LIGHTING: Maya Lights

    Initial Setup: The Subject
    Create a polygon cube as the main subject.  Smooth the cube 3+ times. Mesh > Smooth - so that it looks roundish.  *You can also change the number of divisions. 
    Use Smooth Preview {3} to round out all the spikes.

    Select your cube in vertex mode, randomly select a small percentage of vertices and scale them out using constraints.  Select > Select Using Constraints . . . Under constrain section, choose Current and Next and under the Random tab check Active and assign a percentage to randomly select.  10% would be 0.100
    Now Create a ‘HUGE’ polygon plane to be used as the stage.  Scale it to the ratio shown below.
    Rotate the subject shape so that it apears that it sits on the ground.  This should be done in both the front and the side views. 
    front side
    Create Key Camera: Create > Cameras > Camera  Manipulate each camera accordingly.  Also label the camera “Render Me”  

    Initial camera position – Perspective View

    Initial camera position – Side View
    Untitled-1Now you should be looking through the camera labeled “Render ME”. We need to add one more thing, show resolution gate. There are two ways to do this. View > Camera Settings > Resolution Gate or press the resolution gate button.

    While each camera is selected in one of the perspective view choose Panel > Look through Selected. 


    Manipulate each camera accordingly.  Also label the camera “Render Me”  
    Now that we have the subject, we need to add a light.  We are going to start with a simple 1-point light setup with a spotlight.  Your main light in a scene is your Key Light

    Here is an example of a model with 1-point lighting. She is only lit with a “key” light.
    Key Lights:
    The key light is the main or the strongest light in the scene that illuminates your subject.   It  is also responsible for the over all exposure and defines the most visible shadows.  It could be from any main light source from the sun penetrating in a window sill to the spotlight on a stage. In a classical 3 point lighting setup. it is generally placed 30 to 45 degrees to the right or left of the camera. This range for the key light helps bring out more texture and form (dimension) in the subject.
    Create Key Light: Create a spot light Create > Lights > Spot Light then while each light is selected in one of the orthographic views (I used the side view) choose Panel > Look through Selected. Also label the light“Key Light” then Manipulate each light accordingly placing it about 30 to 40 degrees to to left or right of the camera.      

    Initial light position – Perspective View

    Initial light position – Front View


    It should now look something like this . . .

     There are two main choices for shadows Raytrace and Depth Map.  Depth map shadows and ray traced shadows produce similar results, Capture52though depth map shadows usually take less time to render. Maya documentation suggests to choose depth map shadows unless they cannot accomplish your visual goal; I disagree.  The quality and control is more superior with Raytraced shadows and that is what I generally use.   
    On your main light, the "Key light,” activate Ray Traced Shadows, check Use Ray Traced Shadows, and change the light radius to somewhere between  1–10, (it could be lager or smaller) it all depends on the scale of the  scene and  the distance the camera is from the main objects.   The shadow rays adjusts the quality of the shadow.  This can drastically slow down your render times.    I tend to start with at least 10 and increase it to may 40 for the final render.  This will remove the “grittiness” in the shadow.

 Under the Arnold Renderer

  • Radius – This defines the area from which the light is coming. The larger the Radius, the softer our shadows will be.
  •  Shadow Rays – Increasing this will increase the samples of our shadow quality, but will also increase our render times.
  • Ray Depth Limit – Is the limit of how many times the light ray will bounce from one surface to another.
    • 1st Render – One Point Perspective: Key Light with ray traced shadows.
      Save render as 1-Point_Perspective and make sure you change it to a JPG format.
    • Post render in Blog.
  • Great Rendering Article.
      Spot Light
    There are a number of attributes you will need to control the spotlight.  Here are the most important:
    Changing Decay Rate
    Changing Decay Rate controls how quickly the light’s intensity decreases over distance.  The default setting is No Decay.  I generally try to similar real world lighting, hence I use Quadratic Decay and in Arnold Renderer, it is set by default.
    Constant - no decay; light reaches everything
    Quadratic - light intensity decreases proportionally with the square of distance (the same as real world light)

      Changing-Cone-AngleChanging the Cone Angle 
    The Cone Angle setting changes the angle (in degrees) from edge to edge of the spot light’s beam. The valid range is 0.006 to 179.994. The default value is 40.   The advantage of changing the Cone Angle is that you do not have to adjust your intensity versus when moving the light farther or closer.  *This does is irrelevant if “No Decay” is set on your spotlight. 
    Changing the Cone Angle
    The Penumbra Angle setting changes the edge of the spot light’s beam by widening the Cone Angle  in degrees.  The intensity of the light falls off linearly to zero. The valid range is -179.994 to 179.994.  The default value is 0.
    Changing-Dropoff[3]Changing the Dropoff
    The Dropoff setting controls the rate at which light intensity decreases from the center to the edge of the spot light beam. The valid range is 0 to infinity. The slider range is 0 to 255.   Typical values are between 0 and 50.   The default value is 0 (no dropoff).