QuickTut: Basic Poser lighting
|12 min read
erogenesisCGI's avatar
By erogenesisCGI   |   
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Hey peeps, I thought I might try something here. With Project E coming up hopefully soon, it might be wise for me to drop some tuts on how to actually effectively use her, like with simple small tuts like this. You might be shocked to see how simple my (Poser 10 / Pro 2014) setups are... or maybe I'm just crazy lol. Its not the best render, but its a nice start, right?

Superfly is not very different from this, with exception of the specular / glossy / reflection settings.

This tut is simple, how to render this:

Tut Basic Louise by erogenesisCGI

Its a very simple scene. Ingredients are:
- Girl
- Hair
- TShirt
- Pants (optional)
- Ground (or flat plane)
- Skydome (sphere with normals flipped)
- Sunlight / directional light / infinite light
- Brain
- Poser

This is what the scene looks like overall:

Tut Basic environ3x by erogenesisCGI Tut Basic environx by erogenesisCGI 
Nothing abnormal with the girl, just a regular mesh with conforming stuff to her. You can load up your V4 or whatever. As you can see below there is just one light (infinite) that represents the sunlight. 

Scene by erogenesisCGI

These are the settings of the sunlight, and the properties:

Tut Basic Sun by erogenesisCGI Tut Basic Sun prop by erogenesisCGI
(edit: Ambient Occlusion can be left unchecked actually. IDL will now sort that out.)

And here are the Firefly render settings:

Tut Basic settings by erogenesisCGI
(edit: Bucket Size can be something like 64, 128 or 512... whatever doesn't kill your PC :D )

This is what the skydome's material looks like:

Tut Basic skydome by erogenesisCGI

This is just a Jpeg image its linked to.The jpeg is a 360 image panorama or whatever you call it. Its an image that goes all the way round. I'm just using it for the color information its giving the IDL. You can add an HDR image or an EXR. It adds just a bit more definition to the actual lighting, but at the end of the day you definitely need that extra lighting from either infinite lights or spotlights to make sure you get realistic shadows. 

Note That the images are only connected to the diffuse and ambient and that the diffuse value is at zero. So the diffuse connection is just to give the preview something to show. For the rest its doing nothing. The ambient is doing all the work here, and that basically means its giving light and ignoring shadows.

And one important thing I forgot, the Skydome sphere does not cast shadows. You can uncheck this in its properties in the parameter panel.

 Place the sun here:

Tut Basic sun position by erogenesisCGI
A simple trick is to take a camera and place 'sun' in the Skydome in the middle of the preview, and then place the sunlight's gizmo directly on the opposite side of the tracking ball so that its coming from the exact same direction as the light in the Skydome. If your image is a proper 360 image, the shadows should match the position of the sun.

Simple huh?
The real magic happens here with the girl's materials:

Tut Basic mats by erogenesisCGI

- Top right: main color of the girl's face. The diffuse color, basically. That 'input' node is just there so that I don't have to link everything up again if I change the image node.
- Gets pulled into two Sub surface scatter nodes (lower two purple links) to give the girl the effect of skin that absorbs light.
- The two nodes are not entirely necessary, that was just something I came up with to give that extra 3D effect. You can just have the one scatter node with "Skin 1" selected.
- The two SSS nodes combine into an Edge Blend node (you can entirely skip this node like mentioned before and direct the link straight to the blender node)
- Dark purple link connects to a blender node that does real magic. It basically blacks out all the parts of the face that aren't the skin (like eyebrows) and the White-on-Black mask does that.
- That same mask is directly connected to the value of the Diffuse_Value and kills off the diffuse influence on that which is supposed to be skin.
- This effect gives the eyebrow hair a more matte and less jelly look than the rest.
- The bump and skin nodes should speak for themselves. Ask me in the comments if you need clarification there. 

(edit: Nodes are explained in a little more detail at the bottom)

If you think this was bad, check Sen's mats out:

Sen Example by erogenesisCGI
Sen is back on the menu! by erogenesisCGI

The rest should be fairly simple. Here's her hair:

Tut Basic hair by erogenesisCGI
I combined my own mats with this one, not sure why I've combined the rough one with the spec, maybe it was to break up the linear effect of the other maps. You can add a SSS node instead of connecting it to the diffuse. The SSS will let light shine through the hair. Be sure to check normals forward to ensure that the other side of the hair polygons behave normally (more of that in next section).

Her Tshirt:
Tut Basic tshirt by erogenesisCGI
Cloth is dead, so connect it directly to the diffuse at the top. You can add a scatter node if you want to give he cloth some translucency, or you can also add diffuse node to the translucence channel. You definitely need to check the "normals forward" then. 'Normals forward' basically flips a polygon that is facing away from the camera back towards the camera, and it thus behaves like the mesh should be in its original position. Great for stuff like paper, or like here, cloth. The edge blend of the blinn node is probably connected to the reflectivity, giving it that velvety look. You could probably leave that out though.

Camera settings are simple:

Camera Setings by erogenesisCGI

fstop is at 6, usually I have it a 11 but the lower the number the higher the blur of the Depth of Field. This is relatively similar to how real cameras work. Study that, in fact stufy a lot of photography to make good poser renders. Trust me there.

When you dial the 'focus_Distance' you'll see this:

Focus by erogenesisCGI
That's where the focus is going to be. Make it intersect her chin or some part of her. That will be in focus. If its too blurry, set the fStop to a higher number like 11 or 16 or 22.

That's it!

You might notice that I am no 'expert' here and a lot of my knowledge and understanding of Firefly has come through experience, experimenting, trial and error mostly. Its good to know the tech and theory behind all these things if you can, but sometimes its hard to keep up with what's going on in the vast and expanding field of CGI, and the fastest way to actually learn is to play round with it and see for yourself what the effects are. Always keep playing!

Tut Basic Louise by erogenesisCGI

PS: avoid IBL.



Very basic Node structure in Poser:

The power of Poser's node-base material room is that you can connect anything to anything just about. This is brilliant for masks and isolating certain effects on a surface from others. The node structure is the most efficient way to oversee a very complex material like what I showed you before. Don't be intimidated by nodes, all they do is change something, and whatever they change, they pass on to the next link. Its up to you to connect it in the way that works for you. Now all that's left to understand is what all the channels in the primary root node does. More on that some other time.

Here is a simple overview of how a node works. What goes in, like color information, gets changed by the node, and ends up in the 'PoserSurface' root node.

Tut Node1 by erogenesisCGI

Nodes can affect other nodes yet again, but still it goes the same way.

Tut Node2 by erogenesisCGI

Blender nodes are super powerful. With the use of a mask, you can determine whatever effect / color will be transferred to the mesh. The example below shows that the white parts of he mask will become red, and the black parts blue. You can switch those around easily of course. 

Tut Nodeblend by erogenesisCGI

anonymous's avatar
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Nonsolum's avatar
NonsolumHobbyist Digital Artist
"My GF assembling an IKEA closet.Woohooooo! 

You really are a case to part. :D (Big Grin)
Thank you so much for the tuto, Ero!
Gallows-Girl-Amy's avatar
Gallows-Girl-AmyProfessional Digital Artist
In case anybody was wondering, this is the difference that the skin set up in this tutorial made to an old pre-SSS character: Material Comparison
RHSC-Productions's avatar
RHSC-ProductionsHobbyist General Artist
Thank you Ero! I can't wait to experiment with this.
LapinDeFer's avatar
LapinDeFerHobbyist Digital Artist
Fine tutorial, Ero!

I am going to have a closer look at your skin shaders. Did you tell us you would do an addendum for Superfly, or was I just imagining that??
poserhorror's avatar
poserhorrorHobbyist Digital Artist
very cool - test it the next days and send you the first picture :-) 
dullboy's avatar
Thanks for this tutorial! Your level of involvement with the non-vendor part of the industry is simply amazing and most excellent! I am looking forward very much to Project E's release. I hope it's soon, lol! :)
Singular3D's avatar
Singular3DHobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! So Project E will work in Poser 2014 Pro? Good to know!
Floor-1-3's avatar
Thanks Ero.

Out of interest, why avoid IBL?
I try to go for 2 lights in everything. One IBL and another light with a slight blue edge. I rarely use 360 world ball things as my stuff is always indoors.

But then, your renders are better than mine :)

I guess your 360 image is acting as an IBL in this instance? How would you treat an enclosed scene, 4 walls and a roof? Still have the ambient 360 image?
erogenesisCGI's avatar
erogenesisCGIProfessional Digital Artist
I've just had lousy results from IBL, and I think its just remnant of the time when Poser didn't have IDL.

Here are some tests I did a while back:

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IBL test | Diffuse only - Spec only by erogenesisCGI

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Playing with IBL in Poser's Firefly by erogenesisCGI

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One more light test by erogenesisCGI

With a skydome (or HDRI dome) you get two things in one go: 1. a consistent backdrop and 2. the lighting to go with it. And yes it basically does what IBL was supposed to do, except Poser doesn't make it an actual light. Its now part of the IDL system (Indirect lighting). I always have that dome in there even if my scenes are indoors, there will always be some window that might shows an outside world or something. Of course, if you're in a dungeon with no windows at all, then yeah its best to just leave it out. Here is a pic where I probably don't have a skydome:

Mature Content

What is Lali saying? by erogenesisCGI

However, to light a room will be my next tut I think. Lighting a room should be as simple as placing lights where the actual light props in a scene are IRL, like here its exactly where the lights in her room are. The one on the shelf to the right, one hanging off the ceiling (off the frame), and one at her desk. There might be another one hanging off the ceiling above the camera. They're most likely omni lights (point).

Rachel's room by erogenesisCGI

Or like this one, its the sunlight from outside, with three extra blurred spotlights helping the light dispersion from outside to stream in. If you look carefully there's also light coming from the hall way to the left.

Fuck pillows, its cucumber time...!!! by erogenesisCGI
abrahamjones's avatar
Much appreciated, this was quite a bit of work.
erogenesisCGI's avatar
erogenesisCGIProfessional Digital Artist
Oh not that much, I might make more when releasing PE!
Nephanor's avatar
NephanorHobbyist Digital Artist
I should introduce you to Octane, you will probably squee with delight at some of the stuff you can do in it.  You will also likely cringe at some of the shortcomings.  But when it comes to realism, it's on par with iRay, if not a bit better, and a LOT faster than SuperFly.  My recent renders are all using it and a VERY simple setup.  It also has THE BEST alpha channel rendering, it actually has partial transparency baked in.  Which makes things REALLY sweet!
erogenesisCGI's avatar
erogenesisCGIProfessional Digital Artist
I've checked Octane out several times, also on recommendation of Epoch. I just haven't had the time to properly dig into it yet. The results are certainly impressive. 
Nephanor's avatar
NephanorHobbyist Digital Artist
When I get my Octane beast machine up and running, I will be doing a LOT more of it!  :D
RHSC-Productions's avatar
RHSC-ProductionsHobbyist General Artist
I love what I have seen with Octane. What I don't love is it's price. over $500 US. thats a pretty steep ask...I haven't had the free capital to do it yet.
It sure is beautiful though.
Nephanor's avatar
NephanorHobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, it is expensive, but it is worth it in my opinion.
marcelojavier83's avatar
Guess one day i'll dig into this loool.
I have Daz but barely went into it
erogenesisCGI's avatar
erogenesisCGIProfessional Digital Artist
hehe take your time!!! This is Poser, but I'm sure much of it works the same in DS
ludwigR's avatar
thank you verry much, it's good to see how experts work and i really love your work
erogenesisCGI's avatar
erogenesisCGIProfessional Digital Artist
hehe thanks very much! :D
Gallows-Girl-Amy's avatar
Gallows-Girl-AmyProfessional Digital Artist
I'll have to play around with this it looks interesting.  I have to admit I found skin mats a little intimidating, but this will give me a bit of guide.
erogenesisCGI's avatar
erogenesisCGIProfessional Digital Artist
I added some more info about how Nodes work! Maybe it might help to make it less intimidating!
Gallows-Girl-Amy's avatar
Gallows-Girl-AmyProfessional Digital Artist
Thanks.  I think I've got the hang of it.  Sadly I wasn't saving and I broke poser.  I had a couple of other questions in passing.  I notice you have AO checked in you light properties.  I didn't think AO was compatible, or for that matter necessary with IDL?  Also your bucket size seems a bit ambitious, I've rarely gone above 64, usually 32?  I use bigger buckets in Superfly, because I'm using the GPU.  I'm starting to wonder if I've been doing everything wrong.  :D
erogenesisCGI's avatar
erogenesisCGIProfessional Digital Artist
Oh yeah the AO can be uchecked, That's actually remnant of times passed. It still creeps up into my scenes from old settings. I keep forgetting to switch that off. 

The bucket size was more of an experiment for me with FF and I found that 1024 worked fine for me with P10. With P11 things are different and I actually don't have a clue what the meaning of the bucket size is anymore. In P11 I can barely tell the difference in speed with 64 and 1024 with most scenes, except for with test scenes perhaps. So I definitely cannot tell if you're doing something wrong. To be honest they should automate that because I find it weird that we have to guess the size in this modern age of technology where a simple speed test can estimate more accurately what bucket size is needed.
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