First I want to say I don’t claim to be an expert on lighting space scenes. Far from it. I have a love hate relationship with it.
Lighting CG space is a daunting task. It’s overlooked or done poorly alot. Personally I like a less is more attitude. Although I believe in a real world approach I can’t just stick one light in and say its a sun or nearby star and call it a day.
My lighting usually depends on what I’m doing. Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5 and so on. I use techniques from all those as well. Often I use a nebula’s to silhouette the ships as they did on Babylon 5. Which also gives u a secondary light source to give shape to your ship and mood to the scene.
Star Trek lighting evolved over the years. First with studio models and blue screens. Which is why they were so brightly lit and lit from the front. Eventually the Key light made its way to the other side of the model and much more pleasing and dramatic lighting scheme began.
The Voyager model above is lit by four lights. A key, fill, kick and a copy of the key light with everything off but Specular the original Key has affect spec off. Although I have known about this for ever I didn’t bother doing fo the longest time, but now that I have started doing it I have found it works great.
On Voyager they would put a Spotlight under the ship aimed directly up at it with using shadow map with a fuzzy edge around 10-20 which is what I did here. It fills in the crooks and gives it a pleasant look.
Okay so I hope none of that sounded pretentious. I usually don’t write these kinds of posts. I been thinking about writing a Space Lighting Tutorial, but I probably won’t Kier Darby did some brillant ones. And I learned most of what I know from him. Also from “Mojo” and John Gross and others through Keyframe or Newtechniques magazine way back and “The Lightwave 3D Book”.
P.S. I know there is a hole in the Sarod Voyager mesh. And my title “Error of the Gods” is referencing an error with Lightwave not Sarods model. His model is beautiful.