Overview of Lighting

Lighting adds the finishing touch to the scene.

Default Lighting

When there are no lights in a scene, the scene is shaded or rendered with default lighting. Default lighting is derived from two distant sources that follow the viewpoint as you move around the model. All faces in the model are illuminated so that they are visually discernible. You can control brightness and contrast, but you do not need to create or place lights yourself.

When inserting custom lights or enabling the sun, you will be given the option of disabling default lighting. In addition, you can apply default lighting to the viewport only and, at the same time, your custom lights can be applied to the rendering.

Standard Lighting Workflow

You add lights to give the scene a realistic appearance. Lighting enhances the clarity and three-dimensionality of a scene. You can create point lights, spotlights, and distant lights to achieve the effects you want. You can move or rotate them with grip tools, turn them on and off, and change properties such as color and attenuation. The effects of changes are visible in the viewport in real time.

Spotlights and point lights are each represented by a different light glyph (a symbol in the drawing showing the location of the light). Distant lights and the sun are not represented by glyphs in the drawing because they do not have a discrete position and affect the entire scene. You can turn the display of light glyphs on or off while you work. By default, light glyphs are not plotted.

Photometric Lighting Workflow

For more precise control over lighting, you can use photometric lights to illuminate your model. Photometric lights use photometric (light energy) values that enable you to more accurately define lights as they would be in the real world. You can create lights with various distribution and color characteristics, or import specific photometric files available from lighting manufacturers.

Photometric lights can use manufacturers' IES standard file format. By using manufacturers’ lighting data, you can visualize commercially available lighting in your model. Then you can experiment with different fixtures, and by varying the light intensity and color temperature, you can design a lighting system that produces the results you want.

The Sun and Sky

The sun is a special light similar to a distant light. The angle of the sun is defined by the geographic location that you specify for the model and by the date and time of day that you specify. You can change the intensity of the sun and the color of its light. The sun and sky are the primary sources of natural illumination. With the sun and sky simulation, you can adjust their properties.

In the photometric workflow, the sun follows a more physically accurate lighting model in both the viewport and the rendered output. In the photometric workflow, you can also enable sky illumination (via the sky background feature), which adds soft, subtle lighting effects caused by the lighting interactions between the sun and the atmosphere.

Click the Play arrow to start the animation.

Luminaire Objects

Light fixtures can be represented by embedding photometric lights in blocks that also contain geometry. A luminary assembles a set of light objects into a light fixture.