Trying to improve my lighting in C4D


I posted this image here a while back and recieved some feedback, I made the changes told but still I am not getting the result I think I should be getting, Im almost there but not fully there.

Here is the image:

Now here are some examples of the lighting and render I think I should be getting: (I post this one because it was rendered in Cinema4D like mine)

So what am I missing, are my shadows suppose to be so hard on the houses? how can I make my image be more fable more myth like the ones posted, this is the very first time I light and render an exterior so lots of mistakes being made.

What do you think, how can I achieve this using Cinema 4D, so far I am using one Physical Sky that gives atmosphere and another Sky has an HDRI image castin some light, I also put an Infinite light because it was a bit dark, should I lose the infinite light, also I am not using Global Illumination just Ambient Occlusion.

Let me know your thoughts!!



I would not say lighting is the main Problem here. Colors and compositing is the main issue. I would rearrange the Scene and render it from another Perspective. Maybe add some more interesting Detail. Add Forground-Object.

I have made a quick Photoshop-Mocup


There is a lot you can do simply to make this look better.
I would not get too hung up on GI until sorting more illustrator/still methods of tweaking things.
The grass doesn’t have any breakup - you should think about cloud shadows and more difference in grass colour.
Shadows are always tinted with a colour based on time of day - this will help a lot.
areas shadows are your friend.


A few things

Lose the shitty lens flare, or at the very least make it more natural. That thing looks like you travelled back in time to the early 90’s to find it.

The grass has too much gritty contrast in it’s lighting. The patch behind the pond shows a nice bright sunny day, but then the patch below the mushrooms has all these dark black streaks running through it, the same by the robot character’s feet, those few sparse blades shouldnt make the ground go black. Sort your light shadow settings.

The specular highlight on the mushrooms sticks out and is out of place. Clearly the light is coming from the right hand side, but the roof tops have these big specular blobs in the middle as if theres a light sat in the middle of town

Holger has made a good point, your image needs a colour palette, a set choice of colours to work throughout the image, currently there doesnt seem to be one.


:slight_smile: WOW thanks a lot guys Ill get to work on this right away, there is a lot to be done.

Where can I learn more about all these Color and Compositing theories clearly this knwoledge is missing, any good books perhaps or tutorials themselves.

Thanks a lot, Ill get on this right away Im really interested in getting this right!!



These seem like a good start dont they?

Just thought I’d share.


You already have a thread for this work:

If you can’t find a thread in future, bookmark it so you can go back and add any updates easily. There are already enough people on these forums doing this, and it needs to stop.


Yea sorry about that, won’t happen again!!


You’re looking at Composition when you should be looking at Composting. The first is useful still for framing your shots but that’s not what the guys are talking about, look around for tutorials on Grading and general Composting in your preferred program (AE and Nuke are popular).



Thanks for correcting that!!


Hey its me again, would this be a good place to go and get a proper color palette:

also Illustrator’s color guide which is similar to the above.



It sounds like you’re trying to approach this as if there’s a definite answer when it’s more about artistic choices.

But, yes, colour theory is useful to know when designing or creating an image and Kuler is a very handy tool to find those complementary colours or to create a palette.

If you study images you like and see what they’ve done in terms of the hues, tones and contrast you can start to match them or at least get a base going.

A few general pointers for the compositing side would be:

  • Render to a high bit depth format 16-bit/32-bit, that’ll give you the biggest range to play with
  • Output Object Buffers from Cinema to help isolate areas to change colours in post.
  • You can use a depth pass as a fog pass in post to bring focus to the foreground same goes for actual DOF blur, usually with smaller scenes.
  • Draw the eye by brightening a specific area or darkening/desaturating it’s surroundings. Even sharpening (subtly) can do the trick.
  • Be subtle! Grading, in general, is about slight adjustments and not to go too crazy crunching colours. Of course if that’s the look your after is crunched and high contrast, go for it.

There are so many more but it’s mostly about diving in and trying out different things and seeing what works best.



Thanks a lot Brasco I have copypasted all you guys suggestion in to one note pad xD.

Meanwhile here is a compositing change I made, I do believe is looking way better, thought for this one ignore the grass as I removed it for the moment cause I need to start it from 0 also I have not placed some of the suggested details like stones or dandelions I will do them later, the mountain at the back ill change it for clouds. But the main structures I believed are placed in a far more better position I mean if you consider Holger’s Mocap which was of tremendous help.

Here is the image:

I think I continue from here.

Open Image in new tab to see it bigger, its just a quick screenshot of a really fast Render Region I made.


Try to remember that this is “your vision” … If additional props are in “your vision”, then
add them … if it’s just in agreement with comments, it’s still your choice.

You seem to be wrestling with theories of color, composition and lighting … that’s a truckload
to deal with if it’s not somewhat within you in the first place.

Since you’ve already gone this far, flat lighting is an issue. I’d recommend the old keeping it
simple approach. Start with a basic 3 light setup and move things around so you can see
the results. Maybe, turn those off and add a sun object and adjust the time of day to see what
that does … add/turn off the other lights one at a time to see what’s happening … maybe go
back and forth till you’re satisfied. At the moment, if you squint at your scene, only the tan
bare earth spot shows up and that’s a good focal point, but tends to keep you there rather than
to explore the rest of the scene … Holger’s Ps example is great for wandering around. Again,
it’s up to you to direct the viewer where you want them to go and what you want them to see.

Another thing is the background of trees that are too much the same size that compete with
all the other light and shadow spots of equal size and turn it into a kind of visual haze … not that
a hazy atmosphere in this type of scene would be out of place.

Last, and it may just be me, so I apologize in advance … but that slurpee cup is out of place
… especially for a bad robot :rolleyes:

So … keep going and discover your own vision for this scene :thumbsup:


The confusion between compositing and composition seems to still not be clear but I also will disagree with everyone who says that composting should even be a thought in your head at this point. Your lighting needs a lot of work.

People here are being very kind in their critiques, but I think it’s doing a lot of disservice since you clearly want to learn how to approach lighting.

First, lets get the composition out of the way so we can focus on lighting. Leave the scene with the last composition you have. While the compositon could certainly improve a little, I am assuming you want to focus on learning to light, and in lighting, while scenes may be well composed initially, camera and characters move around so much that not every frame will be a good composition, so we can think of this as just a random frame in a scene. You could always fix the composition of your scene once lit, it may require a tweak or two to you lighting but nothing major.

Vid2K had the best suggestion so far which was to throw out your lighting and start with a simple three point light setup. I absolutely agree that you could be stuck for ages trying to tweak what you got, not to suggest that it is so bad nothing can be done to fix it, that isn’t what we are saying, but often especially if there are too many lights or too many things going on, it can be harder to fix than to just start over with something simple. Really I’d actually disagree for this specific situation, with Vid2K in that I wouldn’t even start with a 3 point lighting setup. too complex for a scene that won’t really work well with that type of setup. Studios, single objects, those will benefit form a 3 point lighting setup right off the bat, but here I’d start with on light. so literally get rid of everything and get your first light set up.

This first light will be your key light to the scene. Where do you want this light to be? well that really depends on two things, the first being, is there a definitive source of light in the scene, like the moon or sun typically. If yes, than this will most often be your key light. The other factor to consider, that may sometimes override the idea of using a sun or moon as your key even if they are in the shot, is the mood. Perhaps you want something where the sun or moon should only be an accent or rim because your trying to create a very specific mood, so something like a fire or a bounce of light is the more important light to establish your scene. I’d say as a beginner it usually will be better to focus on the strongest most prominant light being your key. By the looks of your scene it has been a sun, but in your last image it looks like you may have a moon in the BG? Figure out what time of day you want this to be as that will decide the key light’s color and intentisy. If it is a sun it will be warm in color and quite bright. If it is a moon it will likely be cool in color and dimmer, probably with a slightly softer shadow Dusk or dawn and your going to be pushing even warmer with the sun into reddish orange.

Get a render of that and post it here and we can critique that, figure out what is working and what is not before we go onto any other lights. It will mean you have a somewhat dark render with areas that are in total darkness, mainly shadows. It should however mean that we can see most the scene and that there is some shape. If you first light isn’t getting a clear shape, then we’ll know there is something wrong with your light or your shaders.


It might make more sense if you post your work in the WIP Forum
The problems you have are not CINEMA 4D specific.
If you like i can move the thread for you


Thanks a lot guys, Im already working on this.

Srek if you think the thread should be in the WIP please move it, its just that I made a thread there and didn’t receive as much feedback so I thought people related to Cinema 4D would be more inclined to answering on a C4D scene, kinda thought the WIP was more for professional artist, but move it if necessary.

Thanks all for helping for the moment Ill stop posting till I get something done since I already received a truckload of suggestions and have only done the compositing fix no work on lighting.



In terms of the scene elements (not lighting), I think the scene is suffering from CG-itis, meaning that things are generally too regular and too clean. As someone mentioned, the trees are all more or less the same size and they’re also quite regular in their spacing. Add more variety there. The same applies to the grass which could use variation in color, density, and length. Maybe mix in some weeds, plants, or flowers with the grass.

The road stands out particularly due to the harsh transition between the dirt and the grass. I would definitely roughen that up. Add some kind of rough border along the road and around the clearing.

Realism of landscape-type images generally benefits from the addition of atmospheric haze to increase the sense of scale. You can do that with the environment object’s fog parameter (though this kinda sucks in Cinema) or you can enclose the scene in a squashed sphere that has a fog material applied.

Just more food for thought…


Dont know if any of the folks that participated in this thread still remember it, hopefully they are subscribed to it.

In this post I asked for help with a certain Scene I was rendering, well after follwing the advices given here I have reached this result, please keep in mind that the image has no postproduction done to it, that is, this is the render as it comes out of C4D.

1st Image:
This one has a Sun light a Sky object with and HDRI also casting some light and GI.

2nd Image:
The render time was worrying so I removed GI and created a Light Dome instead, to my surpirsed render time didnt change but I got this result, this one has the same sun light plus the Sky object with HDRI plus the light dome. I kinda lose the shadow of the clouds here but I guessed I could fix it in Photoshop.

Important things to note is the color palette that many of you suggested, what I did is I went to Illustrator’s Color Guide and tried to use the Harmony Rule it has there, thing is this only resulted in a slight change of color of the first house from the left, I didnt want to touch the colors further without fully understanding the subject first.

Well overall I prefer the GI resulting Image and I love the whole cartoony feel it has, that was the idea.

Well If you are reading I would love to hear your suggestion as I wouldnt mind retouching the render further, most importantly in the Lighting department.

Thanks for your time.
(Right click open the image in a new tab to see it larger)


You are still working with too much information all at one. Again I’d seriously start with one light, no sort of ambience or environment lighting yet. Let’s get that one light figure out and then work on others.

I see 3 distinct specialty and a subtle 4th on your mushrooms. What world has four distinct light sources in its open sky. Each of their different sources appears to be a different colour even though they all come from the sky too.