Getting Started with Cinema 4D, Part 14: Introduction to 3 Point Lighting

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In this video, you’ll be getting a brief overview of basic lighting techniques and how to utilize Physically based lights in Cinema 4D.

In this video, you’ll be getting a brief overview of basic lighting techniques and how to utilize physically based lights in Cinema 4D. You’ll learn about the different ways to use lights, different light types, shadows, and falloffs and that allow for realistic lighting.



In this video, we're going to learn how to use lights in Cinema 4D by practicing the Three-Point Lighting technique to light our fishbowl scene. Now, the Three-Point Lighting setup is one of the most commonly used forms of lighting in 3D, mainly because it's the standard method for lighting subjects in a photo studio. It's also a technique that was developed by Hollywood way back in the day. So let's kind of describe the Three-Point Lighting setup, the concept, and what each of the three point lights are and how you can use them. So let's go ahead and create our first light. So to get a light, we're going to go to this little menu button with the light bulb, click and hold, and the light we're going to want is this PBR light. Now, what a PBR light stands for is a physically-based light, and the long and short of it is that this light is already pre-set up to be the most physically accurate acting type of light and the most realistic looking light. So it's going to have a lot of really nice quality settings and that's basically all you need to know. If you want good realistic renders, you're going to use the PBR light, okay? So what I'm going to do now, as you can see, the light is standing right and intersecting right in the middle of our fishbowl. So this is a good opportunity to get our fore-up view fired up and going and see exactly where that light is. Now, our light is going to be represented as a panel or a square panel. Now, if I move this out in the Z, you can see the shadows happening in our scene. We have some really nice reflections and already this is looking a little bit better than it did with no lighting at all. We're getting some nice contrast with the shadows, some really good stuff going on. Now, one thing I want to point out is in my viewport at least, we're getting these really nice shadows and really nice reflections showing up. If you're not seeing that same thing, make sure in your Options that you have Enhanced OpenGL on and you have things like the Shadow, Transparency, and Reflections also turned on, okay? And you'll know that they're turned on because they'll be highlighted with a little blue box as you can see on my menu, the Enhanced OpenGL, Shadows, Transparency, and Reflections all have the blue highlighting. Okay, so once you have that setup, we can start positioning our first light. Now, the first light in a Three-Point Light setup is called the key light, okay? So I'm just going to name my first light the key light and what this light does is sets the overall exposure and brightness of a scene. It's typically the brightest light in your scene and it's normally set at like a 45 degree angle, because basically what you're trying to do is paint with light and accentuate all the details of your object. So you do not want to have the lighting straight on the same view as you're viewing it because it's just going to look completely blown out. If you've ever used an iPhone or a phone with an onboard flash, you're going to have all those really washed out, overexposed images because that light source is coming directly at the same source as the camera. So you want to have your lights kind of angled, okay? So position this right about here, and wherever your Z-axis is pointing is where your light is pointing. So let's go ahead and just rotate our light so it's pointing more towards our subject, okay? So we can go into our light settings, adjust the overall intensity here, and kind of just position this wherever we want, as long as we're getting some really nice shadows. Now, what I can do next is create another PBR light by going to our Light menu, and this will be our fill light, okay? And what this fill light does is fills in the details and the shadow areas of the subject that are in the shadows from our key light, okay? Now, typically the fill light is less bright than the key light. So we'll just bring this down a little bit. And already, you can see some really nice details. What you'll want to do is make sure you're illuminating all the parts of your image to some degree. So you've seen that we're getting pretty dark areas along the bottom of our fishbowl, so maybe we position our key light down a little bit as well to get and illuminate more of that sand. So we can also move the light back and increase the intensity to brighten up our scene overall. So three things contribute to how much a light illuminates the scene. Number one, it's how big the light is, it's how strong the intensity of the light is, and it's also how far back or away your light is from the subject. So keep that in mind, the farther you bring your light away, you'll have to compensate with the intensity to get that same kind of brightness coming from that light, okay? So, let's maybe move our key light back, grab the intensity there as well. Now, the one thing you don't want is to have equal lighting on either side because it looks pretty flat at that point. So just kind of, again, paint with lights and get to an area or a point that you're happy with. And I'm going to introduce our third light, and the third light is going to be our rim light, okay? Now, if we grab another PBR light. What the rim light typically does is it lives right at the rim and highlights a rim of your object. So if I just rotate this around, again, making sure that my Z-direction, my Z-arrow is facing towards the subject. And you can see that as I place this light right behind into the left of my object, we get this really nice rim light highlight that just really helps this object pop off the back of my background here. Now, if I go into my Interactive Render Region, again, either going to my Render menu and going to Interactive Region or hitting Option+R, we can get a good idea of what our lighting will look like overall. Now, one thing I'm seeing right away is our image is super overexposed, so I'll just bring up my fore-up view. Let's select this fill light and I think we can deal with bringing that intensity down a little bit and maybe bringing down the overall intensity of our rim light. I'll just rename that Rim, maybe moving this back, bringing the intensity back on this as well. And you can even see the lights are represented as these little light panels, they're little panels of bright white. And these are going to show up in your reflection here. If I select all of my lights by holding the Shift key and selecting the last and the first lights and go into the Details tab, this is where we can actually choose the area shape of our lights. So right now, it's set to Rectangle. As you can see we have these little rectangles here. This is where we can deactivate if these softbox shapes actually show in the Render. So if I toggle that off, you're going to see that that little white plane isn't going to show up in our actual Render View. So we actually want to keep that off. Another thing we can do is actually turn this off from showing up in Reflection. So that light will just be used to illuminate the subject and not be acting as an actual, like softbox shape, okay? So you can kind of play with and customize how you want your lights to be used whether as an object to be reflected on, which is exactly what we need in this scene, is we need more objects to reflect on the surface of our fishbowl. And you can see that kind of popping up right there. And we can also change the area shape overall. So you're going to see this odd if I adjust my bounding box here, you're going to see this odd kind of line that is coming from our rim light. If I turn that on or off, you can see where that is being derived from. And what's actually happening is, by default, your area lights are only emitting in the positive Z-direction, okay? So if I turn that off, you're going to see that's going to also light the back of this panel, and not just the front, but we're getting this weird little line. That's because there's no light being emitted at the bottom of this flat plane. So to mitigate that we'll change our area shape from rectangle to something more three-dimensional, like a sphere. And now, you'll see our light acts more like a light bulb rather than like a flat panel. And if we wanted to, we could change say, the fill light and make that a sphere as well. So you're going to see immediately that spherical shape being reflected and being caught in the reflection of our fishbowl. So you're going to want to position the light in an area that that reflection is not so distracting. So whether that be moving the physical light or adjusting the size overall of your area shape to make that more of a subtle highlight on your object here, okay? So once you get to a point where you're happy with the lighting, it's always a good thing to…say, if you think that the lighting is good overall, but you want to just pump up the brightness of the scene overall. Well, one thing we can do with that is bringing in a regular light and on that regular light going to the General tab and checking on this Ambient Illumination. And what this is going to do is cast the same intensity and strength of light over everything in the scene all at once. So basically, it's going to pump up the overall brightness of your scene. So if we want to pump up the values of some of the darker areas we can easily do that with our ambient light. Another thing we can do to say, maybe remove some of the shadow on the front of our submarine is going to our rim light and saying, you know what, don't cast any shadows at all. And this is kind of the great part about using virtual lights is you can have a light not cast shadows. And that's something you absolutely cannot do in reality. So you have a lot of flexibility here to do what you want with these lights. So I just want to cover some really good tips for realistic lighting. Again, do not overexpose your image. You can see that we're overexposing this side on the right. Always use some kind of hue in your light as well because no light is completely white. So make sure that you use this Use Temperature, and what that'll do is give you a nice temperature reading on say, adding some bluish hue, like natural bluish hue that you'll find from say, fluorescent lights, and you can also use the Temperature for, you know, more reddish lights, or more yellowish lights, or reddish lights. So have fun with the Color Temperature. And basically, what this is doing is trying to emulate the light that is occurring naturally in our environment. So sunlight that's yellow, the sky casts a blue hue, so keep that in mind. So be sure to play around with all the different settings in the PBR lights. Playing with color temperatures and intensities of your different lights, even adding other lights to your scene as well.
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