3D Lighting: History, Concepts and Techniques (Graphics Series) Hardcover – 1 Oct 2000
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The majority of computer graphics books are either too application-specific or too general. The field of 3-D computer graphics possesses tremendous depth, and any aspect of it is worthy of a focused career. In large studios, artists concentrate on just one phase of production, be it modelling, texturing, animation or rendering. If you are interested in learning about the field from this perspective, read 3D Lighting: History, Concepts, & Techniques. It's a pleasure to peruse, because it shares the large-studio focus.
The book does feature examples, project files, and some instructions for specific applications, but it is mostly about concept and theory in computer imaging. For the most part, it avoids application-specific discussion. This is a good thing--any experienced artist uses more than one application, and can easily port this information from one app to another.
There are eight chapters in all, starting with "The Nature of Light" (how light works) and "The Physiology of Seeing and Perception" (how we see light), and moving on to "Fundamentals of Photography and Cinematography" and "Colour and Materials". But it isn't until chapter 5, "Computer Graphics", that the book gets into the specifics of how 3-D applications treat light and colour.
The only real drawback of this book is its lack of colour images. While there is an eight-page colour plate section in the middle, it is hardly enough to sustain a book devoted to lighting and colour theory. And although the accompanying CD-ROM includes most, if not all, of the pictures used in the book, it is hardly the same as a colour picture in the text. The liberal use of black and white images throughout the book is almost an insult to a book about colour and light.
While application-specific reference books have their place, there are far too few that focus on specific concepts. Lighting is as important as texturing, animation and rendering, and 3D Lighting: History, Concepts, & Techniques is thoroughly important to the field. --Mike Caputo
Is there something missing from your 3D images? Do they lack vibrancy and realism? If so, the problem may not be with your images, but with the lighting behind them. Mastering the art of lighting in 3D graphics is a challenge facing even the most experienced professionals. The hands-on techniques and guidelines provided in these pages, show how to illuminate your work and add new depth and detail to your images. From the history of lighting, to the detailed fundamentals of 3D graphics, all of the concepts needed to improve or refresh your lighting skills are covered. The general lighting techniques and information provided should serve as a useful resource. A variety of detailed tutorials are used throughout the book to teach techniques and both cinematography and photography are covered. The text details colour theory and the fundamentals of how a computer draws, and covers all types of lighting situation from portrait, indoor/outdoor, water, textured materials (hair, fur, fabric, sand and snow), reflective and refractive (metals, glass, plastic, gels), to anisotropic materials including brushed objects, wood grain, and coated surfaces.Commercial applications including Lightscape 3.2, Lightwave 5.6, and trueSpace 4.2 are used in the examples as well as 3D Studio Max and VIZ. A colour section illustrates techniques and the CD-ROM (Win/Mac) includes demos of some of the programs covered, and illustrations and tutorials from within the book.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The tutorials are well-done and not unnecessarily numerous. Although mostly in black-and-white, the images throughout the book are excellent, and the CD thankfully includes color versions of the book images as well as demos and plug-ins.
I would recommend this book to anyone, regardless of experience, especially if you have considered scene lighting to be a "final touch" more than an integral part of scene design.
I wish that more of the sections had been tied together or made relevant to 3D graphics. For example, the lengthy chapter on the anatomy of a human eye could have been copied from an encyclopedia or anatomy book, and just seemed pasted-in to this book, without leading into any conclusions or techniques related to making your own images.
Some of the most important parts of the lighting process (that I'd like to do more of in my projects!) weren't covered at all - there was nothing about matching the lighting from real-life background or combining and compositing your renders with real footage, there was nothing about casting and receiving shadows and reflections from real-world scenes, or rendering multiple layers and compositing them to build more realistic surfaces.
The actual images and sample scenes in the book were very basic - the author never moves to anything more sophisticated than lighting that same statue head and model of his desk scene, none of the images in the book are any more challenging or professional. (I give this book 2 stars to reward the author's effort, but if I were grading this book on how useful it was to me I only would have given it only 1 star, because it didn't teach anything new or useful.)
Unfortunatley when I went to use the tutorials I found that the required plug-ins of the third party texture creator (Dark Tree) didn't work with 3D Max 4. The demo for the upgrade of this product wasn't available and I had to try to simulate the tutorial using Max's on material editor. I'm dissappointed that the author did not use these materials in the first place. I would also caution anyone utilizing these tutorials to have a decent computer to run them on. Some of the exercises use a lot of grouped lights along with raytracing and it can take some time to see the results.