One thing spoiling the look of the picture so far is that the water looks like milk. The water takes its colour mostly from reflecting the sky, but it is affected by things like the atmosphere and the sun's direction. It is the sun's direction in our picture at the moment which is causing the water to be colourless.

sun directionview directionIf you click on the lighting button in the row at the left of the screen - the one with the sun icon - there is a display which shows the sun's direction and height. The picture on the left shows the default settings for the sun, which we have been using so far.

The sun direction is along the red line towards the centre of the display. The red line can pivot around the centre point to give the sun coming from any direction, but it will always be towards the centre. I have added a blue arrow to show which way the sun is shining at present.

On the right, the blue arrow shows the direction that we are looking in the picture, from the camera position towards the target. The arrows are not on a parallel line, but you can see that the sun is not very far from being straight ahead, and is coming in from ahead left. In fact it is almost visible in the picture. If you look back to the renderings on the previous page you can see a lighter glow in the top left corner, which is the glow from the sun. The scene is almost backlit, and this is preventing the sea from reflecting the sky, and it is rather reflecting the colour of the sun. This can be an advantage in a sunset scene, when if the sun is placed dead ahead and lowered in the sky, it will reflect across the water and give the classic sunset. We will look at sunsets later, but for now I am opting for a daylit scene.

To get the water reflecting the sky we need to move the sun behind the camera. It does not have to be directly behind -in fact that will make the scene go rather flat and dull, but moved behind a line drawn at right angles to our view line. Below are four sets of sun angles and previews, to show you the effect of moving the sun.

sun behind SUN FROM DIRECTLY BEHIND CAMERA Effect of sun behind camera
right angle left SUN FROM DUE LEFT Effect of sun from due left
sun behind right at an angle SUN AT AN ANGLE BEHIND AND TO THE RIGHT effect of sun at an angle behind right
sun dead ahead SUN DEAD AHEAD
(sun angle was lowered to bring it into the picture)
effect of sun dead ahead

The differences in these pictures were achieved only by altering the angle of the sun, except in the last one where the altitude was also lowered. Angle and altitude can be changed by typing in new values in the boxes, or by clicking and dragging the unfixed end of the red line in each box.

The effect I prefer for my picture is the one with the sunshine coming in at right angles from the left, which gives an interesting reflection on the water as well as natural shadows. I shall reset the sun altitude to the default setting of 25. Changing the altitude will lengthen and shorten the shadows in a natural way as you lower or raise the sun's height. You should experiment with the angles and altitudes, to find the best combination to suit the picture you are creating.

Once lighting changes have been made, you should always re-save the world setting, because lighting settings are recorded in it. Below is another rendering of my picture so far. On the next page we shall go on to look at the other settings and options availaible in the lighting controller.