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Thread: "Deep end of Object Source Lighting - a mini Diorama project and OSL experimentation"

  1. #1

    Default "Deep end of Object Source Lighting - a mini Diorama project and OSL experimentation"

    OK, a brief foreword:

    I don't really frequent the CMON forums but I've found them very helpful when I need real advice and guides to certain methods. Many other places are great for a pat on the back when you know you've done a good job but I think I can get the real critisism here that I need to improve.

    I received great help on my NMM when I started this thread here:\-s-any-good!
    ...and since I never really closed that thread with a finished product (and I can't risk the threadomancy now) here's where I ended up then:

    OK, so now we know where I'm at (or rather where I was at six months ago or so), no Golden Deamon but not too shabby when I make the effort.

    On to the project at hand!

    For a long long time I've really wanted to try my luck with Object Source Lighting, being inspired by Victoria Lamb's "The Rescue of Sister Joan" among other things.

    Not to get in over my head I'm starting small. I want this to be part of a bigger diorama with a live Space Marine, another Genestealer and some Space Hulk wall structures, and I want the whole scene to only be lit by small light sources, e.g. the Marine's lenses and Powerfist.

    This particular part of the scene is lit by a light emitting from inside the dead Marines armor:

    Here I've only used pure white straight on black primer to make a sort of blue-print for the OSL.
    I guess I should have maybe painted the whole mini in muted colors first and then started adding the OSL but when I want to do something new I really don't have the patience and just dig right into the fun parts, even if it's just to try them out, only to paint over the whole thing later.

    My idea is to have the whole scene basically colorless outside the beams of light, just a rather dimly shaded gray on everything and maybe just pick out a bit of color in edge highlights. I would then fade the color in where there is direct light falling on objects.

    So now the questions (in order of importance):

    A. Is this whole "everything in the dark shaded in similar grey tones" idea any good?
    a1. Would a blueish tone be better than just grey and black?
    a2. Is there a better way to get dampened "in the shadows" look on the colors?

    B. Do the light spots I've picked out make good sense?

    C. Would it help to pick out the highest light points first and then work on the color in between that and the darkest shade or should I build up from the shade and find the highlight point while I go?

    Any general tips on OSL from those who have tried and learned from it would be super-helpful. From everyone else just comments on whether it looks right to you, as the project goes on, and a little moral support would be greatly appreciated

    I'm mainly doing this to improve my painting and learn a new trick but if it manages to funnel a lot of OSL wisdom into a single thread it can hopefully help other painters and serve as a sort of community tutorial at the same time.

    Thanks in advance,
    Last edited by Solun Decius; 05-01-2010 at 12:57 PM.

  2. #2


    wow you picked a real project and a half very nice i thought i was looking at a computer generated image. the hard part is if you use the white light its going to show the colours of whatever it hits which would be an absolute sod to pull off im not really sure what the colours normally would be for blood angel/ravens armour lights but red seems the choice to go for for me as it is used in reality for dark conditions as it doesnt destroy your night vision ( a dull red glow would give the genestealer a more demonic aspect too). the high lights you have picked out are 100%spot on, fantastic effect. good luck and keep the pics coming

    cassar [demigod] |ˈdemēˌgäd|
    noun ( fem. demigoddess |ˈdemēˌgädis| )
    a being with partial or lesser divine status, such as a minor deity, the offspring of a god and a mortal, or a mortal raised to divine rank.
    • a person who is greatly admired or feared.
    ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: translating Latin semideus .

    on a serious note, i do commissions, no really i do, ask and ye shall receive

  3. #3


    Thanks man!

    The whole "how colors change when light hits them" thing is what I'm wondering most about right now, so I should be clear that the genestealer will have blue flesh mostly and the Marine's armor is red. You suggest I could tint towards red in the shadows, right? Is that the last color the eye still registers in dimly lit conditions?

    I also understand that I haven't done much yet to comment on so it's more of a brain storm session right now (and everybody's welcome to participate).

    To start a little brain-storming, here's a thought: If I have a colored light (blueish electric light from Powerfist or green light through Blood Angels' eye lenses) where would that color be most apparent? My idea is to have my general shade color (grey, blue, red?) in the shade, fade up to the material color (genestealer skin or other) over the midrange and then start mixing in the light source's color along with white towards the highlights (currently white areas).

    I'll have some more progress to add tonight. Until then all advice is appreciated.

  4. #4


    im on the bottom of the learning curve too mate, my first ever attempt at osl was the death guard wip. i have heard of people shining lights on to the minis to get the correct highlighted areas you could try this with different coloured lights and see what colours stand out the best for you. a torch used with different coloured plastic over it maybe? from the photo you have posted you dont need any guidance re the way the light and shadows interact looks spot on to me.

    cassar [demigod] |ˈdemēˌgäd|
    noun ( fem. demigoddess |ˈdemēˌgädis| )
    a being with partial or lesser divine status, such as a minor deity, the offspring of a god and a mortal, or a mortal raised to divine rank.
    • a person who is greatly admired or feared.
    ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: translating Latin semideus .

    on a serious note, i do commissions, no really i do, ask and ye shall receive

  5. #5


    Looks like you have a good grip on the OSL idea already. Some weirdo wrote this article and it may help -

  6. #6


    Thanks dudes. Yeah, I've got the idea of reflection and light directions pretty clear (in my head) but we'll see how it goes when I start working on the colors. That's where I'm hoping for a little constructive criticism here, later on.

    @Shawn R. L.
    Thanks! I had actually checked that article out before, as well as victoria's Necron Destroyer one. I must admit I mostly looked at the pictures and read the text around them Both were great examples of OSL but I didn't get the detailed answers I'm now looking for.
    This time I actually read paragraphs 7 through 25 in your article and that really answered a lot of questions and strengthened some of the ideas that were forming already.
    It would be awesome if you checked in here once in a while in the next couple of weeks and maybe let me know if I'm straying off the path

    One thing I forgot to mention. If anyone remembers a link to a breathtaking example of OSL don't hesitate to link. That's always great inspiration and help.

  7. #7


    OK, some progress!

    Decided to begin right at the source to get the light source effect going from the start. Also did some tests on the dark side(s) of the genestealer.

    The reflections off the shiny primer sort of kill the effect but ignoring that I think it's moving in the right direction.

  8. #8


    Well that looks very clever indeed, nice work Light placement is something I have nightmares about, let alone how the colours work, this is very impressive!

    Any chance of a shot under normal lights/white background to get a clearer view of how it looks in the hand?

    Cheers, B.
    My CMON Gallery Rank...

  9. #9


    Heh, yeah, I hadn't thought of that. I was to busy trying to get the effect to pop what with the black backgrounds and all.

    This is on a background with a little green hue, because pure white can confuse the image software.

    The idea was also that the light had a little bit of a green tint, while the armor itself is red and the skull bone colored. I guess right now I'm wondering if it actually looks like that. Maybe I need to strengthen the red a little bit over a larger area.

  10. #10


    The object being lit - what is it? Could you post a pic of it in it's unpainted state?

    Adding a secondary light source is very beneficial. It can help add volume to the shapes.

    Is there a specific issue you are struggling with?

  11. #11

    Default Deep end of OSL - expert advice and general support appreciated!

    I'll answer that last question first, and at the same time the underlying "why did I start this thread". I'm not really struggling with any specific issue yet, except not knowing what the issues will be, but I know I will be when I proceed. Therefor I started the thread as soon as I began painting, just hoping for some ideas at first and then as I go on, I'm hoping for someone to spot where I'm not nailing it and maybe also ideas on how to get it better. Maybe I just want approval if I get it right

    In the previous photos everything black on the model is completely unpainted. It's just the black primer that's a bit shiny. What's being lit is the skull and the armor right around the head. The light source is inside the armor, shining out of the helmet hole. I've also, just with pure white, marked the spots on the underside of the genestealer that will be hit by the same light source.
    Most of the OSL-part of it will therefor be lit from below.

    I'm trying to implement the secondary light source, that'll probably be more of a general ambient light source, for everything outside of the light beam. I'm trying to realize my idea of painting everything blue, fading into black in the deepest shadows and then blending to each area's actual color towards the raised areas. This is a specific issue and I have no idea if it's a good idea or not. Your article also mentioned blue in the shadows on the "nighttime side" so I decided to go for it

    Here's where I'm at at the moment, just a snap on my desk, no tricks.

    I guess my main issues now are how do I mix the color of the light with the color of the material and which color do I fade to on the dark sides of objects.

  12. #12


    OK, now I've implemented something that's questionable whether works or not.
    I made the armor (that's in the dark) a deep red, and shaded it towards a dark blue. I then muted both red and blue with some black washes, also smoothing the blend a bit.

    I also sort of re-painted how the armor brightens up towards the light source under the skull.
    All the details etc. I've just left black or blue. It's just the main red parts of the armor I'm looking at now.

    Also, It'd make more sense on a black background but that's a bit tricky to set up so I'll just do that next.
    Last edited by Solun Decius; 05-02-2010 at 08:27 PM.

  13. #13
    Member Yves's Avatar
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    I know it might not exactly be the input you're looking for, but have you considered another lightsource coming from the helmet at the terminator's feet? Like his helmets visors are still glowing? I figure it might make the model a little more interesting having both a strong lightsource on top and at the bottom, since his left leg, the one without ornaments, looks a little too "dull" at the moment. That's just an idea, though. Other than that I've got to admit that your work is most impressive thus far.
    Greets from Kraut-Land,

  14. #14


    I think the lighting is incredibly impressive really! Definitely helps it having a small portion of the armours coloured in too - actually gives more focus to it. Looking forward to seeing this one progress

  15. #15


    @Yves: That's a very valid point and if this ends up as a standalone piece I'll probably have to add an actual or imaged second light source just to add dimension to it, and draw the eye a bit over the whole model. However, the plan is for it to be part of a small diorama with at least two other OSL light sources. I wanted to start with this part and the single light source just to see that I could make it work

    @Joek: Thanks man. I also think adding some color to the details will bring the whole model out a bit (hopefully not drawing from the light effect itself).

  16. #16


    Hi Solun, the Genestealer makes sense to my eye now that there's blue over that white How did I not grasp that that was what was going on?

    Fascinating stuff, keep up the good work.

    Cheers, B.

    PS perhaps a Mod shuffle of this thread to the WIP forum?
    My CMON Gallery Rank...

  17. #17


    Thanks BPI! Heh, yeah, it's tricky to make the lighting make sence, when I have to light the mini with a real life light source but am trying to make it look like it's lit from within the model.
    Quote Originally Posted by BPI View Post
    PS perhaps a Mod shuffle of this thread to the WIP forum?
    I was thinking that exact same thing yesterday. This is really more of a project log.
    If a mod sees this he can move it ober to the Project logs and maybe change the title to:
    "Deep end of Object Source Lighting - a mini Diorama project and OSL experimentation"
    ... (yeah, I'm all for the descriptive titles )

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solun Decius View Post
    If a mod sees this he can move it ober to the Project logs and maybe change the title to:
    "Deep end of Object Source Lighting - a mini Diorama project and OSL experimentation"
    ... (yeah, I'm all for the descriptive titles )
    Grumph. Yah don't want much do yah.
    I believe in Karma, what you give, is what you get returned. Affirmation; Savage Garden
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    , and proud of it.

  19. #19


    Hehe, thanks. Sorry to put you through all that trouble

    Anyway, here's one thing you don't find many tutorials on ... NMM in the dark!

    So I was basically trying to do gold, but in a scene without proper light sources. Only that cup on the right shoulder is hit (half of it) by the light.
    The two photos have different lighting and I also erased the chair on the second one because that's still just primed and pretty shiny. It took a bit away from the effect.
    The first one is less dramatic and gives away my sloppy blending but I guess it's also closer to what the mini really looks like. I think I really need to work the shades down to completely black on the armor. It's kind of flat as is.

    Lots still to do but C&C always very much appreciated!

  20. #20


    One issue: the lightsource inside the armor is obviously green, however, the light you show reflected on the skull/armor/gribblie is as if white light is hitting it. If the light is green, it would warp the colors somewhat. Very nice use of the source, though. The muscles on the stealer expecially pop.
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