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When you start to add lights to a scene, Maya will allow you to preview how the lighting looks and also how the shadows look without the need to constantly create renders. So, I am going to add a spotlight to the scene just by clicking on this icon in the Rendering shelf to add a spotlight. I'll use the Move tool to drag it up; I am going to drag it over here. I want to go to Panels > Look Through Selected Cameras so I can see through the spotlight. This allows me to easily position it.
I have the Attribute Editor opened up to the spotLightShape1 tab so that I can adjust the settings of the light, and I am going to increase the Cone Angle. I'll switch back to my Perspective view. And now, if I want to see how this lighting is going to look, I'll go into the Lighting window and choose Use All Lights. The hotkey for this is just the number 7. Now, I can see how the light cone angle is going to work in the scene and where the light is coming from. So, if I adjust the cone angle, you can see how that affects the light in the scene.
I want to set me Renderer to High- Quality Rendering, and that will allow me to see the cone angle a little bit more accurately. It's more nicely defined. If I want to see how the shadows are going to look in the scene, or where the shadows are coming from, I'll go into the Lighting menu, and I'll turn on Shadows. I am not going to see anything yet until I actually add some shadows to the light. So, if I am in the Attribute Editor for the spotLightShape, I'll just go on, and I'll turn Use Depth Map Shadows.
This works for both depth map shadows and raytraced shadows. So, I'll turn on Shadows, and now as I position the light, you can see what that shadow is going to look like, without the need to create a test render. I can also preview the penumbra angle, basically the softness of the edge of the spotlight, so if I start to increase this, you can see how that's getting nice and soft. Now, it can also preview the drop off, the intensity of the center of the light as it hits the surface, as opposed to the edge.
So, now before even creating a test render, I have a good idea of what that lighting is going to look like. If I do a render of the scene, you can see how well it matches. At this point, I can start to adjust the quality of my shadows, but I have already established where the light is coming from, and I previewed it in the scene, which can be very convenient and save you time when you're working with the lights.
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