Lighting outdoor scenes involves the setup of a Sunlight or Daylight system, together with ambient light. The sunlight or daylight system gives the main illumination and shadows, with ambient light (light that is 'global' in nature, which affects all objects and is reflected from one to another) provided by using one (or more) of a number of techniques. Techniques for providing ambient light range from environment dialog settings, placement of omni lights, use of a Skylight or a 'light dome' which shines multiple spotlights on the scene and gives soft shadows around objects. This tutorial uses Key 3D Sunlight and Shadows to automatically setup a Sunlight System with some environment settings and including the use of a Key 3D Light Dome for added natural ambient light
NOTE: Lighting setup should be complete, apart from final tweeking, before assigning materials to objects because lighting affects how materials display and render (especially image mapped materials)
In order to follow this tutorial, you may want to use the supplied files. Please read the sample data instructions before downloading.
Use of a light dome is a good alternative to a Skylight or other lights such as omni lights placed in the scene. A light dome arranges multiple spotlights around the site and uses shadow mapping which is far faster than ray-traced shadow solutions. Often referred to as 'fakosity' the effect gives soft shadows around and under objects and simulates natural exterior lighting
NOTE: The Key 3D Template scene has the Ambient Color changed from black to mid grey on the Environment dialog. Check this colour at this stage and alter if needed to lighten or darken the overall lighting in the scene. However, do not lighten to much as this can have the effect of reducing contrast and 'flattening' the scene
Experiment with the following settings to create the optimum lighting effects for the scene. These settings can be re-visited when materials have been applied to further enhance the output renders
Animating the sunlight throughout the day is a quick way to achieve the required shadows based on the time of day
NOTE: A common mistake is to leave animation on the Sunlight when animating objects such as cameras. This will animate the sun as the camera moves. So, unless a shadow study animation is being made, always remove the animation when the optimum sun position has been achieved and use the animation tools mainly as a quick method of positioning the Sun
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