CG Society Lighting Challenges'


Hi Everyone,
I haven’t been active here for a while. Come to think of it most people seem to have slowed down with their activity here on this forum.

Christmas time gives me the opportunity to jump into some of the great stuff you can get involved in on the CG Society Forum in general.

I am doing one of the Lighting Challenges at the moment and though it would be good to post the url of my work in the challenge just to let everyone see how the new version 8.0 fairs in the real world given the model formats that are given to us and the new features that are in version 8. Check it out if you get a chance (post #480) and let me know if I have embarrassed the EI community with my attempt.

Thanks for looking. I love the new features by the way.
Mac Pro Nehalem with 8G of ram. Rendering times on the 1280x720 image were about 30 minuets with GI sampling engine and about 1 hour without the GI sampling engine on the light shadows. 2 Area Lights, 1 Radial Light for Sun and 1 Radial Light for the atmospheric mist.



Good to “see” you again Michael!
Nice image! Great idea to try those challenges and show EIAS is still alive and kicking…!


Thanks Richard.
I liked your Yesterdays Future winning entry. Have you been doing any special projects with EI lately or is your usage more infrequent like mine?

Ever since I got version 8.0 I’ve been running around trying all sorts of cool things with it. I’m going to do the natural history museum lighting challenge next. It was my favourite challenge but I couldn’t do it cause the rendering times were way to long on v6.5 and I just couldn’t get the light to penetrate into all the areas of the scene.

It sounds funny to say but I’m learning, after 6.5 years, to texture things all over again. Not because I don’t know how but because I haven’t been giving it enough critical attention to give the scene that needed feel. After the lighting challenge I’ve just done I have a new appreciation of texturing and how successful it can make a scene. I guess I have figured in the past that you whack something on and the software should make it look right and good.

Reflection and transparency caustics are next on my list of things to get my head around. I still have troubles understanding how to use the specular channel though and would like to see a good tutorial on its use. I recently tried to use a specular map over and NX shader material that I created and I just couldn’t make it work. It was a printed logo on a cardboard box and I wanted the printing to have the specularity but I just couldn’t make it work. I figured it had something to do with NX shader.

Has anyone else got some work they have done with the new version 8.0 that will show off the new capabilities. I suppose I’m excited about the new version because I know what it will do for my architectural renders and my ability to net new work.



Have just finished the CG Society Natural History Lighting Challenge#17 using EI v8.0.
I love the new lighting features. :applause:

I hope you like the images.



Great Michael! You are really using the new tools proficiently. I’m learning them right now and I have to digest every pieces of information from Ian, Dave and Tomas before I get comfortable with it. Right now I don’t get what I want and the render time are too long. I’ll get there…some day!

Here is where I am right now with a salute for to Greg Petchkovsky, Jonas Thornqvist, Linda Bergkvist and Kerem Beyit for the art used on the posters:


I like your texturing Richard. Once you get a handle on the lighting features your scene should look great. :thumbsup:
Did you remodel the guitar or did you just break it up with textures? I have been playing guitar since I was 13 and when you have an intimate knowledge of something that you are trying to represent in a CG scene you “know” it doesn’t look right. I painfully left the guitar in my scene as it was modeled originally but like your attention to its correct look. I kept telling myself it was a “Lighting Challenge” to calm my need to fix it.

The key thing to focus on is your photon map. You’ll actually be surprised how good your scene will look without any GI and just a well balanced photon map. I have found that the GI engine is complimentary rather than being the dominant lighting in the scene.

As I started working out the new features it almost ended in despair for me thinking that I was never going to create images like those produced by the professional users of EI. I can feel your pain and if I can help I would be more than willing to give you some advice and even show how I finally lit the scene step by step and the methodology behind it here on this forum so everyone can access it. There are some failings in the lighting system but the workarounds on this bedroom scene have to do with the model. I would even offer to make the scenes available to the EI community from my website or on the EI website to help fast track everyones access to understanding a real use of the systems. Not just simple scenes containing spheres and boxes floating in a square room with little to no complexity.

I suppose my use of the lighting systems has to be taken in context with the fact that I am using the new Mac Pro Nehalem with 8Gb of ram running 4 cameras. I kind of think that I don’t really want to wait longer than a good nights sleep to see complete scene renderings. Having said that the Bedroom scene only takes about 30mins for a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels using 4 cameras. On the Mac Pro.




I was looking at your Natural History Lighting samples and was thinking, “I wish I had access to the source files to tear them apart and maybe learn a thing, or two, or ten…” I’m always a bit shy about even making such a request, as I know how much work actually goes into putting together a scene like this (even if the core modeling is done for you). But I can say this: putting together ANY form of a tutorial with samples (or even downloadable project files) would be outstanding (for me and a lot of other people). Much of what I’ve learned over the years with EIAS has been through downloadable project files – being able to look at every switch, box, and setting for every item in the scene (something too complex to cover in a typical written tutorial). I’d be happy with a stripped-down project file… or even a few screen shots of your settings with a small write-up on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of your work.

That said, if you do post anything on your lighting technique please let us know. I would love to see what you did and how you did it. I think you produced some outstanding renders and I would love to learn what I can from them.

I remember trying to get Sim Cloth to work in EIAS… for the life of me I just couldn’t get the thing to work. Until I downloaded a project file Richard Joly had up on his site… I looked through some of his settings and BINGO – I found the solution to my project problems buried in some settings that weren’t addressed with the ‘official’ documentation/tutorial. So I am really grateful for anything people are willing to post to better the education of the EIAS community.

David L Good


This was one of the first CG Society Lighting Challenges I did. I’ve updated it with the latest v8.0 lighting features. I’ll do an Area Light version as well and post that hopefully in the next couple of days.

I wanted to do a selection of projects that have different focuses to try the new lighting features on. The Fruit Bowl above is mostly about Sub Surface Scattering (SSS) than anything and has no real hard edges like in the Bedroom and Natural History challenges which require a focus on minimizing artifacts generated from the photon map.

I am now finding, with the new features, that where I want to get light to go it does now, but the risk is now in producing uninteresting renderings where everything is lit. Obviously creative direction and control is required.

David, the Natural History project file is over 100Mb including the model file. I’m not sure how to make this available. I also don’t want to just make the file available without speaking to what I have done in it. I need to give this a little more thought as to how to go about documenting and making available the projects. I am thinking some pdf’s showing screen shots and a breakdown of the methodology would be the best way along with maybe just the lighting setup for each project contained within a .prj file without the complex model. Maybe the smaller projects could be downloaded in full. Have been playing with how to do this over the last couple of days and to do it as thoroughly as I would like to would take me too long I think. It’s on my “to look at list” so I’ll keep everyone posted.

Next one on the cards is to update the Neon and Chrome Lighting Challenge as well. Stay tuned for that one also. I really liked the job I did prior to the new lighting features so I’m excited about what it will look like once I’ve tweaked it.

Hope you enjoy the image.



Buggsy - I produce a lot of training material for the company I work at (video, animation, etc.,) so I understand how much effort goes into creating a comprehensive demonstration. Not a simple task at all – and maybe a bit too much for anyone to ask for

So, until then please keep posting renders and comments about your work – I, for one, find them useful and inspiring.


I didn’t remodeled the guitar… I used a map to separate the neck from the body, nothing fancy.
I could host your tutorials on my server if you can send me the files.
However, as you suggested, you could make it as a couple of PDFs depicting the most important steps and the interested people could as questions to clarify if need be.


After uploading the Fruit Bowl image I grabbed some grapes from the fridge and shone a little on them and realized the colour coming through the grapes wasn’t as intense as I had thought so I’ve updated the image.

I would also like to clarify that the models contained in these images have not been produced by myself. They are part of the CG Society lighting challenges hosted on the CG Society website here:-

I have already started on a lighting tutorial with the Fruit Bowl, I’m just not sure of the best delivery of it. I hope to do lighting tutorials of all the images I’ve posted here. I would be very grateful for any advise you might have on the best approach for them. I keep thinking the best way is to have some web pages dedicated to the tutorials so I can update them to make it evolve rather than issuing a pdf that becomes frozen in time with all its failings. I know I have pdf’s of tutorials from other users from the past that I can’t ask questions about to clarify missing items in the tutorials.

Hey thanks Richard. I should have enough room on my server for the files but I’m not sure how many people will actually download the files and for that matter how many will actually benefit from just the files alone. My hope is that they would be very useful.

Can you let us know how you separated the guitar neck using a map. Did you specifically make a map in something like photoshop or was it easier and quicker than that? (I like easier and quicker!)



Ok here is the Area Light version of the Fruit Bowl. All same textures just an Area Light coming from the left with a Radial Light from the right. I’m also going to do an Area Light Luminance Object (sphere) version to see how well it works. I have seen it produce really nice lighting in Maya.



Hey, that’s certainly getting there, for me, the textures need some help, sub surface scattering is needed on the grapes and cherries, and the banana looks a bit plastic, more detail :slight_smile:

Having said that, I don’t know what the rules are, can you change the textures?



Looking good, so far.
I think activating photons for the scene will really take it to the next level.
This will probably have more effect than using a light object for illumination, since the photons will give “multi-bounce” inter-object illumination.

You may need to put the entire scene “inside a box” so the photons can bounce around :wink:


Why didn’t I think of that?! (Maybe because I know nothing about photons and little about lighting…) Nice thread guys, very productive.

This is the Pshop map I did for the guitar body. It would not be good for any close view but in this case, it does the trick with minimal effort.

Some grabs of your project setup could fuel this thread forever…


Hey thanks guys for chiming in here.

Hey appreciate your videos that you put together for the new lighting features. Thats one big list of valuable information on the EI site. :applause:
The textures I have created from scratch with Photoshop & NX shader mostly. I suppose the textures play a part in this but the lighting challenges focus more on achieving a particular feel/mood more than photorealism of textures. They normally set a theme like, " the Bedroom challenge was “Morning Glory”, “Teen Angst” etc which becomes the focus of thinking. The idea is to start with a small amount of lighting and work toward a nicely lit scene. Some people manage to achieve it without GI or area lights etc. A bit like the winner of the Phoenix challenge we had here on this forum a little while ago.

I do have subsurface scatter on the grapes but I have reduced it to achieve the look I am after. After doing 7 of the lighting challenges my focus has shifted from photo-realism to nice contrasts and highlights in the attempt to create depth/mood and interest. I particularly like some of the images not because of their texturing but their execution of light like this one:-

Thanks for your comments. I like your smart lighting tools. I checked them out a couple of days ago and would really like to purchase them as most of my work is architectural stuff. :bowdown:
I do have a box around my scene which I bounce my photons off of. I guess after doing this I didn’t like the evenly lit inter-object illumination rather looking more for nice fall off into areas of dimly lit parts and more shadow areas. I have used the “Customize Illumination” tools to do this which I think are excellent additions to the light control. They could be finessed a bit more but love the control they give for Bounced and Direct Illumination. This is the rendering that used this method of lighting which is my favourite which uses the Luminance Area Light Object:-

Hey excellent idea Richard. I’ll do just that. How do you get your thumbnails to show on your post? I would really like to see this forum buzzing with productive conversation about our use of EIAS.



Simply click the “Manage Attachments” button in the Additional Options below the Reply to Thread window. I think the file size should be less than 97.7k each (You can post many) You don’t have to upload to your server and the thumbnail is automatic. The Attachment window will give you info if you goof… Kinda fool proof. (See why I can use it…)


Ok here goes. Hope I can get this to work. Making the file the right size (97.7 KB) was tough. Hope you can still read it!

My Fruit Bowl lighting setup. EIAS v8.0.



Hi Michael,
If you are new to EIAS photons, and need any help just post a request here.
I would be happy to point you in the right direction, or offer a few tips :wink:



Hey that would be good.

I think I get the gist of it but your comments on the screen shot of my area light setup would be great.