003 - Materialism 1.5/2

General / 11 March 2018

Hi, In the third post I am going to try to explain what are we doing and why we are doing. And the reason is, tons of people try to create textures, materials and stuff, but they do not understand the core of it, the soul of it.

Achieving photorealism is something comes from the every step of creative process, from the references, modeling, lightning, the props and every single detail. However achieving photographic look is only from the final image, just the final image.

Photorealism is not a step by step thing, or there isn’t any guide to achieve that,  it is an ever-receding ideal.

First of all, we have to understand that, on screen we always look at the object or the scene from a lens. A movie, or a photograph, a game or VFX doesn’t matter, we always look at it from a lens. So as people try to mimic the nature, they forget about the angle people sees it. Photography itself is not nature, it is all seen through a lens and it has tons of distortions, mimicking those is the easiest way to make the image look photorealistic.

We drive so much subconscious information from the image we are looking at even though we are not looking at all the details.  And scale is the biggest and most important aspect of that. It effects the depth of field, the fall-off of the light, the haze, noise in the scene. If you start doing it in scale, later you won’t need to fake it.

And of course with all respect, with a bad or not correct materials, everything can be destroyed. And of course I am not going to talk about material creation in detail, since there are many masters like Grant Warwick, and their tutorials will always be the stonehenges for all of us.

I guess my only suggestion would be never using RGB values close to the maximum and minimum, as a rule of thumb, never exceed 200 RGB for white, or never go lower than 20 for black. This applies for all colors of course. And also maybe desaturating the textures would help a little, since the reflections and sun light with the sky will brighten up the image more than enough. So if you put the real photo as it is in a diffuse slot, you will have twice the saturation you were looking for.

Second most imparting is that, the realism comes from the light, this actually might be the most important thing and it also correlates with the scale. The sun and the sky will have vastly more power than the brightest lightbulb. Weird enough, tons of people always asks me what their scene look so artificial, and without even looking at the image, I ask them did you put all of the lights accordingly and correctly. And they are not even sure. Because most of the time, they do only eyeball the lights, or they see an example and just try to mimic it. Nope, thats not the way, photographers mostly want the natural light, sun, sky and some soft boxes to fill the darkest corners, and yes we will certainly have a lot of overexposed places. Photographers also have those black corners and over exposed places, and yes they do need to deal with these too. But our advantage is their images are 14 stops, but ours 20, so that we can deal with these burnouts easily and get back our information.

Third one, as in the intro I have briefly talked about the camera, we are looking from a lens, so making your lens realistic, will give you better results. And actually not as you might thing, this part is the easiest part. Vray, corona or all major render engines offer physical camera settings like aperture, exposure, iso.

For starters, just go outside and take some photos with auto mod, then you will have some values to start with. Experiment with different skies, and you have a couple of values to experiment.

Then it comes to using the camera. As you are trying to mimic a lens, then you need to understand how a photographers work, how do they see the world, how do they shoot.
That starts from the basics, it is generally bad advice if you hear that, you should only model the parts you are going to see on the final image. Of course if you are on a really tight deadline, it is a life saver, but in general, it is not the best way.

My advice would be to block your scene accordingly, then think like a photographer, walk around your scene, experiment, see for yourself. Then go into more details, then try more angles, views, then go into more details. For the angles or examples, there is always /archdaily/, /dezeen/  to get some inspiration.

So the final would be render settings and image format. A linear workflow will ensure that exterior light fills the furthest corners of your interiors without having to crank up the light beyond reason, producing burnouts or fireflies and other rendering artifacts in the process.

Many artists try to get sharpest image possible, but in reality that is not the case. Even with the best optics and large sensors cannot give you the sharpest image at 100%zoom. Mostly they will have slightly blurred edges, to get this effect having blur filter 2px for 4K render would be sufficient and it will help to make sure everything blends well together.

After this point, I guess we have to talk about post production, which will be after materialism series. So on the next one I hope we are going to talk about creating a material and understanding its features which are fundamental for this process.