Maya's Physical Sun and Sky with Portal Light

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  • Film & VFX
  • Rendering
  • Maya
Skill Level
  • Intermediate

Hey guys welcome to another tutorial of mine, this tutorial is about Maya's "Physical Sun & Sky", using a "Portal Light shader" to light up the scene in a realistic way, as well as dealing with reduced rendering time. This tutorial is useful for indoor scenes, because portal lights work best with indoor scenes. I'm providing the scene I'll be using in this tut if you want to follow along, or you can use your own scene to work with. You can download it at the bottom of this tutorial. 1-open up the scene I provided you or your own one using Maya.

2-first thing first go to Windows>>Rendering Editors>>Render Settings.

3-from the rendering settings from dropdown menu, choose "Mental ray"

4-now in the "Indirect Lighting" tab click on the button for "Physical Sun and Sky". This will create the physical sun and sky for us.

5-also make sure that the default light is turned off, because this will interfere with other lights in the scene which we don't want.

6-now move the sun light somewhere that would be visible. Scale and position won't affect the overall light, only rotation does.

7-one thing I want to point out when you create physical sun and sky; Maya enables the final gathering option automatically, so you should keep that in mind.

8-with all the settings we have done, now hit Render. You should see a very blotchy image, which we are going to improve as we move forward.

9-it's time to create other portal using "Area Light" to do so, go to Create>>Lights>>Area Light.

10-now set the light on the roof by Rotating, Scaling and Move tool underneath the windows. See in the image below.

11-with the light selected open up the Attribute Editor, scroll down to bottom find out the Area Light rollout and then check "Use Light Shape"; leave the other settings as is.

12-still with the Area Light selected, scroll a bit down to the bottom and find "Custom Shaders" rollout; click on the checkered button and then do the rest as the image shows below.

13-from light shader box, copy and paste the portal light, the one we've just created right above "Photon Emitter", as seen in image indicated below.

14-with all that settings done, hit Render and now you can see a lot of improvement in the scene. Still we've got the blotchiness, which we will fix in the next few steps.

15-it's time to fix our render quality. To do so, I will enable "Global Illumination" with accuracy of something around 1000 and accuracy for the "Final Gathering" at around 600. You can go with any number according to your need. Keep in mind though they are all render expensive, so if you add them unnecessarily to your scene, you will end up with extra rendering time.

16-let's fine tune the overall render quality, in the render settings on the "Quality" tab. Increase the "Max Sample Level" to something around 4, don't bump it too much since it's also very render expensive and will wash out the details in your scene. Also check "Jitter" -- this will help you to remove any Jittering in the final render.

17-one thing I forgot to point out; if you are not happy with the overall brightness of your final render, you can always increase the intensity of the portal light.

This is my final render without any post-production. You can always play with the settings if you are not happy with your final render image.

We are finished here! I hope this was useful and helpful, if you have any comments or questions regarding this tutorial or any of my tutorials, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail @ aziz3d at hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk I would be glad to answer.

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| 7 years ago
Hi there, first of all I wanted to thank you for putting your time and effort into putting this tutorial together. It takes a lot of time and effort to put something like this together. I really liked the layout and flow of the information. This being said, I really believe that the settings provided are very misleading, and if someone new to the 3d scene were to use this tutorial to learn, they would be confused and possibly misled. My intention with the below information is solely for a good purpose, I am not trying to bash you in any way. My intention is to only help and provide correct information for everyone. Again, I really appreciate people like you who take time to try and help the community. Thank you. Some information I would like to share about this tutorial: First an explanation of why one would use a portal light would be good instead of simplifying it by saying "it is good for interiors." Mention why it is, what it is used for, and when to use it. And the different uses it could be used for (like a reflection card). There was no mention of a linear workflow with gamma settings. I understand this is solely a portal light tutorial, but at least a glimpse of settings would be helpful for others to dig in deeper if they don't understand. I understand that you placed the portal light into the photon emitter slot because you wanted to use it with global illumination. But I don't see you turning on global illumination in your light itself. If you did, what settings did you use? Following this question, I see you turned on global illumination in your render globals, but you did not turn it on in any of your lights. By turning on gi in render globals but not in a light, you are adding absolutely no additional light information to your scene. You are adjusting settings that don't alter the final look at all. I understand why you are increasing the accuracy of your final gather solution, however it is way too high for this specific scene and will slow down the render. My suggestion is lower the accuracy, increase the point interpolation to smooth out the splotchiness and increase your secondary diffuse bounces to get a more accurate interior illumination. By doing this, you will get better quality and have more fill light because the light is able to bounce around more and the render time will be lower. You have ticked on the "Use Light Shape" in your area light settings which is correct. But you ALSO need to check the "Visible" box right below for the portal light to work correctly. :) Setting your min and max sample to 2 and 4 is waaaaaaaaay to much. We are talking orders of magnitude too much. In more complex scenes we are talking a 10X plus render time increase. Production quality renders samples are typically 0 and 2. I rarely ever go higher than that (I work in commercials and in films). If I need more sampling I decrease my anti-aliasing contrast. I see you have increased your contrast dramatically, but I don't see an explanation why? Increasing the max sample level will not "wash out your scene" it has nothing to do with how the indirect illumination is sampled. If anything it will give you more contrast because it will be able to detect more detail. If you want to get rid of the noise in your scene, then that noise is being caused by your area light samples. Increase the the high samples in the light first. You also have sample lock turned on. TYPICALLY this is not a very good idea for animation because it will cause you to have the same (locked) sample patterns in each frame so it will look like you have noise sitting on your camera lens and everything is moving behind it. Turning jitter on, offsets the sampling pattern so noise is not as noticeable. Box filter is also a very poor filter type. I understand you can't explain everything in a tutorial, but having accurate settings would be really great for those that are trying to learn off of your tutorial, so you don't risk running them astray. Any ways, thank you for your time and the effort. I wanted to point these things out solely to help others learn that are wanting to learn. It's really easy to hear or read one thing and then stick with it even if it isn't right and be doing the wrong thing for years and years. I've done that and I definitely want to help others avoid doing that. cheers
| 7 years ago
Great tutorial! @thebeals: as it is stated int the tutorial description, this requires intermediate skills, so it is not supposed to be followed by someone new to 3D. So this learning project works really well in this way. People new to 3D can of course follow it but always bearing in mind that the level of difficulty, intermediate, is not meant to match their skills.
| 7 years ago
I have one thing to point out though: in the areaLight shape node, the mentalRay shape sholud be set to "visible", in order for the portal to be able to block final gather rays, which is why we use a portalLight after all. In your scene it is clear that you didn't set the mental ray area light shape to visible, and you can tell from the ceiling windows having no self shadows at all.
| 7 years ago
Excellent ! technique about lighting.
| 7 years ago
te?ekkürler güzel e?itim için.
Excelente, fácil.
| 7 years ago
Excellent !
| 6 years ago
really nice.... thank you!
nice thank u
| 6 years ago
Great and easy to understand tutorial! Very nice!
| 6 years ago
nice, thanks a lot!!!
| 6 years ago
nice man
| 6 years ago
| 6 years ago
THX !!1