HDR Light Studio Xenon
PRICE £95 (Indie licence) | COMPANY Lightmap |
What does this tool have to offer?
Lighting is a task that takes a particular set of skills and experience to master, but HDR Light Studio is a tool that allows even the novice to produce fantasticlooking renders, using whichever pipeline they prefer.
The premise is a simple one, in that all you need to do is load a model into HDR Light Studio and then use a set of simple-to-use tools to add, position, and tweak assorted lights and properties.
The software ships with a handful of preset models, including a car, which is an excellent way of working your way around the application. With the model loaded into the scene, you are presented with a main render view, a light dome view, which is flattened, then areas for scene management, presets and attribute editing. The interface is perhaps a little dated looking, but is easily adapted to your preferred layout and the toolbars and icons are clearly labelled. I would like to see options for
“IF YOU HAVE A GLOSSY MATERIAL ON YOUR OBJECT, YOU’LL EVEN SEE THE LIGHT’S REFLECTION ON THE SURFACE”
changing the colour scheme of the interface as I find the default grey too dark, and it contrasts a little too much with the render viewer.
The actual process of lighting your model is a blast however and it’s really easy to lose yourself in it, tweaking this, that and the other. In essence, all you do is choose a preset light from the library window and drag it onto the surface of your model in the render view. Let go of the cursor where you would like the chosen preset to light the mesh and boom, it’s done. If you have a glossy material on your object, you’ll even see the light’s reflection on the surface. This in itself is worth the fee but you can then grab the light again and reposition it where you want. This can be done in the render view or on the light dome view, making it very easy to dial in specific looks.
Adding more lights, from flash bulbs to giant soft boxes, is the same kind of drag-anddrop approach. If you want to adjust a light, simply select the preset in the scene manager and you are good to go.
It’s equally simple to adjust the individual light settings too. Over to the right is the attribute editor panel, where you can change brightness, colour settings and so on, all clearly and logically laid out.
If there’s one thing that really makes this a tool worth having, it’s the ease of use. Results are similar to other
methods of lighting, either in your host application or by third party, but there is nothing that lets you dial in exactly what you want in anywhere close to the time this takes.
Which brings me on to the other big news in this version. HDR Light Studio has had bridges to other software for a while, but this release adds a Blender connection and it works very well indeed. With both apps running you’ll need to activate the add-on in Blender’s Preferences panel, then all you do is head to the World tab, where you can link your scenes, before heading back to HDR Light Studio to take on the lighting tasks. Save your work there and then go back to Blender, choosing either Cycles or Eevee, and hit the Render button. As long as you have your GI settings on you will find the lighting scheme perfectly matches what you set up.
HDR Light Studio is a fantastic lighting tool, making what can appear a daunting task both fun and intuitive. If only all 3D workflows could be this efficient, artists would enjoy much more rewarding work days. Not only is working in this software fun, but the results are fantastic. Look beyond the slightly heavyfeeling interface and you will be in for a treat.