• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Chapter 10. Lighting > Available Light Types in Maya

Available Light Types in Maya

Several different lights are available in Maya 5, each with its own properties and uses: Ambient, Directional, Point, Spot, Area, and Volume lights. Each one has its own icon to represent it in your scene (see Figure 10.1).

Tutorial: Spot Light and Attributes

To learn to use lights, you need to work with them interactively. By using a simple scene with an organic polygonal object and several primitives, you can create lights and render them to see the results of changes in attributes and other settings. The first light you'll work with is the Spot light, probably the most commonly used light, with a multitude of options to adjust. The Spot light's area of illumination is defined by a cone, and within the cone's specified range, light is cast evenly. Starting from an infinitely small point in space, a Spot light spreads as it moves farther from the origin. Spot lights are useful when you're trying to create beams of light from, for example, a prison watch tower, a lighthouse, and so forth.

On the DVD


On the DVD


Start Maya, and open the scene file from the Maya 5 Fundamentals DVD-ROM (noted next to the DVD icon). You'll see a sphere with tentacles alongside three primitive objects, walls, and some ground for the objects to sit on.

Switch to Four View mode. Open the Hotbox and click Create | Lights | Spot Light | option box to open the Create Spot Light Options dialog box, which contains basic creation options for the Spot light. You can also access these attributes in the Attribute Editor.

Reset the values to their defaults (Edit | Reset Settings), and click the Create button. A Spot light named spotLight1 is created at the scene's origin point.

The area that a Spot light illuminates is based on its position and center of interest (where it's aimed), so having the light positioned at the scene's origin isn't usually the best placement. The best way to work with a light in a scene is to switch to the Light Manipulator tool, which you can use to easily modify the light's location and center of interest.

Activate the Light Manipulator tool (hotkey: t). The Light Manipulator tool has a set of two manipulators: the pivot manipulator, located at the light's pivot (origin), and the aim manipulator, located at the light's target—its center of interest. In the Top view, just as you would move an object, move the Spot light to the floor's center by using its pivot manipulator.

The light's aim is still off. Using the aim manipulator (shown in Figure 10.2), move the center of interest to the upper portion of the cube where the missing corner would be. The idea is to position spotLight1 so that it aims at about a 45-degree angle from the floor toward the objects, as seen from above.

Figure 10.2. Using the Light Manipulator tool to position your Spot light.


There are other manipulator options beside pivot and aim. When you're in manipulator mode, a light-blue manipulator called the Cycling Index controller (shaped like an upside-down “Q”) is visible. This is a switch to toggle through the manipulator modes. You can get visual feedback and control over tilt, falloff, cone angle, and other parameters with these manipulator modes.

Switch to the Side view and use the pivot manipulator to move it about 18 units in the Y direction. You should now have the Spot light positioned to illuminate the objects at about a 45-degree angle from the ground's horizontal line, as shown in Figure 10.2.

Using the IPR Render for Tweaking

The more you work with lights, the more you'll come to appreciate IPR. Being able to immediately update the lighting as you make adjustments is an invaluable tool in the 3D artist's hands. Lighting also affects the materials in the scene. For example, if a particular light worked well in a scene with a Lambert material and you decided to change the material to Blinn, you would instantly see how the lighting behaves differently because of the Blinn's specular property. By using the IPR render, you can easily adjust the lights for different materials. Follow these steps to try out the IPR render.

Open the Render View window from the Hotbox or menu bar (Window | Rendering Editors | Render View). First, you should determine the test resolution you'll use. It's currently set to 640×480. Depending on the speed of your machine, this value might be too high and can cause the IPR render to work more slowly than you'd like. For this tutorial, reduce the test resolution by right-clicking in the Render View window, choosing Options | Test Resolution, and then releasing the mouse button over the 320×240 value.

The Render Globals settings have already been configured to render from the Camera1 view. Click the IPR Render button in the Render View window. When the IPR render is finished, click-drag to select the entire rendered image in the Render View window. The IPR render should update the pixels. You can then change various attributes for the Spot light and see how it affects the scene (see Figure 10.3).

Figure 10.3. The Spot light illuminates objects only within the cone's specified area.


If you notice a warning in the Command Line about IPR not supporting non-IFF format images, it relates to the save-to file type set in the Render Global Settings window. It will not cause a problem with IPR.

If spotLight1 is not selected, open the Outliner (hotkey: Alt+o) and click on spotLight1 to select it. Open the Attribute Editor, and click the spotLightShape1 tab. You now have access to the Spot light settings that can be edited in Maya.



Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint