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iClone MasterClass #1 – Learn How to Create a Daylight Scene in iClone


Pro tips on using Skymaps, Directional light and Global Illumination by Benny Dee

Final scene render by Benjamin Dazhi

Welcome to the MASTER CLASS – iClone Level-Up Series by Benny Dee, where this talented iClone animator shares his tips & tricks on how to create amazing iClone animations with clever usage of realtime tools.

This tutorial #1 will show you how to create a daylight scene in iClone by properly using Skymaps, Directional Lights, Global Illumination and more.

Hello, my name is Benjamin Dazhi and in this iClone tutorial I will show you how to create a daylight scene by properly using realtime skymaps, directional light, global illumination and other tools in iClone.

 Let’s start. So we have our iClone open here. We always start with a blank scene as shown in below. (Fig 1.0)

Fig 1.0
Note that each time you’re trying to create a daylight scene you need to make sure that you switch OFF all the default lights in the scene, such as Key light, Rim light and Directional light. Fig 2.0  

We go to the Content Manager on the left-side of the iClone application. Under Content you go to the Set icon, and under Set you go to Sky. Since we want to create a daylight scene, then we choose the Clear Day Sky00 preset. Just drag and drop your Sky onto the Stage Window. (Fig 3.0)

Fig 3.0

Next you want to drag and drop props to your stage. You can choose props from the Library, the Content Store, or import your own through 3DXchange. For my case I already have my scene prepared. This is how it looks like below. (Fig 4.0).

Fig 4.0

Now, my scene looks dark because there are no forms of light in the scene yet. So to lighten it up, we go to our Directional Light. How to get to the Directional Light? You go to the top menu bar, Create > Light, where it shows you the different types of light. But in this case, since we’re creating a daylight scene, then we’ll go to Directional Light to activate it. (Fig 5.0)

Fig 5.0

Now, you can see that the Directional Light is switched ON, but it still doesn’t look appealing and realistic. This brings us to the next step which is Global Illumination. Right now Global Illumination is switched OFF and you can see that the shadows are very dark and you’re losing a lot of details. Fig (6.0)

Fig 6.0

So we need the shadows to be lighter so that we can have details on the surrounding rocks. We switch ON the Global Illumination and now you can see that the intensity is too much. (Fig 7.0)

Fig 7.0

What you do, is you go to diffuse the Bounce Light and reduce it to let’s say (0.6). But we’re still having way too dark shadows as shown below. (Fig 8.0)

Fig 8.0

So we go to Ambient Light color, which is found just under the same Global Illumination area. Let’s choose a lighter color like grey, but a lighter shade of grey. (Fig 9.0)

Fig 9.0

Now we see that we’re having brighter, lighter shadows in the area. But we still wish to get lighter shadows in the entire scene. So how do we spread the light across the whole scene so that we don’t have different shades?

For this we go again to Global Illumination. This time we try a different route by going to Scene > Light > Global Illumination. Clicking on the Global Illumination option, will cause the Anchor tab to open inside the Modify Panel on the right-side of iClone. Under the Anchor tab you will now see the Global Illumination Range.  (Fig 10.0)

Fig 10.0

Under Global Illumination Range, we can increase the value by dragging the slider or inputting a value inside the number cell. We will increase the Range Value to about 575.  Note: obviously, you can play around with this lighting value until you get the results you wish. (Fig 11.0)

Fig 11.0

After doing that, you will see that we have successfully eliminated all the dark areas in the environment. (Fig 12.0)

Fig 12.0

For the next step we are going to work with our IBL (Image based lighting). We are going to activate the IBL. (Fig 13.0)

Fig 13.0

Once you activate the IBL you will notice that it gives a lot of intensity and makes the scene more realistic. And in case you feel that your scene is losing details due to the intensity, then you can go back to the Scene tab, to the Directional light. (Fig 14.0)

Fig 14.0

Once you click on Directional Light, you can play with it to reduce the value of the Multiplier from 6.20 to 4.20. (Fig 14.1)

Fig 14.1

We see that the intensity is dropping a little. If we wish, we can go lower to say 2.20. (Fig 15.0)

Fig 15.0

Now, we have reduced the intensity in order to gain more details from the environment. We can appreciate that it’s no longer too bright. So this feature is perfect for this type of scene we are trying to achieve. (Fig 16.0)

Fig 16.0
Fig 17.0

Now the next step is you go to HDR (High dynamic range). HDR gives you an environmental realism. So you play with the HDR values until you achieve the look you are after. (Fig 17.0)

Let’s say we want to make it more atmospheric, so we increase the BloomScale a little. (Fig 18.0)

Fig 18.0

Now the bloom scale gives you that atmospheric feeling. You can see that now it looks very organic and natural.

And here we have it folks! These are the key steps we follow in other to achieve a realistic daylight scene in iClone. As you can witness, it is very easy as it’s just a matter of paying attention to the features included inside iClone which you can adjust in real-time.

So remember to always start your project empty, and start your project with all the default lights OFF. Always remember that!

Also note:

  • It’s good that when you are working in real-time you can activate everything to feel how the final render will look like. This is a great advantage of iClone.
  • It is also important to visualize what you see in real-time so that you can get an idea of the results before rendering.
  • Activate your effects as you go along, so that you can customize and do tweaking.
  • Work with the IBL, HDR and Directional light. They are of high importance.

Thank you for following this tutorial.

About the Author

Benjamin Sokomba Dazhi

Benjamin Sokomba Dazhi (Benny Dee) is an animator, video director, editor and cinematographer from Nigeria.


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