Cinema 4D / BodyPaint 3D Program Documentation Tutorials Light and Shadow Tutorial Lighting Fundamentals
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3-Point Lighting

The term "3-point lighting" refers to a typical lighting setup using at least three lights whose functions are separated as follows:

  1. The main light*: This light source is the brightest light and is therefore the scene’s main light. For outdoor scenes, this will generally be the sunlight. This light source is also responsible for defining the direction and intensity of shadows.

  2. The fill light: In the real world, light is dispersed via refraction and reflected into regions that are not illuminated by the main light. The fill light primarily serves to simulate this main light. This can, for example, be the light that is reflected from a floor onto the surrounding walls and ceiling. Activating Global Illumination in the Edit Render Settings... menu will calculate this effect automatically, eliminating the need for this type of light.

  3. The back light**: Often it can be advantageous to emphasize an object’s silhouette in order to make it stand out better, for example in front of a dark background. This can be done by placing a light source behind the object whose light illuminates only a small edge around the object. This type of light is especially useful when rendering individual objects. It is less suited for illuminating an entire room, for example, for which a main light and its dispersion should primarily be used.

Since we are not dependent on the actual position of the sun when creating a 3D scene, we can determine ourselves how a particular object or scene should be illuminated. A light’s specular effect or how it casts a shadow can be defined in any way we desire.

Lights play a very important role in defining the look of an object’s surface or the mood of a scene. Too much light will over expose a scene and make it look flat - too little light will result in detail being lost and colors being muted.

* Also known as "key light"

** Also known as "rim light"