Ques­tion

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Imaginenation -

How should I de­pict re­flected light from worn metal sur­faces?

Chaz Dupont, Canada

An­swer

Mar­cel replies

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.

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