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Lights and lighting types in Maya

From: Maya 2011 Essential Training

Video: Lights and lighting types in Maya

When rendering, one of the first things you need to understand is lighting. Maya has a number of different lighting types, and some of it depends on the renderer you are using, but let's just go over the main types of lights that apply to both mental ray and the Maya Software Renderer. Now, I am going to actually be rendering this in mental ray, because I have an object, the scooter, which actually has a mental ray material on it. So we are going to be rendering in mental ray, but it applies just as easily to the Maya Software Renderer.

Lights and lighting types in Maya

When rendering, one of the first things you need to understand is lighting. Maya has a number of different lighting types, and some of it depends on the renderer you are using, but let's just go over the main types of lights that apply to both mental ray and the Maya Software Renderer. Now, I am going to actually be rendering this in mental ray, because I have an object, the scooter, which actually has a mental ray material on it. So we are going to be rendering in mental ray, but it applies just as easily to the Maya Software Renderer.

We have a bunch of different types of lights. If we go under Create > Lights, you will notice there is a whole slew of them. Also, under the Rendering shelf, we have icons for each one of these. So we have Ambient Light, Directional, Point, Spot, Area, and Volume Light. Now, let's go to the most common ones first and then we will go to the ones that are a little bit more esoteric. Probably the most common ones are Spot Light and Point Light. Let's show you the difference between those. Point Light is basically the bare 100-watt light bulb in the room.

It's just a light that emits from all directions. And if we want to kind of see the effect of this, all we have to do is make sure our Render is on High Quality Rendering, and let's turn on Use All Lights, and so you can kind of see how this works. So you can see how this particular light illuminates here, here, and here. Now, if we want to do a quick render, we can certainly do that. Just hit the Render tab here and you can kind of see the quality of light that this provides.

It really is just a light that shines in all directions. So there is not a lot of control over it. The next most important light is the Spot Light. I am going to go ahead and delete that Point Light and just create a Spot Light. Now, if you notice, the Spot Light itself, well, it works kind of like a flashlight, kind of like a spotlight. You can see it has this cone here. I think if I turn off that grid, you can see it a little bit better. So you can kind of see how this works.

Now, if you want you can move it, you can rotate it, and you can position it really anywhere you want. Now, an easier way to manipulate Spot Lights is by using what's called the Manipulator, which is right here. When I turn on that Manipulator tool, what it does is it gives me a target. It gives me this, which allows me to point the light in any direction. So when I move this target and set it down, it says the light is going to be pointed there. And so now I can kind of adjust my light a little bit more easily.

And I can turn that off if I want by going back to the Move or the Rotate tool and I'll be able to adjust this accordingly. So if we want we can do a quick render of what this looks like. One of the things about Spot Light is that by default it has a hard edge. Now, there are a number of things you can adjust with Spot Lights if you just go into the Attribute Editor by hitting Ctrl+A. Now, this is the case pretty much with any light, but let me show you some of the parameters that you can change.

Now, the first thing you can change is, well, the type of light. It doesn't have to be a Spot Light. It can be Point Light or any other type of light. You can change the color of the light here, just really to any color you want. It's really whatever color fancies you. We can change the intensity. So we can turn the light up or down, in terms of intensity. And then we can also change what the light affects. So we can change whether the light affects diffuse or specular. So in other words, is it going to illuminate the whole thing and highlights? We can also add in things such as decay.

So if I want, I can have the light decay as it falls off. So right here I have got No Decay and so the light is constant no matter what. But if I turn on decay, I can turn it onto Linear, so it falls off evenly. Quadratic, which is real world. So that's inverse square law. So it falls off with the square of the distance. That's actually the way that real lights work. And Cubic, which is actually more intense. It falls off with the cube of the distance.

So if I selected Quadratic, you would see that, oh my goodness, the light doesn't work. Well, that's because my Intensity is not nearly enough for this light at Linear falloff. So what I can do is I can type in a much larger number, say like 100 or maybe even 1000, and you can start to see how this light works. So now you can kind of see how the Intensity works and you need a lot more Intensity when you have Quadratic falloff. But the upside of that is that you get much more realistic rendering.

So you have a light that falls off with distance, so one light doesn't illuminate the whole scene. You get a much more realistic lighting effect. Now, the next thing is what's called the Penumbra Angle, which is basically that soft edge on the light. So if I want to, I can make that edge very, very soft. Now, in addition to this, we have Light Effects and things like Shadows, which we will get into, so you can add fog to a light. You can add shadows, that sort of stuff. And there are mental ray parameters for the lights and that gets into things like Global Illumination and Caustics and that sort of stuff like that, which is more advanced rendering techniques.

So once I have this, you can say I have got a Penumbra. I have got some falloff, and you can get a much more realistic lighting effect. Now, there are other types of lights, and let's just go ahead and play with some of these. So, for example, in addition to Point Light, we have one that's called Directional Light. Now, Directional Light does not have falloff. Basically what it is, it's like the sun. It just comes from one direction, and it comes consistently. So it's not like the Spot Light. It's directional, but there is no falloff.

So for this, I have to bring this back down to say about 1 or so in order to make this work, and then when I render this, you can see it gets the same lighting as the Spot Light but without the cone. So it's almost like just a light that comes from a very specific direction. The next one is called Area Light. Now, what that is is that's a light that emits from an area. So it's more like an overhead, like a soft box or something like that. And the last one is called Ambient Light. And what that is is that's just the Ambient Light in the room.

So if, for example, you don't want your shadows to be completely black or you want a little bit of glow in the room, just put a Ambient Light in the room with a very, very low Intensity, so somewhere around 0.1 or 0.2, and that will just give a nice kind of base level. So it never gets darker than a certain level. So an Ambient Light, in conjunction with other lighting, just kind of brightens the room. It kind of makes it look like there is light scattering throughout the room. So those are some of the basics of lights in Maya.

Now, remember, with every light, you can control color and intensity, and also with other types of lLights, such as Spot Lights and Point Lights, you can control how the light falls off with distance, and then with Spot Lights you also get control of the cone of the light, as well as the Penumbra Angle.

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This video is part of

Image for Maya 2011 Essential Training
Maya 2011 Essential Training

115 video lessons · 26171 viewers

George Maestri
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 34s
    2. Using the exercise files
      26s
    3. A note on screen resolution
      1m 50s
  2. 1h 0m
    1. Overview of the Maya interface
      7m 42s
    2. Working with files and Maya projects
      2m 27s
    3. Navigating viewports
      5m 56s
    4. Reviewing the Viewport menus
      6m 28s
    5. Configuring safe frames and grids
      3m 21s
    6. Selecting objects
      4m 33s
    7. Using the Move tool
      3m 48s
    8. Rotating and scaling
      4m 31s
    9. Manipulating pivots
      3m 59s
    10. Understanding the Channel Box
      5m 36s
    11. Working with the Attribute Editor
      2m 28s
    12. Using the Hotbox
      2m 59s
    13. Working with marking menus
      3m 6s
    14. Customizing the interface
      3m 36s
  3. 59m 25s
    1. Creating polygonal objects
      6m 28s
    2. Working with polygonal components
      4m 42s
    3. Selecting polygonal components
      5m 44s
    4. Working with Soft Select
      7m 3s
    5. Using the Extrude tool
      6m 47s
    6. Keeping faces together
      2m 42s
    7. Extruding along curves
      3m 27s
    8. Using the Polygon Bevel tool
      4m 14s
    9. Smooth and subdivision surfaces
      7m 6s
    10. Blocking out a character body
      11m 12s
  4. 36m 6s
    1. Working with edge loops
      3m 27s
    2. Inserting and offsetting edge loops
      3m 38s
    3. Symmetrical modeling techniques
      5m 53s
    4. Combining objects
      3m 50s
    5. Using the Polygon Bridge tool
      2m 7s
    6. Connecting components and splitting polygons
      2m 48s
    7. Poking and wedging faces
      2m 49s
    8. Working with polygon booleans
      3m 17s
    9. Modeling with nonlinear deformers
      4m 54s
    10. Modeling with lattices
      3m 23s
  5. 1h 18m
    1. Introducing NURBS modeling
      5m 3s
    2. NURBS primitives
      5m 54s
    3. Using the NURBS curve tools
      5m 7s
    4. Creating Bézier curves
      1m 59s
    5. Creating text
      3m 51s
    6. Manipulating NURBS curves
      4m 13s
    7. Refining NURBS curves
      4m 16s
    8. Offsetting NURBS curves
      2m 31s
    9. Editing NURBS surfaces
      7m 3s
    10. Refining NURBS surfaces
      7m 22s
    11. Using NURBS Revolve
      7m 31s
    12. Using NURBS Loft
      4m 11s
    13. Using NURBS Extrude
      6m 0s
    14. Using NURBS Planar
      4m 47s
    15. Stitching NURBS surfaces
      8m 52s
  6. 35m 53s
    1. Extracting NURBS curves from surfaces
      5m 57s
    2. Creating curves on a surface
      3m 53s
    3. Projecting curves on surfaces
      7m 2s
    4. Trimming NURBS surfaces
      3m 42s
    5. Using the NURBS Fillet tool
      5m 31s
    6. Sculpting NURBS and polygonal surfaces
      5m 52s
    7. Converting NURBS to polygons
      3m 56s
  7. 33m 22s
    1. Working with the Outliner
      4m 58s
    2. Grouping objects
      4m 2s
    3. Creating hierarchies
      4m 17s
    4. Duplicating objects
      4m 51s
    5. Understanding the Hypergraph
      3m 32s
    6. Working with Hypergraph connections
      2m 31s
    7. Hiding and showing objects
      2m 12s
    8. Creating layers
      4m 2s
    9. Working with selection masks
      2m 57s
  8. 40m 18s
    1. Overview of renderers
      3m 24s
    2. Understand the basics of materials
      6m 15s
    3. Creating and applying maps
      5m 13s
    4. Using bitmaps as texture
      2m 59s
    5. Working with the Hypershade window
      5m 12s
    6. Working with mental ray materials
      6m 57s
    7. Using displacement and bump mapping
      3m 14s
    8. Using the Ramp Shader
      2m 36s
    9. Using the 3D Paint tool
      4m 28s
  9. 30m 14s
    1. Texture-mapping NURBS surfaces
      5m 46s
    2. Projecting textures onto surfaces
      4m 0s
    3. Texture-mapping polygonal surfaces
      7m 0s
    4. Applying UV mapping
      8m 11s
    5. Using the UVW Editor
      5m 17s
  10. 41m 16s
    1. Creating joints
      10m 2s
    2. Deforming a mesh using the Skin tool
      5m 2s
    3. Creating IK handles
      6m 48s
    4. Creating blend shapes
      5m 39s
    5. Rigging nonlinear deformers
      2m 36s
    6. Finalizing the character
      4m 45s
    7. Rigging the character to the scooter
      6m 24s
  11. 1h 5m
    1. Working with the Timeline
      4m 16s
    2. Creating and adjusting keys (keyframes)
      5m 4s
    3. Editing keys
      3m 13s
    4. Modifying keys in the Graph Editor
      5m 47s
    5. Modifying keys in the Dope Sheet
      2m 51s
    6. Creating breakdown keys
      2m 28s
    7. Animating objects along paths
      5m 54s
    8. Animation playback using Playblast
      3m 10s
    9. Animating with constraints
      6m 16s
    10. Creating animation cycles
      8m 25s
    11. Using set-driven keys
      6m 13s
    12. Adding sound to animations
      2m 24s
    13. Finishing the animation
      9m 45s
  12. 1h 2m
    1. Lights and lighting types in Maya
      7m 29s
    2. Adding depth-map shadows
      4m 13s
    3. Using Raytrace shadows
      3m 28s
    4. Understanding the basics of cameras
      7m 14s
    5. Adding depth of field
      6m 31s
    6. Adding Bokeh using mental ray
      4m 33s
    7. Using motion blur in Maya Software Renderer
      4m 10s
    8. Using motion blur in mental ray
      3m 5s
    9. Raytracing reflections and refractions
      4m 41s
    10. Interactive rendering with IPR
      3m 33s
    11. Lighting a scene
      8m 29s
    12. Batch rendering
      4m 53s
  13. 25s
    1. Goodbye
      25s

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