Zhou Zhuang - Environment feedback please!

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  01 January 2014
I'm not sure if you really need volumetric lighting, unless you're trying to make it look hazy....

Have you been tweaking the Final Gather settings?

Lots of things effect the speed of render: how many rays, how many bounces, how large the volume the light is hitting (you have have the light set too far away). I'd only have the trees affected by the volumetric light (if you use it), but considering how densely the details are packed in your frame, I'd probably not use it at all myself.
  01 January 2014
Hey Drakaran, thanks for taking the time!

It's mostly just trying to figure out how the damn thing works. I will probably build a new proxy scene and try it out to see if it works and maybe see if I can get it to work on this set. No real hopes on that one though, not sure where the trouble lies haha.

The final gather settings are just default. Didn't touch anything. The reason I asked about the scale was because I did in fact build a new proxy scene (really simple, just a shoebox with a hole for window and a giant ball inside) using the same scale and light setup. I hit the render button and went to bed, and 5 hours later it was still "rendering". The render window had nothing on it, but maya is doing something.

Also, the volume light is a way of pushing the background away. Well, not sure how to describe it, but basically haze it so the background won't fight for attention with the foreground. Plus the direction of the light rays would complement the direction of the tree branches so attention is driven to the walls (the original intention for the tree branches being the way they are anyway). It's a composition thing I guess. Well, I don't know, might be speaking out of my ass haha. sebastian_ did some really nice paintovers a few post back anyhow.

Well, I'll keep working on this for a bit I guess.
  01 January 2014
"Also, the volume light is a way of pushing the background away."

That's why I'd go for a DOF instead. You already have a really.... full... scene, adding volumetric light would do more for adding streaks of light coming through the trees, making the scene even more busy, and the added render time isn't worth the effect you're trying to go for.
  01 January 2014
I think I got it. I think I managed to capture the lighting in the gray picture. Here it is - a little exaggerated perhaps, but basically - more light in the foreground, dark in the middle part :


Made a small gif animation with the differences


Everything below in quotes - I wrote earlier :

Quote: Yeah, I'm not sure if light rays are needed here, but DOF even less, especially with this lens. Well you could add DOF but only very subtle.

I think your gray picture, the one without textures - has the best lighting and it's kinda annoying I can't emulate the lighting with paintover

I tried some more light and dark painting (the light rays are still here but barely visible)

and here I ytried adding some color correction

Last edited by sebastian___ : 01 January 2014 at 07:10 AM.
  01 January 2014
Haha, oh man, sebastian_ thanks for the effort you're putting in! Totally appreciate it! Anyhow, I think the volumetric lighting is a moot point. Can't get it to work, or rather, it's taking ages to render, it's probably not worth it haha.

It's cool though, I'm at least able to think a little more about lighting then before.

I'm not quite sure why there should be a difference between the two pictures really. The light setup is exactly the same. The only thing I can think of is maybe the ambient occlusion. I was using mia_material's ambient occlusion for the textured one, and normal ambient occlusion for the grey one.
  01 January 2014
NO problem. I enjoy doing this sort of thing, it's all part of the learning process, and your scene was inspiring.
It's easy to paint light with brushes, but it makes the image sort of glowy. It would look more natural if you would manage to get this lighting with the native rendering. But I'm not sure how.
  01 January 2014
Well, last update on this piece for a bit. This is about where I am at now;

I kind of just did some photoshop job work on it in the end, to jack up the light levels at some parts to get more contrast without going too much into the black levels. As the scene stands right now it's too heavy for me to effectively make render tests and trouble shoot. Even just getting this to render at all is something I consider an achievement for myself lol.

Obviously I have much to learn about lighting. I guess I'll take some time off my modelling to explore this a little more.

Thank you so much guys, especially sebastian_ and Drakaran. Thank you all so much for the feedback, and all those wonderful paintovers haha.


  01 January 2014
Nothing wrong with tweaking the final image in Photoshop, that's what post processing is all about.
  01 January 2014
I thought I'd just post a cleaner shot of my wires. The old one on the first page was stupid haha

  01 January 2014
Hey man,

Yikes, those wires are pretty dense for the detail your getting.

If your going to do anymore work on this, it may help to further jack up the contrast. Also try to grab all of the points on one side of your bricks and walls, and see if you can scale them out to give them more relief.



  01 January 2014
Hey AJ, thanks for commenting! I may revisit this in the future, but for now I'm letting it sit for abit.

Only two geometries in the whole scene has subdivision approximation nodes connected to it and that's the first tree in the foreground and the soil. Everything else is rendered as is.

It's a trade-off thing. It's either have a light-looking scene, but the geometries get jacked up during rendering anyway due to the approximation, and I have geometries going where it's unnecessary, or have a really heavy looking scene, no approximation, but more control over where I lay the geometries.

I went with the later approach because of a couple of reasons. One is, I don't want to have to deal with UV smearing lol, because, goddamn, wish every modeling package would smooth the same goddamn way haha, and second I don't want to rely too much on displacement maps. I took the trouble to retopologise the rocks I sculpted because I wanted the displacement maps to only carry the small detail stuff (high frequency detail I think it's called?). The much more visible stuff like the bumps and cuts along the edges and the grooves I felt is better carried by actual geometries going where it's supposed to be. It makes life much much easier during the look developement stage (for me anyway). Same case for the wood panels.

I've always found myself sweating it out with the spec maps and displacement maps when I was a lookdev/texture artist, and trying to wrangle details out with displacements is just so much butt hurt lol. There's only so much you can push, and if the displacements break silhouette too much, then during animation it's another sore point, because the animators can't see the displacements and end up animating through the geometries.

All that is just me though, and what I prefer. I always go with the pipeline wherever I am, because the pipeline is always king!

As for the water, well, it just seems to be the way it has to be. I mean, I don't know a better way to get the ripples and such. There're probably better methods out there, but I don't know yet what they are. Perhaps when I become more experienced I will get to know them!
  01 January 2014
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