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Adding light sources

From: AutoCAD 2011: Migrating from Windows to Mac

Video: Adding light sources

There is nothing more impressive to a client than seeing a photo realistic representation of a design. The first step in producing a quality rendering is to add some realistic light sources. Fortunately, the Mac edition of AutoCAD supports a wide range of tools to help you illuminate a seen. Now, the concept of lighting is a very broad topic. In fact, we could probably do an entire title on lighting alone. In this lesson, we're going to talk about some of the light sources that are available. I'll show you where we can find their settings and we'll add a couple of point lights to this drawing. On my screen, I have a simple composition containing a few solid objects.

Adding light sources

There is nothing more impressive to a client than seeing a photo realistic representation of a design. The first step in producing a quality rendering is to add some realistic light sources. Fortunately, the Mac edition of AutoCAD supports a wide range of tools to help you illuminate a seen. Now, the concept of lighting is a very broad topic. In fact, we could probably do an entire title on lighting alone. In this lesson, we're going to talk about some of the light sources that are available. I'll show you where we can find their settings and we'll add a couple of point lights to this drawing. On my screen, I have a simple composition containing a few solid objects.

If I back up a little, you can see that these objects are sitting on a floor. This floor will allow us to see the cast shadows created by the light sources. I'm going to press Command+Z to undo my zoom. Before I get started, I'd like to do a little housekeeping. First of all, let's save this view such that we can return to it later. To do that, I'll type View and press return, and then I'll select Save. I will then give the view a name. I'll call it Final and I'll press Return.

From now on, if I want to return to this view, I can do it by selecting Final from this menu. Let's do one more thing. I'm going to move down and click the flyout to expand my Status Bar such that I can see the 3D settings. All right! Let's take a look at some of the settings associated with lights. If I open this menu I can select the type of lights I'd like to use; Generic, American or International. Generic represents simple light sources that have few controls, American and International represent photometric light sources capable of producing the most realistic lighting.

The only difference between the two is the lighting units; American uses foot-candles, and International uses locks. As you can see the default is International Lighting. This icon is a toggle that controls the display of default lighting. Default lighting is the lighting we're seeing as we work on our model. As you can see, as I orbit around the scene, the default lights follow me, such that my drawing is always visible, and nothing is being cast in total darkness. I'm going to move back up to the menu and restore our view.

This icon toggles the display of sunlight. If you're doing an outdoor scene, this is the light source to use. I'm going to turn this on and notice that nothing happens. That's because sunlight and the default light cannot be on at the same time. I'm going to click to turn off the default lighting. Notice the difference in my model. It's now being illuminated by the sun. Let's take a look at a Rendered View. I'm going to open the View menu, and I'll come down to Render, and I'll select Render.

Notice the shadows in the hard lighting. It's much like these objects are sitting on a concrete driveway on a bright sunny day. Let's close the Render window, and we'll take a look at this icon. This controls the appearance of the sky. If this was an outdoor scene, I could create a virtual sky and I could control whether the sky also illuminates my model. Now, there is a lot more to applying sunlight than these View settings. The Mac edition of AutoCAD is capable of producing nearly any outdoor lighting conditions.

If I come over to the Properties Inspector, and make sure that the current properties are displaying all settings. I can grab the slider, and if I drag this to the bottom, I can find these Sun and Sky settings down here. As you can see, there are a lot of things here. Feel free to explore and experiment. As an example I'm going to change the Intensity factor. This controls the brightness of the sunlight. 1 means 100% brightness. I'm going to change this to 0 .75, and I'll press Return.

Let's also make a change to the Date and Time setting. I'll click this Ellipsis button. We're currently seeing a 3 o'clock sun. I'm going to click here, and I'll change this to 8. I'll click here and change this to 45. Then I'll click here, and press A to change this to AM and I'll click OK. As you can see, the sun is now on the other side of my objects. Now, since I am not working with an outdoor scene, I'm going to click the toggle to turn off the sun. When I do, notice that the default lighting comes back on.

I would like to add some interior lighting to this composition. Now, we can find the interior lights in the View menu. I'll come down to Render, and I'll select Light. I can add a Point Light, a Spotlight or a Distant Light. For the purposes of this tutorial, I'm going to be adding Point Lights. If you'd like information regarding the other light sources, you can press F1 to access AutoCAD's Help feature. Now, Point Lights are by far the easiest light source to create. You essentially pick a point in your drawing and that point represents a ball of light that casts light in all directions much like a light bulb.

I'll create one by selecting New Point Light. I'm going to back up, and I'm going to turn off my running object snaps, and I'm going to pick a point right above here in my drawing. Notice that I'm given the opportunity to change the lights settings. I'm just going to accept the defaults and click Exit. Notice that the default lighting is switched off automatically and my New Light Source has taken over. Now, my light source is working okay, but it's a little too low. It's actually sitting on the floor.

So to move this up, I'm going to click to select the glyph, and then I'll grab the Z axis on the move gizmo, and I'll pull this up 30 units and I'll press return. So far so good, my light is definitely hot. So let's knock the brightness down. I will do that by coming over to the Properties Inspector, and let's change the Intensity Factor to 0.25. Feel free to explore any of the other settings associated with this light. You'll find a lot of room for experimentation.

I'm going to press Esc to deselect the light, and let's render this and take a look. I'll go back to the View menu; I'll select Render, and Render. All right! That looks better. Let's close this. At this point, I'd like to add a couple of more light sources, and I'll do that by copying this one. Let's go to a Top view, so that this is easier to see. I'm going to launch the Copy command, and then I'll select this light, and press Return. I will then pick a point here on the floor.

Now, my Ortho is locked, so I'm going to drag this right over here and click. I will move down and turn the Ortho off, and I'll place another light source right here. When I'm finished, I'll press Esc. Now, it might look a little odd in the rendering to have multiple light sources with the same intensity. So I'm going to select both of my new lights. I'll knock their Intensity Factor down to 0.07. I'll press Return. Finally, let's press Esc.

We'll restore our saved view, and we'll render this one more time. As you can see, the multiple light sources are adding a certain amount of realism to the scene, and I'm well on my way to producing a quality rendering. When it comes to illuminating your models, the most important asset to have is time. The more you explore and experiment with the tools that AutoCAD has to offer, the more you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

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AutoCAD 2011: Migrating from Windows to Mac

35 video lessons · 4150 viewers

Jeff Bartels
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