Lighting Challenge #6: Candle Light


I’m almost done…
Some secial FX are made with Photoshop.

Later I share all my passes.


Here a newer version of my image…
I have edit it in Photoshop.

Later I send the passes too…

And here the same a bit lighter…


EverCall - Yes, very very nice picture !


I thought I was going to miss this challange…:bounce:
challange 7 will be out tomorrow and I’ve just Posted my first entery…
I know there’s no deadline, but I don’t wanna miss the fun when the new challange begins

It’s not really the result I hopped to post…:smiley:
there are minor problems with the reflections
and major problems in composting… “the jagged edges on the candles are due to badly simulated depth of field” I don’t really know how to simulate it in a nice way… can anyone point me to a tutorial

criticisim is more than welcomed :slight_smile:

I’m not quite sure if I can call this a final Image, But I think I wanna start eraly on challange7
I’ll try to post a breakdown of my lighting, but it all depends on how much spare time I have and How Challaenging is challange 7 :thumbsup:
by the way that’s my very first render using Maya :thumbsup:


This is my first entry, I’ve watched the lighting entry since the beginning but I was always busy with work :smiley: A lot of people here in this forum have inspired and motivated me to finish this piece. Thanks to all who have shared the techniques. And thanks to Jeremy for creating this challenge. It’s been a fun time working with this scene.

I was using Maxwell as part of my experiment on renderer. Render time took up 38h34m30s, with the SL (sampling level) 20. I know it’s a bit too long, but so far I’m quite satisfied with the result, except the candle. Tweaking the SSS is a pain in the ***. I’m not sure whether it’s the limitation of the software itself in this version or the scene scale problem. The candle flame and the smoke are composited in photoshop.

Any Critics and comments are welcome. I’ll post the breakdown and scene wireframe if anyone interested :slight_smile:

Thank you.


There’s no way I could get caught-up again with posting crits of all the recent entries. But I’ll try for a few:

elte - Welcome! That’s a really solid image. The only thing that looks a little distracting for me is the DOF, especially where the candle flame on the right looks as if it is much further out of focus than the candle underneath it.

EverCall - Nice image! I like the dark tones and the falloff of the light on the table. The candle wax looks very black in some parts, even though the parts near the flame don’t look like black wax, maybe some more glints of light or something there could make the candles themselves more believable.

ariander - Nice scene! Maybe some areas are too uniform: the candles too uniformly white, the background too consistent, & some more variation in the lighting could help build the candle-lit look more.

isdanny - Welcome, that’s a nice, clean scene. Maybe softer shadows and more of a sense of light dropping off with distance would add to the scene. The flames look a little bit too blurry to me, maybe you could do less blurring in the render and just add a little glow around them in compositing or photoshop.

suchoparek - That’s great! The issue you mention of the black stripes on the candles should be fixed, and the glass vase could refract the table so it doesn’t show a straight line through the bottom of the vase. Otherwise that’s a really solid scene.

yencaray - Nice scene. The texture on the table looks great. The glow at the top of the wax looks convincing, and the background is nice and subtle. Some of the candle flames look hollow in a strange way, and the smoke from the plate seems to be glowing. The picture frame looks too much like a bump map distorting the reflection, maybe some more texture there or a softer reflection so it isn’t just noise distortion would help.

EverCall - Nice homework! Tell your teacher I’d give you a good grade! Can you figure out why some of the flames are going dark at the edges? Maybe if you rendered the flames as a separate layer you could screen them on without darkening anything?



Thank you Jeremy for your reply.

Please allow myself to give my personal comments :slight_smile:

evercall - Man that’s a lot of effort to bring up this scene :applause: I personally love your first render better (with the red candle), somehow it gave the ‘scary’ impression (the b/w photo + red candle in Asia are strongly related to someone who passed away) but by all means no offense to the girl in the photo. Plus the chinese text on the wall behind, if you can bring this theme stronger, I believe it can create a story behind :slight_smile:

zasid - Less than 1 minute is damn fast! I love the material on the candle holder. Is the background supposed to be a landscape or wallpaper? Rite now it seems a little bit off from its place.

ariander - nice image ari, I agree with Jeremy, the candle flame looked uniform. And I felt that the SSS on the candle is too much.

isdanny - maybe ur glow make the flame look blurry. I would love to know if you can share how to make the smoke using maya fluid :slight_smile:

suchoparek - I love the mood, but isn’t candle light supposed to give warmer cooler to the overall scene? and I notice the black line below the candle flame. any clue what cause that?

yencaray - I love the texture on the table. And the color in the photoframe actually stand out from the overall warm scene. The candle looks a little bit weird on the transparency. and also the smoke looks kinda like gas :stuck_out_tongue:

So many posts :smiley: I’ll try to give more comments later. Gotta back to work.



@jeremy: thanks-a-lot! i didn’t realized the problem on glass vase, i guess it’s about incident angle gradient on transparency.

@elte: thanks! probably you’re right. IMHO less saturated lights (and not only lights…) give image a more realistic look. about black line on candles, i exclude shadow issue, maybe it’s about translucency… Your image is very good, but render time is a way too long: my rendertime, 9 antialias pass at 1024*768 with internal lightwave renderer, took 6min 50sec…


Hello Jeremy , shouldn’t today start the new challenge :wink: ?
Waiting for the new one. Great work seen in this one !



Thanks Jeremy! i was wondering about that flames so i’m glad you cleared that up! i Changed that lighting and basicall turned down all the lights and then picked one and bumped it a bit compared to the rest to give the scene some direction with the light? can you see it at all? is this something i should try doing with this or not? what else could be improved? should i add more color to the smoke or does it sit well in the scene as is? i’m not sure what to do with it as thats what i tried doing previously with the smoke.

I ordered your book weeks ago too…barnes is a little slow this time! So i’m way excited to read your book! thanks again for the critique!

elte - So is the picture frame good? this was what i purposfully tried to achieve so good bad? tha smoke looks like gas yeah and i wanted it to look more of a disturbed smoke instead of a scene that was still. ya know when you burn insence if you are laying in bed or something where there is no movement in the room notice how it’s usually a straight stream of smoke thats got hard edges? but then notice how even just walking around the room changes how it behaves drastically? i wanted to do that here and give the smoke a softer edge as if the air is moving around from a disturbance. maybe good idea but the smoke looks more like gas…hmm i’ll work on that! i think i have some ideas! Thanks!

heres the updated pic


how come I got no feedback at all??? is my work that bad???:smiley:

Just Kiddin’…:slight_smile:
I’m anew member and my posts need to be validated… so there only 24 hours late after I post.
thanks god that’s only true for the first 2 posts.

I’ve been quite busy working on that challange that I had no time to chat about it…
Damn it, I’ve missed all the fun this challange.

I’ll start early on chalange #7:bounce:

one more last thing… (wich I should’ve said first)

@JeremyBirn Thanks alot for these online challanges
and thanks alot for your Book it really helped me alot.
I’m living in Egypt so getting a copy of your book wasn’t quite easy, But it really was worth it.
congratulations… Great Book, I’ll be waitting for the 3rd edition :slight_smile:


@ Matt, obviously I’m not sure what exacty Jeremey was seeing in the picture frame, but from what I can see, comparing your last two renders is that in the first, the distortion seemed to come from a displacement map, but that the displacement wasn’t mirrored in any of the other channels - color, diffusion, etc. That makes it look a bit artificial. Now, to me, it looks more natural.

Regarding one light being stronger than another, I can’t spot it immediately. My eye is drawn to the center one, but, well, it’s in the center. I wonder if rendering lights on separate passes would be a way try this effect out. Logically why one candle would be really bright vs. another, I’m not sure but that’s no reason not to try it.

@ Mina, nice render. In terms of compostion, my eye goes right to the folks in the pic, which is great in terms of storytelling but when critiquing technical stuff that’s not where I want to look. But that’s not your problem ;).

I’d like to see a bit more of the table. There’s just enough of it for me to wonder what it looks like.

Is the glow on the candleholders also due to the DOF issues you mentioned?

I like the papery screen and the painterly reflections on the vase.


yencaray - The picture frame now looks like it has random noise or film grain of some kind superimposed, still not a believable surface. Especially in a render like yours, where some surfaces are realistically textured like the table-top, you need to be consistent in how you depict other surfaces. Find a real surface made of some material for reference, and try to copy how it looks in diffuse, specular, reflections, distortion to reflections, etc. Smoke needs some shading, smoke does get illuminated by lights, it isn’t just a field that gets all bright or all dark.

jojo1975 - Yep, Challenge #7 is on-line already, and I’ll be making a thread about it soon.

MinaRagaie - Nice scene! For a scene with that much ambient light, I don’t think the tops of the candles would be going all the way to so bright a white tone where they are translucent. The background is nice, although I don’t know where that circle of light comes from. Your textures and surfaces are convincing, on the vase, frame, etc. (If people don’t comment soon enough, you should consider it a personal insult. Nobody here has a job or gets busy with other things or anything, so that’s the only explaination. :slight_smile: )

zasid - That’s a good start. The scene looks very evenly lit, not as if it were lit by the candle flames, maybe you could start with just lights in the candles as the only light sources and work from there?

nado319 - Nice scene, and welcome! Maybe the candle flames look a bit too hard-edged and opaque, and making them a little softer and more transparent in places could add to the image. The lighting is off to a good start, but could be more focused around the candles, being brighter where they light the scene and darker as you move a little away from them.

pietjepixel - That’s a nice scene. You are very brave with using bold, saturated colors, which is good, but in a few places there is a loss of contrast because of that. The red candle over the red sky kindof makes them blur together. With all those colors in the sky, it would be nice if the fill light on the screne in the background could be illuminated with colored fill light, instead of just the gray lighting that’s there now.

barrymcw - That’s a good scene. In some ways it works. That hard-edged circle of shadow around the candles is something that wouldn’t exist in real life. I wish the candle flames had a bit more color variation and softness to them. The empty picture frame and its reflections work for me, that looks pretty good. The smoke is nice, it looks believable and matches the tone of the scene well.

kingmango - That’s a nice scene. The flames need work, parts of them look like hard-edged objects, then the glow around the point at the top doesn’t really fit with the shape. The illumination on the background could be evened out a bit. The reflections on the plate and the candle wax are spot-on, good details add to the believability.

Raaf - That’s a nice scene. The shadows could be softer, and seem strangly different between the different candles. Overall the look is good. A better wood texture would add alot to the believability.

bwanaghana - Nice scene! The glows around the flames seem a bit over-done, but parts of the image without the flames like the plate and vase are nicely balanced in terms of tones. It would be great if you could get softer shadows.

slatr - Nice scene. I agree you need to fill in light on the background more. The flames might be going too white. THere’s something strange about the reflections on the table: the texture doesn’t look like something that would be that mirror-like in the first place, and then the reflections slant off sideways?

Polyphemus - Nice scene!

Bartosz - Glad you posted, that’s a nice scene. I like the embossed metal artwork.

mswertfager - Nice final scene, I’ll have to add that to the gallery.



@jeremybirn, I was just kiddin’ about the feedback (obviously not funny):sad:. I know that everyone is busy and got alot to do. I haven’t had time to post feedback myself.
I’ll make a practical apolgy…
I’ll send a brakedown of my lighting before I start in challange 7.
least I can do… I haven’t shared anything since the challange started.

@barrymcw, Well… I wish I could see more of that table :), but it’s just that I liked that camer angle much that I wouldn’t give it up for showing technical details.
The glow on the candle holders is placed there intentionally. It got nothing to do with that DOF problem. it’s actually the same Painterly effect that shows on the highlights on the vase

Changes I’ve made:
-I’ve fixed the candles top. (wich appears to be a composting mistake)
-I used a different technique to simulate Dof. (no more jagged edges)
-I’ve desaturaed far objects based on the Z-depth pass.
-I’ve enhanced the glow on the highlights and the glow on the flames.(very slightly)

I’ll be back with that breakdown ASAP.


hi everybody perhaps its late but this is my render with MR:


Behrooz - Wonderful work. Now, try the Challenge N°7…


An updated version of an image that I posted a while ago:

I worked on the candle holders and bringing out the vase more. I really need to work on the flames though. I can’t seem to get a good shader. I’m trying to use a sampler info node to get soft colored edges but I keep getting black spots in the middle of the flame in the front most flame and the flame on the right. I photoshoped these two flames in for this image but you can still see the reflection of the old on in the glass. Oh well. Great work everyone. There are some amazing images in this thread!


@jeremybirn - Thanks for your suggestions. I have removed the depth blur and added glow onto the flames. I have lower the background(screen) brightness a bit and also lower the atmosphere fog a bit. My render passes are in a mess, and I have difficulties controlling the lights and shadows due to lack of experience/skills as well as poor planning. :sad:

@elte - I used the pre-made cigarette2D example and tweak the settings for my smoke.

nevertheless, I have also re-render the animation. download avi clip
Thanks to all for viewing. :slight_smile:


Hi, I just want to say this challenge is great. I am new in 3D and have learned so much during this challenge. Here is my update


OK, Here’s My Breakdown as I promised…
I’ve got alot more to share about it, But I don’t have that much time, I’m a bout 1 week late for challange 7, so I thought I’d share my “compositing fx tree” (the part I’m mostly proud of -although it got some minor mistakes)

This Image is my very first render using Maya, however as I’ve been using XSI for about a year now, I decided to use it’s attatched compositing software to bring my passes togather.

This Breakdown is 7 pages witch could be quite huge for a single post, I’ll send 1 page and link to the other 6 pages.


other techniques I used ( witch I would’ve shared if I had more time):
-Using fresnel effects on most of my reflective objects
-Bilbording texture projections on the flames
-Color correcting reflections (in hypershade) to tint them with a hue similar to the metal diffuse color.

(I know this breakdown is not that neat, But I hope it’s useful)

Mina Ragaie… :slight_smile: