Lighting Challenge #6: Candle Light

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Old 08 August 2006   #31
Seggy - Nice one! It’s funny how the ambiguous flat-mouthed expression on the kid’s face looked happy in your previous render, but in this one, with the reflection mimicking a tear, he looks sad. I’m not sure on the reflections, especially the deeply saturated blue windows reflected on the right of the vase, whether they fit with the scene. I like how you have the incense glowing on the plate. I guess we have to wait a few days for people to start adding smoke to the scenes.

Barrymcw - Doing technical things is 100% optional on this challenge. If you want to replace the flames with volumetric fluid dynamic simulations, create bokeh effects, use sub-surface scattering, you can. But if you just want to use simple tools to render the scene, that’s great too and it could come out just as well.

MasterZap - Your scene is looking great. A religious icon type image in the frame makes a lot of sense. It looks as if the right side of the vase is getting some blue fill light that isn’t hitting the right side of the candle next to it, maybe it’s just confusing because something that’s really a reflection looks like a kick of diffuse illumination, but still it looks like the candle should be getting some.

fulg0re - Great start! It looks like the shadows need work, it looks like a combination of some lights that don’t cast shadows at all, and some that cast razor-sharp raytraced shadows. If you could find some middle ground and make all the lights cast softer shadows, it would add greatly to the image.

Captain Obvious - Thanks for the LWO scene, it is on-line now. I ordered a new computer too, I bought a BOXX workstation after seeing them at SIGGRAPH. I’ll test out the candle scene on it after it arrives.

Kadazil - Welcome. Wow, that’s a fresh, interesting take on the scene. If I had thought that vase would be rendered transparent I would have modeled more of the inside.  I like the depth of the colors you are using. Some areas look as if more shadowing or occlusion could help, especially underneath the front candle-holder, right now it looks as if it could be floating above the ground because there aren’t the shadows there to establish a solid sense of contact.

Jeremy Birn
Author, Digital Lighting & Rendering, 3rd Edition
Old 08 August 2006   #32
Here are some photographs I just shot to explore how candles look at different exposure settings. There is almost no fill light, so we are just looking at a scene by candle-light alone, and I started at 1/4 sec exposures at f1.4, ISO 200, on a Nikon D70 with a Sigma 30mm f1.4 lens:







f16, 1/8 second

f16, 1/30 second

Jeremy Birn
Author, Digital Lighting & Rendering, 3rd Edition
Old 08 August 2006   #33
Originally Posted by jeremybirn: Barrymcw - Doing technical things is 100% optional on this challenge. If you want to replace the flames with volumetric fluid dynamic simulations, create bokeh effects, use sub-surface scattering, you can. But if you just want to use simple tools to render the scene, thatís great too and it could come out just as well.

I was just having a joke with my code comments - clearly not a funny one. No offense meant at all. Believe me, if I could write code, I surely would.

Doing some GI tests now, image to come soon.

Oh, and thanks for the photos. They've very nice reference to have.
Old 08 August 2006   #34
WOW! THANK YOU Jeremy for those priceless photographies! Really helps to understand how the candle delivers such a soft light. Your annotations have been heard. Indeed shadows are a problem but I figured after 14 hours of Max I should stop =P Ill work on it tomorrow. I also believe the back is maybe overlit a tad and the metal looks pretty weird. For the glass vase, no worries Im on it

Seggy, if I may, a few comments: Getting niccceee =) I think you're getting the candle light quite right, the candle holders also very nice maybe a tad too reflective though, they only stay that way the first week you buy them Other then that, maybe think about the glossiness of your candle sticks cause apparently theres only specular on the top. For the flames, I would suggest having fun with a gradient ramp and some falloff as a mix mask. You could also add some texture details on your insense which, no offense, looks for the while like the tip of a paintbrush. One last thing, I think the frame has a specular problem. Or maybe I do =P

MasterZap, exactly what I had in mind when I saw the insense ^^ You could push this further by adding maybe some smoke on those insenses all going straight to the top. That adds a lot of mood =P About the light I also think its overlit a bit. Try playing with the inverse square decay maybe, I think it helps for candlelight.

Barry, I really love the mood in there, almoost magicalllll... ERmmm dont have much to say except maybe u could light the front part of the table just a teency weency bit. "maybe" Other then that I really like what u did to the frame. Nice job.

PS: Im new here so if u guys think I should just post my work and be quiet, be sure to mention it =) If not, well glad I can be of some help.
"To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images." -- Plato's Republic --
Old 08 August 2006   #35
Hi all...
Rendered with Inspirer...
Old 08 August 2006   #36
hi jeremybirn ,
pic mixture between candle light and morning light ,I will try to do ,only candle light in next time

hi res
Power Of Dream

Last edited by fighter4d : 08 August 2006 at 01:31 PM.
Old 08 August 2006   #37
A somewhat better, I think, version of my earlier one. It took me forever to find GI settings that didn't take a year and a day to render. A little shadow softening in PS as well.

I'm not sure what's up with the janky lighting on the foremost candle. It's a bit odd to say the least.

@ Seggy, agreed that the glowing incense is a nice touch. Also, I really like the craquelure texture on the vase.

@ Fighter4d, the glass table is a good idea. I may have to borrow it for my next render of the scene . Also, nice reflection on the glass vase.

@ Buca and Kadazil, the blue palettes add a great mixture of images for us to look at. I went straight to smoky red and I'm thinking that I may try going cooler on my next round. Buca, maybe add some aging to the table top. It looks very clean and new.

@ Kadazil, I'm new here too so I hope I'm not out of place saying that comments are more than welcome. For me at least, I wouldn't post pics here if I wasn't expecting critique.
Old 08 August 2006   #38
I'm glad lots of people are giving feedback!

Buca - Welcome! Good start. The subtle shading on the background screen is really nice looking, and you've got some good shaping on the vase. The glow around the flames has a strange pattern in it; maybe you could render without the glow, and add the glow around the brightest parts of the image in Photoshop or a compositing program? The table looks a little flatly lit, as if the front were as bright as the top, it would be nice to see it fade off a little.

fighter4d - Looking good, I like the glass-topped table! That table really works well with the scene. I think you could find a different shader and look for the vase, though. The lighting is nice and low-key, which fits with a candle-lit scene, but I don't really get the impression of light coming from the candles yet. Maybe the saturation of the flames is a bit high, too?

barrymcw - Overall that's shaping up to be a really solid scene. Something fishy about the render settings, though, look at how the reflection of the incense on the plate is much brighter than the incense itself. That might be because shadows aren't visible in reflections, or it might be a GI-related issue, I can't tell. I'll make the next suggestion to everybody.

To everybody: if you haven't got the candles looking waxy and translucent yet, and you need to work on getting that gradient of illumination right near the top, it's a really good idea to hide everything but 1 candle and just do a series of quick test renders with 1 candle until the top looks good. There are lots of approaches (in Maya you could use a ramp shader on the incandescence, or a volume light set to emit ambient only, if you have the time you could even use a sub-surface scattering shader) but that translucency effect is a key to the look of a lit candle.

Jeremy Birn
Author, Digital Lighting & Rendering, 3rd Edition
Old 08 August 2006   #39
Nice reference photos jeremy, I can see I need to re-work the sss on this shot:

Rendered with Maxwell Render v1.1

Last edited by glebe-digital : 08 August 2006 at 08:45 AM.
Old 08 August 2006   #40
Thanks Jeremy! I can't wait to get stuck into this one when I get some free time.

Here's a .max version if anyone wants it - candles_MAX.rar

Old 08 August 2006   #41
Great Work Guys

Need to jump in with this shot i did over lunchbreak.
I will work on this (flames, procelain) and an Night scene if i get some more time.

Critique welcome.

EDIT: some retouched one.

Edit: another retouch ... just brighter ... goal was to archieve "artifacts / noise" from the CCD of a digital cam.


time is passing by...

Last edited by ChrRambow : 08 August 2006 at 12:53 PM.
Old 08 August 2006   #42
Sweet, newcomers =) Welcome and hail to all.

Fighter -- I think your render looks really nice, low key and all that is really good in terms of "global lighting". I find two aspects that could be worked on though. First of all I'd say your candles lack candle feature: dont forget the glossiness Indeed, specular is one thing that determines that it looks like a candle but dont forget that wax melts, and therefore the top should appear pretty glossy. This especially with the light of the candle illuminating it. Secondly, I find, this being my own opinion only, that the color scheme isnt quite defined yet. I think you could accentuate your palette cause right now it looks as if their were too many colors. Maybe the flower in the frame adds to this feeling I have. The flower being a good idea, but maybe not that color. Or maybe less saturated.

Barry -- I think I much preferred your first approach of this scene. Indeed, here I think it looks as though all is a bit overlit. Whereas when you look at your first approach, the mood was nicely set. Furthermore, I really like the feeling that was added with your old background, and all the "color spots". Yet if I had to comment on this render I would also say this: I like the water you added in the plate and think it was a good idea. The candle holder however, looks knda oily, I think maybe your glossiness is set too high. Last thing, try setting your omnis for the candles in inverse square decay, youll see it is much more comfortable to work with when dealing with candles, or so I hope

glebe digital -- I really like the "diamonds are a girl's best friend"-feel in your image. Especially the fact that it glitters and all, yet it doesnt look kitsch Thanks to your lighting. The insense's reflection looks great and adds a lot of strength. You palette is realy nice. Only advice I could give you is to work on that flame. When u look at a candle light, you'll see you dont see only 2 colors, indeed you also see some bluish purple at the base and the colors arent linear. I would suggest using a gradient ramp, and a falloff mask in self illumination in order to have the feeling that it burns more naturally. Other then that, nice job =)

Rambow -- The general light of your scene looks more like artificial light I find. This might be due to the fact that white is the color of your key light. The depth of field is nice though really adds "concentration of the eye" and your textures for candle holders work well. For the candles and their falme however, I would suggest working more on the glossiness for the candlestick, and adding some color to your flame. Right now it looks more like the fake candles u see in shops where the flame is actually a light bulb. Keep going =)

Good luck to you all, Ill try to find time to rework my scene during the night.
"To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images." -- Plato's Republic --
Old 08 August 2006   #43
Done with C4D area lights, no GI.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Candle2.jpg (78.2 KB, 333 views)
Old 08 August 2006   #44
nice one Triker!

i'm lovin your vase material Triker... and the fabric screen in the background. nice touch!

nice render. how long was the render time?

why area lights and not point lights with a large radius may i ask?
more control?

many thanks

Old 08 August 2006   #45
Thanks for the critique kadazil.

My goal was to archive a daylight scene.
Where the candles just got a littlebit influence to the lighting.

Used a rig out of ~30 Lights and seperate lights just to lit the candle
to avoid them being too bright when using translucency.
Reflection is a simple spherical mapped photo of a room.

I did some more experiments.
Need to fix some problems with the flames and DoF.


time is passing by...

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