Are you tired of waiting for cycles to render the viewport over and over again? And even with the fastest Cycles, you still have to render quite some samples to get the animation noise-free. No matter what denoiser you use? Look no further. Check what this Blender Studio Lighting for EEVEE can do.
Why should you use a lighting addon for your renders?
The EEVEE Production Suite is designed to speed up the workflow to set up a scene in EEVEE. Especially in EEVEE, it takes a tremendous amount of time to get the lights right. For example, There are settings for shadows, contact shadows, irradiance probes, reflection probes, and render settings that take a lot of time. The EEVEE Production Suite takes care of that all and works with presets.
What is this Blender Studio Lighting solution?
This product called EEVEE Production Suite can produce professional renders. Blender Studio Lighting is a set of addons designed to help users make better photorealistic renders in EEVEE. Additionally, you can bake the lights to HDRI and use this in Cycles. Instead of using Blender environment lighting, which doesn’t cast a shadow in EEVEE, it uses a so-called Cube for indirect baking.
What’s included in the Blender Studio Lighting?
Included is the following:
- EV Express addon. This addon contains 56+ Lighting Presets, and each preset will add two or three light-rigs, one backdrop, one irradiance volume probe, and one reflection probe. In addition, it has controls to manage the lights, render settings, color-management, smoke, and camera settings. This makes the EV Express the studio’s core, a blender studio lighting addon that provides all the blender studio lights. If you are not sure this is for you or not, you can try the Blender Studio Lighting Free over here.
- Material Nodes Addon. This contains 46+ node groups to build your own material. If you are not familiar with nodes, don’t worry: there is a mini-course and the Material Presets Addon. See below.
- Material Presets Addon. This contains 165 procedural materials you can apply to your asset and backdrop. The materials are categorized and show all thumbnails.
- Compositing Nodes Addon. This contains node groups that are safe to use in the compositor. Many build-in nodes are developed a long time ago before the introduction of Filmic. During that time, the Blender developers didn’t realize that the nodes are not suitable for the High Dynamic values in the 3D scene. There is a translation between the values in the 3D scene and our monitor called the transform-view. Before that was the default view, but not that is Filmic. And now we can see all the data in our scene, which was impossible before; the lights were clipping. So that is why we developed a set of nodes that work with the High Dynamic data in Blender.
A beginner’s guide to Blender Studio Lighting
There is documentation available in the EV Express, and there is a mini-course for nodes in the downloads. Here the most important aspects of the suite are explained.
Start with a preset to light your asset.
After modeling your assets, you first want to give it a material and choose a light setup. The best is to give it a mid-grey material and adjust the lights with the controls provided. After changing lights, bake the indirect light. Repeat this a few times: adjust light and bake it. After that, work out the materials, for example, with the Material Presets addon, or build your own one from scratch with the Material Nodes Addon.
What is the cube for indirect baking?
Sooner or later, you will stumble upon the cube for indirect baking. This cube keeps the light inside and lets it bounce around, so we get better ambient light and less harsh shadows. This looks much more realistic. You can experiment with this cube. For example, you can make it very bright or give it a saturated color. Or, if you want more variation, you can even use textures.
When to bake indirect light in EEVEE?
You bake indirect light after adjusting lights, and you want to see the final result. The concept is a bit strange, but that is how EEVEE works. In real life, indirect light doesn’t lag and doesn’t need an update. Unfortunately, in EEVEE, it needs an update. Luckily we can animate everything else without the need to bake again.
How to adjust the lights to your needs?
Look in the documentation for the shortcuts that come in very handy, such as G, Z, and Z, to grab the lights on the local axis. There are also controls in the UI to select lights and change the colors. One tip is to split the view: you see the render preview on the left and the material preview on the right. In the material preview, you can grab or change the position of the lights.
How to bake an HDRI in the Blender Studio Lighting?
Baking an HDRI is pretty simple. In the N-Panel, you go to TAB NMS, and there you find the section Lighting to HDRI. Set the resolution and the samples. If you use K-CyclesX, you choose another denoiser than NLM because NLM is not available in K-Cycles. Otherwise, any other denoiser will do depending on your hardware. The last step is to fill in a file name that ends with .exr. Then press the button: Bake Lights to HDRI. At this moment, Blender will freeze until the render is ready. It could take approximately 3 or 4 minutes.
What are the best ways to create a realistic render?
How do I make my blender render look realistic?
One important aspect of realistic renders is to create shadows, highlights, and specular reflections. Without shadows, the render looks flat, and there is no depth in the render. Another keyword is variations. Add variations in everything you can think of: roughness, light color, albedo values, etc. Start with simple materials or even with mid-grey albedo values to see that the light does. Then, Bake the lights, render, and use compositing nodes to refine.
Other aspects that make a render realistic:
- Use PBR Materials.
- Have enough polys in your geo. For example, a landscape needs quite some subdivisions or faces. And hard surfaces could use bevels.
- The right contrast. The best is to use the pivoted contrast, which is included in the compositing nodes addon.
There is a free mini-course called Blender EEVEE available from the same developer:
What to know when using Lighting presets?
Using the presets is pretty straightforward. The only thing you need to do is click on a thumbnail that loads a complete setup into the scene. There are a few things to keep in mind, though, and that is the following:
- Press Render settings number one so that you work with the best render settings known. (The other render settings are for special occasions). This will adjust the render settings, optimized for EEVEE.
- After changing the light, bake the indirect light. You don’t have to do this all the time, just when making significant changes or at the end right before rendering.
How to install Blender Studio Lighting?
The EEVEE Production Suite installs like any other addons for Blender. So that means you go in Blender to Edit > Preferences > Addons > Install. Next, search for the addon you just downloaded. I suggest starting with the EV Express and then the Material Presets addon because they appear in the same TAB in the N-Panel.
Where to get the Blender Studio lighting Suite?
The Studio is available on Blender Market