Adam Tracksler reviews: Essential CG Lighting Techniques By Darren Booker
Adam Tracksler reviews: Essential CG Lighting Techniques By Darren Booker
A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review



Adam Tracksler reviews Essential CG Lighting Techniques By Darren Booker
Adam Tracksler
Adam Tracksler
Kittery Point, Maine, USA
©2002 Adam Tracksler and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Adam Tracksler takes a look at Essential CG Lighting Techniques by Darren Booker. Read why Adam describes Essential CG Lighting Techniques ..."as an outstanding book that discusses the art of CG lighting in an intelligent, thoughtful, clear and informative way."


When I first started working with an architectural firm, the 3D guy there shouted out one day, “What do you think!?? I push a button and it comes out!!??” The truth of the matter is that really good and effective computer generated imagery takes a long time to create and to perfect. Lighting is a major part of creating visual imagery that is convincing and good.

Essential CG Lighting Techniques is an outstanding book that discusses the art of CG lighting in an intelligent, thoughtful, clear and informative way.

The book begins by discussing the theory behind properly lighting a scene. Darren discusses the various kinds of CG light sources available in the major 3D graphics programs and how and why you should use each one. Along with the “yin” of lighting, there is a significant amount of time spent on the “yang” of shadows.

The book continues by discussing lighting techniques and goes through tutorials illustrating the techniques. Some of the techniques that are illustrated are Indoor and Outdoor lighting. The book contains great color and gobo techniques to simulate light, space and drama in your scenes. Daytime lighting and nighttime lighting are examined and explained in clear and thoughtful ways. The book continues with Special Lighting Techniques to explain Neon and Underwater lighting. The chapter on Match lighting is informative and describes techniques to match the lighting in your scene with live action footage. This is very interesting to someone like me who is a compositing junkie.


If you are interested in taking your work to the next level, or considering a specialty in CG lighting, I would heartily recommend this book. The concepts are well thought out and explained and the knowledge that you will gain from reading it are well worth the cover price.

I give this book 4 cows.


The chapter on Natural Elements takes on some common, but misunderstood visual lighting effects, like fire, smoke and fog. The tutorials about rain and lightning are great. I think that these are situations that, when done effectively, can make scenes that are mind blowing. The Techniques section ends with a discussion on Lens effects and how they interact with lighting.

Next are two chapters that discuss workflow and tricks of the trade. These two chapters are great. I always feel that any workflow tricks and tips make a book a great purchase. Darren discusses the way that efficient working practices can make better product and less work. He also discusses thinking about lighting as part of your modeling process and making it an integral part of the pipeline, as opposed to just the last thing you do.

The last section of the book deals with composition and how lighting works with composition and camerawork. These chapters are great to read and will help CG artists create dramatic engaging compositions for their work.

Overall the book is lavishly illustrated with color images used throughout the book. Darren used 3DS Max for the tutorials and examples, but the techniques can be applied to every 3D package under the sun (natural or CG).





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