How should I depict reflected light from worn metal surfaces?
Chaz Dupont, Canada
Metal has a reflective component that can appear shiny or matt. When rendering out metallic objects, balance both of these effects to achieve realistic results. The key difference between a shiny, new metal and a metal that’s been worn is that when light reflects against worn metal, it’ll diffuse that light. A polished surface will reflect light on its surroundings further, whereas a worn metal’s matt bumps and scratches will scatter the light beams, resulting in a softer illumination.
You’ll likely need to tackle lighting challenges in any scene where you have a variety of metal surfaces, and understanding the relationship between your light sources and your material is crucial. You can study how light behaves around you, but in a concept environment you don’t always have access to real-life examples. You can speed things up by using 3D software to generate accurate lighting information, ensuring a strong foundation for your painting. I like to mock up my subject in a 3D software package such as Modo, and use it to assist in the setup of light sources and material properties.
A technician works on the reconstruction of an old, broken-down military drone. I chose a simple lighting scheme to support the overall ramshackle mood. This area contains several sources of minor light reflecting on multiple surfaces. The importance here is creating a natural distinction between all of them.