Lighting Challenge #7: An Eye for an Eye

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  10 October 2006
Mike RB : can you tell us how did you mange to get that excellent reflection on the eyes?
if possible the shading network for the reflection. thanks.

A question: How do people mange to get high-contrast reflection?, i mean something like bright spot and very weak reflection , is that composting or there's some sort of trick related to modifying the HDRI in HDRI app (like hdri shop).


here's my entry.(with little of composting in PS)
  10 October 2006


this is my first challenge. I am impressed by everyone's awesome work and I hope I can be as good as you guys (and gals) in the future. So, here is my submission. I used mental ray rendering in max 8. The skin is sss material and I used raytrace material for the eyeball parts. I know it looks kind of unreal, so I hope I can get some suggestions on how to get the realistic effects I see on this thread. Thanks!

  10 October 2006
@ raychem2004: It's a solid start. The lighting is even and pleasant....if you wanted to improve it maybe adding a light on either side to give a sense of direction (how strong is up to you). That might also help add nice specular lighting on the skin/cornea and maybe add a little more form to the iris. Not to mention give some potentially nice shadows from the lashes.

Other than that I would suggest changing out the eye(iris) texture for a more detailed one. Hope this helps!
  10 October 2006

ACamacho: Thanks for the suggestions, I will go back and tweak the image a little. I particularly agree with your suggestion for more specular lighting on the skin/cornea. I've always had some trouble visualizing specular lighting so I will try to improve that. Thanks!
  10 October 2006
Mind The Gap

Lots of great renders here! I'll go through and look at all of them. (And I'm dying to try this challenge myself, I think I'll dive in this weekend.)

One technical glitch that jumps out at me is that a lot of people have a gap (black or white) between the eyeball and the tearduct. I think this happens when you make the outer eye layer transparent, but don't make it refractive. If you want to leave the outer eye transparent, and don't want to use refraction, I'd think you could pull out the edge of the tearduct to cover it. But refraction is what pulls the colored pattern from the iris out onto the front of the eyeball, even when viewed from the side, so it could be a good thing to use...

Jeremy Birn
Author, Digital Lighting & Rendering, 3rd Edition
  10 October 2006
raychem2004 - Welcome! That's a good start. Right now it's kindof flat and uniform looking in the lighting, and the textures could use some variation as well.

MSB - That's great! Really an eye-catching entry. It passes the "glance test" (that if you just look at it quickly or from a distance, it reads as real). It looks like you have some "one-sided occlusion" that darkens the eyeball without darkening the tearduct next to it, maybe the transition from textured to untextured surfaces is what makes that edge jump out but it would be great if the tearduct could darken and meld more seamlessly with the sclera.

ACamacho - That's great! There's a lot to like already, nice softness to the skin, the lashes look pleasant, there's a sense of wetness in the tearduct area that's very nice. As you say, there are issues you could come back to. The waviness of the iris, the bump pattern on the cornea, making the viens more natural, and the occlusion at the edges of the eyeball are all things you could come back to.

legloups - Welcome! Those are really interesting. If there's an area to really focus on, it's the transitions where the eyeball meets the skin. If you can make those look more organic and well connected, it'll sell the whole image, even with some stylized the colors and textures.

behrooz - Those are looking really good already, I like how you're working on the skin sheen, probably some more color in the skin and softer transitions into the eye will push it even further. I think in some places the bump is a bit much, especially the dent where the reddish spot appears, that looks like it could be a color-only feature.

Jeremy Birn
Author, Digital Lighting & Rendering, 3rd Edition
  10 October 2006
Okay made a few small updates. Does anyone have any tips on achieving that proper wet look for the eye? Worked on both the skin and eye but still need to keep tweaking.
  10 October 2006
sjmcc - Nice work so far. I think the reflectivity of the eye would work better if it had a brighter environment to reflect. It looks like the eye is reflecting the skin of the lower eyelid more brightly than the environment around it, which is something you rarely see. See if you can get some warmer tones into the skin, too, that could really bring it to life.

BarberofCivil - Good start. Yep, those bump maps can be tricky up-close.

subcast - Yeah, some illumination and shadows would be a big plus. Also, look at the edges of the eyeball and how they blend with the corners of the eye, and see what you can do with the reflection environment.

HamburgerTrain - That's looking great overall. Really it's the edges where the eye connects with the eyeball that need the most detailed attention. Perhaps a little more reflectivity would help the skin as well.

Mike RB - Wow! Terrific work, and I really appreciate the breakdown as well. The eye is starting to look really believable.

MLoDY447 - That's a good start. Using a texture map derived from a photograph can be tricky, especially where the eyelashes that are mapped on don't match the modeled lashes, or where there are little highlights in the map that don't match the reflections we'd expect below the eye. See if you can get some occlusion in the fold above the top eyelid, so it doesn't go so bright there.

MasterZap - I'm grateful whenever you can spend time on these. The skin already has a nice feel to it.

danharing - Good start. See if you can get some occlusion in the fold above the top eyelid, so it doesn't go so bright there. Try to study photo reference for the transition between eyelids and eyeballs.

cg_joe - Good start. The skin texture is somewhat mixed: looking good in places with detail, other places looking stretched out detail, other places less detail more blurred. Maybe the fold above the eye could go a little warmer in color, and the tearduct a lot warmer?

Leotril -Hi! Pinkeye is a disease, isn't it? That looks consistent and organic up to the pupil, but then the cut-off is pure black with a hard edge.

Originally Posted by Blade Runner:
Hannibal Chew
I just do eyes, j'j'... just eyes... just genetic design, just eyes. You Nexus, huh? I design your eyes.

Chew, if only you could see what I've seen with your eyes.

jojo1975 - Great concept. I look forwards to seeing the execution with z-brush worked in there.

suchoparek - That's a great start. Keep going with more color and reflectivity in the skin, and work on the transition in the gaps at the corners of the eyes.

Scizzer08 - Welcome! Keep going with that project! Add some shadows, tone down the reflections so they look more natural, maybe add some specularity to the skin.

Jeremy Birn
Author, Digital Lighting & Rendering, 3rd Edition
  10 October 2006
@Jeremy.. thanks for the comments i didn get the pinkeye thing
Im having trouble blendin the inner_iris material with the inner_lens material k.. i change the surface shader material of the inner lens to blin then i try to blend those but if look up close you'll see what im taking about .. it looks like is on top of the iris material .. like a bump or something .. i dont like it

Im using renderman with maya 7

here's my update

Last edited by Leotril : 10 October 2006 at 07:35 PM.
  10 October 2006

@jeremybirn: thanks for your advice and encouragement, I'm working to improve the look of the eye.

here's an update on my eye. It still needs a little work on the skin; it's still looking a bit plasticky. But I tried to adjust the light a bit, getting some more specular on the area around the eye. I also swapped out the texture in the the iris. It looks a bit dilated, but I think it looks better than before.

also, kudos to everyone's work! It's very inspiring
  10 October 2006
Jeremy - Thanks for my name correction.

Mike RB - I really like the iris reflections.

suchoparek - Cool veins...

behrooz - Great work, I like the iris and colors.

Here is my work, I've tried to find a pretty iris, but it's difficult.
The shadows are too hard, but I carry on. Rendered in 1H15 on C4D.

Keep the Faith

Last edited by JCBug : 10 October 2006 at 08:25 AM.
  10 October 2006
Just want to add a tip for all max and zbrush user.
While importing use flip option for the headpatch !
Hope to upload this week-end new version of eye modified in zbrush
  10 October 2006
Jeremy - thanks fr advice i just started to working on that.

JCbug - i like the lightning u got here
  10 October 2006
@ jeremy: Thanks for the critique. Hopefully I'll get some time soon. I'm just gonna redo the iris....wasn't happy with it. Although me being me it'll end up procedural again

@ JCBug: Very nice lighting. Very dramatic....the best so far
  10 October 2006
ACamacho - MLoDY447 - Thanks for your comments !
That gives me courage to improve.

I've done another version, but less dramatic, maybe worse ?

Keep the Faith
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