Lighting Challenge #17: Natural History


Hi Jeremy Thank you very much, This is my latest update with your new comments. I tweaked the lights of the dinos moved the box a little bit to the left. I reduced the opacity of the mist on the BG because that’s the reason why the scene is lacking of contrast. I added more reflectivity on the floor. still tweaking some stuff though. In regards to the lights I’m using the sun, yellow point lights on the sides with decay, greenish and purple point light in the foreground (top)of the scene with decayjust to slightly illuminate the woods on the ceiling. why did you ask?


hi skdzines.
i had similar problems with this scene in the beginning but it wasent a very big deal. the rason why this is happening is cause of normals being flipped.this is the case while using maya i dont know abt the other softwares as i use only maya you might need to identify whch normals are flipped and referse them. hopr fully this might solve your problem. i had use a dielectric shader in the scene and every time i rendered it came out black . the problem sorted out once i reversed the normals


hey guys. im a little late on the uptake but i was thinking. these scenes could be a lot cleaner in the outliner (maya) when we get it. but all in all, looks fun!


Hello everybody,
This is my first challenge here on cgtalk.
Im very excited to take part on this one, I hope I am not too late.
This is my first lighting setup.
I am using 3ds max, vray and after effects for compositing.


Hello everyone,
i am using this contest as excuse to learn Vray from 0 so every comment is well appreciated. Here it is what i got after 2 days playing with Vray, i have to work a lot on materials and textures but there is time, correct? ^^


ok I changed the lighting to a “better” one I hope, and I started texturing as u can see on the right.


Hi all. Let’s see if I have time to try this challenge. This is my first version. It is not textured, only some procedurals on the skelleton. Spot lights with depth map based shadows, ambient occlusion, and some postprocess for exagerated DOF, gloom and lens distortion and dispersion. I will try to texture the background environment in the next update.



Hello Jeremy and everyone,

Here is my lighting version of the Natural History. I used 3Ds max 2009 and Final Render Stage. I have a few area lights on the windows, a directional light for the sun, and a few point lights as well as GI.

Thank you


This is my new take on lighting just used occlusion till now for getting the depth out


You know, this might not be what you want to hear, but I thought the lighting and viewpoint in your older image was better. I thought that one was really serene and beautiful. :thumbsup:


one thing i have not been able to figure out is why is everyone leaving the display box with the hand bones hanging up in the air. i dont remember if it was this way in the original file or not . i might have puled it down but quite a few renders i have seen have it foating in the air


that doesnt neceserely mean they will actually leave it for their final renders too, they are too busy with other things right now propably…


Yes it is in the original file, I supposed it was going to produce a nice effect in zenital views but I see that people use floor level views too.

Just lower it or model missing part.


Hello everybody, I´m on it and will post my first image as soon as I get a decent result to bo posted.

I use maya 2008 with mentalray.


Hi Jeremy and everyone,
Thanks for the comments and crits Jeremy, I have implemented your suggestions and here’s an update to my entry. I have used Max 9 and rendered straight from max to Vray, there is no post work its just rendered straight out. Rendering time is 11mins at 1440 x 900.
Really enjoying doing this challenge and there are some great renders emerging from everyone.
Keep them coming !


Gear is:
Xworks X20i-64
Dual Xeon Quad Cores
Windows 64bit
8gb ram
FireGL 1GB Graphics card


Phil-roberts - Nice job! The dino’s looking really good. Nice sign, too. I think the blue marble is looking a little flat in places. Some occlusion would help it go darker in the corners and create more gradients in the shading. The lightbulbs inside the hanging lamps could illuminate the inside of the lamps themselves more, and also could use a little glow around them. The yellow glass is a little distracting, especially in a scene that’s all blue-green otherwise. You might use a different material for the roof, and work more on the appearance of glass in the windows above.

- Looking good! I wish you could make the signs darker, but put more light on the dinosaurs to get some nice definition to them. Those windows look very bright, it would be nice to see some soft fill light coming through those windows illuminating nearby parts of the room. Some glow around the bright windows would help the atmosphere too.

MartinRomero - Good start with the texturing! The lighting looks very flat and ambient to me now, where big areas of the marble seem to be constantly lit instead of varying or creating gradients. Some more local lighting and reflections and highlights could help. You could also make the foreground bannisters much darker on the side facing us, so they become more of a dark framing element for the shot.

casagan - Welcome! I think the DOF effect looks very fake, you could just get rid of that. For the dino, if you want it in silhouette, then make sure the pose or camera angle really gives you a profile that reads well. If you want to put some light on it, then some rim light or specular lights could help bring out the teeth and key contours in the head. The bright window behind him could motivate a kick from above to give him a little shaping.

shkumbinferizi - Great, keep going! The glass around the displays seems to have problems with surface normals. You might light the left dinosaur a bit more from the top or left side to bring out his shape.

Carlovfx - Great start! The left dino needs some light and shaping on him, and the left side of the set is looking a little flat and uniformly lit. You probably need some glows around those bright windows.

- Looking good! I think maybe you could do a bit more to make the dinosaurs stand out against such as busy scene. Maybe the t-rex could pop out more if there were less light from below and more light rimming the top of him?

dpendzich - Welcome! That’s a great start! You might open up to a wide-screen aspect ratio, to add more room on the right side of the composition. Those lights on the floor could use a brighter top and a glow around the top, and then the illumination from them could use a softer, outer glow, running outside of the cone angle of the light that’s there now. See if you can work on reflections for the floor and glass to help liven up the space, too.

e-maje - Looking good! I wish the t-rex stood out a little more against the set in places, and I’d love to see some reflections or additional lights adding variety to the floor.

- Nice scene! The top metal arches on the ceiling and the dinosaurs themselves seem to have a darker material than the other surfaces, and stand out because of that. Maybe if you add reflections to different surfaces, the metal can get brighter because it is reflective, and the floor and glass also will benefit from the reflectivity. I wish that the dinosaurs popped out more in to draw your eye in the sccene.

brunotag - Looks good! The dinos are almost hidden in that shot, though, maybe you could light them so people see them?

LAV - Nice scene! I think the t-rex head could be a lot darker, so it stands out in the foreground against the walls behind it.

T-R - That’s terrific! It has a really rich, elegant look to it! Keep up the good work!

skdzines - Make sure it isn’t a problem with objects not set to visible in reflections. Check all your models in the render tab of the attribute spreadsheet window. Most people would make textures by applying a projection or 3D procedural over the whole dino at once.

kunwarnikhil - You don’t really need UVs to texture the scene. Projections and 3D procedurals can work well enough. Nice basic set-up so far!

Huv - Nice scene! I like it better without DOF because the DOF doesn’t look realistic.

pmegele - That’s terrific! You have a great start already. You might darken down some of what’s in the foreground closest to camera, and put more light or a brighter shader onto the dinos.

jasvant - Nice work! The lighting on the t-rex head is really spot-on! It would be great if you could turn the other dino so we got a better view of him, and maybe could make a more realistic sign in the lower right.

wrosecrans - Welcome! That’s a great start! Keep going!

kiko77 - Wonderful scene! I love it! I wish you could find some way to draw people’s eyes to the dinos more. Maybe the ceiling in the top center of the image could be less saturated, too, because the unique tone there catches your eye.

pedrojafet - Great, keep going!

- Great job! You might move the dino on the left so his head isn’t cut in half by the other display.

- The little sketch of the small dino over black is cute. The larger scene seems to have him overexposed and could use more shaping on the dinos. Both dinos could use more contrast against the set as well.



Hello, I like this scene. This is my first rendering ( WIP ). I’m working with Autodesk 3ds Max 9 32-bit Version. The Renderer is Maxwell Render 1.7 .

The Rendertime of this picture was 24 h . I used Sky dome with 1000 Lumen ( Intensity ).

It’s a lot of work, but a interesting scene.


This is my first lighting setup.
I am using 3ds max, Mental Ray.


Thanks jeremy :bounce: ,
but at the moment i don’t want to use the post like the glow on the windows because i want to show and to be judged only for the lighting since it’s a lighting contest. When the image will be almost finished then i will add some nice effects, but without covering the lighting. Thanks a lot for the comment and i have to say this time the lighting contest scene is incredible!


Awesome posts everyone.

I found the contest a week ago and thought I’d give it a try.

I’m using Maya 2008 and mental ray. So far the only lighting is physical sun/sky. The preview image was rendered out as hdri and tone mapped in photoshop. The textures so far are just place markers. I’m thinking of going with more modern materials, which might be an interesting contrast with the architecture.

The hardest part so far is fixing all the normals and UV maps.

I made a half-hearted attempt at using portal lights but it wasn’t very effective. I might give it another try soon.