Maya lights and lighting types

From the course: Maya 2018 Essential Training

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  • Course details

    Learn to create high-quality 3D models and animations in Maya 2018. This course covers the core Maya skills—modeling, texturing, rendering, and animation—within a real-world, project-based workflow. The techniques you'll learn here translate equally well to film, motion graphics, game design, and animation.

    First explore the basics of the Maya interface, including selecting and manipulating objects, organizing scenes, and customizing the interface. Next, learn about polygonal modeling, creating and refining meshes, sculpting, and working with NURBS surfaces. Once you understand modeling, discover how to create and apply materials—adding color, texture, and reflectivity to your creations. Then integrate cameras, lighting, and effects into the rendering process, and leverage the new Arnold for Maya renderer. Last but not least, instructor George Maestri show how to add movement and life to your work with Maya's animation tools.


    Skills covered in this course

  • Welcome

    - [Instructor] When we render, we need to have light, so let's take a look at some of the basic lights that are included with Maya. Maya has a number of basic lights, and if we go to the Rendering shelf we can kind of see them here, or we can find them under Create, Lights, and we can tear this off, we have Ambient, Directional, Point, Spot, Area, and Volume Light. Now, these are just basic lights. Other types of renderer may include their own lights. Arnold, for example, has a number of lights for itself that we'll take a look at in just a bit. Let's take a look at some of these basic Maya lights. I'm going to zoom out here so we can kind of see the effects of these. Probably the easiest one to understand is called the point light, and that's basically just the bare light bulb in the room. So if I click on Point Light, the point light comes up in here. Now, we're not seeing the lighting, and all we have to do is go to the menu in the view port that says Lighting, and turn on Use All Lights, or we can hit the hotkey of seven, and when I do that, you can see how this light works. It basically just casts lights in all directions, and so you can see how we have that sort of lighting in the room. Now, if we go over to the Attribute Editor for this light, we can change a number of attributes for it. One of the first ones is the intensity of the light. So under Point Light Attributes, if you dial down or up the intensity you can change that. We can also change the color of the light, so if we want to make it any color we want, we can certainly do that. In addition to this, lights can have decay. By default the Maya lights have no decay, which means that they emit the same amount of power, no matter how far away you are from them. Now, in the real world, lights do decay along the square of the distance. So we have three types of decay. We have linear decay, which will fall off basically linearly. We have quadratic decay, which is real world lighting, which falls off with the square of the distance, and then we also have cubic lighting, which falls off with the cube of the distance. So if we were to bring it up to, say, quadratic, you would notice how the intensity really isn't that much, and so what we have to do is actually increase the intensity to compensate. So if I type in a larger number, say, 400, or maybe even four thousand, then we'll start to get light, and notice how when this light gets closer to something it illuminates it more. We could even bring that up a lot more, so let's bring it up to, say, 12 thousand, and as you can see, we're starting to get realistic lighting. This is because this light is falling off with the square of the distance. If we were to change this back to linear it would blow out the scene here, so we have to bring this down a lot, or if we bring it to no decay, your best value's going to be essentially one. So I'm going to go ahead and delete that, and let's create another important type of light, and that is the spot light. I'm going to go ahead and create this spot light here, and as you can see, it creates a spot of light on the wall. Now, you might not be able to see this light, so you can scale them up. I'm going to scale up this light a little bit, so now we can see it, and if we want, we can rotate it, we can move it around, and if I double click on my Move Tool, I can change this to object space, which means that my blue axis will pull this away. And now this spot light has its own attributes, just like with the point light, we do have color, intensity, we also have falloff, and decay rate, but we also have a cone angle, so that's how much this particular light is spreading, and then we also have what's called a penumbra, and that's the soft edge of that light. If you want to manipulate lights in Maya, you may also want to use the Manipulator Tool. If we go into Modify, Transformation Tools, you'll see we have a Show Manipulator Tool, and when I turn that on you'll see that I actually get basically two pivots here, and if I can move them away from each other, they're right on top of each other right now, you'll see that I actually have a target which allows me to place this in the room. So now I'm using this Manipulator Tool to position this light, so if I want this light to be completely focused right here in the room, then I can place that target there, and then however I move the light, it's always going to be pointed at that target, and that's a great way to adjust lights. I'm going to go ahead and select this spot light and delete it, and now let's take a look at some other lights here. We have one called ambient light, and all that does is create ambient lighting in the room, so if you need just kind of a base level of lighting, you can bring in that ambient light and it will just brighten up the room without adding shadows or anything else. And then we also have what's called a directional light. I'm going to go ahead and use my Move Tool to move this out, and you really can't see it, so I'm going to scale this up just a bit, and you'll see it's just kind of a collection of arrows, and a directional light basically simulates light from a very long ways away, so for example light from the sun, and so that's parallel light that's coming from everywhere from a specific direction. So all we're really controlling here is the direction of the light. It doesn't really matter where in the scene we place this. So all I need to do is just rotate this, and you can see how it changes the lighting in the scene, but it doesn't really matter where I move this because the light is basically coming from infinity. This is a great way to get outdoor lighting, or basically a global wash of directional light. I'm going to go ahead and delete this, and then I've got one more light I want to show you, and that's called the area light. Now again, I need to scale this up a little bit, it comes in a little small in this scene, but as you can see, this area light essentially has an area, in this case it's a rectangular area, but I can move this into the scene, and it'll create a softer light in the scene. Now if I want to I can scale it. By scaling it you're actually bringing more light into the scene, so notice how when this is bigger it has more light, and when it's smaller it has less light. This is a great way to get kind of a nice wash of light over the scene. This particular area light may not be supported by all renderers, so you have to kind of check to make sure it's supported before using it with other software renderers. So those are some of the basic lights that we have available in Maya.

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