Trying to improve my lighting in C4D


Just a general comment from an observer of this thread. DaveAlej, I hope you take these responses as they are intended, critical analysis with the intent to help.

I am learning a lot just by following the thread.



Thanks to all who are participating on this thread, you were right Lucent sorry about not being careful with the last render turned out that yea the shadows were toned down I just set them back to 100% there were more lights that I had not turned off including the clouds which had lights of their own exactly lights with orange and blue tint.

I am now rendering a new scene without all those, being more careful, I also touched the pond a bit using reference images of real ponds, I touched the color and reflection lets see how comes out.

The thing is still rendering, I tried to pull of a Team Render with the two machines I have but it only made it longer, I still want to make myself believe Team Render works fine haha.

Well Im hoping I can post the image today.


For the clouds if you need separate lights which is fine, masks sure to use the scene tab to restrict the light to only illuminate those objects. Keep I. Mind there should be some consistency in the clue direction or illumination too.

Seeing yogurt comments about how long your renders are taking, have you considered rendering the clouds as a totally separate render. Render it and reapply as a gb or composite it back in Photoshop? That way you aren’t defender ing them every time.

I’m sure you are doing a higher quality render to post here but I do hope for test renders that you are using lower quality render settings. There’s no need to always render at full quality. Yes lower res, grainier, and jagged edge renders are not pretty but why wait even tens of minutes for something that could be done in a couple. I work on animations that take hours per frame and I have to deliver new versions every day. There is no way I can do full quality tests.

Our tools have lighting filters which isn’t an easy luxury with c4d. You will have to use a scone render settings. Things I rarely render with in test renders are:

Full resolution (half or quarter typically)
Samples (well not off but super low)

If I’m worried about a lights position or intensity then I generally don’t need those things. Sometimes specific lighting effects mean I will need to turn on SSS or hair, or possibly GI but everything else should be off as much as possible.


Oh and yes I should disclaim my intentions are not to offend or hurt you I any way. You can ask any of my former students, I’m a no bs type teacher, if it isn’t working I’ll say so. I latched onto this post because I saw a scene with a lot of potential, a lot of current issues, a lot of advice good, bad and otherwise, and someone that seemed sincere to learn. That sounds like a good opportunity and a good thread for many people.


Here it is, the frame itself takes aprox 5 hours 30 minutes to render, next render Ill leave it in low and wont even turn the hypernurbs on, though I think the main issue is the grass whichs uses hair.

Well here is the image, now Im sure it only has one light, and the pond I toned it down and increased its reflection value, though I was kinda liking more the vibrant blue style, anyway that can always be changed.

I changed the angle of the main light to reach the chimney better.

Teach as much as you want, Im still in my intern years and still trying to build a good portfolio, I can get around with modeling but I find Lighting very dificult, it has never been my forte and Im trying to change that heh.

Oh and thanks for your time Lucent, a lot is being learned here!!


Hi David, I’ll chime in here too.

First off, something that helps a lot in lighting is iteration, or being able to experiment a lot, and at 5 hours a frame, that’s a real issue. I’d turn off the grass for now (or figure out whatever it is that’s making this take so long to render) so you can see faster results.

Also, my humble opinion is that you’ve chosen an unfortunate angle for the sun here. Although there are no “rules” per se, and rules can always be broken anyway, the 2 most unflattering key directions are either a) directly overhead pointing straight down, or b) behind the camera, pointing straight ahead. You’re using method b. It has a tendency to flatten things out too much (similar to a flash mounted to the camera).

I’d experiment with the sun coming either from the side or even more toward the rear facing forward. (Although not directly at the rear, off to one side or the other would probably be better.)

Just my 2cents!


If I wanted to practise lighting, I’d work with a much simpler (or faster) scene. Then once you have a better understanding of how the various lighting parameters work then you can apply it to your more complex scene.

You probably would be better off disabling hair until the lighting is starting to come together and then enable hair. Also I tend to work at small resolutions with no AA when I setup initial lighting and then slowly increase quality and resolution as the lighting needs more finesse.

Here are some lighting presets that I made years ago, they might be useful for you to pull apart and see how the various looks are created. They’re nothing special but you could drop your little robot guy in these and see the results fairly quickly. Then experiment like crazy! (If you’re using a recent version of C4D then it’s probably wise to switch to the newer Irradiance Cache in the GI settings)



Hey guys, I am making some adjustments but my current problem is how can I obtain soft shadows using an area shadow, I mean obtain a shadow thats a bit blurred, right now my shadows are really hard, I went with the option of placing the sun above pointing directly down with a very subtle bit of an angle however my shadows are really hard like you can see on this image, is it about placing a bit of decay on the light sources like the examples TimC is giving so that you can get a bit of a decay on your shadows as well?.

So how can you obtain a softer shadow while using an area shadow, I know that if you directly use soft shadows you can touch the sample radius and the shadow map resolution to obtain this result, but how do you do it with Area shadows.


Inside Details tab you have Size X and Size Y parameters.


I cannot find these, I mean in Details tab there are no X and Y values, you would only see these if you turned to soft shadows in the shadow parameter, then you would find resolution X and resolution Y, but what I mean is how to do it in Area shadows? how can you manipulate the softness of a shadow with an area shadow?


Those setting are available with rectangle area shape.


The details tab, not the shadow tab. An area shadow softness is linked directly to how large the area light is. Make it larger to soften it.


Thanks I got it, the problem was that I was using an Infinite Light to mimic the sun and there were no X Y values in there, I just changed it to area and can now touch even the falloff better.



In case of infinite light, Infinite Angle setting inside Detail tab works like a size parameter with omni and spot types.


WRT test renders and experimenting with lighting … might I suggest using a mock up scene
… like this one I built in a few minutes. Test renders should take about a minute with AO and
GI sky sampler.


Ok I think Im almost done here, one question, if I were to place a color for my sun which I planed it to be something like 10:30 or 11:30 am would I go for a light blue or a light subtle yellow.

I am seeing some examples of a subtle yellow for plain daylight but if you look at normal daylight in real life I would dare say is totally white maybe add a very very small value of blue in there.

Just wanted to clear this last aspect for a final render.

I have to thank you all for your patience on this thread its been 3 pages of help on my personal project.



Perception of color is relative. We always perceive color in a context.
This should help a bit, at least for me it was eyeopening.


Generally you could have one strong light coming from the sun and have more variations of color hues where you can have more saturated foreground and more blue background.

The image itself is good only colors look flat perhaps because the lights are/is casted evenly on every pixel. There´s no enough variation of shadows.
I have only seen the image and cannot really help with lighting if there is no screenshot of your cinema 4d project where I could see light placements. There´s no need to have too many lights on scene because it washes out your image.


Im trying to wrap up this project into photoshop retouching, but now a last minute problem with the shadows has occurred and I am unable to find the cause and how to fix it, below ill post two images.


Now look at the shadow caused by the robot on both images in one it looks great( the second one) but in the first image the shadow looks wrong not properly interacting with the grass, it only affects the base of the grass and seems to ignore every other part of it it looks really weird and I am unable to find the cause of this.

This shadow is created by a main infinite light with an infinite angle of 4º to soften the shadow and the shadow density is a bit reduced, Ive tried touching every setting including the shadow settings of the grass that are in the render settings.

Have you ever seen anything like this, what could be the cause?

(open image in new window or tab to see it bigger)


Never mind folks its the density thats a bit high in the first image nothing more.

Thanks for your time!!