Rendering shiny carapace(s) - glossy or matt?

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Beatsy
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Rendering shiny carapace(s) - glossy or matt?

Post by Beatsy »

When lighting reflective insects, do you prefer a glossy or matt look?

The question was prompted by this pair of images that popped out of a quick experiment (fiddling with that new lighting setup I wouldn't need to fiddle with anymore - hah). The white shader background bounces light from every direction inside the ping-pong ball and gives a mostly matt look to the wing casings. The black background absorbs most light that would bounce from the back so overall the light is slightly more directional - and gloss appears. I think. Probably...? Or does it? Gloss is just specular reflection spread out flat - and is controlled accordingly, right?

The preference is an "it depends" answer for me - and I'd guess it is for everyone else too - but I'm drawn to the matt look most often because it makes surface detail soooo much clearer. You?
ladybird matt.jpg
ladybird gloss.jpg
Note: to avoid confusion - the background colours aren't special, I just lazily used the shader's back surface as the actual background. The colour was dictated entirely by the shader "lighting function" at the time (black/absorb or white/reflect) not aesthetics. Any colour background could have been used by putting a small piece of it close behind the specimen - just enough to cover the FoV. The effects on the level of glossiness would remain near-identical (one glossy, one much less so).

iconoclastica
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Re: Rendering shiny carapace(s) - glossy or matt?

Post by iconoclastica »

From the aesthetic point of view I much prefer the shiny one. The photography is more pleasing for its stronger contrasts, and the ladybird looks alive rather than dead and drowned.
But I agree that it depends e.g. in cases where the chagrination of the shields is important - only I think in that case I would combine both renderings in photoshop to get the best surface details.
--- felix filicis ---

Beatsy
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Re: Rendering shiny carapace(s) - glossy or matt?

Post by Beatsy »

iconoclastica wrote:
Mon May 10, 2021 11:58 am
From the aesthetic point of view I much prefer the shiny one. The photography is more pleasing for its stronger contrasts, and the ladybird looks alive rather than dead and drowned.
But I agree that it depends e.g. in cases where the chagrination of the shields is important - only I think in that case I would combine both renderings in photoshop to get the best surface details.
I think the shiny one looks more natural too (at this scale). It's when I start zooming in to details with only part of the critter in the frame that I nearly always prefer the matt look for the way those details are rendered.

There actually is more contrast in the second pic (darker shadows) but too dark to sit well in the first image (nasty against the bright white). I really should have used a separate, consistent background for both but I was testing something completely different and didn't even expect this "example" of glossiness difference to turn up. They illustrate the point well enough for discussion though.

Thanks for commenting - and thanks especially for "chagrination"! What a lovely word and new to me. A bit tinny though... :D

MarkSturtevant
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Re: Rendering shiny carapace(s) - glossy or matt?

Post by MarkSturtevant »

It depends for me too. Interesting that the white background lighting really brings out the fine textures on the beetle. More so than the black background lighting.
Besides black or white there are other colors. I sometimes make off with free paint swatches from hardware stores, and those can be good for this kind of thing.
Mark Sturtevant
Dept. of Still Waters

ModelZ
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Re: Rendering shiny carapace(s) - glossy or matt?

Post by ModelZ »

Good question. Similar judgements come up all the time when making exhibition prints or e.g. choosing photobook paper.
Glossy paper has best black, brightest white, ergo best contrast when done right. But... the inevitable glint (or even worse, double reflection if under glass) can ruin the visual impression. In particular the eye easily loses track of the fine texture if distracted by specular lights. Or extreme contrast in nearby area.
Matte paper is perhaps not the right comparison here. Ink spreads, resolution suffers. Many (me included) like lustre/semigloss as a compromize that avoids the worst of gloss even under unfavorable lightning conditions while still pretty good in contrast dept.
I personally think white bg is detrimental to most subjects. Very light high key pastel images perhaps excluded. I think that if you switch the bg of the first pic to dark it'll look a lot better.

iconoclastica
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Re: Rendering shiny carapace(s) - glossy or matt?

Post by iconoclastica »

ModelZ wrote:
Wed May 12, 2021 12:16 pm
I personally think white bg is detrimental to most subjects. Very light high key pastel images perhaps excluded. I think that if you switch the bg of the first pic to dark it'll look a lot better.
With white backgrounds you've got to get the background lighting exactly right. Not enough light and the white turns grey; too much and it will halo the forground subject. Dark bg's are easier therefore. But eventually it becomes routine. I find it most convinient to use flash for the FG and standing light for the BG, or the other way round, so the lighting can be set more or less independently. White backdrops appear black with no lighting, at least when the directions and reflections of the other lights are controlled. Coloured BG's can be created with a gel in front of the light (example).

White BG's are perfect for illustration purposes, but may look sterile. On the wall, I prefer slight toning in grey or yellow, but that may look kitschy too when it looks too much like yellowed paper.
--- felix filicis ---

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