Tag: Work

Illuminate your 3D work with Dome lights

The use of Dome lights has been one of the greatest advancements in CGI creation over the past decade. Bathing a scene from every direction used to be computationally intensive, but with advances in both hardware and software, the Dome light has emerged as an efficient way to start lighting your 3D art.  

This is because a Dome light can embed an image-based light image (IBL, also known as HDRIs). This is a single image of a real environment or one created by an artist which, when mapped into a Dome light, instantly re-creates the lighting environment.  

These images are usually saved in a 32-bit format that captures nearly the full range of available light, and allows lighting to be created with a rolling falloff with no ugly clipping or banding. As the images have a full range of captured light they can be adjusted either with more power or less to help set the desired mood of the image.  

  • 12 tips for realistic 3D lighting

While there are applications that can create IBLs, there are countless images available that re-create everything from a rocky vista to a photography studio.

Dome lights are also highly computationally efficient, which means it can be a good idea to use a spherical camera in an existing scene to create a HDRI map of the background. Placing that in a scene creates no loss of light fidelity, but enables the artist to concentrate on the primary geometry with little slowdown.  

The biggest caveat with using Dome lights is that they solve so many problems that it can be easy to neglect other light types. This can be a mistake, as adding extra light to highlight key objects will always make a scene feel more alive than just using a Dome light.

What is a Dome light?

Dome lights give your 3D work a studio look

A Dome light in its simplest form is a light object that surrounds the scene in a constant white light from all directions. As soon as a Dome light (Skydome or Environment are other commonly used terms) is placed it creates an instantly pleasing soft 'studio' look, which would be hard to re-create with any other type of single light object. Be warned that not all applications show the Dome light as a visible object, especially when it is for a third-party render solution.

01. Colour a Dome light

Colour gradients can give you interesting visual results

While Dome lights are most commonly associated as a base for image-based light sources, this doesn't mean that there aren't other ways to light a scene with them. One of the easiest and most powerful ways for a creative effect is to use a ramp or gradient texture to feed in a range of colours into the Dome light, to produce a more interesting look. As the Dome light is a physical object in the scene it can be rotated to easily adjust the look you are after.

02. Use image-based lighting

Use 32-bit HDR images for best lighting results

Using an image with a Dome light is a really effective way to add a much more realistic look to a scene. High Dynamic Range images which contain a full 32 bits of colour data are the best format to use with a Dome light, as they allow exposure to be adjusted without any clipping. Otherwise, the coloured areas in an image can either go to white or black as there is not enough colour data, which can in turn create some ugly, unwanted image artefacts.

03. Eliminate the background

Hide the light image for better results and faster renders

While many HDRIs come with additional background images, it is still a good idea to ensure that the HDRI is invisible to the alpha channel and potentially to the camera itself. This means that the Dome light is only lighting the geometry and creating interesting reflections rather than getting in the way where it is not needed, such as skies. Also, not having the background enabled can save on render speed, as the computer only needs to render the areas that are visible.

This article was originally published in 3D World, the world's best-selling magazine for CG artists. Buy issue 233 here or subscribe to 3D World here.

Related articles:

  • How to create a diffuse light in a 3D scene
  • Octane Lighting Essentials review
  • How to achieve better lighting with V-Ray


Colourise greyscale work in Photoshop

Hit the icon in the top right to see the final image full size

For this video Photoshop tutorial, I’ll be taking you through the art techniques and tools that I use to create full-colour images from a greyscale line art starting point. This method will work with any layer setup, workflow and Photoshop brushes, and I’ll be demonstrating my approach using Photoshop’s default tools. For this walkthrough I'll be working with an ink drawing that I love from fellow artist Hunter Bonyun. 

Some previous knowledge of how to use masks and layer groups is useful to have before going into this tutorial, but experience using them within a workflow isn’t necessary. You’ll notice that I point out my personal preferences when tackling a certain step. Nothing’s set in stone, especially where painting is concerned, so feel free to adapt my approaches to your own creative workflow! Watch the video tutorial below, or scroll down for some expert tips.

Tip 01: Use adjustment layers

I like to use adjustment layers because they are a non-destructive way of colourising. Furthermore, I can either go back into them and adjust them when I have more tones down, or pile them on top of each other for a better effect. This is true whether I’m colourising or just adjusting the balance of my work. 

02. Play with local colour

Trying to get all of the colours to feel right more or less on your first attempt can feel overwhelming. My method can be used to put down local colours instead. You can then adjust them after the image is in place, without any destructive or negative effects.

03. Take care with photo textures

If I’m working with photo textures within a piece that has a painterly style, then it’s crucial not to leave them as is, or as the final step in texturing. Painting on top of the textures enables me to create a tactile feeling without the dissonance of combining photorealism with non-realistic pieces.

The print version of this tutorial appeared in ImagineFX magazine. Subscribe here.

Read more:

  • Photoshop shortcuts to speed up your workflow
  • How to improve your character drawing
  • The best Photoshop plugins


How Your Blog and Social Media Work Together

They seem to be two totally separate activities. Blogging is long-form content aimed at providing users with value and helping your site rank with search engines. Social media posts are more informal, brief statements, or photos. However, the two online activities shouldn’t exist separately. Here’s how to use your blog posts to enrich your social media feeds and use social media to drive traffic to your website.

Understanding Search Engines

Google and other search engines have one goal – to provide users with the information they’re seeking. Web crawlers or bots scour every online page to examine its titles, subheadings, images, and other content. They index that information and make it available to search engines.

Search engines also note how many users click on your website pages and how long they stay when they get there. If many people click and they spend several minutes reading your content, search engines reward you with improved ranking. That, in turn, brings more traffic.

Each blog post is like its own web page. When you fill them with keyword rich content, well-written headings, and carefully labeled images, they’re easy for bots to index correctly. Even more importantly, when you make them well-written and informative, users stay to read every word.

Social media helps you get blog posts in front of a wider audience. When you share your blog posts on social media, your content gets in front of people who might not otherwise hear of your products and services – those who check their feeds regularly, often multiple times a day. When they click on your content, they more likely to make a purchase and your site receives more traffic, which improves search engine ranking.

Blogging is Critical to Social Media Strategy

Social media is an important component of your online presence, and it’s the way many of your customers will choose to interact with you. However, social media posts are short. They don’t allow you to communicate brand values or provide users with the type of in-depth content they really want.

Blogging allows you to be helpful, informative, and knowledgeable. Every post should be professional and aligned with your brand values, so include an author photo and brief bio so your audience sees the human on the other side of the machine. Supplement posts with graphics, videos, and high-quality images to encourage user engagement.

Most Successful Blog Posts for Social Media

The best type of blog posts to share on social media will vary depending on your industry, but they will likely fall into these four categories:

  • How-to articles that walk readers through the steps they should take to solve a problem or complete a task;
  • Lists that rank the top hits, most knowledgeable experts, or best options;
  • Posts that provide information, statistics, and research; and
  • Posts that give arguments to support the writer’s opinion to help readers make a choice.

Business owners wonder how often they should post. Whether you’re posting video, images, or written content, it’s always best to choose quality over quantity. If you don’t have time to create something of value to the reader that reflects your brand’s commitment to excellence, it’s better not to post at all. Some businesses choose to outsource content creation, so they can consistently offer users high-quality posts.

How to Use Facebook for Blog Promotion

Every social media platform has different audiences, so your social media strategy should involve different tactics depending on where you post. Once you’ve created blog posts for your target audience, use these tips to get them in front of your Facebook followers.

  • Share each post. Create a schedule for automatic posting directly from your website or cut and paste your blog’s URL onto your page.
  • Create social proof by boosting your post to demographics most likely to like, share, and comment. Invite your team members to do the same.
  • Ask questions or request input in the comments below your post. Facebook’s algorithm prefers posts that show more engagement.

Sharing Blog Posts on Pinterest

Pinterest can be a challenging place to promote your blog because every user starts without an audience. Over time, however, it’s worth the effort because Pinners are often willing to commit, with a high percentage purchasing what they pin.

Draw traffic by participating in group boards. Once you’ve prepared at least 10 pins, written your bio, and chosen an avatar to represent your brand, ask group board owners to invite you to contribute in a comment, email, or private message. Optimize your images for the greatest impact and include a call to action that leads them straight to the post you’re promoting.

Using Twitter

Complete your business’s Twitter profile and add your blog’s URL. Then promote your blog by doing the following:

  • When you write posts, include click-to-tweet links so readers are more likely to share.
  • Break long posts into chunks and promote them with short tweets.
  • Tweet intriguing quotes to give audiences a taste of what they’ll find on your website.
  • Use hashtags to connect your post to related topics.
  • Participate in chats with industry leaders for greater exposure and more followers.

Your blog and your presence on social media platforms both show the public what your brand has to offer. When you use them together, they create continuing traffic and a huge return on your marketing investment.

The post How Your Blog and Social Media Work Together appeared first on TheeDesign.