Lighting Challenge #30: Old school Smoke, no Smoke


ok so…its my first post…and m not so good in this lighting …but …tried to participate…


@ArthurStaschyk Great image ! I will add a bit of blue to the lower part of the image and boost a bit the caustics. Also add a bit of dirt to the ashtray (not the ash, that are perfect, just the ashtray) and define a bit more the left part of it (in the reference you can see a bit of caustics also there). I would also change a bit the texture of the box on the left (less bump and probably add a few writings). Really a terrific job !
@FranciscoSCN thanks for the link ! really interesting
@ Preston. Great start and also improvement from first image. I dont’ understand what is the the left gray (chair?) on the background. It contrast a lot with the other colors in the image and I find it a bit distracting.
The sugar container seems to float (probably no occlusion ? look in comparison the salt box) The material of the ketchup bottle is great. I would give a bit more of space to it in the image (and also to the spoon) Overall, I will add a bit of dirt/noise to all the metal surgaces that now look too polished. The shader of the mug is great ! I will work a bit on the coffee (add some SSS in last pass probably)
About lighting I would add more contrast in the image. Now it look a bit flat
@ashes2bones Good Start ! I would change the shader of the cup in front of the image. Since it is too similar to the wood of the table and also a bit irrealistic. Add dirt and scratch to the metal to make it more realistic. Also add samples to the glass that now seems a bit too dark. Also contrast more the image. Chose a light source and give nice shadows to the opposite part.


Here an update on the image:

I focused on some caustics mostly and doing a new glass. Also finally some dirtiness on the ground of the ashtray and some work other stuff too. Next will be the cigar box on the left, and maybe some other caustic pattern… atm the glass looks kind of “hectic” and maybe to detailed I think :confused:

@jojo1975 Thanks for the hints, I also have similar feeling about the most stuff :slight_smile:

@prestonplatt Yes, I’m also not very happy with that glass bottle in the back :confused:
I tried modeling a glass decanter, but the look of my “diamond curl” surface wasn’t really a gain for the scene… it already took long enough to spice that glass up, lets see if I find the mood for another try on it.
BTW nice skateboard in the background :stuck_out_tongue:
You scene looks great btw. maybe the metal looks to perfect shiny, most are more dull. A little bit of “action” on the outer coffee surface would be nice i suggest, something like that

@ashes2bones is that also rendered in Indigo?!


ok so here is my first try…m not good …but …want to do lots of thing in 3d…
i m using 3ds Max and vray…love to hear suggestions… :rolleyes:

m also getting weird patterns on salt and liquid in the bottle…
@ArthurStaschyk thats a great render…what why there is so noise in blur area


Hi all,

here is my contribution to this one, I have problem with caustics and my whisky dont want to come out has i what him to do !

my render is still very flat, but i dont realy know how to correct that, exept working on the shaders/textures…

maya, mental-ray,GI,Caustics, FG, mia_photographic, lens_boken.

FranciscoSCN : Thank you very mutch for the link, very instructive :slight_smile:


@FeD: I struggled with the caustics too, the main problem was that each light I created and caused some caustics was lighting up the scene in a unwanted way… So I tricked the Render Engine by using the “laser Pointer approach” ^^
I created a narrow IES file that was aiming at the glass, it generated great caustics and only lights up the scene with the caustics and interesting reflections. Also some bumpyness in the glass and whiskey causes more interesting caustic paterns :slight_smile:

I attached the IES file I used, its not perfectly thin line of light, but that caused way to sharp caustics for my taste.


ok no C&C …no problem…
but here is next update from me…


Hi Guys. Have to say I’m a little nervous posting here for my first time as I know this site generates a very high standard of work. I’m relatively inexperienced with Maya and have only attempted modelling in the past. This is my first attempt and texturing and lighting a scene manually by myself and I realise it needs alot of work to get it up to scratch. However I believe these challenges are going to be a great way for me to learn and improve my skills if I can get some constructive feedback my posts. Any constructive criticism will be taken on board and not just ignored, really appreciate any help I can get.

Thanks, Will.


Another small update :slight_smile:
The development steps get smaller and I focus more into detail, again the 80/20 rule strikes here.
I changes the icecubes to a little rougher surface and also the decorative cuts of the glass get some tiny little roughness too. By that the glass becomes less chaotic regarding the reflections.

@ WilliamJames: There is no shame in being a beginner, everybody was one once :slight_smile:
I also did a lot of challenges here, since years, but that here is the first I participate in public.
A good start you have there, but somehow the overall look seems so “painted”, I don’t know much about Maya, but I can tell that the red bottle on the left seems quite oversaturated and the glass next to it seem to brighten up the background somehow :surprised
I would start to focus on the wood material of the table since you can get a lot of rewarding realism doing that probably, by a fitting bump map and some map controlled reflections.

@ ndosanjh: The noise is because I use a raytracer for rendering and Indigo does create a cleaner image the longer it renders (like Maxwell or Fryrendere etc.). It was late and I simply wanted to go to bed instead of waiting further :slight_smile:
Check the fluid in you bottle, seems like it interacts with the glass and creates some poly artifacts, also the bump on the table looks way to high for a varnished table.


Im not actually submitting this but found it funny, I made this for my student reel 3 years ago.

Some closeups:


Here is my 3rd WIP. Awesome feedback @jojo1975 and @ArthurStaschyk. For this update I worked mostly on the shaders. I will go in and add some more contrast in the lighting on my next pass. This has been a good opportunity to get my shaders to look more dirty and worn. I still dont get the character out of the scene I want yet but it will come im sure.

Im using Vray for Maya anyone know a good technique for layering shaders in Vray Like transparency textures for Dirt and extra Spec/Reflect???

@ndosanjh Try adjusting your colors and re modeling the liquid in the bottle your getting Artifacts from geometry intersecting with other geometry.

@williamJames Awesome Start. I like your comp (although maybe get rid of the framing of the image) Make sure on your images to turn off any filtering on the texturing. Maya does this without letting you know and it blurs your textures. Just make a change from quadratic to non with your texture image selected in the attribute editor. Also try coloring your lights a little you would not believe how much that can help.

@ArthurStaschyk Your image just keeps getting better. So fun to see your Wips. Awesome work


Thanks jojo1975 for taking the leadership in this challenge. I was awaiting for the next challenge to test some new techniques.

I am going to use Maya 2012 and give a try to Mental Ray with Mental Core. :wink:


Really nice render and I love the little detail that you added. Like the salt and the coffee marks on the table.

Like the composition and the caustics effects on the glass. Just my 2 cents but I would work a little more to the ash on the cigarette.

I will upload something tomorrow. :thumbsup:


VRay Blend Mtl is what you’re looking for.

I’m seeing awesome work being made here. I have to worry with my submission if I am to recieve the good feedback.


@prestonplatt and ArthurStaschyk: Thank u very much…for ur suggestion it really help me to understand the lighting and whole process to achieve realism …
BUT i have question how to get bokeh i m using 3ds Max 2011 And vray for rendering …please help me…thanks in advance
@ArthurStaschyk: can u please tell me the light setup of ur scene coz its looks like a real pic…


Thanks ndosanjh, I put a quick LightLayer screen together with the contribution of all my LightSources into the final image.
As you can see the HDRI does the basic mood, like a studio surrounding. From here I placed some lights to clear out some areas of the scene.

The green long mesh is just a helper for me to aim the tight IES light for the caustics.
Some of the other lights have black “collars”, that tighten the light beam a little. Since I work with Indigo I have some great physical render Engine out of the box, but can’t trick much with invisible point or spotlights with custom falloffs etc.

The HDRI is taken from here, its the “Old Industrial Hall”


Sweet just a quick doodle to get started, maya/vray:


Hi, here is my first wip… its a test render… i will try to work focusing in the glass… a lot of things to do yet but you get the idea.


My current progress:

I have a single light dome with blurry HDR for diffuse + spec and clear HDR for reflections. I used this to develop the shader look and I’m kinda happy with the way they turned out. Still need more details, but I feel that I can safely start lighting the scene.

And that’s where my inexperience comes in. What process do you guys use for this? Fetch a reference image and replicate it? I don’t know, I’m seeing this result and don’t really know where to put my lights, although I do have a specific look in mind. You know, that 40’s detective Dick Tracy office look, with the blinds down and some warm colour flooding in. I do have reference images for that but I seem to have hit a roadblock. Maybe I should just try stuff out and go crazy, but I was thinking (obsessing) about this too much and decided it would be best to share with you guys.

So yeah, please tell me what you think. I also need to offer my input to you guys, as I feel I’m being selfish, so I’ll be doing that later.


here is my first post



my first work in progress. need some more texture work on cigar box, maybe break up specs on wood?

what do you guys think?