I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have muddled around with the sun in the sky settings and I cannot get a general light for daytime.
I’ll digress… I move the sun so that there is normal daylight - say 3pm on a normal (for England) hazy sunny day.
Now in real terms this would mean that the front of the building (south facing) would get the full light and effect, and the shadows would not be as strong as those given by the software. Bryce seems to think of light as being ON or OFF - nothing in between.
I cannot find any way to have reasonably strong sunlight yet weak shadows. It’s great for effect I suppose but realistically light is not just on or off. If I rotate the viewpoint to the rear of the building it is unrealistically dark - The shadows would never be that intense so that it’s almost night.
So is there a way of controlling the intensity of the darkness given by shadows? I have a house with a porch and the shadows it’s giving off are just too direct - you’d expect some light to hit the shaded area in some measure.
Thanks in advance for any feedback
To my thinking it is a mistake to think of Sunlight shadows as being too intense. Many Bryce users approach lighting in the wrong way and have earned Bryce the reputation for creating low contrast images because of lack of shadows. Instead of wondering why shadows are so intense, it is best to ask yourself where the light you’d expect to see in the shadows is actually coming from in real life. In real life the sun gives shadows 100% intensity, but the shadows are lightened by the indirect light scattered by the atmospheric gases and also from light bouncing off nearby surfaces such as the walls of a building or the ground plane. In a realistic render, the secret is interaction, and shadow casting is an important type of interaction. Shadows are not the enemy.
You can always lower your shadow intensity in the Sky Lab. The Sun Shadow intensity slider is the reference for all other lights in the scene so if you lower the shadows of the sun to 50% then your radials will also have lowered shadows. This is one reason why I think it a major mistake in most situations to lessen shadow intensity for the Sun.
There are two forms of light people need to be aware of…Direct illumination and Indirect illumination.
Clearly and obviously the default sun and the standard point radial qualify as Direct or Key light sources. But for indirect light (which by the way is where the real realism occurs) is much trickier to make choices about.
Several tools are available in Bryce to help with indirect lighting. First is the Material Ambience. Ambience from a material applies a uniform glow to an object that can help to raise the darkness of shadows to something less intense. But the trade off is that the object will have lowered bump contrast and other things. Plus if you use too much and sometimes even 10% is too much you can accidentally create a glowing object which gives the impression of thermal heat radiance (think hot coals), not what you would usually want. So use Material Ambience very sparingly if at all. I should also state that Material Ambience is governed by the color of the Ambience swatch in the Sky Lab. If you make this swatch black, no matter how high you set the ambience of a material it will not glow at all.
Another Option is in the Sky Lab called Skydome. Skydome is basically a point radial positioned high above the Bryce world, shining light down directly onto the ground. The Skydome effect does not cast shadows so it cuts through solid surfaces which is physically inaccurate, because only those surfaces which face the sky directly such as rooftops and the ground plane are illuminated, vertical walls are left totally black. But Skydome is sometimes better than nothing. For me and my lean toward realism, I dont use Material Ambience nor the Skydome feature because they both reduce the realism of a render because they destroy shadows rather than correcting them. To turn off the Skydome feature just make sure the color swatch in the Skylab is fully black.
If you want realism (which you never said you were after, I know) here are a few considerations about lighting.
1. 2/3 of the Sunlight that strikes the Earth is scattered by the atmosphere, only 1/3 arrives as direct illumination and direct shadows. That means that if you are lighting a surface and most all of the illumination is coming from the sun alone then you have technically overblown your sunlight. Instead you should lower your sunlight and increase your indirect light.
2. Considering what I just stated above, it would stand to reason that the Sky and the sky color are the primary light influences for an outdoor scene with direct sunlight giving the emphasis. Direct sunlight should be the highlight, it should be the frosting, it should not be the entire cake.
3. Bryce 7 gives some really great tools for creating realistic indirect sky light. It is important to realize that indirect light casts soft but important shadows. Shadows are what give a model contour and form so preserving model detail while lightening the shadows is a paramount concern. IBL is a great way to do this. You can convert the current Bryce sky into an HDRI (dont worry about the names for now, just focus on what they mean to the render, as explaining IBL in one shot is not wise just yet). Anyhow, once you get the sky converted Bryce will then create a network of virtual radials arranged in a globe around your entire scene. These virtual radials will cast light into the scene from many angles revealing all of the model contours which is the way indirect light should always work.
4. Bryce 7 also offers Dome Lights and 3D Fill Lights, which also can form a network of virtual radials around your scene providing indirect light from all sides in a natural looking way.
5. But the most realistic is proper use of True Ambience. I say proper use because improper use will not look good at all. True Ambience is totally different than Material Ambience, so as not to confuse them. Material Ambience renders very fast and operates by assuming a uniform color as the environmental influence that lightened shaded areas of an image. Material Ambience is a very simplified manner of accomplishing the task. But it also doesnt ever look realistic. True Ambience by comparison, actually is a form of GI and is related to the study of black body radiation. The point being, True Ambience calculates the real world values of bounced light from surface to surface, and is by far the most realistic in terms of results. But the render time is also 10x or more. So it all depends on you.
Another way is to add a Fill light coming from the opposite direction to the sun or just behind the camera at about 5% to lighten shadows or use True Ambience.
This can indeed by a quick fix of sorts. A lot of it depends on how you plan to use the camera. If like many people, you set your camera position first and then build your scene around your one fixed camera position, then it is possible to cheat the multi-angular indirect skylight into a single point light positioned opposite the sunlight or camera. But this will leave some areas of the model receiving no indirect light at all. so if you move the camera too much this lack of light might become obvious. I still consider secondary light sources to be a better option than Material Ambience or the dreaded Skydome feature because at least standard radials cast shadows which help express model contours, and as mentioned above the shadows are the key to the realism, not the other way around. Light is hardly where the secret lies, shadows are the real deal.
I used to go about doing as Szark describes, but I dont like being bound to a narrow range of camera angles. So my solution to lighting is much more global, much more about covering all my bases, even the ones that aren’t visible in this current shot. For this reason I use only IBL, Domes, 3D Fills and True Ambience. IBL, Domes, and TA take much more time to render than Material Ambience and Skydome, so speed is an important consideration. If you don’t have the computing power for the better forms of light, use the cheap ones, just use them well.
I probably did not answer your question, but hopefully I have led you toward asking better questions. You are doing a super fantastic job of this project you’ve taken on and I want the final look of the light to be on par with the rest of your work.
Best of luck.