Lighting Exercise in UE4: Bright Sci-Fi Hallway

Lighting Exercise in UE4: Bright Sci-Fi Hallway

Piotr Lindner shared his approach to relighting a sci-fi hallway in UE4: color palette, lighting setup, and post-process.

Introduction

Hi. My name is Piotr Lindner. I am 37 years old and I come from Poland. I've been passionate about 3D graphics for almost 20 years. For 8 years, it has been my job. I mainly create interior and product visualizations. For the last 5 years, I have been working at a company selling storage tents. I was involved in creating tent models and graphics for the configurator on the website. I recently got fired and decided to create a portfolio from scratch to find a new job.

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The Art of Lighting

I had my first contact with lighting when I started taking photos. I was learning what shutter speed and shutter are and the relationship between them. All this knowledge helped me a lot in 3D graphics. I was encouraged to learn lighting by my dad who developed pictures from 35 mm film himself. Lighting is a special part of the 3D world. Thanks to lighting, we can create environments as we want them to be. Something that is gray and gloomy in 3D, thanks to playing with light, can become the most colorful place in the world.

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Sci-Fi Hallway Relight Exercise: Start of the Project

In order to build a portfolio, I had to start somewhere. I decided to use the scene provided by Epic and introduce a completely new atmosphere to it. I was inspired by science fiction movies – I love Ghost in the Shell, Total Recall, Player One, Alita: Battle Angel, Blade Runner, and many more. I used Pinterest to find the reference and saved the images that I liked in PureRef, a great and free program to collect photos in one space.

Colors

The end result turned out quite bright. Perhaps this is not a typical color palette for a cyberpunk world. I didn't want the colors to be that dominant in this scene, I just wanted to create a delicate atmosphere of this world.

The color palette is quite simple. These are the two dominant colors:

In addition to these two colors, there is also orange to slightly warm up the points in the scene. 
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Lighting Setup

The lighting is quite simple. There are point and spot lights. On the ceiling, I placed spot lamps with the color of light blue

Somehow for the complementary lights, I used point lights of the same color.

As for the power of light, there were experiments. Thanks to the fact that I used the GPU bake, I could afford them. I set the power of the lights and baked them until I liked the result. I knew what I wanted to achieve, so there were only a few of those attempts.

Post-Process

Post-production was quite simple. The whole thing was achieved by light. For starters, I deleted all Post-Process Volume objects and added one with the Unbound option selected. This ensures that all changes made in post-production will cover the entire scene.

First, I changed the Bloom option to Convolution, and the effect looked so much better. Another thing was to set Exposure Compensation. The scene was a bit dark. I set the Minimum and Maximum Brightness to 1 thus turning off Auto Exposure.

Then I started Color Grading. Normally, I create a screenshot and in an external program, I create a LUT for UE4 but this time, I did everything within Unreal. The screenshots below show my changes made in this tab:

Educational Materials and Advice

In my studies, I mainly use YouTube and ArtStation. On YouTube, I can recommend Kemal Günel's channel. He explains the basics of lighting in a cool and accessible way. The next channel is Unreal Engine. There are quite a few great lighting webinars out there. I also recommend the engine documentation, you can learn a lot from it.

I have one tip that I always stick to. Watch the world. Take advantage of the knowledge of professional photographers and film lighting professionals. And of course, practice as much as possible.

Piotr Lindner, Environment Artist/3D Designer

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev

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