3D World

HDR Light Stu­dio Xenon

PRICE £95 (In­die li­cence) | COM­PANY Lightmap |

- WEB­SITE www.lightmap.co.uk

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.

VERDICT

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 ??  ?? Turn the com­plex task of light­ing into an in­tu­itive and fun ex­pe­ri­ence
Turn the com­plex task of light­ing into an in­tu­itive and fun ex­pe­ri­ence
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