Relighting Sci-Fi Environment: Tips and Tricks
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Relighting Sci-Fi Environment: Tips and Tricks
12 July, 2017
Interview

Ashley McKenzie did a short overview of his lighting experiments with Unreal Engine 4.

Goal

Approaching a relight on this scene was a lot of fun; it gave me the opportunity to try out some of the more recent additions to UE4. Additionally as it was available on the marketplace it meant that I was able to jump in and start lighting straight away. As a lighting artist I like to spend as little time modelling as possible so I can focus more on the lighting and mood of the scene.

Reference images with a rough idea of colour pallet I wanted to go for.

(Credit goes to Wiktor Öhman for the awesome environment work for this scene)

Materials

I wanted to go for more of a military/medical feel with the lighting in here so I gave the floor green tint and adjusted some of the roughness values to get something I was happy with. I also pulled out a lot of the orange in the scene and adjusted the accent colours to be more of a yellow hue.

Furthermore I slightly adjusted some of the colours for the emissive surfaces and switched some of them off.

Lighting

The lighting setup for this scene I kept fairly simple. I used a mixture of warm and cold temperatures to have some variation between the background and foreground but for the most part I tried to keep the colour pallet overall quite neutral as I was going for more of a functional medical look.

Because of the fixtures already present in the scene I did tweak the light source radius and size to get some more softness in the shadows.

This helped to soften the look of the whole scene as I think soft shadows feel a lot more natural here.

Unfortunately volumetric fog is not yet supported for lights with source radius adjustments so for this scene I am using the standard Exponential Height Fog with a slight tint.

Another adjustment I made with the lightmass settings. I find that adjusting the static lighting level scale produces more refined shadows, whilst also bumping up the number of bounces and indirect lighting quality.

(Changing some of these settings drastically increase the bake times so it’s always something I do at the end)

Reflection Capture Actors

Reflection capture actors are just as important as lights as they control the specular response of the materials which help give a sense of direction. I try and place these underneath every light or at least in an area where the light will interact with the RCA.

Adjusting your source radius will also have an impact on the size of the specular hit from lights too.

Post Process

I found the default tone mapper settings to work pretty well with this scene so I did all my contrast adjustments through the colour grading section of the post process.

Globally I made few subtle changes, a slight desaturation and bump in contrast was enough.

I also gave the scene a slight temperature shift as it was feeling a bit too warm. I used tint under white balance to help the scene look a bit more fluorescent as these tints go from green to magenta.

I used the shadows section to add a bit more contrast to the darker areas of my scene whilst using the gain to shift the shadow colours to cyan.

I also used gain to make the highlights feel a bit more warm and punchy whilst adjusting the HighlightsMin value to be slightly lower.

Conclusion

I attempted this relight because I wanted to see how much I could change the mood of this scene with a few colour changes to materials and a new lighting setup.

This wouldn’t’ be possible without such great environments available on the unreal marketplace, something that can be incredibly useful for lighting artists that just want to focus on lighting a scene and not worry about modeling.

Ashley McKenzie, Lighting Artist at Splash Damage

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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