Make Your Most Realistic Renders – Ever!

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  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,108
    edited December 1969

    Great examples by the way, guys! Thanks for sharing.

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 17,922
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:
    Yeah, the suggestion of only using an HDRI is really just a starting point. I usually add a low level "normal" light to pick up some highlights, although another way to add highlights is to add a small amount of reflection to any shiny surfaces - 1 or 2% should be enough to get highlights, but keep the surface looking shiny rather than reflective.
    Wow... DT even adds traces of reflection to skin to amazing effect! He too, uses Gamma correction in his stuff.
    Right! I forgot. It's my V6 version of Rosie that actually uses the Carrara "Glass - Common" shader as her eye surface! I was going to try that on this one, but haven't yet.

    This sort of experimenting is really exciting and fun to me. It forces me to really focus on my shaders and how the render engine is going to interact with them. Again... another reason why making a custom Carrara Browser is so essential for me - as I like to save off individual shaders as well as full global sets - and it become imperative to keep all of that organized.

    I know that I'm always recommending Indigone's V4 Skin Shader Kit and Lights and her Endless Eye Kit for V4 to aid in getting the appropriate material zones filled for Genesis. But those tutorials/kits are great for learning how to set up really good shader techniques to your figures - any figures - not just V4 as the name implies. As a matter of fact, the shaders are all procedural so they truly work on anything!
    Her skin shaders use subsurface scattering, too... which will be fun to try using this method.

    Like Phil just said - I have a feeling that this idea goes vastly beyond the use of HDR images - possibly even beyond using global illumination. Such a grand experiment you've launched Phil! I still have yet to take the time I want to, and study up on setting up a scene to render using Luxus for Carrara.

    Often times I like to just set up animations and put them into my Batch Queue to render as I sleep and then work. Check the results the next evening after I get home from work and have my supper. Sometimes I have to abort one, because it's still going. No biggie there.
    So now I can practice this method and setting up scenes with luxus for still images and Queue them up. Very cool!

    Thanks Phil.

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,108
    edited July 2013

    I just finished another one which I thought I'd share - this is a cropped version, the full version will be on my Rendo gallery tomorrow. This has had a little toning in Photoshop but nothing too major.

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  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 17,922
    edited July 2013

    DT even adds traces of reflection to skin to amazing effect!
    He includes a video explaining how and why - and also gives us a great new camera tool to play with! Like I said - if you really want to dig deeper - get some of DT's stuff. A lot of his newer products are for Daz Studio - so read what you're looking at. Carraracters Delphinia requires Rebelmommy's Delphinia, but is so worth the expense. Heck - it's an incredible value considering what you get and what you learn!
    I don't know about all of his HDRI sets, but Skies of Terra Volume One comes set up very much like what we're doing in this thread, with some subtle differences. Very much worth it's pennies as well - like all of DT's stuff!

    As we were just talking about eyes, Phil must be being modest to not mention his Bright Eyes for Carrara setup that eliminates the need for pulling stunts to get your eyes looking perfect in all of your renders.

    DP Shaders is on sale for a short time longer... all this stuff helps us learn how the pro's set their stuff up. What they have learned after long hours over years of fighting for specific results. I find the trade to be hugely in my favor - as the customer of these greats.
    Here are some more links that I would like to add to the subject of great carrara learning essentials products - just for those in search of. Other's can easily ignore my links, right?

    Phil Wilkes Carrara hair and clouds Carrara hair is some of the finest hair I've seen in CG - and Phil can get you there!
    GK Dantas has a wide variety of helpful Carrara essentials
    Ringo Monfort has a bazillion shaders (some of which are currently on sale - but that sale is almost over) and brushes as well as a Skies preset pack!
    mmoir (Mike Moir) has excellent products with wonderful dialog that accompanies them - a true 3d modeler = he!
    Howie Farkes has wonderful environments sculpting a vision of true nature into Carrara's vast ability to simulate such thing - to the highest level of details.
    Infinite Skills is the publisher for PhilW's incredible training series (I keep pestering him to make more! Right, Phil?)
    It's hot and I'm exhausted - or I'd likely list more for you. Please fill in where I left off if you have the inclination. But before I go, I'd like to share just a few more:
    These are links found in my Carrara Information Manual:
    There really is a lot of Carrara knowledge available in Cripeman's Video Tutorial Index. Not enough wonderful things can be said about his enormous generosity.
    I have the slow beginnings of what will become my Carrara Walkthrough. I'll be adding a lot to this when time permits.
    Carrara and related 3d Art Tutorials
    Carrara Plugins FAQ & Information - By Jay_NOLA
    Comprehensive List of Video Tutorials on Carrara - by FractalDemensia
    and I have started to compile an index for getting to subjects that are already under discussion throughout the forums - so that we don't have to always keep rewriting our advice - but can refer folks to the Forum Help Links index - which will be including this thread soon. But this thread will be getting more attention than just that, I'm sure.
    Again... hot... tired... I'll be back. If I missed some important stuff... let me know and I'll fix it

    Thanks Phil... your generosity of sharing your brilliant expertise is greatly appreciated!

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  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 17,922
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:
    I just finished another one which I thought I'd share - this is a cropped version, the full version will be on my Rendo gallery tomorrow. This has had a little toning in Photoshop but nothing too major.
    Wow, she looks so real!
  • DiomedeDiomede Posts: 12,371
    edited December 1969

    Thanks for the tip Phil. And, I really like your training vids. I completed the beginner's set, and am about half way through the advanced. Great stuff. You explain things very clearly.

    RE: the experiment - Here is a quick one that I tried by following the directions. It is V4 with a Carrara high res shader and basic DAZ clothes with default textures. The hair is skanky because I made it myself. The HDRI background is a free sample (http://www.hdrmill.com/Freebies.htm) so I don't think it is very high res. It rendered quickly. Even for all of that, the lighting and textures look decent to my eye. I'll definitely be experimenting more with this suggestion.

    Sorry if this is a duplicate post - I thought I submitted it a while ago but nothing showed up.

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  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 17,922
    edited December 1969

    Very cool! It really does add that wonderful... less rendered look! I am definitely trying this some more.

  • Salem2007Salem2007 Posts: 513
    edited July 2013

    Well, Phil W's idea is certainly something I would have never thought of doing. I followed the instructions and came up with this (first w/o DOF, second w dof). I'm not sure I understand why HDRI plays such an important role in this, though--can you suggest some reading I could do to help my understanding?

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  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,108
    edited December 1969

    diomede64 and Salem2007 - great renders, both! These are starting to be the kind of results that I was expecting.

    Regarding further reading, did you have a look at the article I referenced in my first post? There are some further references at the bottom of that, or you could simply search for 3D Linear Workflow. There appears to be quite a lot written about it for other 3D programs or 3D in general, and about how it is perhaps misunderstood. For me, it was like finding the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle - and just frustrating that it has been there under my nose for years but no-one seemed to know (or at least it wasn't common knowledge).

    The manual says that this gets implemented when using Global Illumination, which can be either Sky Lighting or Indirect Lighting or both. For maximum realism you would always want Indirect Lighting turned on (with Ambient Light turned to zero - Ambient Light is like a fast but very poor substitute for Indirect Light!) and very often Sky Lighting as well, unless you are in a closed environment with all light coming from lamps of some description.

    You can use other sources for Sky Light than HDRI, for example you can use just a normal jpeg, but this produces fairly flat and even looking light. HDRI gives more contrast in the lighting and mimics a real scene, so why not use this rather than trying to set up multiple "traditional" lights which try to achieve the same thing? I haven't tried Realistic Sky yet but this should work well in theory too.

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,108
    edited July 2013

    Just to add to the last post, Realistic Sky does work and looks great, in my view!

    You can even just put a flat colour in the Background and this will work too, if you want an even background light. Just try white, or a subtle tint and adjust intensity to suit.

    Post edited by PhilW on
  • ManStanManStan Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Out of respect for the developer I haven't said anything about a certain render system for carrara ;)
    But this thread is an excellent example of why I never saw the need of it. A great deal of my set up time is spent in the render room tweaking settings. I have always known carrara can render just as well, just takes some tweaking to get there.
    But one of the things I have been looking for and yet to find, is a comprehensive explanation of all the render settings in carrara; or maybe I should say ones I understand. I've read quite a few but some of the settings still don't click in my head.

    In my renders I go more for realistic then realism though. I like sharp, crisp, and vivid because that is how I see the world.

  • Salem2007Salem2007 Posts: 513
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:
    Just to add to the last post, Realistic Sky does work and looks great, in my view!

    You can even just put a flat colour in the Background and this will work too, if you want an even background light. Just try white, or a subtle tint and adjust intensity to suit.

    Thanks for the explanation--I'll try using the Realistic Sky tonight. I've always known lighting makes all the differance, but I've never really played with HDRI or GI---I only know they increase my render time!

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,108
    edited July 2013

    Salem2007 said:
    PhilW said:
    Just to add to the last post, Realistic Sky does work and looks great, in my view!

    You can even just put a flat colour in the Background and this will work too, if you want an even background light. Just try white, or a subtle tint and adjust intensity to suit.

    Thanks for the explanation--I'll try using the Realistic Sky tonight. I've always known lighting makes all the differance, but I've never really played with HDRI or GI---I only know they increase my render time!

    They do indeed increase render time, but perhaps not as much as people fear, and I totally believe that the improvement in quality is worth it. Especially with this gamma setting, which in itself does not seem to add anything to the render time!

    Post edited by PhilW on
  • FractalDimensiaFractalDimensia Posts: 0
    edited July 2013

    First, thanks PhilW for sharing your discovery. This is the kind of dialogue I enjoy, and how I learn so quickly about Carrara. I've always admired your work, so I had to give this a go with my own test render.

    I re-rendered a recent image, and got (IMHO) a better result. No HDRI was used; just a background image with basic sunlight. The first image is one I have posted elsewhere. The second is the same image, only with Gamma set to 2.2 instead of default, and a slight adjustment in post render editing. I did not changing any of the lighting. I think the lighting effects are more realistic with softer shadows in the second image. The grass and flowers look better as well.

    I did, however, notice that reflections and coloring are affected. Note the changes in the surcoat reflection and saddle. The cloth material appears more smooth in the Gamma adjusted image also. Not sure what causes that, but will see if some tweaks to the shader will eliminate that.

    BTW, render time is not a big issue for me. I am looking for realism. I can crank up the amps by using 3 i7 processors - that's 24 threads working it.

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  • HeadwaxHeadwax Posts: 8,938
    edited December 1969

    great renders both FD, i saw this inthe other thread but didn't get a chance to comment.
    I like the saturation in the first image personally.

  • Chris Fox ArtChris Fox Art Posts: 334
    edited December 1969

    that sounds pretty awesome! i wish i had read this before but well, at least yesterday i managed to get my figure working right on Carrara after loading the Daz file :D but this forum and the training video helped a lot!

    i will try that out when i come back from work in about 6 hours, can't wait to see the results!

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,108
    edited December 1969

    FractalDimensia - great posts and a really good example of the differences. To my eyes the second image looks much more realistic. The shadows are not as dense, the colours are not as saturated (although I can see why people may prefer the first, but the colours look garish to me - do Americans understand the word Garish?!). Overall it looks more like a photo and less like a render. We have got very used to seeing renders, and I sometimes see comments about the realism of a render when it looks nothing like reality (or even "Reality"!). Great work!

  • ManStanManStan Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    Wish my render comp hadn't died. All my stuff is on it and this one is too slow to worry with.

    With rendering in carrara you have settings in several places. From the assembly room to the render room you will find various settings that will effect your end render. The fun part is getting them all to balance out and give you the render style you want.

    There are the scene settings, light settings, texture settings, and lastly render room settings; and quite a few of them lol
    You can adjust your shadow appearance in 3 different places. All of these play off each other, I may do 40 or more wip renders just to get the scene lighting/shadows where I want them.

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,108
    edited December 1969

    Hi Stan, Yes I do a lot of test renders too - maybe not as many as 40 though! And you forgot camera settings for things like DoF too!

  • ManStanManStan Posts: 0
    edited December 1969

    And there you go, as long as I've been at this there is still stuff I miss lol

  • Chris Fox ArtChris Fox Art Posts: 334
    edited July 2013

    So this is my second render i've ever made with Carrara 8.5 Pro beta after finding out how things work and how i get the textures work well.

    It's with gamma correction of 2.2, sky light and indirect light, i don't have a picture without gamma correction but i am rendering a close shot of the face and later with some other HDRI images

    just see that there is no shadow on the ground, i will try to add some :)

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  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 17,922
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:
    Salem2007 said:
    PhilW said:
    Just to add to the last post, Realistic Sky does work and looks great, in my view!

    You can even just put a flat colour in the Background and this will work too, if you want an even background light. Just try white, or a subtle tint and adjust intensity to suit.

    Thanks for the explanation--I'll try using the Realistic Sky tonight. I've always known lighting makes all the differance, but I've never really played with HDRI or GI---I only know they increase my render time!

    They do indeed increase render time, but perhaps not as much as people fear, and I totally believe that the improvement in quality is worth it. Especially with this gamma setting, which in itself does not seem to add anything to the render time!Well, GI is sort of like modeling in Carrara, in that I've been picking up warnings against using Carrara for either. I still can't figure out what people dislike about the vert modeler - and GI is something I've stayed clear of - just because it feels like I've been warned to all along. Cripeman's video got me to try experimenting with it more and more - and now I have some fun designing scenes meant to use it.

    Wow, everybody. I like what going on and the discoveries being made along the way. Like Phil says from the beginning - just try it. So Phil... can I ? Try it. Have fun with it.

    Phil's experiment assignment for us included using HDRI, GI, and his Gamma Correction hint. But the overall message I was getting from the original post doesn't seem to imply HDRI and GI only... but rather to use Gamma correction. I find myself trying that all the time now.
    Thanks again, Phil!

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 17,922
    edited December 1969

    head wax said:
    great renders both FD, i saw this inthe other thread but didn't get a chance to comment.
    I like the saturation in the first image personally.

    The problem with that example is that FD did such a great job with the original setup. I, too, love that image. Yet I agree that the shadow play on the second looks more real. Sure is cool to try and fun to see the results. I'm glad to be playing with this right now - as production is under way very soon.
  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,108
    edited December 1969

    So this is my second render i've ever made with Carrara 8.5 Pro beta after finding out how things work and how i get the textures work well.

    It's with gamma correction of 2.2, sky light and indirect light, i don't have a picture without gamma correction but i am rendering a close shot of the face and later with some other HDRI images

    just see that there is no shadow on the ground, i will try to add some :)

    Yes, one of the reasons I suggested an upper body shot is that there is no ground shadow, unless you put in a ground plane (which could be a shadow catcher, but the last time I tried, that doesn't work with GI! Your render looks good but there is quite a strong light - do you still have the default light in the scene? If so, if you turn it down I think it will improve the overall image.

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,108
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:
    Salem2007 said:
    PhilW said:
    Just to add to the last post, Realistic Sky does work and looks great, in my view!

    You can even just put a flat colour in the Background and this will work too, if you want an even background light. Just try white, or a subtle tint and adjust intensity to suit.

    Thanks for the explanation--I'll try using the Realistic Sky tonight. I've always known lighting makes all the differance, but I've never really played with HDRI or GI---I only know they increase my render time!

    They do indeed increase render time, but perhaps not as much as people fear, and I totally believe that the improvement in quality is worth it. Especially with this gamma setting, which in itself does not seem to add anything to the render time!Well, GI is sort of like modeling in Carrara, in that I've been picking up warnings against using Carrara for either. I still can't figure out what people dislike about the vert modeler - and GI is something I've stayed clear of - just because it feels like I've been warned to all along. Cripeman's video got me to try experimenting with it more and more - and now I have some fun designing scenes meant to use it.

    Wow, everybody. I like what going on and the discoveries being made along the way. Like Phil says from the beginning - just try it. So Phil... can I ? Try it. Have fun with it.

    Phil's experiment assignment for us included using HDRI, GI, and his Gamma Correction hint. But the overall message I was getting from the original post doesn't seem to imply HDRI and GI only... but rather to use Gamma correction. I find myself trying that all the time now.
    Thanks again, Phil!

    If it has encouraged some people to experiment with some stuff they might not have found, then I am delighted - thanks for your kind words (as usual!).

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 17,922
    edited December 1969

    Well, perhaps my words seem kind. But I really appreciate when a pro comes in here and helps to nullify some of the negativity that can occur around such a perfect 3d suite. Sometimes all it takes is a small push onto the field, with some words of encouragement, and I'm not 'afraid' to try something any more. Something like "Gamma Correction" isn't something I've ever feared - but I've never really given it a thought either. I just figured it was something you enabled to correct something going amiss - which, I suppose, is truly what it's doing! lol

    Like in your Advanced Training. I got so frustrated with trying to get hair to work... your examples fixed it. Numerous settings available in shaders that I would otherwise not know how to use or set up. Modeling in various methods 'after' showing us how to unwrap and map UVs. Okay... you get the idea...

    Advanced user or not... I have to buy the Basics one just because you haven't released a third one yet and I need my fix!

  • PhilWPhilW Posts: 5,108
    edited July 2013

    What?! You got the Advanced before the Basic? You're doing it the wrong way around! Regarding a third volume, I have been waiting for a while for the next Carrara update to revisit the training, but I have recently developed an idea for a third volume, so we'll see where that goes.

    Regarding other Carrara products, I am looking at producing a virtual Portrait Studio, which models the elements of a photographer's studio and takes the same approach. I will be including a range of lighting setups, three cameras for face, upper body or full length, a wide choice of backdrops, posing stool, etc. Here is an early test - I'd be interested in any feedback.

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  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 17,922
    edited December 1969

    You already know my answer - and that I'm nearly jumping out of my skin right now, right? That's a perfect add-on for Carrara! I want that!
    So, will it come with render settings as shown by those three images? With that lighting/render setup? Yeah... Please!

    Lighting and the shadows the lights cast is what can really frustrate people, myself included. Something like this works as a great tutorial - just open your presets and see why it looks so good. But beyond all of that, I need a photo studio for my movie. I haven't even started it because I won't need it for quite some time yet... but if you do this... why re-invent the wheel right?

    I say "Yes!"

  • DartanbeckDartanbeck Posts: 17,922
    edited December 1969

    Magaremoto and I (amongst others) where just discussing how difficult hair can be - primarily getting nice highlights like that. Did you post the hair? Wow! Beautiful!

  • Chris Fox ArtChris Fox Art Posts: 334
    edited December 1969

    PhilW said:
    So this is my second render i've ever made with Carrara 8.5 Pro beta after finding out how things work and how i get the textures work well.

    It's with gamma correction of 2.2, sky light and indirect light, i don't have a picture without gamma correction but i am rendering a close shot of the face and later with some other HDRI images

    just see that there is no shadow on the ground, i will try to add some :)

    Yes, one of the reasons I suggested an upper body shot is that there is no ground shadow, unless you put in a ground plane (which could be a shadow catcher, but the last time I tried, that doesn't work with GI! Your render looks good but there is quite a strong light - do you still have the default light in the scene? If so, if you turn it down I think it will improve the overall image.

    I was trying to add a shadow like in the training video but it didnt worked somehow as you said it doesnt seem to work with GI, so i have to try about something else.

    I still have the normal light in the scene but turned down the brightness to 0%, could that maybe be an effect of the HDRI image? As it said Sunny scene, i also have one for night and i've made two for sunset now

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