Lighting Challenge #6: Candle Light


Nice breakdown ACamacho, your render time is really good considering there are 15-20 lights. Thanks for the explanation on the painterly shader setup, it works well on your scene. I hadn’t used render passes on any of my shots, but I was planning to do it on this last one, so it’s helpful to see how it’s done. Can’t wait to see the Mental Ray version :smiley:

Oh yea, and Translucency was spelt correctly :thumbsup:


Acamacho - I definitely prefer this version. It’s a great picture, with a realistic
ambiance, lights and textures.



My first lighting challenge entry … and my first post …

This one was rendered in cinema4d and a bit of post work in photoshop. Thank you so much jeremy, it’s a very interesting exercise.


My final (for now) of the mental ray scene. Nothing much has changed other than adding materials and moving the candle light effect up a little. Upped the reflection samples to reduce noise on the table. Will post breakdown sometime in the morning. :slight_smile:

Fire away…


Here is my image, I hope you like it. Please let me know what I can improve.


Ok umm, here is version 5 and the breakdown. I changed the angle to give more depth thru perspective and some other adjustments. I like the colors and overall look of v5 better, but I’m not sure if I like it better than v4 :sad: Few weeks ago I had lost a lot of my project files when my main hard drive died, so I’m working on these to make a new portfolio. Didn’t really work on this one that much this past week cuz i was working on this one.

First the full image.

Composite. I worked on this one differently than I usually would. Instead of working it up by pieces, I rendered the full thing and then used some passes to make adjustments. The smoke image I found online over here. The changes are very subtle, but they enhance the image a bit.

Since this is about candles, I’m only posting how I set up the shaders for the candles and the flames. First up is the candles. The parts that are mainly contributing to the look of the candles are… the transparency, which I used to allow more light to pass towards the opposite side. The specular color helps to balance out the warmness of the candle towards the more pale look that they have on the backside, this was important because the transparency was allowing the back end to turn more orange. And of course, the translucence. It’s set to a fairly high level so that the light can scatter deeper into the candles. I also increased the focus on it so that it didn’t flow down too much from the top.

Finally, here are the flames. They’re a little more complex, nothing big tho, easy stuff. ramp2 is connected to the Color. ramp12 is connected to the Transparency. ramp5 is connected to the Incandescence. ramp3 is connected to the Glow. I used the sampler info node to make the inner part of the flames more transparent, therefore giving the wavy look on the inside.

Edit* The more I look at it, the more I like it. I redid the bloom effect and added 3% noise to the image. Overall it’s looking better. Hope my shader info can be of use to those that are starting out on this challenge :slight_smile:

Edit2* Made another small adjustment to add depth of field to the image. I figured out how to simulate DoF with Photoshop CS2. Copy the ZDepth image and make it your Alpha map. Then go to filters and use the Lens Blur on your image using the Alpha1 as your source. From there, you can adjust the focal distance and add noise to it as well. There are a couple of options for the algorithm, but I chose to go with Square. I recommend you Auto Adjust Levels on your ZDepth map to white balance the image.

I wanna work on the kitchen scene next, where do we post that one? I saw no thread for it, so I don’t wanna post into where I’m not supposed to.


Hey Jeremy,

[left]This is my version of the Candle Light Challenge. I am currently working on improving the look of the candle flames. Overall I think I will have to make the image a little bit darker. I’m still working on it. What else do you think needs to done to improve this image? [/left]


Hi guys i’ve done this using Maya 7.0 and default render mode and my render time is 10 sec.PLzz gimme some coments on how to improve this.


Breakdown for the second entry:

Renderer: mental ray

Total Rendertime: 4 1/2 hours on a 1ghz athlon with 1gb ram. Could be optimized ALOT. Main killer was blurry srufaces reflecting other blurry surfaces. I know I could have used the ctrl_rays or something similar…just time wasn’t on my side. :slight_smile:

Beauty Pass:

The panels are green because originally I wanted to play more with the combination of colors. Again also wanted to get as much as I could in render with lighting.

-I placed a reflection card just in front/side of the camera for the candle holders.

-The picture frame is just a ramp set to “box” and placed in the bump. Happy with the way it turned out.

-The candle holder shader is just a mib_reflect_glossy shader with a couple of fractal maps in the reflected color and U_V spread.

-The wood is a JS_Wood procedural texture combined with a mib_reflect_glossy shader. The same wood texture was used as a bump (which also multiplied the rendertime :)).

-The vase is just a simple fractal with bump.

Lighting Setup:

10 lights total. 5 candle Lights with raytraced shadows, 4 fill Lights and one accent light for the frame.

Occlusion Pass:

RGB Pass:

Used it to color-correct certain parts of the image I thought would benefit. But I used it mainly for the back panels. I ended up going with more of a cream color because it seemed more natural.

Z-Depth Pass:

Used for Depth of Field in Shake. Also for desaturation.

-The smoke is just paint strokes in Shake…altered a whole lot with filters. :slight_smile:

-The candle flame “glow” is a macro I made that just blurs the candle alpha (or highlights) in all directions kinda resembling rays.

Final Render:

Hope this helps…


Hey Malene,

You’ve got a good start on the scene and I really like that you chose MLK Jr. as your picutre, it gives the scene a monumental feel. :slight_smile:

You scene looks like it has a “solarize” effect on it, the orange tint on the scene makes it all flush away from the real colors. It also has sharps edges, so it breaks the roundness of some objects. You smoke right now looks something like steam, incense smoke is very unique, so try searching online for some reference. You can use the link I have on my post… I just desaturated the image and put the layer on screen to get rid of the black. Lastly, the candle flames need some work. Take a look at the photos that Jeremy posted on here, that’ll give you an idea of the flames and also the candles themselves.


Render defalt scanline 3ds max8

Total Rendertime: 4 minutes 38 seconds


Here is a new version with others textures and flames…


JCBug - Nice! I’m sorry if my little historical comment forced you to change images in your picture, but I guess the new image fits perfectly with the scene. Is there any way you could shift the face up and to the left in the frame? Right now the look direction sortof shifts your focus in the image away from the whole left side. Minor crits: the screen still seems to have too much occlusion, the shadows could still be softer, and the smoke lines up too perfectly with the candle behind it.

kiko77 - Nice scene! I think there are trace-depth problems (shadows not appearing in reflections) and that’s why the base of the left candle holder seems to reflect a brighter table without shadows. Maybe what’s going on behind the screen could be made softer, with softer shadows and blending the warm light onto more panels?

ACamacho - Thanks for those great break-downs! Nice looking scenes followed-up by some really useful information there. I especially love the one with the tree.

Pranish - Good start. Maybe you could get some variety in color, or at least in saturation? Right now many parts of the scene are that same yellow color, even half the candle wax looks just the same as the flames. Also, try to get some light sources radiating out from the candles, right now that light coming from the left seems to dominate the scene.

Malene - Great scene! The composition would be better if that candle flame weren’t cut-off. I don’t know if you need that much of the upper smoke, especially the white area to the upper left of the picture, if that’s all smoke. See if you can light the vase better, the dark red line looks nice but the kick from the candle just cuts a diagonal and doesn’t really bring out its roundness. The flames are off to a good start, really just some transparency at the base and tip could nail it.

LiquidStorm3d - Thanks for that terrific break-down! With that picture, you just have to have a candle blown out – you know, like a candle in the wind! You don’t want to miss an opportunity here! That middle candle, the one in front of the picture, has just the right amount of translucency, really natural-looking glow near the flame. Some of the others could use less of that or blend out more smoothly. Overall really nice, subtle scene!

Silvia - What a great scene! There really isn’t much to change. If you render again, you might zoom-out a little bit, just to avoid cropping the flame-tip and candle-holder base, and you might try a little polygon smoothing on the metal candle holders, and tone down the highlights a bit on them, and maybe turn down the brightness of the SSS a bit.

GaazMaster - Welcome! That’s a really nice scene. I think things need to be balanced out a bit in terms of the lighting, the candles look bright and have a lot of glow running through the wax, and yet the rest of the scene seems like it’s lit mostly by a ceiling light, with very bright white highlights reflecting it. Maybe that other light and its highlights could be reduced, and the set could be lit more by lights radiating out from the flames and decaying with distance from the candles?

jucaduarte - Nice scene! I think the snow could be lit more softly, so it wasn’t all white but depended on being near the candles. The shadows on the back screen could be softer, and so could the smoke. Maybe the brightest parts of the flames could be a little less saturated?

HowieFarkes - Welcome! That’s a nice, clean scene. I might like to see it with a little less overall fill light, and a little more lit by the candles,but it’s solid and believable already, and I appreciate the break-down.



Hi , here is a render using Maya , Mental Ray . Comments are welcome . Hope all


Thank you Jeremy for the wonderful advice.


Hi - great challenge :).

This is a WIP of my attempt:

I’m going for a semi-modern look. There is some work left, as you see - the bump map of the vase was not deep enough, the wax looks not waxy enough, I haven’t done much work on the flames yet, and I’m not completely satisfied about the background yet. The composition has to be slightly improved too - I’m thinking of rotating the mirror a little towards the viewer, and the candle on the back should not be hiding behind the candle on the front.

All crits welcome :).


Hi, everbody… it´s my first post in CGtalk and my first challenge too… critics and sugestions are welcome… sorry about my english… thank you…:buttrock:


This was pretty fun…i think ill try again on one of the others…i used Maya 8.0 and shake 4.1 THANKS…leave some crits thanks


Hello all

Here is my shot at this render…I used Carrara 3 only with my own shaders.


Click here to have a see


just a little picture. great challenge :slight_smile:
here’s the pic: