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There’s no shortage of interesting environments to light and interesting ways to light them. I used several of the Lighting Challenge scenes as examples in this chapter, and most of them can give you experience lighting interior or exterior environments. Try to collect reference images that show a similar interior or exterior space at a similar time of day or night, and study the lighting in your reference image as you light the scene.

  1. Between 1888 and 1891, Claude Monet painted image after image of haystacks. He captured the same subject over and over, in different times of day and in different seasons; he captured different lighting and colors each time he went back into the fields. If you’re looking for exercises to improve your skills and your portfolio, don’t be afraid to relight the same scene several times. Imagine what it would look like at night, early in the morning, or on a foggy day, and relight and rerender the scene.
  2. Ambient occlusion is not dead. Some people are so accustomed to using GI that they already regard occlusion passes as a thing of the past. In reality, you will come across many situations in which you might need a faster technique than full GI. If you’ve never tried the approach that I call the “occlusion sandwich,” try using it and see how you like the workflow.
  3. Volumetric fog (also called volume shaders or environment fog) is a useful tool that’s tricky to set up and adjust well in a lot of renderers. If you haven’t done so before, then use your favorite rendering software to try to fill a scene with a fog or haze that responds to light.
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