The EEVEE Production Suite offers tools for lighting, materials, and rendering in Blender. Probably you know how to model, but the next stage is how to make it look awesome. And this Suite works amazingly fast. Let’s go through the stages of showcasing your model. If you don’t like reading but fancy a video, here is a quick overview of all the features in the EEVEE Production Suite:
Or if you want to see how I work with it, here is a recorded Live Stream of one and a half hour:
Choose a lighting preset
There are 57 light setups to start with. Here is an overview:
In Blender, the UI looks like this:
Not all options will show up, but the menu will adjust itself as soon as you add components. For example, you click the Mid-grey thumbnail here on top, and you see all the 57 thumbnails available. Mind that those with the red, green, and blue spheres are new. They will be compatible with a new system in the next release.
Next, your scene will have three light rigs: a) A spot right, b) three-point light, and c) a stipe light. The Spot-rig is for ambient light, and the other two rigs are for lighting the object.
All the light rigs have controllers or parents. That way, you can manage the 3 light groups faster. Here are a few handy shortcuts.
- G, Z, Z is to move a light in the direction it shines light. So you can move it toward the object for example.
- R, R is handy to rotate a light-rig. Best is to try it out.
- You can also scale the light-rigs.
The next step is to press Render Settings 1. And then Bake Indirect unless you have the SSGI build. I did a few tests, and SSGI looks good, but there are some differences.
Baking the indirect light
Good thing that the EV Express is doing everything for you like the proper settings for lights, shadows, contact shadows, irradiance probe, reflection probe, render settings, etc. Those settings are the best settings I found (Mainly provided by E.Klein). So that is already a huge time-saver. But we are just starting.
Now the indirect light might be confusing for those who are not familiar with EEVEE. Indirect light is light that first bounces on an object onto another one. That indirect light is not real-time and needs to be baked. Yes, it’s a bit weird at first but you will discover it fast enough if you play with the cube for indirect baking.
The next thing, very important to know; Environment light in EEVEE doesn’t cast shadows! This means that addons that are using environment light, need to do a hack with ambient occlusion. But ambient occlusion is a screenspace effect and quite ugly when you animate. It looks really annoying. EV Express fixes that issue for a big part because we are not using environment light.
Imagine you are in empty space with just a few lights. So there are lights but the rest is black. That doesn’t happen often in real life; we have also indirect light from the walls etc. So if we don’t use environment light (which has values below 1, and doesn’t represent ‘light’ as lamps/lights are (For example the floor, walls, soil, mountains, etc). Now, because we can’t use environment light, EV Express is using an object so that light can bounce around. If you are indoors, that is no need. But if you have a backdrop, the backdrop won’t be enough: you will have that dark empty space and light cannot bounce in that space. So, we use a kind of box, called: the cube for indirect baking. And we can give this cube all kinds of colors. For example the color of the wall, etc.
But you don’t need to worry about all that, I just explain what is going on in the background. What is important is that you understand what is good and not good. So that way you can make better renders. Pfww, that was a lot to digest, no? No worries. It’s all easy peasy.
Here you see the cube for indirect baking. It fits as tight as possible around the backdrop so that you see more of the bounced light. When you move the backdrop, the cube moves as well. After baking, you can turn the cube of from rendering.
Because we don’t have an HDRI, we simulate the sky or environment with a bunch of lights. Big lights, because if we use small lights, we need way too many lights. Eight big lights will do. In EV Express this is called the spot rig light. By default, these lights are not spots but points. Here is the reason why: If we use spots, the light won’t bounce on the ‘Walls and ceiling’ cube for indirect light. There is an option to switch all the eight lights to spots if you need that. Spots can be nice for theatre, disco, indoor, nighttime, etc. It depends on what you want. But that is for ambient light, the spot rig with its 8 lights.
Advanced Spot-rig light (ambient) controls
Below are the controls for the Spot-rig. What you will use often are the first three buttons. For example, if you click Light position and then press G, Z then you move all the lights up and down. Try to experiment with R, R. You can also scale and rotate with S and R.
Light position is the position of the light itself, whereas the light focus is the point where the lights are singing on. And Select Both selects them both.
Color presets are a list of color configurations for the lights. Most have the colors of the sky inspired by Greg Zaal’s HDRI.
You can set the 8 lights All to Point light or All to Spot.
The Indirect Cube settings are special: You can show or hide the cube and define how. And you can also change the color of the cube. Let’s say you give it orange, then you will see orange bounced back (indirect light) into the scene. Just think of what the color of your environment is. You can also experiment with a texture!
Called in EV Express the 3 point light. This is a basic rig with a key light, backlight, and fill-light. Where ambient light is to light up the scene (and fills too many dark shadows), the 3 point light is more for lighting the object. Here is the 3 point light.
If you click on the Key, Back of Fill button you can adjust the color of the light and the size. To control the position of the rig, I use often G, Z, X and G, Z, Z or R, R.
The latest addition is the Stripe light and working with it is really fast: Just press ‘Select controller and you can position the stripe light at once. Like you position your default cube. With Stripe Light you can create interesting effects as well.
In Stripelight Control, you can set the color of the light and the strength of the light. I use just the color mostly to set the strength with is much easier than sliding the high value of 2000 W. Next is the size of the rectangle area lights. And by selecting the controller, select the parent of the three lights.
Do you need more lights?
If that is not enough light, use there button to add more lights. It doesn’t add only lights to the scene but gives it also the proper settings. Like Shadow, Clip Start, Bias, Contact Shadows, etc. Here is the UI with the two buttons:
Render Settings in the EEVEE Production Suite
The EV Express knows the best render settings. There are three variations and they differ slightly. I did a lot of renders now and found out that Settings 1 is the best. But if there are issues, check the other settings and see if it gets better.
As soon as you change light and see the accurate effect of the change, press Bake indirect light. In Cycles, this is ‘Realtime’ but in EEVEE you need to bake the bounced light (indirect light). That’s all! Just two buttons and you don’t need to worry about render settings. So that saves a lot of time.
Color Management in Blender
When you work on your scene and lights, it’s often a hassle to go to the properties panel and find there the Color management settings. Because it’s a bit hidden you can find it here. You find the presets as usually like high and very high contrast. If you look for stepless solutions, there is also the Pivoted contrast node in the Material nodes addon that is also included in the EEVEE Production Suite.
The Camera settings
Are you looking for the settings to lock your camera to view a lot? No needs to search for that setting anymore because it’s here. Rights with all the other settings you need a lot to set up lighting in your scene. Also handy is the Add DOF function; it adds an empty to the 3d cursor and sets up a DOF. So place your 3d cursor first. Always experiment with the focal length to see what is best for what you want to express.
More documentation of the EV Express Addon
You can find more documentation that comes with the EV Express addon. The documentation is a bit older, but most will still apply.
Wow yes, this is the latest addition to the EEVEE Production Suite. It’s an additional Addon that shows up in EEVEE Express. It contains ready-to-use procedural materials made with the Materials Nodes addon which is also included in the suite. Here are the materials:
In the downloads, you find the Material_Presets_Addon.zip which gives you these thumbnails right in EV Express. So, if you have a scene with the lighting setup, you can click on one of the thumbnails to give the selected object (backdrop?) this material.
And because these materials are part of the Material Nodes addon (also included in the EEVEE Production Suite) you can easily adjust them. Let’s talk about the Material nodes addon.
The Material Nodes addon included in EEVEE Production Suite
The material nodes addon had the same idea as the now popular Fluent Materializer addon. Look at the similarities here:
The similarity of the concepts is striking if you look at the concept of the unique way of stacking node groups. Also the outputs of the sockets, and the idea of adding variation in HSV. While the products are similar, the EEVEE Production Suite has more to offer: an addon for lighting, and a library of 165+ materials, plus an addon to append materials preset with one click.
You see that the EEVEE production Suite offers:
- Three Addons: EV Express, Material nodes Addon and the Material Presets addon.
- Library of 165 procedural materials.
- 32 procedural presets right in EV Express UI
- 41 node groups that you can stack, mix and match.
- 14 compositing nodes groups like the Pivoted Contrast, Vignette, setup for Cryptomatter, Mist, Bloom, Hold Out mixer.
- And more, (like transitions for VSE, and other) but that’s just some little extras.
Absurd not? Just in case if you are looking for a link to the EEVEE production Suite, here it is.
Here are few renders I could find this morning.