So today I thought I would try and figure out/teach/understand how to light and render properly. For this I went back to my Bugatti model as I still feel it is the most complete model I have and my Camaro still needs a bit more work. Anyway, I started out by reading up on lights, its crucial to have 3 key lights to distribute the lighting over the model, for this example 2x spot lights were used and 1x point light. The point light is to just add a bit of an overall spread of light where as the spot lights are there to pull certain pieces of detail. The point light also has raytracing turned off. To add to the reflections a HDRI was applied to half of a sphere, with a cylindrical map and placed to surround the model, this makes a huge difference and makes the reflections look much nicer as the light data from the image is transferred to the model, I'm not sure what the correct term is but either way it looks extremely nice. The next job was to set up the Final Gather which to be honest were pretty much left at default with a couple of minor adjustments to the point density and accuracy. They may have been a few other small things but I cant remember them off of the top of my head.
Before today I really saw rendering and lighting as a massively unknown/unexplored part of maya but I do definitely feel a lot more comfortable playing around with it now and understand it much more. I know this model still needs a lot more work but I am really happy with the start I have made on it. Lighting and rendering is something I am definitely going to look more into it as it feels really good putting colour into your models and bringing them to life.