Hobby: Object Source Lighting Attempt & Advice

I decided to finally give object source lighting (OSL for short), an attempt. It’s one of those techniques that I really haven’t tried, at least seriously. However, with my Chaos Marines I’m taking my time getting them painted and want to use them as a way to work on techniques like this, ones I’ve shied away from in the past because of the time required to do it right.

Last night I did some experimenting. First up, here’s the WIP shot of the Oblits that I’m working on this for.

You can see the right one’s fist is ‘done’ and I tried some OSL. I like the style of the fist I did, it’s just different, but the problem is it doesn’t lend itself to using OSL really. You can also see some of my attempt at creating light on the red armor, which I’m not happy with. So, I decided if I’m going to do this I need to redo the fist.

With that in mind I did a test fist. The fist is black when not powered on and I wanted the electric blue to be the glow color. What I did to start was layer white from the ‘back’ of the first forward towards the fingers building it up until it was pure white towards the fingers. I then worked the blue in the same manner, building it up towards the fingers. This was, subsequently, also my first attempt at wet blending. I should have taken a shot before the blue as the blending off black to white was pretty damn good if I say so. I think I failed a bit on the blue blending but that’s what practice is for.

Anyway, here’s what the result was.

I think overall it came out pretty well but now some opinions from you all. Do you think I should just do the entire fist the glowing blue instead of blending it up from black to blue? What about if I did the fist red and blending from red the blue instead of the black to blue? General opinions and advice on the technique?

As stated, that’s my first attempt at wet blending and OSL so obviously I need work on the technique itself and it’s a matter of practice.

The other thing I wanted to do was work on getting a better glow effect on the red armor. I painted the shoulder plate thing (whatever it’s called), red and then gave it a blue glow. What I did was mix in some red with the electic blue to tone down the blue and get it a more appropriate tone. I then did some more wet blending to create the glow. I was really happy with how this came out, both in look and technique. Note, it’s not intended to be the light cast from the fist itself, it’s just some red for the sake of working on the glow.

So, I think all-in-all a reasonable first go at this but obviously room for improvement which is why I’m throwing it out there. Any advice and feedback by the great painters out there (Ron, Dave, etc), would be greatly appreciated.

  • Ajg6116

    for your first crack at it I like it a lot. In my opinion I would just make the whole fist glow kinda seems weird leaving the top part black or maybe a bit more blending to the black would fix it all. The stuff I have seen for wet blending OSL techniques usually had the entire power weapon/fist glowing. I have never tried it before but i deffinitley want to now that ive seen this it looks pretty cool.

    • The blending into the black definitely could have been done better. I’m just wondering if it seems weird to go from the black to the blue. I know some will glow the entire fist and I’ve seen others do the selective glow like I am but they’re also working off a lighter color and not black.

      Thanks for the feedback. It’s a technique I’m enjoying trying and will certainly take more time to get better at it but I’m really happy with wtih the experiment so far. I didn’t look at it after and think, “Man, that looks horrible,” where I did with my prior attempts.

  • Ron

    The blending part is tough. But… it’s only technique. You can practice the blending and do it over and over again until you get it right. The biggest thing with OSL is the radiant light and applying it correctly to the surrounding surfaces. 

    You need to account for things like the distance the radiant light is going to travel, the surfaces it will and will not hit, how strong the radiant light is at the source… all the little things that need to be “mapped” out before you even get to the blending part of it.

    I’ve got the series I do on FTW that covers all of this. Not so much the blending, but everything leading up to that so you can blend in the correct places.

    Object Source Lighting series

    Take a look through these if you haven’t already. Even if your blending isn’t perfect, if you’ve got a good handle on how the process works, it will turn out better in the end.

    Ron, FTW

    • Thanks for the feedback.

      I’ve indeed been through your series and have kept referencing it when working on this. I agree, technique is technique, however in your opinion does the effect I’m after (barring technique), work with it transitioning from the black to the blue? I’m basically doing the same thing you did here: http://fromthewarp.blogspot.com/2011/01/painting-glowing-powerfist.html with that yellow fist only mine is black, obviously. Just debating doing the fist in red instead of black if the black looks too odd, or maybe it’s just my inexperience at this stage.

    • I should also note that unlike the yellow fist I referenced from your site I’m not using just the fingers as the source. I want the edge of the fist itself, just before the fingers, to be the source, not the fingers. Hence my attempt having such strong blue there where your example is sourcing off the fingers and thus giving glow to the fist itself.

      Hopefully I’m clear with that.

      • Ron

        I think the fists being black is perfectly fine. It doesn’t matter what the base color is ultimately.
        A problem you might be having is the “powering up” of the fist… because you have two things going on in the same place. One is the radiant light from the fingers (already powered up completely) and the other is the slowly increasing internal glow in the powerfist as it comes to life.

        Both will create different effects on the model and surrounding area. And both are in the same places… this leads to some conflict in applying both effects to the same spots on the model.

        Radiant light is an effect created by something already there (already glowing). You’re trying to show that and the object starting to glow at the same time.

        • Makes sense. How about this, ultimately I want the front edge of the fist to be the source. For me I just envision the fist generating the energy, or at least being the strongest source, not the fingers. With that in mind I should go about creating it that way and thus light sourcing the edge and reflect radiant light towards the fingers and the ‘back’ of the fist. Yes?

        •  For example.

          • Ron

            Close. You’re getting into a core lighting or a glow from within and moving away from an object that is a light source. Most of the time, we have something like a flame or light source and it is visible. The big difference being how you shade and highlight a core lit item vs. an object that is the light source.

            You have to almost settle on one side of the fence or the other. Is the fist powered up or not? Any partial “powering up” may  read as pointing towards the source which may confuse the reader.

            You can make the fist powered up and make the fingers and the arm pick up the radiant light. That’s no problem. The problem comes when you have half of a light source (part way powered up fist) and you’re trying to show that to your viewers in addition to another complex lighting technique overlaid on top of that.

            Trying to show the fist partially powered up will read as radiant light going backwards (towards the arm) when in reality you just want it to be the power starting up. Viewers may get confused as the light moving towards the fingers is indeed radiant light and being reflected, but the same thing moving the other way is not?

            • Again, that makes perfect sense, thank you.

              The big thing I want to do here is have a glowing fist, it can be fully on too, but for it as a source to have ‘depth’. In other words, I don’t want a giant solid electric blue fist. Maybe that will come down more to me creating some sort of light effect, IE: lightning, flowing energy, etc.

          • It sounds like you’re trying to represent a field that covers the fist but is strongest at the knuckles.  If this is the case I think you’ve done it well, though you might consider doing the source as a spot in the middle of the knuckles rather than using the edge as the source.  This spot represents the nexus of the field while the rest of the fist would give off a lower level of light but still be self illuminated.

            If you are going for the knuckles as being the light source, the fingers would be dark on the side facing away from the knuckles, as would the gauntlet itself on the back side of the thumb.  The fingers would also cast shadows across the rest of the model.

            • The strongest at the knuckles is indeed what I was after. Really, what I ended up creating was a mix of things. I guess I lost direction a bit. I think my best bet is the entire fist glowing but keeping the knuckles as the strongest point, just to give some interest to it and not make it one big blue fist.

              • khorneinquisitor

                One thing that I have read for plotting out where light hits the model is to use a small light or or small flame (obviously not too close) in a darker room and to take a picture with flash off to essentially “plot” a realistic light. Obviously not a 100% solution, but might give you an idea if you had a small LED bulb to try it with.

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