The Secret To Dramatic Light

The Secret To Dramatic Light


If there’s any secret to 3D light, then it starts with something bright. Don’t be afraid to go way outside the RGB limits. Amplify your light, and make it extremely strong. In order for your image to survive this strong light effect,  it can be a good idea to position the light from the side, above or even from the back. This will also cast nice shadows that will minimize the strong effect, by contrasting it with dark shadows.

Now, after something bright comes something dark, right? In 3D art, after you add that strong light source, you want to balance it with something soft and less strong. Outdoors, I just love to achieve this with the sky light itself… In DAZ Studio Iray, it’s easy to do with a HDR map that has no sun baked into it. Like the one here in my new Alienz 2 prop for DAZ Studio Iray:


In order to blend the strong and soft light effect, it can be a good idea to add some fog effects. I specialize in faking these in DAZ Studio with a little help from Photoshop, since it’s fast and gives you unlimited options. Simply design a black & white fog effect inside Photoshop using the render clouds function and apply it to the opacity channgel of a a flat plane primitive inside DAZ Studio.

One often overlook aspect of this mix, is to frame your creation with the 3D camera in just just a way, so that you naturally play with dark and bright areas all over your image, making it appear more interesting. Truly, this can be used to spice up any type of scenes, and it’s espceially useful for busy scenes with lots of details, where you can use the light to minimize the clutter, while still makeing the scenery interesting to look at.


The final piece of the puzzle is to further enhance the relationship of dark & bright inside Photoshop. The most effective yet simple trick on the planet is to duplicate your image, and on the copy layer choose screen blending mode. Adjust to taste. As simple as that. Don’t over do it… There’s a time and place for dramatic effects, but often–less is more. So be careful not to over-power your scenes with too much of the good stuff. Keep it simple, keep it dramatic!

– Val Cameron

P.S. Check out my best looking 3D prop yet, the new Alienz II for DAZ Studio Iray, complete with gorgeous lighting and fog effects… Get it HERE.

Happily sharing how to create great 3D & 2D art in DAZ Studio, Lightwave and Photoshop, Val Cameron, CEO and founder of Dreamlight, has been coaching and mentoring hundreds of thousands of artists since 2005. Bestselling DAZ 3D vendor with over 230+ video tutorials, plug ins and light sets.

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