Super Experiments Page

Hello! This is the super experiments page, where I delve in to the science behind professional-grade studio lighting and how you can get similar effects in Garry’s Mod and minimizing your efforts in post-processing applications while at the same time getting much better results.

really didn’t want to post but whilst experimenting I discovered a great example of how lighting and colorization should be done in a picture in conjunction with depth of field and focus: to saturate the subject with color and desaturate the remainder of the picture while dimming out the background and highlighting the subject as well. old technique; rarely applied to garry’s mod.

the thing that bugs me is that this effect is hardly used. it’s so simplistic to do; especially in the day and age of both simple vertex lights and phong rimlighting. L4D and CSS models work wonders (especially the CSS phong pack on FPSBanana when customized right) in terms of applying the right amount of rimlighting, but you can apply it to anything – if you know what you’re doing – ingame and never need to touch the dodge/burn tools in your post-processing app, which comes out blatant (this example has some burn on the replica’s helmet, and you can see how it bleeds off in to the BG on the left. left that there so you can see the flaw of burning and dodging that will never be fixed unless the subjects themselves are absolutely isolated on a separate layer). really, you shouldn’t have to do to much editing to get great results. I strongly recommend playing around with color balance (Ctrl + B in Photoshop) and even using a desaturated layer with color balancing. You can achieve great colorization and lighting BOTH with color balance and without the levels or brightness/contrast tools, which in my opinion are useless for balancing highlights and shadows.

Pretty neat technique. Looks very nice.

The only thing that I don’t understand is the heavy blur on the soldier. It looks odd and out of place.

Zory or Zoey?

haha zory, oops. who cares.

I left that there and was going to explain the overusage of blur that I often see except my wall of text got cut short for some odd reason.

pretty much it was left to indicate how often people take advantage of SDOF and how it turns pictures in to utter crap, especially when there’s items so close to the subject. That was two different pictures of depths merged together. As you can see, the right side is in focus while the left is not but if you apply the saturation technique above, the character stays out of focus because he isn’t as saturated or bright. yet, he can remain sharp enough so you have something to look at after you grasp what the picture is about (in this case, it’s zory (zoey) standing around with a replica striking a pose to fill the image) and it won’t be incredibly boring and lacking in detail.

some other examples of lighting (left images full size):

nothing done to the pictures other than some blur on rochelle (her torso is HIDEOUS), some sharpen, extended detailing from using desaturated layers + color balance to bring out specific details (like the dimples on zoey’s face) and a flattened layer with color balancing to achieve a much more gritty look. lighting is solely achieved from lamps and lights (in this case, lamps. in terms of studio work; lights FILL the picture, subject, etc. while lamps give direct lighting on the subject. You can use lights to create direct lighting as well but since it isn’t a single direction it will often grab more than you want with it. This isn’t a problem if you take numerous pictures with different light setups and mix-and-match in post-processing and just use your different pictures as multiple layers).

edit: updated and added a picture of zoey’s hips above. just shows how her regular size texture is big enough to get decent macros.


Another thing that really bugs me is the lack of phong on weapons. Some people are courteous enough to create phong maps on the world model when they release a new model to replace, say, a weapon for CSS. Most weapon models are lit simply by vertex lighting, and in the case of the Source engine, it’s about impossible to brighten the guns. That means that when posing in Garry’s Mod, you often get a character holding a very dark weapon when they themselves are perfectly lit.

An example of a SPAS-12 someone made to replace EP2 (which has weapons with phong on them, but provides a view-quality model as a world-model, so the phong maps are included on it):

Regardless, the models still come out awry in terms of lighting when in comparison to a character despite the weapon having phong. The usage of phong only applies to shine, and luckily, brightening. If you use lights and not lamps you can brighten the weapon without compromising the rest of the image, unlike lamps.

In this example, I use the shotgun above and apply two lamps; one to highlight from the left through the hole, and one to highlight on the right.

Because I didn’t use a light to fill the weapon, it’s now incredibly dark. On the bright side it has some pretty awesome highlights on the edges which make it look far more realistic than the static light counterparts.

LONG STORY SHORT: when posing, get weapons with phong, or make your own.

I am going to both bump and bookmark this.

You make good experiments Mr numbers


When you say that you use color balance to achieve that look, do you mean that you change the colour balance of the original picture, or do you make a duplicate of that layer, then do the colour balance stuff to that and overlay or whatever the layer over the original?

duplicate, desaturate, color balance & duplicate again. change bottom color balanced layer to luminosity blending mode and then the top layer goes down to about 40% opacity to retain regular colors while still heavily using the new color correction

in terms of color balance i put shadows green and blue to about 30 and highlights green and red to about 30, and then toy with the midtones

for the most part it’s all about luminosity. it’s the best way to achieve lightness/darkness

if that makes no sense i’ll get more intricate

That’s a lovely technique you’ve got there mate :smiley:

i have no idea what you did other than desaturate and turn the faces in to grease balls. whatever you did is wrong. you just don’t apply the effect to a picture - it goes in compliment with ingame lamps and lights. you NEED highlights and shadows. you just can’t do it with midtones or it looks like shit.

maybe you did use lights, but you made them too subtle. your best bet is to take two pictures; one with lamps really bright to create ingame rimlighting on the characters and then one with it off so you can mix-and-match what parts you want highlightes and which ones you do not. that’s how I do it.

it’s not a simple apply this and that and done technique, man. you’ve got to THINK about it.

good god i love how zoey looks like

Alrighty, I think that may have been the wrong screen to apply it to. Give me a few minutes, I’m going to try something different.

hold on, hunterdnrc. i’m making an example for you to show the blatant comparison.


You’re doing 1. You should be doing 2. You had some highlights but they’re not near strong enough. You could also make a much more outgoing picture if you had a darker background - that way you can bring out as much detail as you want by using color balance (which creates the best contrast ever) and, if you know how to use sharpen, you can make just about anything look good.


i also left in some extreme highlights on the forehead just to point out what your main flaw was in yours - the heads are too bright so any kind of contrast you do will completely blow out the bright spots and create a really odd flare on the picture.


also keep in mind you want dark pictures to begin with because once you DO create lamps and lights it’s going to easily illuminate the pictures on their own. post proecessing gets very sensitive. that’s one of the main factors for the extremely white blowouts (like on nick’s forehead that faggot)

Attempt 2-Better? Worse?