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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Adding Lights

In most cases, you're going to use more than a single distant light in your 3D scenes. This section shows you how to add lights. Follow these simple steps to add lights to LightWave Layout to get a feel for how they work. And remember, unless you're working with Auto Key enabled, you'll need to create a keyframe to lock your lights into position after they're moved, just like objects.

Exercise 4.1. Adding Lights to Layout

  1. Jump into Layout, and load the UnlitTractor scene from the book's DVD. This is similar to the scene file from Chapter 3, but with one default distant light.
  2. Make sure you are in Perspective view so that you have a full view of Layout. You can press 4 to quickly jump to the view. On the Items tab, under the Add category, select Lights, and then select Spotlight to add a spotlight to the scene. Figure 4.2 shows the menus.
    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 You can add lights directly in Layout under the Items tab.

    You can choose to add any type of light you want.

  3. Before the light is added to Layout, a Light Name panel appears (Figure 4.3).
    Figure 4.3

    Figure 4.3 After you add a light, the Light Name panel appears, enabling you to set a specific name for your light.

  4. Type the word Fill to name the new spotlight.

    Layout places the new light at your scene's origin point (the 0 coordinate shared by the X, Y, and Z axes).

  5. Move this new spotlight off and to the side of the tractor. Then rotate it so it points to the tractor, as in Figure 4.4 (on the next page).
    Figure 4.4

    Figure 4.4 Move the light off and to the side of the tractor to cast light onto the darker areas of the tractor.

    Adding lights is as simple as that. Certainly there's more to it, such as cloning and mirroring, so read on.

Clone Lights

Besides adding lights, you can clone lights. Cloning a light creates an exact duplicate of a selected light. This includes the light's color, intensity, position, rotation, and so on. Any parameter you've set will be cloned. Cloning lights is just as easy as adding lights, but it's often good to do after you're sure of your existing light's settings. You don't want to clone a light 20 times, only to realize that you forgot to change the color! You'd need to make changes to 20 lights. However, should you have to make changes to many lights at once, you can quickly select the lights to change in the Scene Editor. Figure 4.5 shows two lights in the Scene Editor selected at once.

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5 If you have one light, two, or twenty, you can use the Scene Editor to edit variables for those lights all at once.

To clone a light, first select the light to be cloned in Layout, and then select the Clone button under the Items tab in the Add category. Enter the number of clones (copies) of the light you want in the pop-up panel, and click OK or press Enter. Shazaam! The selected light is cloned. You know what else? This operation works the same for cloning objects or cameras. Figure 4.6 shows the command.

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6 You can clone lights (or any other item) directly in Layout from the Items tab.

Mirror Lights

You know what's cool? Mirroring your light! Let's say you move the light to a specific position. Use the Mirror button in the Add category on the Items tab. Select a light (or other item in Layout) and click the Mirror button in the Item tab's Add tool category. Choose the axis to mirror across, and go! Figure 4.7 shows the operation. You can also choose to mirror around an object's keyframes or at frame 0. Mirroring at frame 0 is important for more complex setups such as bone rigs for characters.

Figure 4.7

Figure 4.7 In addition to cloning lights, you can mirror them.

Ambient Light and Ambient Color

Did you know that the light around you is either direct or ambient? Direct light comes predominantly from a light source. Ambient light has no specific source or direction, such as the light underneath your desk or behind a door.

Back in the Light Properties panel, you can set the intensity of your ambient light. To open it, click the Lights button at the bottom of the interface and then press p or click the Properties button. The Ambient Controls are at the top of the panel. A typical Ambient Light setting is around 5%, which is LightWave's default value. In some cases, it is better to lower the value, sometimes to 0%, and use additional lights for more control over your scenes. Don't rely on ambient light to brighten your scene. Instead, use more lights to make areas brighter. This will create a more dramatic look, with more depth in the final render.

You also can set the color of your ambient light so that the areas not hit by light still have some color to them. Let's say you have a single blue light shining on an actor on a stage. Only the portions of the actor upon which the light falls directly will be lit. If you want to reveal more of the actor, or just lessen the severity of the boundary between light and shadow, you can apply an Ambient Intensity setting. Set the Ambient Color values to the same shade of blue as the light, and your shot will look accurate. Remember, ambient light hits all surfaces, not just those that are unlit by actual lights, which is why knowing about ambient intensity is important.

Lens Flares

The lens flare, often overused but needed, was introduced in LightWave v3. Lens flares are a popular addition to animated scenes, because too often when you add a light (such as a candlestick) to a scene, the light source emits but no generating source is visible. By adding a lens flare, you can create a small haze or glow around the candlelight. You can also add lens flares to lights on a stage, sunlight, flashlights, and headlights on a car. Any time you have a light that is in view in a scene, you should add a lens flare so the viewer understands that the light has a source. Lens flares in LightWave can be viewed directly in Layout before rendering. You'll be setting up lens flares later in this chapter.

Volumetric Lights

You need to be aware of one more area when it comes to LightWave lighting before you start working through exercises. Volumetric lighting is a powerful and quickly rendered effect that can create beams of light. Have you ever seen how a light streaks when it shines through a window? The beam of light that emits from the light source can be replicated in LightWave with volumetrics. Volumetric settings add volume to a light source. Additionally, you can add textures to a volumetric light to create all sorts of interesting light beams.

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