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Light Linking using 3 point lighting
Light Linking using 3 point lighting
poorhousefx, added 2005-10-14 10:00:50 UTC 83,076 views  Rating:
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By looking at the figure above we can see the rotors and insides of the tires are black. So we need to add a couple of lights to brighten them a little to give it a more realistic look. I will start with the rotor on the front tire. I will add a spot light and position it to face the rotor (fig. 11).


click for larger version
Fig 11

Now we are ready to link that light to the rotor. You will now see why naming objects is so important. To link lights we need to open the relationship editor. Go to window > relationship editor > light linking. You now have two options, light-centric and object-centric. Light-centric is when you choose a light and then select what objects it affects. Object-centric is when you select an object and then choose what lights you want affecting it. They both do the same thing and it is a matter of personal preference which you use. I prefer light-centric so we can choose that (fig. 12 � 13).



Fig. 12


Fig. 13

Figure 13 illustrates the light linking window. On the left is our lights; on the right is our objects. You can see now why naming all of your objects is important. If all of this was not named it would be listed as spotlight1, 2, and 3, then lofted surface 1, 2, 3, etc��. Now that everything is named it will be easy to select everything and link our lights appropriately in a fast efficient pace. To use the light linking window, select a light and you will see everything it affects is highlighted on the right (fig. 14)



Fig. 14

We need to link the rotor light to the rotor so it lights that and nothing else. So, select the rotor light and you will see it highlights everything. The easiest thing to do is to deselect all of the objects by clicking underneath everything (fig 15) then select what it will be linked to (Fig. 16).



Fig. 15


Fig. 16

Now the rotor light is linked to the rotor on the main tire and will light nothing but that. Now we can test render to see how it looks. (Fig. 17) Now if we compare it to the previous render (Fig. 18) we can see it adds just a little bit of light to the bottom of the rotor.


Fig. 17


Fig. 18

Now to illustrate light linking one more time I will add another light and link it to the inside of the main tire. So I add a light and point it at the dark spot on the inside of the main tire (Fig. 19), then link it to the object (Fig. 20).



Fig. 19


Fig. 20


Now we can do a test render to see the result (fig. 21). Then compare it to before to see the slight difference (Fig. 22).


Fig. 21


Fig. 22

You can see that in figure 21 the inside of the tire is lit a little nicer and we actually got an accidental reflected light on the back of the tire. Almost as if the light is reflecting off the back tires rim.Sometimes in Maya, the nicest results come about by accident, like in this case with the back of the tire. It was not planned, it just happened. All I wanted was to light the inside of the tire.

In figure 22 you can see how the back of the tire and the inside are extremely dark and compared to figure 21 it does not look as nice.

I will finish up with the back tire, doing the same as I did with the front, by adding a light for the rotor and inside tire and linking them appropriately then render it for the final product (fig. 23)


Fig. 23

Don�t be surprised when you are done if you have a lot of lights. In my experiences you usually will have anywhere between 3 � 5 lights for an object. In this scene I have 7 lights total of which 4 are linked to specific objects. Some people might ask why is all this necessary? Well, if we compare the scene with linked lights and without linked lights we can see (fig. 24 � 25)


Fig. 24


Fig. 25

Figure 24 has lights linked and compared to figure 25 it pops off the screen more and looks more realistic. It shows a definitive light source and has nice highlights and shadows.

figure 25 there are only three lights; the key light, fill light, and back light. Without linking lights the image looks flat and very dull. It does not tend to pop as much as figure 24 and overall does not look as good.

In conclusion, light linking is an excellent and necessary tool to use when lighting. I would always start off with a three point lighting scheme, then add and link lights where necessary. Remember to name everything. It is also important to be patient because this is a very easy, but yet time consuming process. There is a lot of rendering and tweaking involved, but if you spend the time to do this properly, the results will be that much better.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at:

neuberl@alfredstate.edu