CAP 203 - Computer Animation III

Chapter 27 - Using Lights and Basic Lighting Techniques


This lesson reviews information about lighting in 3DS Max. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Lighting basics
  2. Light types
  3. Creating and positioning lights
  4. Viewing from a light
  5. Light parameters
  6. Sunlight and daylight systems
  7. Volume light
  8. Projector maps and raytraced shadows

The chapter begins a lesson on lights. You have seen a good portion of this before.


  • a scene usually needs several lights
    • key light - the main light for your scene, this chapter suggests using a spot placed above and in front of the subject
    • fill light - a lift that fills in shadows that would make the scene too dark, this chapter suggests placing fill lights low, set for no shadows, on either side of the subject
    • back light- a light that fills the background of the scene to give it depth and separation from the foreground, this chapter no shadows for this light either
  • shadows are reviewed
    • area shadows are based on a light source, and support transparent objects
    • shadow maps are calculated bitmaps that can be softer shadows, but they do not support transparent objects
    • raytraced shadows produce the most realistic shadows but they require the most processing power
  • more details about light types and ambient light are presented, much the same as those we saw in Chapter 19 of the Essentials text

New items:

The Essentials text did not describe photometric lights in detail. This text provides some details on page 650. An online tutorial about light in 3DS Max 5 provides a good summary. More detail from the chapter appears on page 659.

As noted before about other chapters, the information in this chapter is rather dry, and better used for reference. We will entertain suggestions from the class about other tutorials to perform.

Tutorial Notes and Questions


  1. Propose a tutorial from the internet that addresses some feature or features from this chapter.
  2. In your typed proposal, include a URL to the material, and a short list of reasons you recommend the tutorial.