Polar Sci-Fi Facility

Lighting Breakdown

Billy Thao


Billy Thao

Lighting Artist


Hello everyone, My name is Billy Thao. I’m a Lighting Artist from the United States. I’ve just recently graduated so I’m still learning and looking for my first role!

Project Ideas

This project was really more of a learning project that will help me develop more basic skills as a lighting artist which I believe includes understanding shapes, material, exposure, light ratio, and colour theory…etc.

I didn’t really have any major inspirations aside from this song I listened to which was “Come Back To Us” by Thomas Newman which is an original motion picture soundtrack for 1917.

Listening to this song gave me a mood and feel of “Remembering the fallen but now I’m free” which gave me the inspiration of focusing on creating a story where a robot escapes an abandoned laboratory. I then decided to relight the Polar Sci-Fi Facility created by Julio Juarez which can be found on the Unreal Engine Marketplace.

Set Dressing

For most of the scene, It was already completed. I added a few more assets to build the scene more to give this scene more story elements to it.

For this environment, I skipped the blockout phase and jumped straight into production by importing all asset packs that seemed fitting.

-Polar Sci-Fi Facility
-MCO Mocap Basics
-Science Laboratory
-Sci-Fi Robot

I just wanted to add more props to make the viewers believe that it was actually a laboratory that was actually used and had some type of significance. Some of the more important aspects that I included were done around the focal point of my composition which was the hole in the wall.

Lighting the Scene

The first thing I did was to remove all the original lighting within the scene and delete anything that contributed to the lighting. This included the Lights, Post-Process Volume, and Fog.. etc.

I then asked myself the question: Where is the light coming from? (Main light source)
I knew that for this scene the Primary light sources were going to be the sun (Directional Light) and the sky (Skylight + Skybox).
After that it was then Identifying and adding secondary light sources, which asks the question: which assets/props in my scene would give off light and illuminate objects around it? This included lights for assets such as the monitor, light fixtures, ..etc.

Then after getting a good base for the scene, I focused on the dark areas and added fake bounce lights to lift up some of the shadowed areas.

I did not want to complicate the lighting in the scene and kept it pretty simple.

Color Choices/Post-Processing

During this whole process, I didn’t really have a set color palette that I wanted and it was mainly experimental for me. I did try a few different color choices but eventually ended with more of a cold, after the blizzard mood with sunshine(morning transitioning to mid-day).


As for the Post-Processing, most of it was done in UE4 using the Post-Process Volume. Color Grading was done using a LUT which I made by following this example from the Unreal Engine Documents.
(Using Lookup Tables (LUTs) for Color Grading | Unreal Engine Documentation)

Cameras, Composition, and Rendering

I worked on camera shots and composition very early on. Finding the main focal point of my scene and following the rule of thirds to set up my compositions for my shots. With the original idea of having this being a sequence rather than renders, I worked and spent a good amount of time coming with different shot types and compositions. I used a 2.35:1 aspect ratio (Shoutout to Alec Tucker for this suggestion) which can be achieved by changing the sensor size in the Cine Camera setting to 36 x 15.31.

I also worked a lot on the camera settings within UE4 for the Cine Camera. This included different shots with different focuses and utilizing depth of field to focus the viewer’s eyes with certain shots.

Unfortunately, I settled with renders as I lost the motivation to complete the sequence. As for the final renders, I full-screened my viewport and utilized the High-Resolution Screenshot option. I usually use x2 or x3 and take that downscale into a 4k resolution using Adobe Photoshop.

Iterations and Feedback

For this project, I feel that the thing that helped me the most was feedback from peers and professionals within the industry. Seeking feedback and taking that feedback to make iterations were key to the development of this project and I couldn’t be more grateful that I went out of my way to get feedback. Again, shoutout to Alec Tucker for always willing to give feedback and others from the Experience Points Discord.

Conclusion & Final Renders

Overall, I really enjoyed this project as I learned a lot from it! I would also like to thank Games Artist for this opportunity to share my project and give me this opportunity to share it with you all.

Thank you all and here are some final renders for the scene!

Please find my Artstation here.