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InaneGlory's Simple Soft Lighting

Overview: Simple Soft Lighting is a straightforward, easy to use set of lights for DAZ Studio that gives good quality results while rendering quickly. Beginners will find these lights very simple to understand and easy to use.More advanced users will still find good value as they are extremely customizable making them a great starting point for your renders.The Simple Soft Lighting system will grow & maintain its usefulness as your skills evolve & grow. The Simple Soft Lighting package maximizes the resources (light gels, environments, and presets) that are provided with Ominifreaker’s UE2, UberSoft , and UberSpot products.

Reference/ source material: Digital Lighting and Rendering by Jeremy Birn. UE2 and UberSoft help files provided in their content sections

Parts of the set:

  • Key Light

Instead of using one single main light for a key light, Simple Soft Lighting uses an array of five key spotlights. The five spotlights create a softer lighting environment. You get multiple shadows from slightly different directions creating a more real world feel.

  • Fill Light

We use a 360 degree environmental lighting, either UE or US to create a fill light, fleshing out the lighting in your scene and creating/providing AO in your scene.

  • Other lights:

No bounce lights, back lights or rim lights included in the set as these are very scene specific elements and are not always needed in every scene. The purpose of this light set is to be more general use. Please add these elements into your scene as you feel you need them.

How to use the lights:

  • Movement and rotation

All the spotlights are set to point at a movable target at the center of your scene. By moving the target, the spotlights will track on it without changing their relative positions. Moving the target too far away from the default location can dramatically affect how the lighting will appear as angle, location, direction and distance will change as you move the target. You can also move the entire light rig so that the center position better reflects the needs of your scene. Moving the entire light rig will not change the angle/distance/direction of the lights relative to the target. In its default setting, the light is coming in from the upper left at (Y axis -20 degrees). To change the direction of the light you can simply rotate the entire light rig until the light is casting into your scene from the angle you desire. You can also rotate the entire rig along the X and Z axis so that the light can be more directly in front of the subject, coming from the top pointing down, or coming from below pointing up.

  • Rotating the Uber Environment

Each UE has a lighting direction, and it has been set to match the lighting from the spotlight rig. You can rotate the UE independently from the rest of the rig to create a secondary source of lighting for your scene when needed.

Spotlight adjustments

  1. #1- center spotlight that the other 4 are parented to
  2. #2 –above and left of #1
  3. #3 -above and right of #1
  4. #4 -below and left of #1
  5. #5 -below and right of #1

Illumination value for spotlight #1 is set to on. Spotlights #2-5 are set to diffuse only. By default the color and intensity of all 5 lights is set to be the same. You can adjust any of these values to suit your scene. The color was selected to give a good skin tone relative to the environment lighting. The intensity was set using a pale/fair skin character to give a bit of highlight and good dynamic range. The needs of each character in each scene are different, so the color, intensity, spread angle etc can all be adjusted. The spread angle (width of light beam) is set to 70 degrees. Increasing it will widen the scope of your spotlights. Lowering it will give a smaller and more focused focal point.

  • Shadow maps:

All of the spots are set to Deep Shadow Map, but shadow softness settings are set differently. The default settings are: #1 25% #2-3 50% #4-5 75% This gives you a variety of shadows creating the illusion of lights at different distances and intensities, creating a much more real world feel. As always, any of these settings can be adjusted to suit the needs of your scene.

  • Uber Spot light (USL):

USL add the ability to adjust cone softness, which is the gradient from the center of the light to the edge of the cone. Lower numbers = less fall off, higher numbers = more fall off. USL also give the ability to add a light gel to the color channel. A light gel can be applied to any or all of the spotlights. USL also add the ability to add linear falloff to your lights. You can adjust the starting point and end point. By default this is set to off, but for a more realistic feel (and longer render times) you can turn it on. The default falloff start position of 300 is actually a little bit past the target.

  • Barn doors:

Barn doors allow you to individually adjust the top, bottom & sides of the cone of light giving you more precise control of your lighting. Adjusting each of the spotlights individually your can change the feel of the outer edge of the spotlight rig or modify how much the light from 5 spot lights overlap. When used with a light gel on one or more of the spotlights you can get a very limited targeted area.

  • UE adjustment:

The intensity on the UE has been adjusted for each preset, so that environment lighting accentuates the spotlight rig without over powering it. You can decrease or increase the intensity of the UE light in effect increasing or decreasing the ambient light. By default the environment mode for the UE is set to occlusion w/soft shadows. For much faster renders you can change the environment mode to ambient. That will give you the colored environment light without any occlusion shadows. You can also select bounce light. This gives you no actual environment lighting, but will use only the lighting created by the spotlights to give the real world effect of light bouncing between objects. Bounce light is CPU intensive and can a long time for the ray traced/bounce light to be calculated before it even starts to render. Changing to Indirect lighting adds the colored environment lighting to the bounce light. This takes an extremely powerful computer.

  • UE quality settings:

UE has 3 main settings that control the quality of your render. Occlusion samples, higher number=better quality=longer render time. If you have blotchy shadows you will probably want to raise your occlusion samples. Shading rate & Max Error Lower number=higher quality=longer render time. If the non shadowed areas are blotchy you probably want to lower your shading rate. A set of quality presets are proved in the Simple Soft Lighting package, and the ones included with UE2 are also compatible.

  • Adjusting the UberSoft Master

The quality controls are the same between the UE and the US master. You can use the presets I have provided or the ones that come with UE2.

  • UberSoft sky intensity:

The sky intensity on the UbS master has been adjusted for each preset, so that environment lighting accentuates the spotlight rig without over powering it. The UE uses a high dynamic range image to create its environment lighting, while the UbS master uses pure color to create its environment.

The zenith color is the color of the light coming down onto your scene. It affects the top parts of objects. The bounce color is the light coming up from the bottom. It affects the lower parts of objects. Horizon color is the meeting of the bounce of zenith and can be controlled by the horizon height. Zenith, bounce, horizon example:

UberSoft master has the ability to create indirect lighting, but this also very render intensive. I did not use any of the unique UberSpot specialty lights like the UberPoint Light Shader and omAreaLight Light Shader, but they can be added as additional light sources as the scene requires. Example: Streetlights, torches etc. UberSoft Quality Settings: The quality settings are the same as with the UE and can use the very same presets.

Known issues: For some strange reason if you select all five spotlights at the same time, it will show your illumination being set to off when it isn’t. This is a know product feature of DS. Please feel free to visit their bug tracker.