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Bruce Kieffer

Softer Soft Shadows

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I can't seem to make my soft shadows as soft in VW 2011 as I could in VW 2010. I could get them very soft with 2010, but just a tad soft in VW 2011. I've tried tweaking the Custom Renderworks settings to no avail. Suggestions please?

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The shadows diverge the farther they get from the shadow-casting object. If you want entirely fuzzed out shadows then maybe you want an area light?

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Dave,

I can't change the distance between my objects. So there is no way to make softer (blurrier) shadows in VW 2011? Too bad, I got some real nice ones with VW 2010. I'm trying the area light, but so far I don't see much change. I will continue.

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I don't think that VW2010 had soft shadows. That feature was added in VW2011.

We're talking about the "soft shadows" attribute of light objects, right? See attached screen shot.

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Bruce is talking about mapped shadows, which had a resolution. If you set it low they would be generally fuzzy around the edges. Now the raytraced soft shadows only diverge with distance. Area lights or maybe indirect lighting bounced off of a white polygon would be the way to get generally fuzzy shadows.

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OK... So I've messed with this the entire day, and I'm convinced there is no way to make rendered objects and their shadows look like they did in VW 2010. You can get close, but you cannot get the same. Take a VW 2010 file and convert it to a VW 2011 file, and then try and make the shading and shadows look exactly as they do in your VW 2010 file. No way. I did read Tamsin's great Migration Guide. What I will say is that objects and their shadows do seem to render more realistically with VW 2011, but they are kind of dead compared to VW 2010. I guess that's progress!

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Funny how we allm clammored for more realistic renders and then freaked out when VW gave it to us. I also spent a bunch of time trying to replicate my 2010 renders only to realize that the real difference between 2010 and 2011 was that 2011 produced more realistic renders.

With regard to your problem, though, did you look at the soft shadows option on light objects in 2011?

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With regard to your problem, though, did you look at the soft shadows option on light objects in 2011?

I did some today. I could only get very soft shadows using a light object. Could you please give me a bit of guidance on how to make the shadow adjustments to make my shadows look more like fuzzy edge drop shadows?

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I'm not sure that there is an "adjustment." Check the Soft Shadows option on your light objects and render with Final Quality or Custom Renderworks. In Custom Renderworks, you can adjust soft shadows from Low to Very High. I haven't played with this very much but doing so will give your shadows soft edges.

Can you post some examples showing your 2010 and 2011 results?

Funny that this topic should come up today. This very morning, I was noticing how a shadow cast on the cottage behind my house had a very slightly fuzzy edge, NOT a gradual fade and I thought about how similar the soft shadow option in RW2011 was to the real thing (being an amateur photographer and renderer makes you notice the strangest things.) When I first started using RW2011, I was kind of let down by how little fuzz the soft shadow created. Maybe I shouldn't have been so hard on it.

Anyway, let's see what you've been up to, Bruce.

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Hi Bruce

Have you considered HDRI? Image environment lighting has become significantly faster in RW2011 and the shadows are as soft as the map allows for.

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Hi Bruce

Have you considered HDRI? Image environment lighting has become significantly faster in RW2011 and the shadows are as soft as the map allows for.

Kaare,

I am using HDRI, but I have only tried the default included ones. The one I'm using is Simple Light Dome 01. I did not find any that gave me soft shadows. Do you know of some?

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I'm not sure that there is an "adjustment." Check the Soft Shadows option on your light objects and render with Final Quality or Custom Renderworks. In Custom Renderworks, you can adjust soft shadows from Low to Very High. I haven't played with this very much but doing so will give your shadows soft edges.

Can you post some examples showing your 2010 and 2011 results?

Funny that this topic should come up today. This very morning, I was noticing how a shadow cast on the cottage behind my house had a very slightly fuzzy edge, NOT a gradual fade and I thought about how similar the soft shadow option in RW2011 was to the real thing (being an amateur photographer and renderer makes you notice the strangest things.) When I first started using RW2011, I was kind of let down by how little fuzz the soft shadow created. Maybe I shouldn't have been so hard on it.

Anyway, let's see what you've been up to, Bruce.

Bill,

I remember Dave D. showing me how to add a light shader texture to an object. I worked on using an area light object yesterday, and today I'm going to mess around with adding a light shader to an object. I will post some examples when I get some free time.

As for how RW2011 renders; I do agree the results are more realistic, but like I said earlier, they are kind of dead too. I'm creating art with my technical drawings, not necessarily realistic renderings (see examples on my site www.draw.biz). I would like to see some options with RW lights to easily add highlights and adjust shadow softness. I know highlights can be added to an object by using a shader texture on the object, but I color my objects, I don't texture them. I'm suggesting a global highlight adjustment using the light source. RW2010 lights produced shinier objects (more highlights).

Edited by Bruce Kieffer

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So far I do see the glow shader can cast shadows, but those shadows are super dim, and I have yet to find a way to adjust the shadow level.

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Hi Bruce:

I think we need you to upload a VWX file to experiment with in order to debug this better. There are several ways I can think of to get what you're talking about.

Have you tried the HDRI White background in the content library? It sounds like you are wanting a good studio style setup for your models. That HDRI with a gradient background may look pretty good.

Also, make sure you turn off ambient when adjusting lights or you may not see changes. I've seen a lot of RW renderings that look flat because ambient was overbright.

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Dave,

My sample files are too large to attach. Get them from my Dropbox here:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5106796/Drill%20Press%20Cabinet%20Exploded%20v2010%20Soft%20Shadows%20v2010.vwx.zip

and here:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5106796/Drill%20Press%20Cabinet%20Exploded%20v2011%20Soft%20Shadows.vwx.zip

I chose this drawing since it's very easy to see the shadow differences. Open the v2010 file in VW2010, and it will render with custom RW. I really like those soft shadows! Then change the render to Final Quality RW and you'll see the shadows get hard edge. I opened the v2010 in VW2011 and saved it as a VW2011 file and did nothing else. When you open it, you'll see it looks dead and the soft shadows are gone. Please help and show me a way to get the VW2011 file to look like it did in the VW2010 file. Thanks

Edited by Bruce Kieffer

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When I was trying out the Vw2011 demo I was able to make the attached image using only a HDRI of a studio lighting setup: you can see a soft shadow at the base of the reflective ball. The file consists only of two objects: a sphere and a plane that is the concrete floor. The rest is the background from the HDRI.

Since I didn't upgrade to Vw2011, I can't tell you what the lighting settings were and the file is over the 5mb limit, otherwise I would upload it.

Here are the links to where I found the free studio HDRIs:

HDRi Pack 1 by ~zbyg

HDRi Pack 2 by ~zbyg

HDRi Pack 3 by ~zbyg

HTH,

Tim

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Hi again Bruce:

I like this, turn off both directional lights, and then set your Lighting Options like so. Render with FQRW.

You can get the soft shadows from the white HDRI and indirect lighting to attach to the objects better by trying Custom RW with the Indirect Lighting Quality setting Very High, if you prefer.

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You might like the HDRI brightness turned down to 80% (by editing the HDRI White resource), and to use Custom RW with anti-aliasing and Indirect Lighting quality Very High, and the number of Indirect Lighting bounces at 4. To me this approaches a photo-realistic image.

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Here's the background I used.

I turned off all lights, including ambient, turned on indirect lighting to 4 bounces, and turned indirect and hdri settings to very high.

Surprising thing was, render time seemed slower with indirect lighting turned off. Turning it on made a faster render and one that was less grainy. Dave, any idea why that might be?

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Yes, Indirect Lighting is usually faster with HDRI backgrounds. Rendering the light from an HDRI background without indirect lighting involves shooting a ton of rays (which is where the graininess comes from). The results with indirect lighting are smoothed out by nature, not grainy.

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Bill-

That looks really good. Dave's version with the HDRI White background also is good, but it looks much more 'flat' than your version. Your version shows off the rounded edges of the cabinet doors quite nicely.

Regards,

Tim

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Dave,

My use of directional lights allows me to determine where the shadows will fall. Can that be done with HDRI backgrounds?

Both yours and Bill's examples are great. Thanks. I will check out the files Tim listed too.

Now back to my previous question... Is there a way to get my VW2011 file to render and look like it did in my VW2010 file?

As I said, art is my goal, not realistic rendering. I want full control of where the shadows fall, how they appear, and I want a way to add and control highlights using a directional light. I'll post this to the wish list.

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