Lighting Introduction

Along with objects and the camera, lights are a basic element in any LightWave Scene. In Layout, a Scene must always have at least one light. In fact, LightWave will not allow you to remove the last light source. If you really don’t need it, you can just turn its Light Intensity to zero or deactivate the light in the Scene Editor.

Lights in LightWave come in various forms. Shown here are the standard lights at normal sizes for all but Spot, which has been enlarged, and Photometric that has no IES file loaded yet. Third party lights can be added.

LightWave has several types of lights, and you can give them different names, colors, and attributes. Along with lens flares, volumetric and shadow casting options, you can control light with a high degree of precision. All of these features are found within the Lights tab of the Render Globals Panel.

Along with the several lights, LightWave also features radiosity and caustic light effects, which can add tremendous realism to your scenes.

Lighting in LightWave has been completely overhauled. Listed below are the areas of change:

  • Light power values are now listed in Lux (Lumen per meter squared)
  • The Dome light has been removed and the Distant light given an Angle value like it
  • The Environment light is used to add light from the backdrop for a scene
  • Area and NGon lights now only point in one direction and can act as portals
  • Lights can be visible to the camera
  • All lights except point are sampled
  • All lights can optionally affect volumetrics
  • Ambient Intensity has been removed

LightWave lights don't have to act exactly like lights in the real world. For instance, you can choose not to see a LightWave light source, only its illuminating effect in the scene. This is actually a handy feature because unlike a movie set, you can place lights anywhere, including in front of the camera.


Basic Light Attributes

Light Properties are to be found by selecting a light and hitting P or using the Properties button just to the right of the Current Item dropdown. This will bring up the Light Properties panel. This panel can vary quite a lot in size depending on what sort of light you’ve chosen, but they all have options at the top of the window in common.

The Ambient light setting from previous versions of LightWave has been removed.

Turning Cast Shadows on in the Shadows tab makes the light behave like an object casting a shadow created by other lights in the scene. Turning Cast Shadows on for a light is basically turning the light into a light blocker

Affect Volumetrics

Lights can optionally affect volumetrics for creating volumetric lighting effects or affecting volumetric primitives from the outside.

Volumetrics require an Inv Distance ^2 falloff. In 2018, this is set by default, but if your light is not affecting volumetrics check this setting first.


Buffer Group

See the Light Groups page.

Converting from 2015