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lighting - basics

by Nadine (Horus)

1 - The Light Effects

First of all, lets get familiar with the different kinds of light effects. The most common one is the Light Bulb. Activate Show Light Meshes to see the area the light bulb will affect.

The second one is the Shadow. I has the inverted effect of the Light Bulb and is thus already quite unrealistic. Shadows are the absence of light and it's better to light a dark room with Light Bulbs than darkening a bright room with shadows. So, usually you won't need the shadow effect.

Third, there is the Spotlight. It creates a cone-like light effect. In contrast to the Light Bulb it is directional. The Spotlight can be used in comination with lamp objects or it can simulate light coming through a hole in the ceiling and so on.

The fourth light effect is the Sun. It is a very powerful tool to easily light rooms. The sun is directional too, but it creates shadows based on how the environment looks. In the picture below you can see the shadow right of the wooden box.

The last one is called Effect. It is rarely used in custom levels, probably because most builders don't know of its potential. One quick example: In the picture below we have a lamp hanging from the ceiling and a normal Light Bulb lighting the room. However the ceiling is far too bright - the lamp is covered on top.

When you place an Effect, it won't do anything yet, you need to set it up first. In this case I want to darken the ceiling so I lower the Intensity (Int) to darken the face the Effect has been placed on.

So, basically the Effect can be used to correct little glitches in the lighting. Note that the Effect will only change the lighting on the surface it has been placed on, it will not affect Lara or other objects.

2 - Colours & Atmosphere

Something you need to consider while lighting your rooms is the atmosphere you want to achieve. Lets say you want to build a mediterranean city at sundown. Wonderfully romantic, eh? Choose warm and soft colours like orange, red and pink.

On the opposite lets take a look at the cold colours. To create a chilly feel you can use blue-greyish tones and a bright cyan to light the scene.

3 - Contrasts

This room has an orange base colour (Ambience) and is lighted by an orange Sun. It looks like a typical scene at dusk but still it looks rather dull.

This can be changed by getting some more contrast into the lighting. I set the base colour to blue. Thus the hightlights are still orange but all the shadowy areas are now dark blue. This is a colour combination that works fairly well - the colour of the bright areas is a warm orange and the shadows are cold blue.

This can be done with numerous colour combinations, though it is advisable to use cold colours for the shadows (=base colour). Here are some examples: green base colour and yellowish light, gives a rather creepy atmosphere.

The next one has a blue base colour and pink light, looks rather surrealistic but it can be used nevertheless ;-)

4 - Examples of Good Lighting

The best you can do to improve your feeling for a good lighting is to play the original Tomb Raider games, especially TR5.

Here are a few examples of the excellent atmosphere and lighting.

This is a screen from TRC, take a close look at the colours used: low saturation, lots of grey. Wonderfully cold and bleak.

Valley of the Kings, TR4.

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