It was the 2009 short, The Third and the Seventh that made me sit up and pay attention to photorealism. While I'd always known it was a "thing", I never knew it could be used so artistically.
So in an attempt to learn Alex Roman's wizardry, I purchased his book From Bits to Lens, which had a tip that I've never forgotten: "90% of the work of photorealism is the materials and lighting." (paraphrasing).
This put it into terms I could understand. If you forget all the rest of the complexity of 3D, and just focus on the materials and lighting, you're almost there.
While materials are hard to get right, lighting is easy in comparison. You just need to use HDRs.
HDRs are a godsend for rendering as they're a full 360 degree capture of real lighting and reflections, instantly transported to your scene.
Very little setup and perfect results. What's not to love?
While Poliigon has had HDRs for a while, we've just expanded it to include 32 skies and 18 environments (50 new in total).
32 New Sky HDRs
Forget ever needing to download a cloud image for a backdrop, fiddle with sky settings or and sun lamps. Just drop one of these HDRs into your scene and you've got accurate lighting and reflections in an instant.
Not only that, but when you've got a library of HDRs they become a fast way to test out different lighting setups.
Here's an example of how 9 different HDRs affect the mood and lighting of your scene:
18 New Environment HDRs
Environment HDRs are a new sub-category for Poliigon.
While Sky HDRs are useful for scene rendering, Environment HDRs are great for standalone model renders. It gives you photorealistic lighting, backgrounds and reflections with almost zero effort.
Environment HDRs are also great for testing out materials. Because part of creating good materials is accurate lighting and reflections, which usually requires you to put it in a scene. But with an environment HDR, you just load it in and it's done.
No added rendertime, but perfect lighting and reflections:
Hope you use them to create some rad renders!
Merry Christmas from the team at Poliigon! Can't wait to show what's in store for the new year ;)