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  • Software:Blender 2.8x  ·
  • Difficulty:Beginner

Using what you've learned in the Fundamentals of Digital Lighting Course

 Light the provided sculpt of a realistic portrait using a movie, photo, or artwork as your reference. 

Who is this guy? 

He was created by Kent Trammell, but his backstory and what he's up to in the world is entirely up to you. Show us with lighting! 


This is an exercise in observation and creativity, so do not submit the result of the Lighting a Portrait lesson. Here's what I'd like you to do instead:

  1. Download the portrait-exercise_start file and open it in Blender
    1. The downloads button is the cloud-looking one on the top right of this page
    2. You may change the camera angle to your liking or use one of the alternative Light Matching Scenes
  2. You may use either Cycles or Eevee or any other render engine of your choice 
  3. Find four or five examplesof great lighting online. Some places to look are:
    1. Posters from your favorite movie
    2. Iconic scenes from popular films
    3. Professional photos from Unspalsh, Flickr, or Instagram 
    4. Traditional artwork from your favorite artists 
    5. Popular renders on Artstation 
  4. Create a collection for each of your references in the exercise .blend file
    1. You can learn more about collections here if you haven't used them before. 
  5. In each collection, create lighting that matches the corresponding reference as closely as possible
  6. Render out an image for each lighting setup 
    1. Un-check (not hide with the eye icon) any collection you don't want rendered
  7. Post your renders, along with the reference it came from, on your community progress thread
    1. If you don't have one, now's a good time to start your own! You can tag me (@ mention jlampel)  if you want me to come check it out. 
  8. Pick your favorite render and submit it to this exercise. 
    1. You may also create a collage of all of them with Photoshop or Gimp and submit that if you'd prefer. 
  9. Include in your description a link to either your progress thread with the references or links to all four to five references themselves. 

How you will be graded

Quality - is your lighting flat or boring? That's a no-go! Be sure to spice it up to get full points on quality. It doesn't matter how many light sources you use or what color they are, but you have to use them well! 

Creativity - are your sources original and interesting? Try picking slightly obscure references or ones that you have a personal connection with! 

Representation - did you faithfully represent your sources? If you can find a way to improve on the lighting from your references, even better! Just be sure to keep the same emotional impact. You'll need to list your references in order to get any points for this one. 

Looking for more lighting ideas and tips? 

I would highly recommend watching through the following videos before starting this exercise:

Match Your Favorite Lighting Example #1

Match Your Favorite Lighting Example #2

Match Your Favorite Lighting Example #3


For the featured image for this exercise, I used posters and images from the movies Coco, The Godfather, The Dark Knight, and Avengers: Endgame. Caution: peer graders will mark you down for creativity if you copy anyone's submissions exactly. 

Good luck!