This light is small and far off, thus hard light.
Hello, My Name is Douglas E Knapp and I am a photographer, artist, computer artist and animator. I started this Blog because I see a lot of new 3D artists that want to be great but really don’t have a clue. It is often said that you need an eye for art or photography, that it is inborn. This is NOT true! I was a beginner that needed a lot of help, now years latter I can help you get over the newbie problems and go on to produce great art.
To get started you will need a DSRL camera but you can get by with any digital camera. If you don’t have much money I recommend you buy a Nikon D50 with three lenses; 18 mm to 70mm, 70 to 200mm and a 50mm with a really low f-stop number like 2.8 or better. The lower the F-number the better the lens in low light and the more you can blur the background. Lenses with a low F-number are called fast lenses. If you can swing it get the FX lenses but if not then get the DX but know you are then limited to DX cameras only. You should be able to find something like this for about 200 to 300 Euros. If you only have cash for one lens then get the 70 to 200 with vibration reduction.
The next thing you will need is a 3d program. I will be using Blender 3D because it is a great program with massive powers and because it is open source and thus flexible and free. Don’t even bother starting Blender without doing a basic intro video tutorial. You will only frustrate yourself and perhaps scare yourself off. I would recommend doing all these videos first, http://www.blender.org/education-help/tutorials/getting-started/.
Now on to something really interesting. Light comes in 2 types. Soft light and hard light. Hard light is a point source a long ways away, like the Sun. Soft light is really big and really close. This is often done by putting a flash in a big cloth box, know as a soft box. You also get nice soft light from a north facing window. Now go and play with this with your camera! Have your model stand back 2 meters or yards from a nice bright north facing window and snap some shots. Now go outside at noon in bright full sun and snap some more shots of the same person. Now look at them on your monitor. What do you see? What do you like? Do you see the sharp cuts from black to white in the full sun? Do you see the soft shadows in the window light? When would you pick each one and why?
This light is close but also very small thus hard but a bit soft do to its nearness.
Light that is close comes out soft. Light that is far comes out hard. The other factor is how big the light is. The bigger the light the softer the light. There is one exception to the distance problem. Sometimes photographers think that backing up causes softer light. This is wrong but the effect happens because the photographer is in a small room and as he backs up, more and more of his flash is bouncing off the ceiling or the walls near him, causing him to have an apparently bigger light but really it is just the reflections. Reflections are a valid way to try and soften the light. This is why many pro like to bounce the flash off the ceiling or a wall, it softens the light.
One last thing to think about as you look at these three images. In the one with the light very distant, the shadow lines are almost parallel This is what you would expect with the sun because it is a long ways off or with any other distant light. Close lights will result in light that casts shadows that are not parallel. This effect is not important except to always be aware of it. Sometimes it can add or hurt your art work.
A great book about light is
<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0240812255/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=seattlebujinkand&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0240812255″>Light Science and Magic, Fourth Edition: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=seattlebujinkand&l=as2&o=1&a=0240812255″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />
Close Soft (big) Light