Contributor Spotlight: Domeble & The Art of Light
When creating a scene in Adobe Dimension CC with 3D assets from Adobe Stock, there are a variety of techniques to take into consideration. One of these is understanding how best to light your scene, which is one of the most critical tools you can leverage in 3D. Whether you are going for a bright, minimalistic render, an abstract, energetic vibe, or even a photorealistic, hyperreal scene, lighting is key.
If you are new to the world of 3D lights, there are a few basics to understand.
- 3D lights are often referred to as IBLs (image-based lights), and they are capable of capturing real-world lighting from all angles.
- By using these 3D lights in Dimension, artists have the power to control light in a way that is almost impossible with a traditional photo shoot.
The process of creating these lights is a specialty of Carl Lyttle from Domeble. We had an opportunity to talk with Carl this week about his insights, his personal history, and what drew him into the world of 3D lighting.
What is your background in 3D lighting and what led you down this path?
Before I was formally introduced to CGI (computer-generated imagery), I had been working as an automotive advertising photographer for a number of years. It was only about a decade ago that everyone in the automotive creative sector started using this term and referring to it as the “next big thing.” When a client of mine asked about it, I knew I had to perfect this new way of shooting automotive images. Not long after, I started shooting empty landscape backplates — which were mostly roads where CG car models could be placed for rendering, and matching 360 HDRIs (high-dynamic range imaging) with the backplates.
How did your previous experiences inspire and motivate you to start your own business focused on 3D lights?
When I was shooting CGI car brochures, I had clients who would constantly change their minds about the locations after it was too late to go shoot new locations. It then occurred to me that having a large database of locations would help resolve these types of last-minute client changes. This observation is what initially prompted me to start an IBL library.
What is the most surprising thing you have learned while working in this domain?
I think over the years I have been more inspired than surprised by this domain. There is definitely a surprise element at first, since CGI opens up a whole new world of endless creative possibilities. All in all, what I’ve learned about CGI is that it must achieve photorealism in order to be convincing. At the end of the day, only a good IBL will render realistically enough to achieve this. If someone is unable to tell whether the work in front of them is a real shot or a CG image, then you have succeeded!
Why do you think lighting is an important factor in creating a photorealistic 3D scene?
In the same way that you wouldn’t build a house without a proper foundation, you shouldn’t build a CG image without the right foundations. In this case, these foundations include using the light that will best suit your scene. The key to any successful CG render is to have great depth within the CG lighting rig. This means that it is crucial to maximize the dynamic range between the shadows and the highlights, and the pure light points like the sun. A common misconception is that you can shoot lights anytime and anywhere and then fix them in post-production. However, that is not the case at all. In reality, the quality of the light capture is what the render depends on the most because of how it will impact the final result.
Do you have any suggestions or advice for users who want play with 3D lighting in their scenes but do not know where to start?
The best way to answer this is to focus on a specific scene — whether studio, indoors, or outdoors. For studio lights, I would recommend starting with a basic studio lighting rig that will give you a good lighting base, so that you can rotate around your 3D object and watch how the light, shape, and form of that object changes. After that, you can start having fun with shadows, highlights, and more complex lighting setups. Users who are looking to use location-based IBLs have to really think about the 3D object they are placing in their scene and what kind of reflections they want. These reflections are crucial if you want to give your render more realistic qualities. In conclusion, the best recommendation I can give users is to just dive in, have fun, and test all different types of IBLs. It is through experience that you will gain confidence and learn to seamlessly include 3D lighting in your creative workflow. Above all, let your intuition be your guide through this process!