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Setting Up Specular-Only Lighting

For Poser versions 5 and higher

Lighting is one of the most important components of a Poser scene. Even a simple composition can produce a dramatic render with the proper lighting- and even a great scene can be rendered flat and boring with bad lighting. This tutorial shows how to highlight certain items without over-lighting the scene.

One trick not mentioned in the Poser Reference Manual is to apply lighting which only affects the highlights of the surfaces on which it shines, without actually lighting the scene itself. This allows the illuminated items to stand out dramatically against a darker surrounding.

How To Set It Up

Arrange the elements of the scene normally. Figure out where you want the lighting to come from- especially for this type of lighting it's important to plan ahead and decide what and where the lighting for the scene actually is. Is the main light source a fire? A candle? Moonlight through a window? Knowing this in advance will help a great deal when setting up the lights. For this example, we'll set up a simple scene using Poser's default figures and props, showing a statue on a pedestal illuminated by moonlight through a window.

Using the Modular Mansion props, the Sydney figure and a marble texture from the Poser 7 Procedural collection, gives us this-

Now, let's work on the lighting. Since we can see the wall to the left, we'll bring the moonlight in from the right, out of frame (and we can have a little fill light coming in from the blank windows at the back of the scene as well.) The reddish light (Poser's default Light #3) will do for the fill; we'll change it to a dim grey-blue. We'll dim Light #1 and have it shining from straight overhead, and Light #2- our moonlight, and the one we'll be altering shortly- will be coming in from the side, as shown:

Now for comparison's sake we can do a test render using the regular lighting. For this scene, only the light through the windows (Light #3) is set to cast shadows.

This is OK, but it illustrates the problem- the light through the windows is working properly, but the overall light level is way too high. It's time for our trick.

Accentuate the Specular

In the Advanced Material Room, select the moonlight (Light #2) and set its Diffuse channel to very dark grey-blue; set the Specular color to a very faint bluish.

It's that simple! Now let's render again and see what happens.

This is much better- the room is getting darker and the highlights on the statue are standing out a bit. Doing the same trick on the overhead light (#1), turning the Intensity of the window light (#3) down to 75% and making the moonlight a bit greyer- not so blue- gives us this:

And there it is- just the effect we were looking for. Now we could import a background image (showing through the windows- a night sky would be a good choice) or this could be rendered over black, saved as a PNG and composited with a background image later.