Studio Lighting

Good advertising work isn't simply a matter of recreating an object in 3D. In the real world, photographers use the intensity and direction of light to reveal the properties of their subject matter: its texture, form, weight, colour, or even translucency. If we, as 3D artists, are to create photorealism in our renders, we must employ the same photographic principles.

In this tutorial, we'll be exploring the process of lighting and rendering product images for print. This will be done by deconstructing how the image on the right - an unbranded shampoo bottle - was created, and examining how the virtual set-up mirrors that of a real-world photo studio.

To avoid distracting edges in the background of a shot, studios often photograph their subjects against a curved backdrop. We'll be simulating this by creating and texturing a suitable piece of background geometry.

In order to get a realistic look, we'll be using area lights with raytraced shadows to produce physically accurate soft shadows, similar to real soft boxes. By using Aim constraints, we can ensure that the lights can be moved around the product, without having to worry about whether they're pointing in the right direction. This will also enable us to ensure that the reflections of the lights appear exactly where we want them.

We'll also create a piece of geometry similar to a photographer's reflector behind each light, to which we can assign any chosen texture map. This will give us a visible light source, which will offer more . exibility in setting up lights, and will help achieve optimal re. ections in the product itself.

You can find the scene file for the tutorial in the supporting files. By modifying it to suit your own needs, you should be able to create template set-ups suitable for lighting any product.

Click here to download the PDF for free
Click here to download support files and hi-res screenshots