The Soft Light (and Linear Light) mix modes that I coded for The Beast‘s web edition are finally into an official release. They were just added to 2.5 last night. What does this mean? Let’s take a look:
Above, we see a 50% reduction (with a little sharpening) of one of the final frames of Big Buck Bunny. It’s obviously already undergone a fine degree of post-processing. However, what if we want to give it a different mood? Color grade? Sure, you can do that with existing tools, but the Soft Light mix mode in the compositor (it’s also available in materials, textures, etc.) lets you do this quickly, easily and with great results. The following images can be clicked to larger sized versions. My recommendation is to open both the above original and each of these full size links in their own tabs so you can easily switch between them for comparison.
Here’s what that image looks like when Soft Light mixed at 50% strength with pure red:
Note how it maintains the overall color variation, highlights and shadows, while casting the image nicely into a red space.
Here’s blue mixed at 100%:
That’s pretty extreme, but you get the picture. Even something as simple as blending an RGB Black (0,0,0) into an image at 100% produces a neat effect:
It gives the image a completely different feel.
And finally, if you take your original image, map it to black and white, pump that result through a color ramp filter and remix it with Soft Light as so:
You get this:
When you go to the higher resolution version, check out how the red from the color ramp cast the shadows and darker portions of the image warmer, while the highlights bled a bit green. In my opinion, this technique adds a lot of visual depth to an image.
Now that Soft Light is in, I’ll also be posting my node network that creates a pretty good “film look” from rendered imagery. Look for it here in the next couple of days!