Now that the technical challenge behind lighting has disappeared, lets look at how light can affect the artistic decisions we make when it comes to portrait lighting. The way we light at Carse And Waterman, is the same as you would light for film of photography. Lets take a look at portrait lighting. We are also testing lighting in a new Renderer called Redshift. Redshift is a fairly new Renderer that used GPU computing to produce results vastly quicker than CPU Rendering. While we currently use Arnold for rendering, we try to be nimble at Carse And Waterman so that we stay at the cutting edge of VFX techniques and software to stay competitive. The version of Redshift we are using is an evaluation copy so please ignore the watermarking.
First lets start with our head. This model is a laser scan obtained from ten24.info (http://ten24.info/tag/free-3d-scan/). I've placed a basic grey shader on the head, so that we just look at lighting without worrying about skin. This is how our head model looks with the 'default' or no lighting. Notice how flat the image appears, one side of the head is darker, but there are no shadows or highlight, just one side of the head is dark.
Lets add a light to our scene. This is placed behind the camera, and produces a flat or 'flashlight' result. This results isn't much better than our default lighting. There is no shape information, and our head still looks flat.
Now lets move the lights position to the left or right of our model. It immediately looks much better, with shadows draping across half of the face our model now has a sense of depth and shape. This single light source placed to the side of our model is called Split lighting, or side lighting. It produces a dramatic look with half the face in shadow and is often used in film noir.
Placing the light below the subject and lighting upwards produces a dramatic ominous tone, and is used to light villainous characters. It is also used in horror films to add suspense or make the audience uncomfortable.
Placing the light above the subject has an entirely different look. Top lighting can be used to provide a glamorous look, or to highlight our character, and bring them into focus.
Notice how drastically different all of these lighting setups are, using just a single light. However it isn't just the number of lights or their placement that can have an impact, another important aspect of lighting is the softness of a light source. Smaller light sources produce harsher results. Shadows are crisper and more detailed. Larger light sources produce soft shadows and more flattering results. This is the same light as before but made larger. The result is a much softer, less dramatic results with less contrast.