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Car Studio Lighting Cinema 4D

29th September 2018 - By 
Car Studio Lighting Cinema 4D

Car Studio Lighting Cinema 4D Learn how to set up realistic car studio lighting using a 3 point light setup and a few tips from photographers that use in the world of car photography.

Introduction to Car Studio Lighting Cinema 4D Setup

We wrote this car studio lighting Cinema 4D tutorial to help beginners out there get a better understanding of how to light your 3d car  models to produce a realistic render in Cinema 4D , there are so many tutorials available on the web but it’s always hard to find a decent one that produces good results, other users using different applications can of course a apply the same techniques in their renders.

In this article, we will cover the concepts of car studio lighting Cinema 4D and how to get the best results from your renders with the 3 point light setup and camera settings. So let’s not waste any more time and jump right into the tutorial.

Setting up your camera

To shoot cars, we usually just use a 35mm and 85mm. 24mm can sometimes be a little too wide and distort the car if you get too close  85mm is a great lens to get a zoomed in shot, you will find this tends to make the car look flatter. The whole Ferrari LaFerrari images were shot with 85mm.

You can see the difference between 35mm and 85mm focal length, 35mm makes the car look blown up at the front end whereas the 85mm flattens the car out.


The 3 Point Light Setup

One of the most popular lighting techniques is called three-point lighting, and just as the number implies, it involves using three lights to create and direct pleasing light on your subject.

This topic covers all of the basics, touching on the definition of a key light, a rim or “back” light, and and the fill light.

The Key Light

First of all, we create our key light we want this to be the primary light and to light up the side of the car. Create an area light and set the shadow type to an area, come out of your active camera select the light and go to “camera” under you viewport controls and select the set active object as the camera.

This will set the light as a camera, now and you can easily position the light in the right direction, click on the car model and position the light low to the floor and slightly off to the left. To jump back out of the light select the camera view icon once and then come back out, this will jump from being in the camera view of the light back into the main camera.

Positioning is the key

Now that you have your key light in a good position think about how far the light needs to be from the side of the car if the light is too close it will be blown out and too bright if it’s too far away it will look dull, position the light to be a medium range.

Test your light setup

Do a quick test render to see how bright it looks off the side of the car. Always remember the all lights have falloff according to the inverse square law in the real world, go under the details tab of the light and select the drop down for falloff and choose Inverse Square (Physically Accurate) option.

Change the Size X and Size Y until your light spans the full length of the car, then dial in a number or use the “orange dots”  to shape the light and position the falloff  until it suits you, ideally you want the falloff to reach the end of the car from where the light angle is coming from.

Inverse Square Law 3D Lighting

Show in Reflections option VS Luminance Card

Cinema 4d has a great option to show the light in reflections, you will find this just above the falloff option under the details tab of the light. But personally, we don’t like this as it leaves the reflections to hard, we need the reflections to be defused and soft.

We get around this by leaving this uncheck and create a plane object, select the key light and under coordinates tab copy the values and the past them into the coordinates of the plain object, you will find that this positions the plain object exactly where the light is.

Reshape the plain so that it’s slightly larger than the light and move it back a few inches from the light source. Create a new material and under the luminance tab and use a gradient channel 2d v and set it black to white to black.

Place this on the plain and under the luminance tab set the mixed mode to multiply and the colour to 180% this will allow you to get higher values in the luminance channel if you find the plain object get in the way of the camera use a composition tag and uncheck seen by the camera.

Show in Reflections option VS Luminance Card

Fill Light

Repeat these steps until you have 3 lights a key light, fill light and a backlight. Generally, you should turn down the intensity of the fill light to around 50% or 35% this is to lighten the source slightly from a different angle and brighten up any dark shadows.

Back Light

The backlight or rim light you should increase this to a higher value I set mine to around 150% light intensity. Remember to create 2 more new luminance material for each of the fill light and backlight cards, as you will have to bring down the values in the luminance channels for them.

3D 3 Point Lighting

Car Studio Lighting Cinema 4D Render Settings

Here are the render settings used for my final output, you can, of course, lower all these settings to get fast previews while you are testing out the lights a good rule of thumb is to use the physical renderer and we always set my gamma under global illumination to 2.2.

Car Studio Render Setting Cinema 4D

Textures & Materials

Of course you might have great lighting on your car but the key is to spend a good amount of time researching materials for your car if you don’t have a good car paint material or textures it will be harder to fool your audience, take the time and research how to build up a good car paint material.

Adjustments in Photoshop

Every 3d render we produce goes into Photoshop to be tweaked slightly, start with a curve and choose one of the channels and play around with it, we wanted to put more of a blue tinge over the image. By pulling the blue channel up into the higher values gives it more of a dramatic look.

Lens Correction

Again all images we output get some slight adjustments here to add some Chromatic Aberration as to trick the user into thinking it’s slighting more realistic, you will find in real photography that camera lens tends to produce chromatic aberration.

Here are a few renders from this car studio lighting Cinema 4D 3 point studio light setup tutorial:

Car Studio Lighting Cinema 4D

Ferrari Laferrari

We hope you enjoyed this tutorial on Car Studio Lighting Cinema 4D

Find HDRI Car Studio Products here:

HDRI Car Studio 1

HDRI Car Studio 2

Don’t forget to check out our high-quality 3D Car Models here on Luxxlabs or find more Cinema 4D Tutorials

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On Luxxlabs, 3D artists, design studios and businesses share and sell their models. Enterprise and business customers can choose from a wide collection of high-quality 3D models or hire a designer for a custom job if the model needed cannot be found on the platform.

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5 Comments
  • Found this tutorial really helpful. it’s interesting to see how other artists approach this. Great explanation I really appreciate your time and teaching here. Thanks a lot.

  • Great stuff as always!

  • Brilliant tutorial, very insightful on how others use these techniques to get great renders.

  • Great tutorial very useful, thank you very much.

  • This is a really good tutorial thanks for sharing this and would just like to say the HDRI pack is worth the money, used this in various projects.

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