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Damian Stempniewski, a Senior Lighting Artist from Remedy, has shared some valuable tips and tricks on lighting with The CGSociety. The artist, who has worked on games like Gears of War: Judgment, Dying Light, and Robinson: The Journey, talked on three important things that can color your scene.
1. Start with a Skydome
Always start with your sky as most of modern engines can capture ambient lighting directly from it, giving you a much richer look. The artist uses HDRI skies to achieve a realistic look of the scene. He also emphasizes the importance of testing various skydomes to compare how they react with geometry, fog and the mood of your scene.
2. Don’t Fix Bad Art With Lighting
One common mistake – you can’t fix everything with a perfect lighting setup. If your materials are no good, your lighting won’t save your scene. “Make sure the albedo maps consist mainly of color – remove obvious lighting information (and if the engine can handle that itself – remove it completely) and make sure that values match real world materials – you can easily find PBR charts online – use them! It pays off in the end.” The artist goes on talk about light sources and the importance of references.
The last thing Damian talks about is optimization:
One of the biggest challenges is to maintain good visuals within platform limitations. No matter if it’s PC or console, you want to make it playable on as many configurations as possible. The lighting budget may depend on the project and engine; for runtime lighting (e.g. CRYENGINE) you may want to keep in mind things like overlapping dynamic lights count and local probes in the scene, dynamic shadows resolutions, or type of lights (for example: shadow casting omni light may be more expensive than shadow casting spot light, but at the same time spot light generates more drawcalls and takes some texture memory for projection maps); for prebaked lighting (lightmaps, voxel GI) another factor is video memory. It’s good practice to set some separate budgets for things like lights, fog, particles and geometry, so it’s much smoother to control it during optimization.