure (http://www.amazon.com/Visual-Story-Second-Creating-Structure/dp/0240807790/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281444040&sr=8-1)

theres some good tutorials on Fxphd (http://www.fxphd.com/) on mentalray,photography and On set lighting.

Best of look!:)

Pinet
08-11-2010, 05:55 AM
Hey Patrick, your right observation is an essential step for an artist and that no tool can guess what you want. I'm far from beign a pro but i still have some basic painting skills.
But i think you would agree any artist needs also to master his tools and techniques and that he mostly learn it from others and internet is a good place for that.
I may check those books and links you provided but i was mainly looking for free stuff :(
Alot of people are sharing their shader/lighting/rendering setups/settings but theres not much cartoon characters.


One thing that maybe confuse me is i separate Cartoon Character lighting in its own class.
I'm sure you would agree some drawer can be pro in creating very specific concepts and suck at others. An famous architectural drawer can suck at drawing cartoons..
A Car designer can Suck at creating a beautifull landscape ect..
Of course drawing alot of different stuff is always a plus but you can be a prolific artist specialized in on style of drawing.

You sound like lighting is very different from other stuff and you may be right cause i don't know alot about it.
But thing is theres so much free and good learning resources for other disciplines:
Speed modeling/Painting on youtube, DVD Complete Rigging Guides, 11 SecondClub for great tips on animation, Alot of lighting tutorials/making of for Cars,Architectural,Indoors, FX..
Theres not much about Character Lighting. From my point of view its like if theres all those ressources but to light a character, except some rare "making-of" here and there, all i have is pure observation.. Or Academy of Arts i can enroll in..

It may sound dumb but i would just like to copy a variety of some lighting setups for my characters. I mostly wanna focus on modeling and animation, i will surely jump more into paint and lighting someday.
I don't want to become a pro-lighter for the moment, i just thought it would be nice to have some basic light/rendering setups to light my cartoonish characters, then play with colors and light intensity, nothing much complicated.

Presets/Templates/settings/making-of are basicly what i'm searching for.

ndeboar
08-11-2010, 09:45 AM
Pat's right.

Almost every animator I know has a copy a of the Animator survival kit.

Which essentially has nothing about CG animation (i think the last edition has like two pages, probably just to sell more copies). Animation isn't medium specific.

Same for lighting, CG lighting isn't mutually exclusive from any sort of lighting. Almost all photo mags have a section on portrait lighting, which is a great start.

When you know what effect you want, then we can start giving you advice on what cg tools to use to get that effect.

to get you moving, look into 3 point lighting, its pretty the basis of all character lighting.

patrickrowan
08-11-2010, 09:47 AM
ok i see what your saying. i just find some people focus too much on settings but if thats what your after.

well if you want photoreel i would highly recommend the mental ray classes either here on cg society or fxphd.you cant go wrong. digital tutors have a good basic lighting for maya tuts. after that I would definatily focus on the 3 point lighting setup.if you spend a little time setting it up and getting it to look right then you could use it over and over.basically start with one light get that looking right,then turn it off and setup the next light.mentalray ships with all the apps so look into the mia_material(arch and design) since you will be using it for animation it has built in ambient occlusion in the shader so you can tweek it there and use it as a fill light.you wont get flicker and render times will be low.plus its a god start.master zap in the metalray classes goes through loads of settings and even sets up a sss shader.hope this helps.:)

Pinet
08-11-2010, 04:34 PM
@ndboar!

I`m happy you give the animator example so you can understand better what i'm looking for!
Don't know if you ever looked at those Animation Mentor Free Cririques:
http://www.animationmentor.com/11secondclub/2007dec.html
There's also step by step progress fully explained like this:
http://danielhuertas.blogspot.com/2009/04/bale-rant-animation-process-animation.html

Of course they don't explain every single click/lines but its very inspiring and good workflow ideas.
Heres one full "Making-of" of a character shot including Lighting:
http://features.cgsociety.org/story_custom.php?story_id=3993&page=2
If you pay attention theres not much info about light settings and hes mentionning GI without any more information. At least theres some but its pretty rare to find those.
Plus, theres no animation. It's a still, so he can photoshop it wich is kinda not an animation workflow.
Another thing, its not the "cartoon" look i'm looking for, his lighting is very advanced compared to what i wanna do.

Those tutorials are very nice, for VRay:
http://www.aversis.be/tutorials/vray/index.htm
Again, theres not much abou characters here. It helps understand the whole thing in very small details but no character lighting receipe. (Still its Very usefull)

I don't have the animation surviving kit but i used it here and there, borrowing it from co-workers. I learned alot of the priciples it refers to by working myself And by receiving comments of people seeing my stuff or showing their. Some gave me tips, forced me to try different stuff, Tips on the 11Second club website ect..

I understand your point of view but ain't sure if mine is clear :D
Its like if you tell me i must understand theory of nutrition to make a Kraft Dinner receipe.
Of course i would benefit some theory and general education but if i just want to reproduce or get inspired, its enought for what i wanna do.


@patrickrowan

Feel very welcome to post some links! (Free stuff pleease)
basically start with one light get that looking right,then turn it off and setup the next lightThats a very interesting workflow, thats exactly what i'm looking for! But still, i would like to see :( Like suppose a Free Digital tutor guy that makes it and comments why hes doing this and that.

mentalray ships with all the apps so look into the mia_material(arch and design) since you will be using it for animation it has built in ambient occlusion in the shader so you can tweek it there and use it as a fill light
I used it for some stuff, i ended up not knowing what type of lights i should use..
They all do so much different stuff i don't know what to start with.
Should i us standard Max lights? Photometric? Skylight? HDRI's? Final Gather? Photon stuff?
Plus the material can change the whole aspect of my character.
I agree totally with you guyz that lighting theory and Painting is the foundation of CG Lighting but a painter can just.. Paint skin to look like skin.
Suppose you do skin in mental ray: a skin texture alone can just look gross in a 3D Rendering, even if its done by Da Vinci.
You need to play with those settings.

I've particulary been on the Zap blog last year and found a SSS mia material (Something like that).
On his post he's refering to the Hulk Masterpiece and he's sayin this:
"Well, suffice to say... it does all the magic for you! You don't need to think.
"
I can confirm it's not that simple!
I'll check his blog more in deep but the class you were refering to, were you talking about his blog?

patrickrowan
08-11-2010, 10:57 PM
I used it for some stuff, i ended up not knowing what type of lights i should use..
They all do so much different stuff i don't know what to start with.
Should i us standard Max lights? Photometric? Skylight? HDRI's? Final Gather? Photon stuff?
Plus the material can change the whole aspect of my character.


sounds like your not to sure about shading,lighting,rendering?
do a search for 3 point lighting and start with only a spotlight.spotlights are your friend. when starting out lighting dont worry about the rest.


Thats a very interesting workflow, thats exactly what i'm looking for! But still, i would like to see :( Like suppose a Free Digital tutor guy that makes it and comments why hes doing this and that.

im not sure if there is much free material out there anymore.i would recommend submitting lighting WIPs here in cgtalk you will always get good advice and its free.

if i was in your boat i would just bit the bullet and pay for a monthily subscribtion to http://www.digitaltutors.com/09/index.php (http://) . they have 100,s of videos on settings from beginner to advanced. in no time you will know what shaders/lights to use.once you get them under your belt is all about the creative eye.just like animation.where to place lights etc.there are loads of rules even on character lighting.these are generally thought in the books like the ones i posted.

try this one too but again you will have to pay.

http://www.amazon.com/Lighting-Rendering-Maya-Shadows-Interactive/dp/B001JBT1EA/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1281562837&sr=1-1


I'll check his blog more in deep but the class you were refering to, were you talking about his blog?

no he is doing a class on fxphd and its pure gold.he goes through alot of settings and techniques.

best of luck :)

Okilo11
08-13-2010, 03:12 AM
An occlusion pass seems to help seems to help those cartoony images "pop" out in 3d space as well. It's easy to learn and will teach you a small bit about compositing along the way.

This is 3ds max specific, sorry if you don't use it, but give this a look and see if it helps.
http://scottdewoody.com/tutorial_occ.html

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