The last of my little adventures in light-painting engines (for now, anyway). I have very little interest in engines per se, but I do love their lines, geometry, and texture. They’re perfect subjects for light-painting exercises because of the difficulty in maneuvering the light in such a way to bring out those lines, shapes, and textures. One of the goals in painting is to add depth and dimension to the image and that can only be done if the light skims across the surface at the correct angle. Frontal lighting (except to control reflection) should be avoided at all costs. No side or back lighting and there’s no texture or shape. No texture and shape and there’s no depth in the image. The challenge of course, whether in the tight confines of an engine compartment or deep in the woods with all of the obstructions like trees and terrain … well, the challenge is to get the light where it needs to be.
Two things I’ve found to be extremely important are planning just how you’re going to maneuver the light into the right spot. It’s extremely frustrating to get an hour into painting a scene only to find that you simply can’t get into position to light one of the primary elements. Secondly, I’ve found that it’s important to not crop to tightly when setting up the shot. When all of the lit components are composited, you may find the visual focus shift slightly because how the painted elements relate to each other differs from how they would when lit by ambient light. Good balance is of course essential when composing and planning the shot, but in the final composite the strength of the painted parts could shift the viewers eye to an abrupt halt. Ouch!