AuthorTopic: [Feedback][WIP] Neon glow in Cyberpunk scene (Trigger warning: Drugs and Nudity)  (Read 689 times)

Offline Boraka

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Hi there!

Recently I'm working on a piece that I'm liking a lot so far, but I'm kind of stuck trying to add some depth to the neon lights in the top part of it. I already added some reflections and highlights, which I like, but I also want to add a general glow to them.

This is my "best" attempt, which I don't like a lot:



I'm also attaching a version of the picture without the glow just in case someone wants to play a little bit with it and make some edits  ;D



I will appreciate any tips and tricks that you guys have to glow up those cute neons!

Offline eishiya

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I feel the biggest things holding this piece back are
1. The scene is very well-lit, so the neon doesn't have the chance to stand out as glowing/bright. Darkening the pavement, dumpster, and interiors would help with this.
2. The neon lights don't colour the environment around them. You have some immediate reflections here and there, which is good but barely noticeable in the image overall.

Really, both of these are manifestations of the same problem: you're overpowering the neon lights with a neutral-coloured light source, so they don't get the chance to look bright or interesting. Try colouring the scene as if the neon lights are the only (or at least main) light sources.

I recommend looking up photos of neon-heavy cities such as Tokyo, Seoul, and Hong Kong for inspiration, you'll see that the neon colours affect everything in the scene. This post has some great examples to get you started.

You probably don't even need the glow effects, because the lights colouring the environment will naturally make the lights read as glowing.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2019, 09:28:43 pm by eishiya »

Offline Boraka

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Thanks a lot for the references! It's very illustrative. I will revisit the whole lighting, I agree that those neons needs more protagonism  :)

Offline Boraka

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Hey, thanks for the feedback and references.

I came up with a quick mockup for the lighting, I hope this is better now. I'm worried that maybe is too much now?



Thanks again, I really appreciate your time  :)

Note: I'm not really paying attention to misplaced pixels or color counting right now, only wanted to have an overall feeling on the lights
« Last Edit: February 01, 2019, 10:05:40 pm by Boraka »

Offline eishiya

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The sharpness of the reflections makes the surfaces feel shiny/wet. That's a common look in cyberpunk, but if it's not what you're going for, then more diffuse, less detailed reflections might be more appropriate.

Another thing for the neon look is to avoid having neutral/white light if possible. Those neon colours bounce everywhere, nothing is sacred ;D Anything not illuminated by a coloured light source should be either dark, or illuminated slightly by the reflection of a coloured light source.

Here's an messy edit just in case you want an alternate take:

I started off by darkening your base image, and then added a bunch of vague reflections of the major light sources.

Offline Boraka

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Definitely I'm going darker! Thanks so much for the edit, is very illustrative.

I do like the wet effect on the ground.

Getting rid of the white lights makes complete the difference too!

I will keep you posted  ;D

Offline Boraka

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I'm bringing an update!



Definitely is darker and also more generally glowy. Thanks again for the tips and references. I'm going to be cleaning up A TON, but I'm feeling so much confident now.

Offline eishiya

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It's definitely got that cyberpunk thing going on now!
Some bits of the buildings feel rather flat (such as the parts beneath the porn fan's window), some cast shadows would help a lot there.

Offline Boraka

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Totally agree on the lack of shadows and the "flat" effect. I've been playing around a bit. Also, I'm toying around with the possibility of adding some smoke in the foreground:



In my mind this is balancing a little bit the composition bringing color to some zones that were feeling pretty empty (compared with the rest of the piece) and also guiding the eye a little bit away of those bright magentas in the middle and closer to details like the dumpster. Maybe is too much tho, a contrapoint in this subject would be very useful.  :)

Special thanks to eishiya: I feel like thanks to your critique this piece is now in a whole new level (even tho still work in progress xD)

Offline eishiya

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I think some smoke/steam would be a good idea, but right now it's so high-contrast and solid that it's drawing my eye away from those lower-contrast details like the dumpster, and to itself.

You'll have a hard time getting the viewer to focus on those details unless you make them pop visually themselves, just because the neon is so high-contrast. On the other hand, is that such a bad thing? Having some subtle details to find on one's own is fun too!