View Full Version : lighting for a cartoon feel

08 August 2012, 01:13 PM
I have some questions about lighting and rendering for an animation short:

First off, I've been told to stay away from global illumination and final gather as they cause render time to go up and the class I'm in doesn't want realistic lighting, so I've taken advice from Jeremy Vickery's efficient cine lighting tutorial.

I would like to know what I can do to create shadows in the scene, in an effective and efficient manner. I've tried using a light with a negative shadow value and a color value of 0, but it didn't work as it made my render time shoot sky rocket high.

After that I tried using physical sun and sky and final gather as well as portal lights, but it is too realistic for the project.

In the scene, I have an ambient occlusion texture node plugged in to the shader nodes to create an indirect form of lighting and then i have a spotlight creating the sunlight shining in from the front door.

I'm allowed a maximum of 5minutes render time per frame for this project in render time, for this reason I'm using render passes instead of render layers and we are using Mental Ray in Maya 2013.

The shading nodes are the mia material x passes nodes and the textures are painted on. Currently we are trying to make a bump for the walls, wood and floor to add some feel to them.

If you want any of the images of the scene that has been rendered out for tests and fault finding, I can E-mail them to you, as the website won't let me uplaod them, says the jpegs are invalid file formats.


08 August 2012, 07:59 PM
Not sure what cgs' policy on 3rd party image hosting is, but has a great and free way of uploading galleries of images really easy and fast.

Regarding the shadows, is the light using raytraced shadows?

08 August 2012, 08:32 AM
I'm using raytrace shadows for the key light and depth map shadows fro bounce lights. I needed to manipulate the lighting areas fro where the sunlight falls and did some extra lights with light-linking.

08 August 2012, 04:14 PM
It would be helpful to see what you've got or some reference for what you're going for. can you post a link or just upload them in a different format?

One thought though would be to bake out the shadows for objects that dont move in the scene and are consistent in you're various camera angles while they're in the shot.

08 August 2012, 06:59 PM
I uploaded the test renders to my deviantart account, you can view them here:

My apologies for not using this method earlier.

09 September 2012, 03:33 AM
Have you tried using static final gathering? How has that affected your render times? Also, which compositing software are you using?

09 September 2012, 07:47 AM
"Lighting for cartoon feel "doesn't specify your requirement as you have not mentioned any reference image.
Also your current renders lack enough bounce.
if you further wants to reduce time for shadow calculations bake shadows itself.
I don't know how much detailed your scene is but the even if you use final gather you can easily maintain it under 5 minutes.
In maya 2013 mental ray has lot more improvements and is faster so don't be afraid of using raytrace shadows too.

09 September 2012, 08:09 AM
The class I'm in, is trying to create a sort of feel like the animation short "mac 'n' cheese" and also, this is my first year of doing any 3D, I started with this course in January this year, so I'm also learning every day I do something or try something. I will definitely look in to what you all suggested, thank you very much.

I will upload images of what the director and producer approves for the final light setup and the lecturer will upload the final animation piece when it is finished on to the net. I will then post a link for you all to see what the class did.

09 September 2012, 08:11 AM
Mr Array, I haven't tried static Final Gather yet as I thought that because it's an animation piece, that you can't save out the final gather maps and that final gather maps are only useful for still renders. Or am I thinking of something completely different now and not understanding what you are saying?

09 September 2012, 08:40 AM
Mr Array, I haven't tried static Final Gather yet as I thought that because it's an animation piece, that you can't save out the final gather maps and that final gather maps are only useful for still renders. Or am I thinking of something completely different now and not understanding what you are saying?

Which part of your scene is going to be animated? Will the objects currently in your scene be moving? Or will the scene have animated characters? If it's the latter, you can just render the environments and characters separately, and keep the final gathering static for your environment.

Anyhow, assuming that your environment doesn't have any animated components, and that the only animated part of your scene consists of characters, I would suggest the following steps in order to get a "cartoony" look to your scene:

1) Change your color scheme. Having a warm fill light is fine, but I would make the fill light a cool complimentary color, i.e. blue.

2) Create a fill pass. This pass should consist of an ambient light, set to the aforementioned complimentary color. To go with this fill pass, you should create an ambient occlusion pass. Unbind the ambient occlusion from your textures, and, instead, multiply your ambient occlusion pass with your fill pass within your compositing package.

3) Create a key pass. This pass should only consist of your direct light.

4) Create a static final gathering pass which only uses your key light to contribute to the scene's illumination. Don't overdo it here, the effect should be subtle.

5) Use your composting package to perform "add/plus" operations on the layers generated by steps 2, 3, and 4.

6) Render your character(s) separately from the environment, and also render out a matte for your character's shadow. Use said shadow matte to occlude your key and final gathering passes, leaving your fill pass intact.

That should give you your basic "cartoon" look. You can do a few other things after this point to spruce things up, such as using your compositing package to add a bloom/glow affect to your key pass. If you have time to spare, you can also render out some volumes to add even more depth to your scene.

09 September 2012, 12:05 PM
Here are few links which might be helpful to you considering the look you are after i.e. Mac 'n' Cheese.
The lighting in it was pretty simple they did a lot of work in Fusion as well as in modeling too.

09 September 2012, 03:54 PM
Thank you very much! :thumbsup:

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