Ambient: radiates diffuse light in all directions

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Project 5 Outline: Lighting
Lighting uses the ‘Rendering’ menu set

Ambient: radiates diffuse light in all directions.

Directional: covers everything in a scene (the default lighting is this).

Point: like ambient but can emit specular light.

Area: emits light from one side of a plane.

Volume: illuminates what is within the light’s shape.

Spotlight: casts a cone of light from a single point.
The Attribute Editor

HSV vs. RGB Color: Hue Saturation Value is easier when trying to describe and tweak shades.

Illuminates by Default: whether it starts out linked to everything in your scene or nothing.

Decay Rate: how much the light intensity decreases over time; quadratic is the most realistic.

Cone Angle: size of your light.

Penumbra: the amount of feathering/softness on the edge of your light.

Dropoff: smoothes out differences in light intensity for your eye (reduces mach banding).


Resolution: determines the detail of the map. Use a power of two and start at 1024 and work your

way up as needed to avoid aliasing (jaggedy edges around your shadows).

Filter Size: blurs the shadow edges. A good choice is around 8.
You may face a nasty artifact called shadow banding which creates visible lines in your shadows. You can alleviate this through increasing your resolution and filter size.

* Note: changes to your shadows don’t update in IPR rendering.

Light Positioning

1) You can use the manipulation tools to move and rotate and the ‘t’ key to align the focal point

of the light.

2) Use Panels->Look Through Selected to look through your light as if it were a camera. Undo camera movement with

the brackets “[“ and “]”
Light Linking

1) Select the light and the objects of interest and go to Lighting/Shading->Make Light Links or

Lighting/Shading->Break Light Links.

2) Use the editor found under Lighting/Shading->Light Linking Editor. Can be temperamental

but good if you need precise control.
Other Terms:

Key Light: main source of lighting for a subject and also typically the one to cast shadows.

Fill Light: placed to the side to fill shadows and balance the key light.

Rim Light: illuminates the back of the subject to differentiate them from the background and to

highlight textures.

Bounce Light: the extra light in the room that bounces off objects. Makes shadows lighter or adds

color from a nearby object onto another.

Three Point Lighting: a popular method used to easily and effectively light a subject using a key,

fill and rim light.

Specular Highlight: the shine/a hard light especially found on glossy or wet surfaces.

Light Leaking: light that is cast where it is physically impossible to occur, such as directly behind

an object casting a shadow.

Important notes:

  • Naming will become crucial when your scenes become more complex; start good habits now! I recommend saying what object it is linked to and whether it is a key, fill, or rim. Later you may even want to differentiate by color or whether it has a shadow.

  • Hiding lights (ctrl+h) in the outliner effectively turns them off while unhiding (shift+h) turns them back on.

  • Save often and save in iterations! There is nothing more skilled at crashing Maya than rendering.

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