Welcome! As a followup to our previous guide introducing Gpose Lighting, I’m going to talk a little bit today about some classical techniques in lighting. The array of lighting options available in Gpose can be a little daunting to people just starting out, but this guide and our previous lighting guide should hopefully give you some simple tools to deploy them most effectively. I’ll be discussing two techniques today:
- Three-point lighting, which you can use to fully illuminate a subject and heighten or soften contrasts and shadows, and
- McCandless lighting, which is often used in stage productions and contrasts colors to create the illusion of shadow.
One quick note: all of the shots in this guide are vanilla PS4 Gpose shots with no filters applied. I’m using the standard 6-5-5 warm-white lighting in all my examples.
Oh, hey! It’s Boreal Tempest! Say hello, Boreal!
For this, I’ll be using Boreal’s basic apartment studio; I’ll pull her away from the backdrop to minimize reflection issues. The house lighting is currently at 5, but let’s turn it down so that we can really see the effects of our lights.
Spooky… But you can already see how the darkness in the room really makes everything indistinct. Obviously, lighting is the answer, but what are the best ways to deploy that?
The basic principle of three-point lighting is that three lights arranged around a subject will be able to illuminate it totally for a photographer, and varying their light levels will give the photographer the power to heighten or lessen contrast and shadow on certain areas of the subject.
It’s probably not surprising that there are three lights used in three-point lighting:
- Key light – This is the light that illuminates the front-facing side of the subject you want the most focus on. For my example, I’ll place my key light below at the photographer’s right front.
- Fill light – This is the light that helps soften or eliminate shadows created by the key light and is usually less intense. It will usually be placed about 90 degrees away from the key light, but still at the front of the subject. I’ll place my fill light at the photographer’s left front.
- Back light – This light is used to provide definition and highlights on the same side as the key light, but at the back. It will also usually be placed about 90 degrees away from the key light, but in the other direction. I’ll place my back light at the photographer’s right, at Boreal’s back.
Here’s what Boreal looks like with the key light on (Type 3, 6-5-5)
Striking and cool, of course, but this probably isn’t a good lighting setup for every screenshot. The contrasts are very harsh and her lit shoulder is still blending into the backdrop a little.
Let’s add the fill light (Type 2, 6-5-5). Remember, the fill light is usually less intense than the key light, so I’ve lowered the intensity here.
As you can see, now you can see much more of Boreal’s face, but you still have a little bit of the contrast from a more intense light being used on one side, and a less-intense light being used on the other. She’s still lacking a bit of definition, but we can fix that!
Now, let’s go ahead and add the back light (Type 2, 6-5-5). Just like the fill light, it’s usually less intense than the key light.
Great! You can see Boreal’s face and now you can see some definition in her left arm, side, and even in her hair. This makes her stand out from the background and gives her depth.
You can, of course, play around with these lights to create different effects. For example, if I wanted the shadows to be more stark, I might drop the fill light’s intensity even more (Type 1, 4-4-4):
If I wanted to really emphasize that backlight but retain shadows, I could switch the intensity of each of these to accommodate (Key Type 2, Fill Type 1, Back Type 3, all 6-5-5):
You can take any of these principles and make them work for you. They needn’t be placed exactly – your setting and preferred lighting will govern that – but this is a solid starting point for getting the most out of your screenshots with some simple principles.
A small tip: you can simply rotate the camera around to the left or right without moving it in any other way and it will stay approximately equidistant from the center of your hitbox. This way, you’ll always be able to have equal distance and height for your lighting when you place it, which can be very useful in setting up portraits.
The principles of McCandless lighting derive from stage productions rather than photography, but their application in Gpose can provide some truly interesting, vibrant screenshots.
Similarly to the three-point lighting approach, McCandless lighting arrays multiple lights around the subject. What’s different is that McCandless lighting uses two lights which are different “temperatures”; that is, one is a warmer, redder light and the other is a cooler, bluer light. These lights are usually placed to the left front and right front of the subject, about 45 degrees above them, and they fill shadows created by the other while preserving a sense of depth.
As an example, here’s Boreal with a standard three-point lighting approach (lights as above):
And here’s Boreal with a McCandless lighting approach (right Type 3, 8-6-4; left Type 3, 4-6-8):
As you can see, this is a very different result! The blue light and red light contrast against each other and warm or cool whatever they primarily strike, creating stark, sharp contrasts without losing illumination.
You can absolutely use the third light when shooting with McCandless lighting to add fill or contrast or, as you can see here, drop it in the back for some nice definition on that arm:
Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you find these techniques help enhance your future screenshots! Please look forward to future guides and tips!