Lighting Challenge #28: Captain's Log


I have taken part in other challenges here on CGTalk but this is my first Lighting Challenge. I just had a couple of quick questions regarding how much is allowed.

I see that changes to the model are acceptable, but what about compositing and matte painting? A sky matte painting, for example? Or adding detail to the ocean with photographical elements of waves and foam?

Are we expected to do almost everything in the 3D render, or is heavy compositing allowed? I would surely supply breakdowns of any matte paintings and such.

Will the final judging be looking past all these bells and whistles and concentrate solely on the lighting of the 3D geometry? Or is the judgement based on overall best looking image?

Thanks a lot, I just wanted to run those questions by the admin(s) here!

Anyway, here is a screengrab of my progress so far:

It’s based on log entry #2, with the ship stuck in a storm.

I’ve spent about 4 hours on it so far, and have been concentrating on prepping the model. I shredded the sails by cutting up the polygons then using Cloth simulation in Max. I also closed the canon bay doors and have been roughly texturing the whole ship.

Once I finish this one, I hope to have time to work on the first log entry as well.


nice challenge, looking forward for more cool entries!
this one is done with houdini hd and houdini ocean toolkit.
For now its a basic setup nearly no textures and a bit low key…my plan is doing some
kind of biofluorescence underwater creepy stuff :slight_smile:
hope u like it


Keep up the great work everyone!

Fex: Nice start! Both the sky and ship body are extremely dark. Giving the sky a little brightness could separate the ship from the sky. The sails could use some more translucency, especially the sails facing away from the moonlight. Looking forward to some more.

toddfx: Good concept and changes to the scene. You can do any compositing, matte painting etc… It’s all about the end product. However, the lighting is what will be judged. So any model changes aren’t necessary but for your own experience.

jmmozos: Good start. The water looks too dark with such a bright sky. The sky should be reflecting in the water much more than it is. With the bright sky there could be some brighter light coming from the sky illuminating the ship, as well as softened sunlight through the clouds and onto the ship towards the camera.

clairkearton: Welcome! The blue light illuminating the sails seems out of place with the rest of the scene. I’m guessing the light is from the moon, but the sails are so much brighter than any other part of the ship that it’s a little confusing. The sky could be quite a bit brighter, if not just to show where the sky ends and the water begins.

halfPintMike: Welcome back! Interesting image. Overall I’m a little confused with how it looks. The lighting on the ship tells me it’s sunset but the sky, water and fog tell me otherwise. This log entry is probably one of the hardest out of all of them. It’s difficult to create a unique but plausible lighting setup. The deep blue color of the sky doesn’t go along with the skylight being emitted onto the ship. A dark reflection from the ship would create some contact between the two. The fog could use more of a gradual falloff, it looks unnatural and splits the image in half. Overall try to make sure your light colors are motivated from the environment. Keep at it!

djidji: Interesting take! The water looks too diffuse, water (or most liquids) have a very small diffuse reflectance value. However, the reflection of the sky on the water could be stronger, especially on the edges of the waves. I’d like to see some of the colors from the sky being used in the illumination on the ship and being reflected onto the water.


thx kanooshka,
now with more texture and light, translucency will be improved…
and the underwater light will follow next
greets felix


Thanks Kanooshka,

I’ve made a few changes, just trying to block in the colours I want at this stage. Let me know what you think.


Thanks for the critique, kanooshka! I’ll work on them as you suggest. This lighting is proving to be very tough alright!.


I’m member of cgsociety and only now I discovered this wonderful part of this amazing forum. I’m seriously in this challenge. And to train my skills I’m gonna pick some of the oldest challenges and do it too.

A little offtopic. This kind of challenge can be used for showreel or portfolio?

I ask this because as Lighting and Rendering TD I wanted to show my skills and abilities, but instead modelling everything I just use scenes already modelled and concentrated only in the illumination and not waste time with modeling. But I wonder if it could devalue the work.


First, thanks for your comments kanooshka.

Comentastes correcting what I teach one day and a dog one night, I will modify the texture of the candles, and some other detail.

It can stain the water drops the camera lens, as shown in the test at night?

Sorry for my bad English.


En primer lugar, gracias por tus comentarios kanooshka.

Corrigiendo lo que comentastes, enseño una de día y otra de una noche de perros, seguiré modificando las texturas de las velas, y algún que otro detalle.

Se puede manchar de gotas de agua el objetivo de la cámara, como muestro en la prueba de noche ?

Perdón por mi mal ingles.



Hey Kanooshka congrats on the well thought out challenge. The logs idea is great as it really pushes people to tell story through lighting and framing of the scene!! This should be a standard in this challanges.

Cannot stop thinking of Pirates of Caribbean (the third one) as it covers most of the logs in here… Desert, Storm, Stary Night, The other world… I guess this is a must see for any one participating in this challenge, the art direction in that movie is completaly outstanding.

I’ve try to crittic as many work as I could, but it turns out there is a lot out there by now already. So here I some that I could write something about… Hope it helps!

runej: aiming for the beautiful sky and sea log you are getting both of this done :slight_smile: but from the way the captain writes I think he is really overwelmed with what he sees. A contre-plongée (low angle shot) framing or a wide lens that can make the ship look so small in this amazing world might bring this idea to your image

andi: great start, whant to see more please :smiley:

urgaffel: very very nice! give us more, pleas

chickenkts:while I get the feeling that the boat is kind of carring the moon and unbalancing the framing a bit (I would pull the moon, slightly, to the right) I really like what you have done with the colors.

mikkokuri: Great image overall. I would try to make the ship draw more attention, by making it brighter or something…

halfPintMike: I like the framing that sugests us following the captain into the unknown. The ocean feels a little tiled and this light coming from behind the boat a little strange. Sorry not being able to point directions =/ I think what kanooshka say is really important try to find where your lights would be in the enviroment

toddfx: WOW, love it. Framing is perfect looks like the ship may twist and drown any second now. Looking forward for the renderings!!

Fex: wow, ocean shader is looking very very good, the wood materials are loking nice also. I just feel the framing being a little predictable more like a post card then a movie. try comunicating the fealings of the captaing through the camera :slight_smile:

clairekearton: I think composition is a little off balance, try bringing the moon to the left countering the weight from the boat.

jmmozos: I REALLY like both this images, it is really a feat to enter a contest with two of them. On the first one I think we could feel the sun burning with saturation, as it would really happend at this time of day. I really think that red and yellow from the sun at this time of day should be more all over the scene. The nighscene is very nice. There is something off with post (the lightings and the smoke feel lower quality then the rest of the image) and I would throw in a little more saturation on the sails and lights from the boat.


Thank you for the critique! I agree with the ocean. It does give that impression. And I agree with with what Kanooshka says. But I am finding it hard to have the water both reflect the ship and emit the light at the same time. Will put up another render soon.



jmmozos: Great images! In your first image, the looks too small, especially for the time of day. As the sun sets the refraction through the atmosphere makes it appear larger. I’d like to see some translucency in the sails from the sun. The artificial lights on the ship look just as bright as the sun, these could be darkened a lot to be much more subtle. For your second image, the lightning doesn’t seem to be affecting the lighting in the image at all. The violet lighting doesn’t seem to match with the blueish ambience to the sky and image. Those same tones could be brought into the lightning. The artificial light sources are very extremely bright especially in comparison to the lighting. See if you can create a better balance between the two. Overall, looking great!

cyrus3v: You’re welcome to use any models created for the lighting challenges in your own portfolio. Just make sure you credit the modelers.

clairekearton: Nice improvements! Where is that blue light coming from? Is it sky light? The light source should either be equal or brighter than the light it’s emitting. Compositionally I think the moon could be quite a bit larger and more to the left in the image for balance. Also, the reflection of the moon doesn’t seem to be lined up with the moons actual position. The moon could also be emitting some more diffuse light on the ship and sails.

Fex: Awesome improvements. One critique I have is that the moon in the background doesn’t seem to match the angle of the light being emitted in the scene. I like the moon in the background so maybe you could adjust the angle of the light source.



Thank you for your encouragement and constructive criticism more for these.

He seen your website and still I have the mouth open, you’re a teacher.

I could not answer before the work, but I get it immediately.

Just one thing, tell me if so.

In the picture the day, I do say that the sun larger and more ochres illuminate the entire scene?

In the picture at night, say that the lighting and the smoke does not give good feeling?.

Thank gustavoeb.


kanooshka, I should say to you, you’re the one who has created all this, are our guide in this world, not without thanking primarily Giorgio Luciano, a wonderful model of the galleon.

Correct itself as the sun gustavoeb also said, the ship sails on it as I really have your map and some others not, but do it with transparency, lower the intensity of these artificial lights.

Dogs at night, thanks for the criticism, I was stuck out did not know where I have reported many photos of google but could not get over my doubts. I’ll get it though it is not easy work, at least for me.

Thanks and greetings to all


Muchas gracias por tu ánimo y más por esas críticas constructiva.

He visto tu web y aún tengo la boca abierta, eres un maestro.

No he podido contestar antes por el trabajo, pero me pongo en ello inmediatemente.
Solo una cosa, dime si es así.

En la imagen de día, dices que he de hacer el sol más grande e iluminar con mas ocres toda la escena?

En la imagen de noche, dices que la iluminación y el humo no da buena sensación?.

Gracias, gustavoeb


kanooshka, que he de decir de ti, eres el que ha creado todo esto, eres nuestra guía en este mundo, no sin agradecer ante todo a Giorgio Luciano, el modelo tan maravilloso de este galeón.

Corregiré inmediatamente ese sol como dice también gustavoeb, Las velas del barco estoy en ello como veras algunas tienen su mapa y otras no, pero las haré con transparencia, bajaré la intensidad de esas luces artificiales.

En la noche de perros, gracias por la crítica, estaba estancado no sabia por donde salir, me he informado de muchas fotos de google pero no salía de mis dudas. Me pondré en ello aunque no es trabajo fácil, al menos para mí.

Gracias por todo y saludos a todos


Well, it has been hard to find a time for this, but any way, here is my update so far, it is a lot of work yet to be done…
I am working right now with some textures, cannons, and have begun to work with the floor of the ship. I did rebuilt some of the geometry also. Still need to create the staris for the far back part of the ship´s deck.

This image is the when i remodeled part of the ship.

Latter on I did some sail simulation and clipping. Since it is a storm, the sails should be more dramatic. So a very simple and quick simulation in messiah did help with hours of modeling. Also began to work with the texture of the cannons. But it was not working good. The floor still looks so shiny and new, it will need a lot of work to make it look as I want, but I like the color diference between the wookden floor and the cannon wooden base. They should be diferent so they do not merge visually… you know.

So I decided that more work should be done with the cannons, still working on the wooden base, I am quite happy with the cannon metal now, in this still , the texture of the wooden base needs a lot of work yet, this is only a color texture as a starting point.

The cannon looked good, so a test was needed on my scene.
Here I loaded the textured cannon and it seems to be working good so far.

Well this is my update, there is still a lot to be done, texturing, more lightting… etc…
Sorry i haven´t got so many updates, but i have been quite distracted, for many reasons, you know, women, a firiend´s father who dided, battle field 3… and ofcourse … work. :wink:


Hi guys, Really loving the work on here, especially zbugja,FEX, and toddfx.
I’veonly been able to fit a couple of hours into this draft, but thought i would post something just to get some C&C. Im hopefully gonna add some more broken ice caps around the ship, and add some more mountains in the far distance. Im also going to add a base camp with maybe a fire and some dark figures walking away. Not sure about the sky, and i keep thinking maybe to add a Northern lights sparkle to it,but im not too sure.Hope everybodys having fun!!!
Also, your work on Lego star wars kanooshka is epic.

(hope this link works, as im very new to posting on forums)


Here is an update. Other than going off of some feedback, I’d call this fairly close to final because I plan to move on to one of the other log entries before too long.

After a bit of initial color correction & a matte painted background:

Some rain, fog, and water FX added:

And a first take at final color correction:

I’d love to get some more translucency in the sails, and the look of the wave splashes is not quite right, I think. I should also paint out a few oddities.

Also I think I lost some sense of the rain/wind in my final color correction, so I will probably take a couple more stabs at that.

I’m doing a lot in the comp here to push the lighting and colors by having rendered separate passes for the “warm” look on top of the cooler stormy look. I’m also using the Normals pass to cast the bright rim light, emulating a flash of lightning. You can see some of my passes here if you are interested.


My first pass on the Captains Log challenge. I haven’t started to focus on the lighting yet, only have two lights in so far, wanted to get the composition and background down first. Working from the second log, caught in the storm. Feedback welcome. Thanks!


@toddfx - That’s awesome! Of those three images, I think the first one has a plus in that the water isn’t the same tone as the sky. Of course I like the sea foam you added to the other images, but when the water is supposed to look translucent and has lightening coming down behind it as well as reflecting it, it’s OK to have the water go brighter (as in the first image), IMO. Maybe there could even be a little more green glow coming through it right where the lightening goes behind it, just to look like scattering through that area.

And speaking of translucency, maybe the lightening strike could be visible through the translucent sails a bit more, too?


My first pass on this challenge. I only have two lights in so far, trying to get the composition down first. Feedback welcome, thanks!


July 5th,
It’s been 2 weeks without the slightest breeze and
the sweltering heat has become unbearable.
The crew has been burned so badly from the unending sun,
that we are forced to stay below the deck

 Hi, this is my first shot at this lighting challenge, and I've only gotten so far as to look at composition.  I only have one directional light in there so far, and no textures.  The image below is a rough painting over the test render, to get an idea of how I want to approach it.
 Feedback please. :)
 And @byronheal: I think maybe if you shifted the either the ship or the  camera over to the right and down just a bit, it would place it more on  the third "line", and not cut off the top part.  I also like the sky,  though you may want to keep the comparative contrast of it to the sea  and ship's lighting in mind down the line. :)


[i]July 5th,

It’s been 2 weeks without the slightest breeze and
the sweltering heat has become unbearable.
The crew has been burned so badly from the unending sun,
that we are forced to stay below the deck[/i]

Hi, this is my first shot at the ship, haven’t gotten much farther than composition, which can change… I have a rough painting below that I did quickly over a test render, so that I could get an approximation of where I would go with the lighting. Please give feedback. :slight_smile:

And @byronheal: I think that if you move the camera (or maybe just the ship), over to the right and down a bit, you wouldn’t be cutting off the topmost part, and the ship itself would be more on the third “line”. I like the tossed feeling that the dutch angle gives. Great start. :slight_smile: