Lighting for "The Piper's Alley"
I had created a breakdown of my initially lighting for the main scene, which I altered a bit later, but the principles remain the same. I am an strict pupil of lighting that makes sense, I understand when working on Fantasy and other whimsical projects or artworks, one tends to bend rules but like everything else one must not forget the basic anatomy that actually drives the medium. I have read a re-read Jeremy Birn's book on Lighting and Shading and I recommend reading it before staring lighting. Jeremy explains in-depth about the emotions involved when lighting a particular subject. I can't stress enough but throw your first idea in the bin, its probably the most average one. Keep exploring with lighting. Here is the link to my Lighting breakdown along with my Compositing breakdowns.
I used Vray to render the entire image, I have been overly impressed with the render Engine but I still do believe every new Artist should still learn Mental Ray, such a great foundation for all the other render engines out there.
I usually follow the basic 3 point lighting setup, or Rembrandt's lighting technique and tweak my way through the process, there is one thing coping somebody's style another getting inspired by it. One major mistake a lot of Artist's make when they start lighting especially in 3D is add one too many lights, first of all the result most of the time ends up looking average, secondly too much control is not good and more often than not ends up confusing the Artist. I like to keep things simple and clean, name your object (every single one of them) likewise name your lights.
For this image I started off with the Key light (Vray Rectangular Light). Once I had my camera fixed, I focused where my eye direction would lie, its very important to note that audiences notice even the slightest mistake without actually knowing whats wrong with the image, they will find something amiss if your artwork doesn't convey the right message, always ask your peers for opinions. The Key light constitutes for the most light that hits the scene, its the most important light and gives direction to the image. Once I'm happy with my key Light I shut it off or hide it and then start of with my Kicker light or Rim light, well for buildings and Environments its a lot more different than lighting a character but they follow the exact same principles. My kicker is almost diagonally opposite my key light and its another light that gives shape to the Image.
Once I'm more or less satisfied with my kicker light I move on to the Bounce or filler lights. As the name suggests this light helps fill in all the gaps and dark areas in the image. I usually end up using at least two fill lights but again there is no particular rule to lighting, it all depends on the Image. Your first Lighting might not turn out great, and along the way there will be a lot of hit and miss when lighting but eventually one will truly understand How they want to light a particular Image.