Lighting Props:

The idea is that lighting can invoke mood/atmosphere, the ideas and techniques have been largely adopted from the film industry(animation and vfx houses).

So in games I’m just going to apply the theory as it is taken from vfx and apply it to just Props and Environments.  For simplicity sake I am just going to refer to everything as a Prop or Environment.


Tl:dr version.

Paint textures in Photoshop.  Light and Render in Marmoset Toolbag.  Light and Render in Game Engine.


In general in order to light something effectively you need:

  1. Good Model
  2. Good Texture Maps
  3. Good Shaders

Software used here is: Photoshop, Knald, Xnormals, Marmoset Toolbag, and Unreal Engine 4.

  1. Baking Texture maps: Knald
  2. Texture Maps Creation: Photoshop CS4
  3. Shaders are already made in Marmoset and Unreal Engine 4

Step 1: Baking Texture maps

This step is important because you are transferring the lighting information from the Hi-Poly and projecting it onto the Lo-Poly.  This is also a fundamental step because you build the textures from scratch using the normal map.

I used Knald for this as this program can generate a cage for you.  You can bake textures at a very high resolution which can be good if you need to view the model up close.

Then there will be utility maps such as Ambient Occlusion/Curvature maps which contain cavity and convex information.  There are also Material Id’s these are important as you base your whole base texture off of these.

Step 2: Texture creation – Textures are painted in Photshop CS4

Author textures in photoshop.  This step you load up your texture maps and you start the process of layering to build up the respective maps.

Step 3: Lighting/lookdev: 

Technically you can do this step earlier but in this case it is done last.   The reason it can be earlier is for the lookdev purpose so decisions can be made about the shader.   Also place-holder textures can be potentially tested on the hi-poly.  This can be very helpful for getting feedback and locking in color values fairly early to make the texturing process quicker and iterative.

To help breakdown things down and get a solid render.  The idea is to isolate down to whether the problem is associated with the shader/lights/texture.  To do this a clay shader is applied at 50% color and 50% roughness which gets the material to a neutral state.  The HDR is set to 0 intensity to get a black backdrop and focus on the key/fill/rim lights. Once those are locked the hdr is brought in at a low intensity.  The clay shader is then removed and then textures are added.

Presentation Render:

This is typically down when you start the process.  When creating presentation renders; where you place the camera affects a few things.  In games things are viewed at all angles so this I believe is not as important but I do set some general guidelines when I set this up.  I usually aim for the 3/4 quarter view at 60/30 perspective.  Then when setting the mm I go for 50mm(human eye) – 85mm(portrait).  Then I move onto establishing the side view and detail view.

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