10 Tips to Create Better Renderings with Engaging and Believable Lighting

 
 
Photo by StruffelProductions, CC0 1.0
 
When you’re making 3D renderings, they can easily turn out super unrealistic if you’re not careful. This is very noticeable to those who are viewing your renderings. But the whole point of a 3D render is for someone to get a good idea of what you’re trying to show, right? Well, then you should have all the information on your side necessary to create renderings with engaging and believable lighting. This lighting is going to make or break your renderings and their success. Keep reading down below to learn some more about this topic and improve your renderings.   
 
1. Collect Your References
 
Collecting reference images might seem like cheating to you, but it’s definitely not and is a great tool for you to use before you start rendering. Go ahead and search through the Internet to find similar images to the one you’re trying to create. Study another artist’s work that is similar to what you want to create to get an idea of what you can create. And before you ask, yes this is completely fair for you to do and is not violating copyright laws. Do some analysis of these images to get a better idea of what you should create. 
 
2. Optimize Your Models 
 
How your models are built has a huge impact on the lighting in your images. You should be sure to improve these models to help you render better and more believable images. To improve your lighting, try not to make everything in the image so sharp and perfect. That’s not how they are in real life, so they shouldn’t be like that in your render! 
 
3. Choose the Natural Shader And Material Colors
 
If you’re one of those people that use surface colors that are too saturated or too close to pure black or white, you should keep mind here. Make sure to use colors that are more natural and are going to work well with the lighting situation. 
 
4. Make Sure Not to Forget the Spill Light
 
When you look at most 3D renderings by a 3D company, you’re most likely not going to see the spill light. The spill light is the light that’s coming in the same direction as your key, but covers more of a broad area, so it’s look a bit more soft and natural. This is going to seriously improve the believability of your rendering when you use a spill light. 

5. Divide Your Space
 
In order to make your lighting more believable, you can also divide up your space. This means that you can use different quantities of light in the different divisions of your rendering. 
 
6. Go with Extra Bounce Colors
 
Go ahead and choose the right places in your rendering to add some bounce lights. You may not think that this is necessary, but with the right colors in these lights, you can make your rendering look a ton more natural. 

7. Nail That Eye Lighting
 
The eyes of your character are going to be where most of your audience’s attention rests. Make sure that you understand how the lighting interacts with the iris of your character’s eye so that’s believable. 
 
8. Name Your Lights
 
If you ever hope to work professionally and productively, ensure that each of your lights is named with a descriptive name. Clear names mean that you’re not going to get confused from one light to another. 
 
9. Solo Your Lights
 
Make sure that whenever you’re rendering, you only work with one light at a time. Solo the light and block out all other lights except for the one you’re working on. 
 
10. Use A Linear Workflow
 
And lastly, make sure that you work with a linear workflow when you’re working on your rendering. This will ensure that there is a uniform relationship between digital color values and the real intensities of the light. 
 
Whenever you’re rendering, you should ensure that you remember the above tips if you want your lighting to actually look believable.