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Master MODO portraits: Learn Lighting, Rendering & Post-Processing

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Date Added: 6th November 2014
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3D Artist Bert Heynderickx - aka Alberto Ezzy - takes a look at various aspects of lighting and rendering in MODO, as well as post-production in Photoshop, in part 4 of this series


See Part 1 of this tutorial series: Perfect the geometry of a male head
See Part 2 of this tutorial series: Learn to paint convincing image maps
See Part 3 of this tutorial series: Perfect the Skin Material and the Shader Tree

In Part 1 of this tutorial series we looked at the creation of a male head portrait in MODO, revealing how to use the Sculpt Tools in MODO to clean up the geometry of scanned head data, as well as adding and modifying a hat model to perfectly fit the character. In Part 2, we moved on to use MARI and Photoshop to create the different image maps needed to feed the Skin Shader in MODO. Part 3 looked at how to import the previously made image maps into the Shader Tree in MODO and take a look at the different Effect settings for each layer in order to properly feed MODO's Skin Shader. So now, in part 4 - the final part of this tutorial session - we'll take a look at the unclamped workflow in MODO, various render related settings, and how to use different render outputs in Photoshop.

In this tutorial we take a look at lighting and rendering in MODO

Step 1: Unclamped Physical Sun

I prefer my MODO renders with Clamping set to Off. Without Clamping you get a deeper, richer render. There are a few places where you can toggle Clamping On or Off. You also need to adjust the Input White Level in the Final Color Output settings, similar to traditional photography, otherwise your render will look washed out or overexposed.

The different locations where you can turn off Clamping

Step 2: Environment Material

The Environment Material is made of 2 layers: The first layer's Environment Type is set to Physically-based Daylight. The Physically-based Daylight option works in tandem with Global Illumination to create renders lit by an incredibly realistic daylight simulation. This is especially useful in any scene that needs nice outdoor lighting.

The second layer is a nice outdoor image that I found on HDRLabs (please refer to my Pro Tips at end of this tutorial). The Blend Mode is set to Normal Multiply, which mixes the two layers without darkening the result.

For this outdoor scene, Physically-based Daylight is the way to go!

This image will be reflected in the eyes of the fisherman

Step 3: Render Outputs

I'm using the following Render Outputs for compositing purposes in Photoshop: Final Color, Depth, Ambient Occlusion, Surface ID, and Alpha. As noted in Step 1, it's very important to change the Input White Level or your render will look washed out. The value is scene dependent and can vary greatly from one scene to another. Here I have selected 6.5W/srm2 instead of the standard 1.0W/srm2.

Let's compare the difference:

The right Input White Level is paramount in an unclamped workflow

Step 4: Tone Mapping

As you may have noticed in the Final Color Output properties, I use a value of 50% for Tone Mapping. Tone mapping is the adaptation of contrast across a range of values. The reason for the manipulation can range from strictly aesthetic to purely technical. Tone mapping, as it relates to MODO, is often meant for the compression of dynamic range in the rendered image; dynamic range being the ratio between the brightest value and the darkest value.

Let's compare different settings:

Tone Mapping is another cool tool in MODO's rendering arsenal

Step 5: Render Properties

In the screenshot you can check out my Render settings. I'll go over the most important ones for you:

? Antialiasing is set to 64 Samples/Pixel. If I was doing the Depth of Field effect inside MODO, this value should be increased significantly. As I chose to do the DOF effect in post (which is faster), 64 will suffice.

? Next to Antialiasing, "Refinement Shading Rate and Refinement Threshold" are the 2 other settings that control the ?quality' of the render. I usually set these to 0.1 pixels and 5.0%, as I have found that they give a really good result.

? In this scene I use Hybrid Global Illumination because it gives the best of both worlds: it allows the strongest influencing rays (the first bounce) to use the more accurate Monte Carlo method and blend that with the faster and smoother results of the subsequent Irradiance Caching (IC) evaluation. Hence I selected Second Bounce Only in the IC properties.

? Environment Importance Sampling (EIS) is set to 512. This is a feature that takes into account the brightness of an HDR image used for image-based lighting, resulting in more accurate shadows.

The clear and well-arranged Render Properties in MODO

continued on next page >

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