LC # 41 VanitaSSS


At leas I have a couple of days to participate in Lighting challenges. All in all it takes me 12 hours.

About 2 hours spend on to get rid of geometry glitches after exporting from OBJ. May be next time I will spend more on tweaking export settings )))

Layout and basic lighting was ready in next 2 hours. Nothing special but many renders to achieve plausible result. Key and fill light additional light with makes shadows under the desk a bit softer. I used vray dome light with HDRI in it where diffuse emitting was set to off, which help me to cast additional reflection for gold chandelier and doesn’t mess with my lighting.

Most of the time spent on developing shaders - 6 hours.
I was try couple of shaders for cloth from basic pattern fabric to cotton and they look exquisite and shiny, but they grab to mush attention. Finally I end up with final rough burlap. Texture I found on, apply displace and use vray fur to create spiny look.
For both shells, skull and candle I used vay SSS2. I found useful to create test object like piece of cheese with couple of concave in it , place it in lighting condition in isolate selection to figure out which parameters works best - it render a lot faster and result is highly informative.
Big dark brown vase was another big issue because of size and role in composition. I have a lot of color variation but they all argue with skull until I have made it almost black.

Rendering and final polishing in Nuke and Photoshop takes the rest 2 hour. Render time is about 25 minutes on Intel 4790K 4.00 GHz with 32 Gb of Ram. And as always no matter how many prerender you have done before you are notice something crusial during final render time ))) For output I used 32 full float EXR with passes like reflection, GI, SSS, Z-Depth, mates for every objects and separate lights passes. Nuke was used only for glow and for Depth of field. And yes there is no any DOF because it ruin everything. Next time I will do some test for DOF before going further than layout. And finally in Photoshop I add some thickness to paper, remove overburns from skull and stamp dark artifacts on one of the shells.

Actually it takes 14 hours because to make that description a spend another 2 )
modeling: Giorgio Luciano and BodyParts3D for part of the skull
Layout, Texturing, Lighting, Rendering and Post: Dzianis Karabkou


Thanks for the feedback bibi5000, yeah now you point it out the glass doesn’t look quite right, time to start tweaking shaders! :slight_smile:


Here’s a higher res version with better samples compared to my last render.

Render time was 6.5 hours on my i72670-QM 2.2Ghz 8GB RAM laptop. Bit slow for sure, but too lazy to optimise.

Here’s my scene setup:

Very basic rig. Cool soft key from the window, warm sharper light from the candle and very soft low intensity fill light that’s about the size of the ceiling. I did use the room for extra light bounce, I just hid it in this screenshot to make it easier to see the scene.

Used this scene as an opportunity to test the latest mentalray and so everything here is using the mila material and new mentalray prototype GI solution and new SSS, all of which I find refreshing as there are no more splotchy artifacts to worry about, just noise which can be easily taken care of and I find the results much more realistic and time-saving given the results.

Not much to mention regarding render settings. Basically all quality sliders set to 0.6 and bounces set to 5. I’m still learning what some of these do, although it seems to make sense so far.

Happy to hear any suggestions if you have any or answer any questions if you have any of those too!


r-e-w - magnificent work. Love your composition, shaders (except glass), lighting and atmosphere. Congrats!


pap87 - Great mystic atmosphere! Number 1 shader for skull I think.

A little bit dark and messy under the candle to my taste. It looks like candle light have to cover that area and .

Why you have flag next to light representing window??? Are you using some color variation map on window light?


Thanks korabkoff! The geo next to the window is nothing actually, it’s just a part of the room that happened to be separate to the rest of the room. I guess the verts weren’t merged there and when I hid the rest of the room that part remained.

The skull shader is fairly simple. A simple 3d procedural driving some colour and spec roughness variations. Then I added an ambient occlusion node with a tight radius to bring out the tiny cracks and gaps trying to match some refs of old skulls off google image search. There is also some sss but it’s very subtle.

Regarding the dark area under the candle, I see what you mean. I kind of like that it remains a little darker so that the eye can be drawn to the more important parts of the composition but earlier I did try toying around with the flame light position to maybe fake more light in those places but ultimately I ended up with what you see here.
The flame in the render is the actual light source in my scene so “technically speaking” there should be no candle light under the candle stick and that was the main reason I decided to add the large soft fill from above to add some value to the muddiest areas and pick up some highlights there.

I really like the nautical theme you have going on in your render! Great result :slight_smile:


I changed the lighting to a much warmer tone to condense the light and to get rid of the photographic look and push it more to the warm saturated tone of oil colours. The scene is now basically lit by two tiny omnis, one for diffuse/specular, one for reflection. I also modeled some lillies.



Here is my first pass. Geo gave me a lot of trouble so didn’t get to texture as well as I would like to…


Refined this a little more. Use energy conserving materials and I think that really helped. Texture mapping isn’t great but I don’t feel like changing it…

Maya + Arnold + After Effects



deijardon - Great work on materials! Fabric looks weird right now - like a foil.


bibi5000 - love your vase, books and glass shaders!


Thanks Korabkoff! Yes it is supposed to be foil. Or some kind of thin metal. The fabric was modeled to stand up off the surface of the table so I just went with it. Maybe I’ll do a cloth sim and replace that one.


jojo1975, what is the deadline for this one?


A lot of good work here!
Added some more candels…started texturing. Still trying to get a filmed candlight look.



hear is my try


amitlighting - cool cartoon style look. love it!
cyrus3v - till 15 of august

I have had some time to seat, relax, gather suggestions and to reconsider post. Right now I having troubles with attaching result to project - it is just hang out upon upload progress bar is full.


how to delete post???


Hello to all, I’m on vacation and I will come back to my workstation soon. It seems lot of people like this challenge and I still have to prepare next one, so don’t worry too much about the deadline, I will need to make an extension to it :wink:


Another variation with more cinematic look inspired by pap87.

Critic are very welcome.


Hello again!

Great work on this challenge from everyone, its always cool to see the variety of treatments and styles.

Here’s my final version for this one, I haven’t been able to spend too much time adding extra details to it but I’ve played with the shaders and toned down the post abit from my WiP. Hope you like it, comments are always welcome, thanks Andy :slight_smile: