Lighting Challenge #30: Old school Smoke, no Smoke


So I went through turned off texture filtering, the table still seems quite blurred but I think that is a combination of a poor file and me needing to tweak my depth of field more as I’m having to render DoF in maya as I still haven’t saved enough pennys for photoshop and neither of the other image editing software I own supports camera blur using a Z map. So I’ll look for a better texture for that and tweak the dof this week. Also I sorted the issue with the sugar jar brightening the background, for some reason I seemed to have some ambient color on it and tweaked the refraction’s through it. Got rid of that silly border, thanks prestonplatt :stuck_out_tongue: The sauce bottle was far too saturated so dropped that down and increased the bump for the molding a little. Think my two biggest problems now are the coffee stains looking very “flat?”, like they are just sort of stuck on the image and the horrid blocky shadow on the pepper shaker. Anyone know what would cause that block effect on the shadow and how to sort it?



First of all let me say,

@jojo1975: Great challenge, is exactly what i was hoping for!

@ArthurStaschyk: Awesome job till now, your work is beautfiul and really inspiring!!

Here my first entry for this challenge, first i have focused to get a nice composition and light mood. Shadings are still in wip altought im happy with the glass and the icecubes by now, still many detail to be added.

Hope you like it!

Ps: Im usign 3dsmax+vray and PS for colorcorrection


@ Vampire2584. Great Start.
About shaders. I like the glass and also the bottle. Ashtray need a bit of work and also the cigar texture (you need to put ash on the cigar). The wood of the table is perfect (and I like the detail of the small screw).
About lighting. Caustics are very good and also the whole material for the glass. in my monitor the image look a bit too overexposed on the front I will dim a bit the light to give a more nice nuance to the image.
@ Vital.
Great Start. about shaders. I will change the ashtray shaders. Too glossy and dark for an ashtray. More reflection will help. I would also change the placement a bit of the matchbox, it looks distracting. Also add a bit of dirt (small scratches) to the glass. Even the cleanest glass is not so clean as in CG ;). Lighting is good as start. Increase caustics and also dim a bit the light on the back ! Keep going !
@Visua. Shaders looks very good but too clean. Add a bit of dirt. Dont’ overdue with bloom… it is becoming the new lens flare :))) (even if a bit of it is very good). try to give more contrast to the whole scene if possible now it’s a bit flat. (use negative lighting if needed)
@Arthur Thanks a lot for the suggestions and pass. I really love your image. Why dont’ you try also the non smoke ? Or just why dont’ you try a different lighting (night for example with only a bit of light coming from a spotlight ?)
@ndosanjh Great start. About shader. The teapot look a bit too reflective and the whole image is a bit too clean. Add dirt (world is a dirt place :)) ) Also you need to adjust the metallic surface of your scene that now look a bit more mother of pearl for sugar and small glass bottle. The texture of the jam (nestle) should be checked with a reference on dimension. Give more contrast to your image. :slight_smile: and keep going
@Preston. Great image. Just to be curious what is that grey object on the background ? Why dont’ you try without it one render. Also I will be very curious to see color variation of the image. You dont’ need to render anything, just have fun with post process. Now it looks a lot an Instagram photo. You can try also a different look

To see some examples of color grading and have fun
@FeD waiting to see how you continue with the shaders. I don’t understand why the liquid is so red on the interface. Is it the color of the light or chromatic aberration ?
@William. Before focusing on DOF and put a frame, post some WIP so we can give feedback in the whole process for creating the image. Try at first a render with no shader (just a flat grey, a bit reflective) and with your light. Now the illumination look too flat. Wellcome to our forum. Keep going and post WIP




@Jojo1975 Thanks for the input I tried to apply some color correction. The grey thing is a skateboard. I took it out for a couple renders and I didn’t like the blank space. I decided to add a little lens flare. @WilliamJames good progress keep going. Make sure your looking at the reference image for inspiration on parts of your image. Also Maybe look for Higher res textures. I have been thinking about restarting my image and go for some photo realism with some different techniques. Its been fun trying out some different stuff for this image.


Here is my first submission… Just a WIP… Hope to get more accomplished after finals. Please let me know what you think.

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@Preston Please no lens flare !!! :slight_smile: this version of image is very good. the only thing that look weird are the pepper and salt container. probably the IOR of the glass is a bit too high. Als try to add a bit more sample to the rendering
@rgiles Great start
about shaders
the spoon look a bit too glossy, while the cup a bit low reflective.
Try to add a dirt map to the metals in your scene and also to change the pepper texture. The ketchup material need to be more plastic. Also try to give more overall contrast to the image.



@jojo1975 I have Finally completed this scene. I am still new to lighting so any feedback would be great.

Software used

Maya 2012
Mental Ray
Mudbox 2012
Photoshop CS6



@jojo1975 It was super late at night and I had just watched Transformers Movie I dont know what I was thinking I got rid of that dumb flare haha. I really cant wait for the next challenge this was a ton of fun!

Here is a quick shader setup and A light setup of My Maya scene. Dont know if It will come in handy but who knows. 3 V-ray Rect Lights and 1 Dome for reflection and slight color.
I always Find this stuff fun to look at regardless


Texture are very good. I will make the glass look brighter now it seema tooo way dark even if it cast correct caustics. Also I will add a bit of contrast to the image more bright on the top and a bit less on the lower part. The shader for the ashtray probably will need a bit of work.


ok…looked all the entires …and i found that everyone doing best…ofcourse some very talented artists are also here …and some of my friends are like me…as i just started learning 3d , lighting and all stuff …
and hats off to guys @prestonplatt @ArthurStaschyk
i will be back with some improvements …thx to all friends who gave valuable feedback… especially :wavey: jojo1975


Is this still going on? When is the deadline?


The Challenge will go ahead at least for two more weeks :slight_smile: so Beam up your PC during these holidays !


First test… :slight_smile:

original size


this is my final image for the challange
feel free to give feedback and comments , thanx in advance :slight_smile:

Software used:

Maya 2012
Mental Ray


THE CHALLENGE WILL END ON THE 6th January 2013 at 12 GMT so please submit your final image for the gallery in the final image thread !

A bit of feedback
@ jdayan
Great start !
It seems there is something strange with the reflection of your glass (it seems the glass is distorted) also the pattern of your caustics looks very big. Probably you can try using a smaller light for casting them. The shader of the ashtray looks a bit bluish on my monitor (I don’t’ know why) try to make it a bit more scratched. The texture chosen are very good and also the overall mood of the image is very pleasant
@ pixeldompteur
it’s a great start and almost finished !. I will make a bit of dirt in the texture of the bottle near the sugar. All the shaders look very good. I will try to contrast a bit more the image. the coffee smoking is a very keen detail :wink: more real than real :slight_smile:
@ preston
thanks for sharing the breakdown and also for explaining me about the skateboard. Also why don’t’ you give it a strange fancy texture ? :slight_smile:
@ Kewel7
try with a lighter glass :slight_smile: that can really boost your scene !

Thanks to all for taking part to this challenge ! Next one will start soon and it will be a bit complicated one :wink:


@prestonplatt - how can you get the salt & pepper to look grainy? Are they just textures?


Jojo1975 I tried Turning the board around but it wasnt working out it was too distracting. The griptape has a pretty sweet texture on it but the blur takes away that detail.
Also Is there a Final Forum page to post to?

Panupat I used a bump map on the pepper other than that its just simple texturing. Felt like the salt would be to fine of a grain to add anything.

Here is another Final update with some foam on the coffee. Just keep tinkering with it


@ jojo1975, thank you for the feedback , im on it :smiley:


Hi everyone !

Here is my current image. It’s not finished yet so i’ll post a new version soon :slight_smile:

Edit : I updated the image and this is now my final output.


please post your final images HERE
Still a few days to go !