Project #5: Lighting!

Reference text and tutorials:

·         Online PDF: Getting Started with Maya 8.0

o    Review Chapter 9 Rendering: Lesson 3 lights, shadows, and camera

·         Optional Reading:

o    Review Types of Lights in Maya

o    Review Three Point Lighting (Digital Lighting & Rendering by Jeremy Birn)


o    Lighting concepts & suggestions


·         Types of lights in Maya

o    Spot lights

o    Directional lights

o    Point lights

o    Area lights

o    Volume lights

o    Ambient lights

·         Three-point lighting

1.    Key light - The strongest, main source of light that defines the shape and surface of the subject matter.

2.    Fill light - Soft source of light, used to bring up the shadow area created from the key light.

3.    Back/Rim/Kicker light - Placed behind the object from the camera's perspective, brings out the object from the background, adding a separate layer for the object.

4.    Bounce light - Reflects up from the floor or other surfaces. Fills in dark areas on the undersides of the character.

·         Shadows

·         Light-linking

·         IPR Rendering



Remember to allow for adequate rendering time.


PART 1: 3 Point Lighting

Create a simple three point character light set up on a simple scene paying special attention to light color and shadowing.

·         In this assignment, you will be doing character lighting on a simple object -- a chess piece -- in order to familiarize yourself with character lighting concepts.

·         After spending considerable time learning the lighting tools and types available to you, please remember that good lighting is an art, not a science...

·         We're not looking for a perfect physical replica of the "real" world. We're looking for believable lighting.

·         Experience with the software tools, and the development of a critical eye is essential for those who wish to produce exciting CG lighting environments. You will be painting with light. Be sure to apply all of your experience with other art forms to this exercise.

What to do:

·         Download the chess piece maya file.

·         Go through this tutorial on creating a 3 point lighting setup.


PART 2: Lighting a Fruit Bowl

Light a 3D fruit bowl scene using a real life photograph of a fruit bowl as your reference.

·         Try to imitate your reference photo as closely as possible.

·         We won't be expecting an exact duplicate of the photo reference, but we will be looking for things like color, shadowing and positioning.

·         For every light you see in the photograph, there's a good chance you'll need multiple maya lights to imitate the look and feel of it. (Key, Fill, Rim, and Bounce).

What to do:

·         Download the fruitbowl maya file.

·         Download and choose one of the fruitbowl photographs to use as your light reference.

·         See this light breakdown of a sample fruitbowl scene.




·         Please turn in your Maya .ma or .mb file of your scenes.

·         Turn in a render of your scene using the renderCam that was already set up in the maya file. Use the preset render settings and resolution.




·         As a general rule, be cautious when using "flashy" lighting techniques such as fog and lens flares. While these tools can be useful, they are overused and often distracting. Use them sparingly and subtly.

·         You can light more effectively by using the IPR render. Load the image you are trying to match in the render window so you can toggle back and forth and see how close your renders are to the target. ASK IF YOU NEED HELP WITH THIS.