4 Things You Didn’t Know About DAZ Studio Iray HDRI
DAZ Studio now comes with the built in Nvidia Iray render engine. HDRI environment lighting is one of the cool features. But as with any technique or solution, there are pros and cons. HDRI lighting means you surround your scene with a spherical “environment”, in this case an image–that projects lighting onto your characters and props. HDRI means High Definition Range Image, and holds a lot more lighting data than a normal JPG, PNG or BMP image would. In reality, you get more contrast, real shadows based on the environments varied intensity across the sphere and a realistic represenation of the lighting itself.
Some other pros include faster rendering times, since you no longer need to render the background itself (at least not in the same way). Further on, you actually don’t need to add any lights at all. You simply add the HDRI image to the Environment Map option in the Environment Tab of Iray render settings and hit render. Now, a downside is that the image needs to be calibrated in order to work with DAZ Studio Iray, or else it may look washed out and far too bright.
Using HDRI as an environmental way of lighting sounds good, and looks good, although it has its share of limitations.
In order to get the shadows and everything to match, you need to have the character or your characters right in a specific spot “inside the sphere”, and everything needs to be scaled properly. You can only have the DAZ Studio camera at a specific height, so that it matches the background image height (at the time of the photo was taken), or else it will not match correctly. On the good side, any shadows do fall on the “ground”, although it’s not really there.
Iray handles all the “fake” shadow catching, and it looks great. But…
When using DOF (Depth Of Field, that blurry background / foreground), you can zoom in on the character(s) and get past some of the limitations with more camera freedom, since the background will be blurred, but that again limits how you can use this type of lighting, since you cannot show feet when using DOF. (The entire background gets blurred, including the ground). There are special HDRI images you can get for DAZ Studio Iray from Dimension Theory in the DAZ 3D store. I’ve checked these out and they are great right out of the box.
All in all, a fast, fun and simple way of lighting with great results, but limited as to where you can have your characters in the “background”, virtually no lighting control plus (since it’s done for you) and when using DOF you cannot show the ground at all. A good idea when you’re limited with lighting, is to start playing with the surfaces instead. By increasing the Base Color values past the default 1,1,1, you can actually control how hard the lighting hits your characters. In order to do that, you need to override the maximum levels. Simply click on the cogg next to the Base Color sliders in the Surface Tab, and remove max limits. (This only applies to Iray Surfaces) Another thing you can do, is to adjust the White Point to a slightly more blueish tone in the Tone Mapping section of Iray render settings. This will tint your renders in a warm orange color, which is something I’ve done in the renders on this page.
If you’re looking for more advanced ways of using Iray, with full control and all the options, then check our collection of Iray tutorials for DAZ Studio HERE.
– Val Cameron, CEO and founder of Dreamlight
Helping DAZ Studio artists love their art and income since 2005.
P.S. If you’re looking for more advanced ways of using Iray, then check our collection of Iray tutorials for DAZ Studio HERE.