Lighting in Maya:
The lighting is an important part of rendering, as it allows us to see the subject, and we can adjust the types of lighting to show mood, intensity and details depending on what we choose.
In filming, there are terms such as three-point and four-point lighting, these are applicable to animations also.
Three point lighting involves the key light which is the main source of illumination, the fill light, that highlights all the smaller details and intricacies of the model, and the backlight which is used so the viewer can distinguish the focus point from the background. It is used as a standard for the industry.
Four point lighting is just this, but with a second backlight to illuminate the background.
Types of Lighting:
Typically, ambient light is widely distributed indirect lighting that bounces off the objects in your scene, and in some cases shone through the objects too (like a window), it will light up areas that are not directly being lit by another light source.
In Maya, however what this does is add the same colour and intensity of light to wrap around the object regardless of where it is placed.
This is a light source that emits its rays in all directions, meaning the shadows face away from the light in every direction also, quite similar to that of a light bulb. However this wouldn’t be the case in real life, as light sources can emit more light in some places than others,
This is much like a point light, except it limits the rays to a cone of light only, these are popular as they can be used to focus on one particular subject.
This type of lighting emitted by a rectangle allows for a much more high quality lighting in the scene, but this also risks longer rending times and can be more demanding, this is recommended for still shots and not animations.
This is a type of lighting that fills a sphere of space.
This type of lighting only emits rays in a certain direction and to highlight certain parts of your subject / scene.
Rendering in Maya:
Now I’ll be showing you examples of three point lighting in the render view of Maya.
Here we have the glass model in three point lighting that has 3 different colours to help demonstrate the rendering process.
And here is the model again, but this time rendered, however upon closer inspected it looks grainy and noise is visible in the final piece, this is because the render software Maya comes with isn’t very efficient, so we have been told to use another plugin for our renders, ‘MentalRay’.
Here we can see the lights and shadows much more clearly, and the model looks much smoother, however as a result, the scene will take much more time to render out.
Here’s another example with the Weedle (second attempt) model.
Render (with MentalRay):
Render (Maya Software):