View Full Version : lighting animation

05 May 2006, 04:05 PM
I was looking to get some suggestions on how people go about 'lighting' their character animations. The type of animations are looped ones like walk cycles and run cycles only the character is on the spot rather than moving across an environment.

05 May 2006, 05:53 PM
There's a lot to say, but the one thing you should think about first is how the lighting could add to the animation. Is the character in a happy, sunny place, or is it dark and glum, or spooky and mysterious, or hostile and threatening? Is there any story point that could help you figure out where the character is (under a tree?), what time it is (day? night?) or something you want to empasize (is he moving really fast? is something he's carrying really important?) If you start there, with the story, then we could probably talk more about ways to bring out what you're trying to communicate.


05 May 2006, 08:09 PM
my character is a footballer (soccer). My task was to design, model, skin and then create 4 animation loops, 1 of which was a walk cycle, another was a run.

The character is performing his actions on the spot rather than walking from one place to another, so I could have him perform these on a plinth for example.

the thing I'm wondering is how people tend to present these animations. Do they have the character surrounded by a background (like a football stadium in this case), or would they go for just a simple white background with some lighting and shadows. I don't want anythin too flash as the thing I'll be graded on mostly is the modelling and the animation. I just wanted to present them well (if you know what I mean?)



05 May 2006, 09:01 PM
Then a simple lighting setup would sufice. Like use the 3 light setup - 1 fill light, 1 key light and a backlight. Since you want to concentrate on the animation itself, place the lights in such a way that the veiwer can easily see the movement. Try to make the ambient a lighter color rather than black, and maybe your shadows be a mid gray tone. But you also have to balance it so your render doesn't look washed out too. You don't need expensive lighting like GI, or even ray tracing really. Depth mapping will provide equal results (unless your character is made of glass LOL). If you REALLY want to go for that global illumination look, you can also make an array of point lights in a semi-sphere arrangment, also using depth maps.

But something simple and easy is most often the best solution, as again - you are showing your character animation, not your lighting skills.

05 May 2006, 10:07 PM
hey, thanks for your input the other day, i never got back.

Im a novice at lighting to be honest, i'd like to know more about that 3 point light system you mentioned. What i have done in the meantime is create a sort of spotlight on the character with two other lights lighting the character from the side. It looks ok i suppose but it was just random guessing lol

05 May 2006, 10:35 PM
3 point lighting just means a main brightest light as the key, a dimmer light to fill in the unlit side, and a rim or back light (a light coming from behind the character, aimed to create a bright, thin line of light tracing the edge of the character.) There's a tutorial here: linky (

You should put some kind of a ground surface under your character, even if it's just a white or gray plane, to render with shadows. A ground surface with shadows will show where the feet are planted on the ground. You might make a seamless surface that slopes up from the flat floor to fill the whole background with white or gray. Also, try to aim the key light so that the shadow on the ground is a good alternate angle on the character, at least keep the key a good distance from the character so the perspective in the shadow is nice.


05 May 2006, 09:03 AM
If he's a footballer, then you could motivate your lighting towards what you'd find on a pitch. Maybe have a bright, slightly yellow directional light for the sun, then several dimmer, slightly blue fill lights for the sky.

Alternatively you could go for a floodlit approach, having distant spots of equal brightness from say 4 directions to get that recognisable cruciform shadow pattern under the player you see at nighttime matches.

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