More playing around with specular settings.
If you know what the specular setting does, you may just want to skip this part and go to the renders. For those who don’t know, the specular setting makes an object shiny. It works hand in hand with the glossiness setting to determine the overall look of a shiny surface. Glossiness makes the shine “localized.” A high glossiness setting makes a small super shiny patch, while a lower setting spreads the shine out. For metal that’s not painted with glossy paint (no car paint) and isn’t buffed to a mirror shine, I want a higher specular setting and a lower glossiness setting.
The specular map is what determines what is shinier. Basically, it’s a grayscale image with patterns on it. The shades of gray determine shine, with white being totally shiny and black being not shiny at all. It also creates the individual hull panels, along with a diffusion map to control light absorption. The look we should all be chasing is the paneling from TMP:
Basically, they used paints and with different shine levels to create the individual panels. The way it works is, in direct light, (light hitting the object from the same side as the camera) the panels are barely visible. However, in indirect light, (light hitting from the opposite side as the camera) the panels are visible. In the image above, the registry light is hitting the hull at an indirect angle, causing the panels to be visible. This is achieved in CGI with specular mapping.
In the images below, the ship is rendered at the same angle with 3 different light angles. The first is direct lighting, the other two are indirect lighting with the light in different positions on the other side of the model. This gives an idea of how it would look if I rendered a flyby where the ship flies between the camera and light. I’m happy with how these look:
One tendency I’ve noticed on modern CGI is to overdo the specular settings. I tried to avoid this while at the same time getting the look I was going for. This is an example of the look I’m not going for:
I think they overdo the specular on Discovery. The hull panels almost look like a light source, and the panels are very visible in the dark areas. (part of that is their lighting) And, this isn’t even the worst example. I see this a lot in movies and TV, and even more so in games. It’s like they want to blind people.