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WTFosaurus

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Aug 11, 2018
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I have been playing around with making a game (basically just a VN atm until I get some more exp with ren'py). I have some coding experience but Daz is new to me. I've been making the first few scenes for what I have written so far and wanted some input/critique of the renders. Mostly wondering if they are good enough or if not what I can do to make them better.

I have thick skin be as harsh as needed ;) Bathroom Sceen 1 Image 1.png Bathroom Sceen 1 Image 2.png Bathroom Scene 1 Image 3.png Bathroom Scene 1 Image 4.png
 

Saki_Sliz

Active Member
May 3, 2018
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OK so, here is my main issue with just about a lot of Daz users (mostly newer users).

Lighting

I am glad you are asking because I do think that if you try to start early with understanding lighting, the better your results will be in the long run. there is a lot to do, so this isn't telling you what to do before you release, but rather, here are things to try as you get more experience in the future and want to experiment with improving your art.

Color is important to art, lighting is important, even as a 3D artist going through college they don't teach it as much as one should, you learn more about lighting in 2d art or in game making to be honest. bad art can look good with good lighting, and good art can look bad with bad lighting.

"Lighting can make or break a scene." from one of the game development conferences idk.

I can understand why some may use fewer lights if they need faster renders, and I can understand using lights that match reality (ie using lightbulbs only) would be a first move because it is intuitive, however, art is not about realism (most of the time), it is about doing what feel right or good.

look into the 3 point lighting system, learn the name of the three lamp types. (I use a 4 point, not including background lighting sometimes)
the idea is this, You want to be able to see the character's color, their skin, so you use a soft flood lamp
you also want a sense of depth and for the tone of the character's skin color to look interesting, so you need a harder focus lamp which allows for some interesting shadows and highlights.
having a highlight lamp daze amazing work to bring life to a character as well as show of some extra depth details
having gloss spots on the eyes (even if you fake it by painting it in, I would recommend using an "add" or "additive" bend mode if you do this) makes the character feel more alive and healthy.
ambient lighting is a bit tricky, which I will get back to.

add this stuff in even if it doesn't make sense, if the light seems to come from nothing.

in order to make the light make more sense, it helps to make the background look more... higher contrast. In a square room this is actually pretty hard, square rooms tend to looke very flat, with how they handle lightning. to be honest, the best answer is to cheat.

by cheat I mean, do what you have to to make each image look good, don't try to use one system for everything, for example, I'll have some renders of a character idea, and to best get an idea of what I want, I'll use a 3 point lighting system to see how the body looks. if I have multiple characters, with different skin colors or body shapes, often what I have to do is have a different lighting system per character to try to make each character look their best. For rooms, I'll actually cut it up (actually remove half the room so the light can escape as needed, and simulate light bounce with just using a softer flood lamp), render it separately (meaning no characters and with characters), and I will photoshop things in to make it seem as if it was one big render, but really everything had to be separate because there is no way for everything to be perfect with one light system in one render.

next, your lights are white, unless you want a hospital feeling or using LED light bulbs, lights tend to be yellow in the home (it also tends to make skin look healthier if you soften the light from a harsh pure white almost blue color, to a more softer yellow or even a bit orange. To help with making things look interesting, each lamp can have a different color. ambient is tricky because it can washout an image.

things get more tricking when trying to take into account of the background colors (ie the blue sky would mean the ambient light is blue so if in a hot desert and you want to make a shadow look cool and comforting, blue hues for the shadow and red hues for everything else. color theory is complex, no one understands it.

for example, blue and orange, tint your lights to these colors and play around, it may look good. infact blue and orange is an industry standard and no one knows why it always looks good. avoid green as much as possible.

I am experimenting with how saturation of an entire image communicates intimacy as well as how a background's saturation also works with this... sorry if I am not the best teacher, since I am still a student of the arts myself (not actually in school for art, just learning the hard way of bs all the time).

I assume, if you want to get started as soon as possible with trying to improve your work, for your characters, tone down the ambient, tone down the flood lamp, see if you can add a lamp to the side of them that is a bit sharper to highlight the shape of their body (which adds shadows to make the character more interesting), and try going with warmer colors. also, maybe blur the towel after the render so the shadows don't look so primitive? those are some quick things to do, but knowing why is going to take a life time, or at least 5 years for me.
 

WTFosaurus

Active Member
Aug 11, 2018
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Thank you for your help. I'm testing the light "temperature" as I'm typing this. You are very correct in assuming the mistake I made with only placing lights where they physically were in the room. I was originally going with the 'white' lights because daylight bright bulbs are what I prefer in the bathroom irl.

How would I go about adding adequate light but still maintain realistic shadows when the lights are coming from sources that aren't actually present? Do I still keep the point lights where there are fixtures for the shadows and then use the flood lights at lower intensity than them to create the contrast desired for the actors?
 

Saki_Sliz

Active Member
May 3, 2018
331
170
So I am a blender user, things work a bit differently, so I do not know what you can and can't do in daz, since I don't like to spend money. Blender uses cycles with 'filmic' lookup table (LUT) for rendering. one of the reasons I stick with blender is because it outperforms iray used in daz. I know one of the issues with blender before it got so good was that trying to light up the scenes while also looking at the light bulb (in the mirror) was impossible, I would have to do a lot of tricks and photshoping to get things to work out.

what you could do, is change the lighting set up. I know with most home bathrooms, there are vanity bulbs just over the mirror. big round bulbs, 5 or so. there are there to provide flood lighting so that you can see the color of your makeup as you apply it on, no shadows to distort the color. However, beacuse where the lights are at (instead of on the ceiling they are on the wall). they provide a different angle for light to reach thing, so shadows can be interesting.

so what you could try to do is, right now it looks like you have two lights types, one for the bulbs, and one from the camera (flill lamp?) so that the characters look lit when doing closer up images. What I suggest is actually modifying the room in a way that the light will look good and make sense for most of the images you plan to make.

if you have three dim, yellow (but faintly yellow) bulbs right over the mirror (may have to shorten the mirror or fake having the lights there, keep them rather soft (not sure what the technical term would be in daz, but in blender this just means increasing the size of the simulated light, or even just applying a light shader to a ball and making the ball big, like bowl size) and try to keep the throw distance short. Now to make the light interesting, you may have to adjust the exposure, so that even with the lights dim the sink area and the character still look well or very well lit, without illuminating the whole room. this works good for the sink area.

for the other girl, I would want to do a similar trick, trying to have light reach her, but illuminate her, but also some interesting shadows. there would be two ways I would do this. I would have a window with a textured glass near her, this way light comes in, gets diffused or softened, and illuminates her (would work for the final image on your post, by order of listing). the light would be blue, which would contrast with the warm light of the vanity bulbs, which is always good.

if not a window, hows this. there looks to be a bulb in the shower. that is illegal, not up to code. But I understand trying to make sure it doesn't seem like a dark corner of the room. instead, have a few spot lights which are on the outside of the shower, but close to it, which point in and down a bit, into the shower. the will light up the walls which will illuminate the character. now indirect lighting, such as this, is dimmer, but I think if it looks like a glow is infront of her, and if the vanity bulbs lighting up the sink area are brighter for the shot,it might give an interesting contrast, especially if some light reaches the character close to the camera and gives her a seductive halo.

I am going to bed and I'll need to do a lab report in the morning, but if you are willing to weight, I can make a simple blocked out version, of your scene, Ill add in the lights, and show you what I mean.

basically the main idea is, instead of lights on the ceiling, try to have the lights lower, more level with the camera, and try to have them come from oposite sides, with the closer light being stronger/brighter but both rather soft, this will act like a fill and highlight combo.
 
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Saki_Sliz

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May 3, 2018
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Actually, re reading, it looks like I am getting tired, but I am using some technical terms which you may not be familiar with, and I don't want to do a disservice to you. I could make some images to point out some ideas, and then make a mock situation of your scene.
 

recreation

working hard
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Jun 10, 2018
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I'm not going into the obvious light problem because I don't have the time right now, but aside from the lights/shadows I saw 2 other things: One (or 2?) of the lamps are in the shower. No electrician would ever do this.
The model: I know the model you used and noticed it on first sight, some people are complaining about seeing the same Daz models over and over in games, so you might want to change them a bit so that it's not that obvious ;)
 
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WTFosaurus

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Aug 11, 2018
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Is this one any better?
I keep the 6 point lights but turned them a softer orange glow and then added two blue tinted spotlights on each model.

Bathroom Scene 1 Image 1 (2).png

The model: I know the model you used and noticed it on first sight, some people are complaining about seeing the same Daz models over and over in games, so you might want to change them a bit so that it's not that obvious ;)
They are totally not twins ;) They are just best friends who have lived together all their lives and look exactly alike. That's my patreon story and I'm sticking to it. The other models look different. But these two have to look the same.


I don't know what ghost lighting is?


Off topic: I used to do construction when in college. Recessed lighting in the shower is extremely common. You only need a waterproof fixture. They aren't even expensive.
 

recreation

working hard
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Jun 10, 2018
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Is this one any better?
I keep the 6 point lights but turned them a softer orange glow and then added two blue tinted spotlights on each model.

View attachment 284322



They are totally not twins ;) They are just best friends who have lived together all their lives and look exactly alike. That's my patreon story and I'm sticking to it. The other models look different. But these two have to look the same.


Off topic: I used to do construction when in college. Recessed lighting in the shower is extremely common. You only need a waterproof fixture. They aren't even expensive.
Sorry but you misunderstood my post. I try to be a bit more clear:
The lamps are ordinary lamps like you see them in every common apartment, they are not for inside a shower and that is clearly visible.
The models: I didn't mean that both look similar, what I meant is that I can see which base model you used to create them. The problem is not that you used this base model, but that they look too similar to the base model. Use some morphs, make them distinctive from the base model.

The lighting looks a better now, but the blue tint doesn't really fit and "feels" weird if you know what I mean.
Also try some different shaders for the skin. The texture is good, but the shader makes it look unrealistic.
 

WTFosaurus

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Aug 11, 2018
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Thanks!

I did make some changes to the base model with morphs but I guess they were pretty subtle. I didn't want to end up with something that had alien features so was trying to careful. So often when I'm designing characters for an RPG my character will end up with a trait that looks very off if looked at from a certain angle and I wanted to avoid that.

The changes I made were altering the shape and size of the head. Lightened around the eyes. Made the lips slightly fuller. Made her frame just a little smaller. I made several changes to her breasts. I remember I flared the hips bones out but I don't see any difference now. I changed her buttocks as well still just subtly.
Base vs. Now.png
What would you suggest I do make a unique model but not to the point creepy? Just avoid the extreme ends of the morphs?


They make domed recessed lights exactly like the ones in the shower for showers. I'll link a similar model. But the (physical) lights and bathroom don't really matter to me atm. This is just a test run really. I'm just trying to learn how make everything look good before I really get into it.

 

recreation

working hard
Game Developer
Jun 10, 2018
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Thanks!

I did make some changes to the base model with morphs but I guess they were pretty subtle. I didn't want to end up with something that had alien features so was trying to careful. So often when I'm designing characters for an RPG my character will end up with a trait that looks very off if looked at from a certain angle and I wanted to avoid that.

The changes I made were altering the shape and size of the head. Lightened around the eyes. Made the lips slightly fuller. Made her frame just a little smaller. I made several changes to her breasts. I remember I flared the hips bones out but I don't see any difference now. I changed her buttocks as well still just subtly.
View attachment 284425
What would you suggest I do make a unique model but not to the point creepy? Just avoid the extreme ends of the morphs?


They make domed recessed lights exactly like the ones in the shower for showers. I'll link a similar model. But the (physical) lights and bathroom don't really matter to me atm. This is just a test run really. I'm just trying to learn how make everything look good before I really get into it.

What I usually do is pulling the slider to the extreme to see the full change, and if I want something of this. If so I change the slider to a subtle value and go on with the next. If I think it looks good I make a quick render of just the face in closeup. If it still looks good I keep it and if not I go on with the morphs.
It's more often then not a lot of work, but the result is worth it.

The links don't work for me "Access Denied". I guess they block every non-US IP.
I looked it up on amazon tho. Yeah, looks like an ordinary lamp.
 
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WTFosaurus

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Aug 11, 2018
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What I usually do is pulling the slider to the extreme to see the full change, and if I want something of this. If so I change the slider to a subtle value and go on with the next. If I think it looks good I make a quick render of just the face in closeup. If it still looks good I keep it and if not I go on with the morphs.
It's more often then not a lot of work, but the result is worth it.
Thanks! I'd prefer to do a lot of work now getting the main characters right than having to go back and 'fix' them in every render a few months down the line. I'm clocking about 3-10 minutes for each of these renders so not as bad as I thought it would be given the system I'm using.
 

WTFosaurus

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Aug 11, 2018
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Thanks for the tip about rendering the models after each change. There are things with the other models that I hadn't yet tried making scenes with that I hadn't noticed. Like the 5 o'clock shadow around the youngest one's bush.

I used the same base model for each of them. They are in order from oldest to youngest with the MC second from the right. I'll be a few days altering the models to their final states though.
 

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Saki_Sliz

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May 3, 2018
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Alright, I had some free time so let me put together a little show.

first I will cover some basic ideas about lighting.

her is the layout of a basic scene (using blender).
_0 Set up.png

Now here is the basic ambient lighting, basically the flat colors (depending on how your program renders light).
I always keep this very dim, since most of the other lights are going to fill in the scene (and global illumination aka light bouncing is going to create the same effect as ambient lighting just like in real life.)
_1 ambient light.png

Now the first lamp
Key Lamp/light
just a point lamp
THIS IS CALLED HARD LIGHTING
do you see the edge of the shadow on the ball, and on the wall.
notice how sharp and crisp that transition is, this is called a HARD EDGE.
hard edges with shadows makes images look fake, even with real life photos, they don't seem natural.
this happens when the light comes from a physically small source
like a tiny flash light.
you want to avoid this (and it looks like you are doing an ok job.)
_2 Keylight hard.png

This next image is the same key light
but the size is bigger
THE SHADOWS ARE NOW DIFFERENT
the shadow on the ball is smooth (hard to tell)
the shadow on the wall is now so smooth, or blurred, it is almost hard to see it as a shape
the smooth transition is called A SOFT EDGE
this lighting is then called SOFT LIGHTING
what photographers will do is shine a light into an umbrella or paper box to make it seem like the light is physically bigger.
the thing with doing this is that small details still have crisp shadows, while the shadow of something far away (say the shadow for the leaves of a tree reaching the ground) gets blurrier or fuzzy or softer.
_3 Keylight very soft.png
NOTICE!!!
I could have made the light even softer (like bigger than the room), to the point where we can't see the shadow.
how do we know what is enough?
here is the idea, the key light acts as your main light, it is key!
it is going to be the brightest light and the color of the light is the most important (later I will say it much match the scene)
because it is key, the light will be very close to the camera, but to the side (it is unnatural to have the light be directly on the subject). I personally also have the light up a bit, since most of the time when we look at things, light is coming from above.
if the object was shiny or smoother, there would be a shiny spot where more light hits it the most (easier to see in the hard light image). This is called the highlight (or I call it that), and you can still see the shadow very easily. if you make the key light too soft you no longer see the highlight, without both highlight and shadows, the image either looks fake, simple, or artificial. having highlights helps with the 3D feeling that makes an image look realistic, interesting, and even seductive!
Sexy ass spheres!
so you want to soften the key light but still be able to see areas that still well lit by the light such that it kinda feels like there as a focus of light on some spots (for example, I always judge my keylights based on how the nose, mouth, and forehead look).

now that shadow is still to, simple, and artificial looking, so to fix that we use a fill light


_4 fill light very soft.png


with the fill light, this acts as your fake ambient lighting, and it does so by being really soft.
the idea with it is that you want to illuminate the shadows of your character (such as the shadow of the nose on the face, or the shadows around the eyes). It is so soft you can not see the shadow on the wall anymore. the goal is to try to get the shadow on the ball to be smooth out till the point you can not see the start and stop of the light on round things.
now you could have the fill light on the completely oppisite side away from the key light so that it evenly illuminates the shadow of the key light. but I find having the light a bit off, lighting up the shadows unevenly makes things more interesting, I also try to avoid having my fill light look like it is below the subject because the idea is that the fill light fakes the ambient lighting, ambient lighting comes from the light bouncing around or getting scattered by the air, and not that much light bounces up off the ground, but more comes from the wall than anything alse, so I have the fill light to the side, I also actually have it up a little bit because again I find that most of the time having light above things seems more closer to real life.

NOW LETS COMBINE THEM!

_5 key and fill light very soft.png


So hopfully it looks more interesting.
the shadow is darkest on the bottom because of how we located the lights, and this is similar to what happens in real life, so I hope it makes sense to your brain.


NOW to the other important light in a 3 point set up. the rim light (I sometimes call this the halo or highlight light)
this just seems to make things more interesting, maybe because it adds contrast.

_6 rim light.png

basically, you just want to show off the edge/outline of your subject.
I find keeping the key light and the rim light on the same side is a good idea.
I physically have the light be rather hard, bright, and close to the subject, because it is hard to get a bright halo on your subject without making the whole room light up.
adding this effect can make things seem more alive or more 'good' as in good vs evil, an evil character would have a different set up.
I have it in the top right because traditionally I find that is the best way to show off the most amount of interesting outlines (ie the sholder and head, side of body, neck). but you could put it anywhere.
the idea is we are simulating how light will wrap around objects and how in real life our eyes can adapt to a wide range of light intensities, and that there are bright lights everywhere, but we are not looking at them. you can see a bit of light wrapping around the sides of the ball, ever so gently, but not so much the bottom, again just like what happens in real life.

now lets add all of it together.
_7 together.png

Neat!

Now to try and make it easier to understand how this looks, lets apply some skin to the sphere

_8 with Skin.png


great, hopefully, you get a feel of the skin as being realistic and interesting, but the highlight you see near the center, and the halo/highlight you see near the edge.

now on to color!
the first thing I do is keep the rim light pure white, I may make this blue, but mostly white is ok because everything else will be warmer colors so the white light will look bluer relative to everything else (the effect is very subtle and in fact we are using optical illusion tricks. Pixel art is all about trick of the brain and how the brain filters information. pixel art may look simple but it is a crazy tricky science).
as I mentioned most of the time indoors the lights are warmer (almost a yellow, yellow orange, to skin color), you may use something different outdoors (which is tricky), but typically the key light will match the scene (if there is no light in the scene the key light will just be the color of the scene itself and defines the scene), this way it looks like everything belongs in the same image, in the same space, and it doesn't seem like there as a fake ghost light floating next to the camera (which there is).
lastly is the fill light. Light goes through the body, often only coming out red (stick a flash light under your hand in the dark). so in computers, skin is often simulated as a subsurface scattering material to emulate this effect, and as a result our shadows tend to be redder. in fact, when painting, making the shadows warmer than the base skin color is a good way to make characters seem alive and healthy (use blue if you want them to look dead or purple for evil people). So often with the fill light I make things interesting by making it a bit red, I do this almost all the time.

_9 colors.png

and boom, now the image pops!


so now onto your image. here I made a mock up of your scene and your lighting situation.


01 Mock.png

With the lighting set up, I will try to do what I can.
as I mentioned it seems like you have ok key light (which is just the lighs of the room reaching the characters), so all I need are the fill and rim lights.
actually, now that I look at it more, I would acutally dim the lights and add a new key light, and try to make it hard so that the shadows are more interesting on the female closer to the camera.
I added a fill light, which you can see as a white floating rectangle in the mirror, and I made it slightly red to add colors to the shadows, and I added a spotlight as the rim light. I used these two lights instead of points so that they do not light up the whole room. again I changed the room lighting (and if I had a key light I would change it too) to be a bit warmer, but not so much that it changes all the colors in the image, I kept the spot light pure white (you can see the difference in the mirror, the spot light is reaching the wall (which I can disable) and is white while the lamps are a tinge yellower/orange.

02 Mock.png

the idea is that unless you are going for a very expressive look, the effects should be subtle, not obvious.

oh, and I did the same for the character in the background as well, to make it look like she wasn't just in the shadows. she has her own fill and rim light, slightly dimmer so she doesn't compete with the main girl, and harder lights so that her shadows have enough edge to them to still be easy to see, but I still colored the lights.

I am still testing ideas of color saturation and what feelings they invoke in particular images so I don't know all the details, but this could be something to try or just interesting to read, let me know if it helps at all.
 

Saki_Sliz

Active Member
May 3, 2018
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I don't know if I see the issue.

to be honest, it seems like your skin shader isn't the best it could be. I mean, maybe you picked it because you like the style, but it is not accurate, there is some strange outline (dark) on all the edges (for example the arms), which is probably a fresnel controlled effect, which does tend to cause darkening of some shapes (such as with the arms due to how they are angled, the normal vectors are not towards the camera). A fix for this would be to use another shader, or remove the fresnel sensitivity. I have a similar effect, but it is very subtle and when I made my shader I based it on light polarization behaviors instead.

infact, when I made the mock up of your scene, I actually had to make a very basic (bad) skin shader just to replicate the issues of how flat your characters looked (too much ambient lighting could be an issue?)
 
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