There seems little point in practicing magic unless you want to do at least a few extraordinary things with this incarnation. Peter J Carroll, The Octavo

Inimicus Dei Constituitur

Other Content Reviews

Okay, back for round two of my essential tools. Ready?

Quick Shots 1 got me thinking a little differently about what I write here. After a year in, I think that was needed. I'll still be doing reviews, but they won't be the main focus (they take a long time and aren't nearly as fun as you'd think). But I appreciate that they have assisted folks and that people like my writing style and that I am not afraid to express my opinion even when its not a positive opinion. Also, Quick Shot 1 produced some discussion about similar light sets and how I felt about having a few of them. So I thought, maybe, people might be interested in what I consider to be my most essential tools (right now, this will change over time).

Creative Emissive Lighting by Khory

In the interest of full disclosure, I recieved a pre-release copy of this product and I contributed some editorial comments on the included PDF file. That in no way contributed to my desire to write this article nor did it color my opinion of the product. If you've read my other work, you know I am a fan of Khory's work, but I always try to be fair.

When I first recieved the files for this set, I must admit I was a little bewildered as to how I might use it. To say that its a mixed bag is putting it lightly. Khory always pushes the boundaries with her lights, its something I always admired about her and why I always picked up her light sets: there was always something new to learn, some interesting angle that she had come up with that no one else was doing at the time. But this set... its not your average set of lights. Its not properly a set of lights at all: its a toolkit, a paint box to add lighted surfaces to your renders.

There's no question that adding visible lights to your scenes in iRay is tricky, at best.  Getting the right balance of emitted light with a surface that actually looks good is hard.  I have often avoided using visble light surfaces because of these reasons. It really didn't occur to me, even after reading the PDF document, that this product was absolutely intended to create these types of surfaces and it does it very well. 

I have to take a moment here to talk about something that is one of the most common mistakes that I see people make: trying to illuminate a scene entirely with visible light sources, and not "cheating" by using spotlights and point lights. Even with creative tone mapping, this is a difficult proposition most of the time. Mind you, I'm not saying its impossible, just that its very difficult to do effectively; not to mention that one is not going to end up with much of an attractively lit scene. But that is a subject for another time.

 I don't normally take ad copy from a product for my articles, but this is a special case:

One of the most exciting things about Iray is how easy it is to work with emissive lighting. This set was created to help you add emissive effects to a wide variety of surfaces. Some will have an obvious use and others I hope will inspire you to think out of the box about using them.

Included in this set are:

  • 70 multi colored presets that are texture driven. They span from a simple star field to almost organic patterns.
  • 10 presets based on the color temperature of everything from candle light, to sunshine.
  • 1 preset that will convert a surface to the uber Iray shader with emission turned on, but will not remove any of the maps that are already attached to the surface. This makes it easier to “turn on” surfaces.
  • 5 luminosity adjustments for quick changes to the light level.
  • 20 Simple solid colors to do quick changes on surfaces for effects like neon and simple LED lights.
  • 120 tone on tone presets consisting of 6 different patterns each in the 20 solid colors.
  • 9 tiling settings for quick tiling adjustments.

That's a lot. Here's the really important bit in my opinion: "...others I hope will inspire you to think out of the box about using them."

This collection is surprisingly inventive, but it is also quite utilitarian. The few renders I've done here don't even begin to explore the possibilities. I've used only a few of the more basic  solid colors and a few patterns and adjustments. And I used props with modeled in light sources because its the most obvious use, but if you look at the promo renders that Khory did you'll see that she did not limit herself to that sort of thinking: she uses primitive shapes and props one wouldn't normally think of as light sources.

The funny thing here is that Khory wants this set to spark your creativity and I am having the hardest damn time writing about it! I want to compare it to other products, but the only other products that I can think of that are even remotely similar do not come close to the depth and utility of this product. The utility part of this product alone is equal to similar products, but when you add the other, unique presets into the mix you get something that simply stands high above the rest.

With this handy toolkit you can create anything from torchlight to glowing LEDs or unique special effects. Just browsing through the options can set you off in directions you might not have considered. I truly recommend this set as something you'll find yourself coming back to over and over again for practical uses and inspiration!

Anyone who knows me knows that I don't do anything quick. But content is king, and if I want to compete with all the clickbait out there and keep your attention, I really gotta start pushing out more content. But its gotta be quality content. So, here's my first Quick Shot: part product usage tutorial/tips, part review, part product push for some of my favorite content artists.

Came for the throneRender Studio Iray

Render Studio Iray is a new product from the mind of Colm Jackson of Runtime DNA.  Render Studio, as a concept, goes back several years. The first product, if I recall correctly, was Render Studio for Vue. That was one of my first introductions to Vue and I bought Render Studio, which was (at the time) a handful of props and some lighting.  Not long after Render Studio for Vue, the first Render Studio for Poser was introduced.