Please help me with lighting.

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by Tom Foolery, May 13, 2009.

  1. Tom Foolery

    Tom Foolery L1: Registered

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    I know how to light a map, technically. The thing is, I'm horrible at it. Tips on how to make lighting look good (or at least livable) are welcome. I have already:

    • Looked at tutorials.
    • Looked at decompiled maps and the settings on the lights.
    • Tried to find other threads like this.

    I should mention that looking at decompiled maps hasn't been too much help, as I've had trouble wading through the seas of entities to find the lights. There are lights that don't have model going with them, making it difficult.

    So far, I've been using light_spot entities with hanging light models to make sense in the map. This has resulted in the bottom half of my rooms being lit.

    So... yeah, please help me out. If there's anything you need to know that I haven't said, or if there's anything unclear, just say so.

    Edit: I found a good tip: use dark colors and high brightness. I haven't tested it out yet, and more tips are still appreciated.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2009
  2. StoneFrog

    StoneFrog L6: Sharp Member

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    For some quick easy lighting you may want to consider this prefab pack uploaded by ikem that basically contains all the lighting setups used by Valve.

    It is indeed tricky to get light_spot lighting to spread upward so the ceilings aren't pitch black. Mind that env_shadowcontrollers and the ambient settings on the light entities play a big role in this.
     
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  3. Kronixx

    Kronixx L5: Dapper Member

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    well a lot in my mind boils down to "if this room existed in real life, where would i put lights?

    I mean i'm no expert, yet, as i'm too getting started in this mapping business but i assaulted my rooms with light in the mindset of "where would i put a light if this place actually existed", from there you can tweak the lights to create the "ambience" you desire. I think the little light bulb entity is a more "undiretcional light" it just kind of spits out light in all ways, the spots are good i think for more of a flood light effect. Some type of light that has deflectors, IE those floor lights that look like dishes or well, flood lights on the ceiling. Those are more directional in which you might use your light_spot. You can adjust the degrees of the light_spot so the lights have a little softer falloff when getting near the edges of their cone.

    As for the decompiled maps, turn off the vis groups that you don't need to see, IE playerclips, areaportals, all that junk. Those can really clear up your view and make it much easier to find the thing your looking for.
     
  4. Tom Foolery

    Tom Foolery L1: Registered

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    Thank's for that prefab, it should be very useful.

    What do the ambient settings on the lights actually do? I can't find information on it, other than that they relate to brightness...

    It's not really a question of where I should put the lights (as in the models). I know what the different entities are for, I just don't really know how to use them.

    Also, thanks for the tip on turning off vis groups. I'll look into that.
     
  5. Schmoe

    Schmoe L2: Junior Member

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    A few tricks I use for light_spots to make it easier for me..

    If you want a particular outdoor area to be lit (with a flood light), create a prop_static (or any point entity) in the vicinity of the area that will receive the light. Then open the property dialog of the light_spot entity, and select Pitch Yaw Roll attribute row... Click on the a "Point At..." button and select the empty prop_static entity to adjust its beam towards that area. (This can also works for models with some adjustment.)

    NOTE: That technique won't work very well with indoor lighting since lights should point downward.

    You can Ctrl-X/Ctrl-V the empty prop_static to other outdoor areas near flood lights in the map to easily tweak them.

    Intensity of the light is typically low by default with 200 units being barely appropriate for a 200 unit high wall. I've used 1500 (e.g. 255 255 255 1500) from ~350 units high (which is fairly bright).

    Like everyone else's suggestion, it depends on how you would place a light in real life which in my personal experience means dividing the area to be lit in equal portions (rows of 1/4's or 1/8's for a large indoor expanse). You can also adjust the Inner or Outer light angles. Typically using 60/45 will give a good area of brightness for an indoor area. Long outdoor spot lights can remain on the defaults. (Check the prefabs).
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2009
  6. Tom Foolery

    Tom Foolery L1: Registered

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    Will using a 60/45 outer/inner angles with 1500 brightness light the ceiling too? In real life light bounces off of everything, so a bright enough light pointing down will give you light on the ceiling too. Is this the case in the source engine? Will using shadow_control affect this at all?
     
  7. Kronixx

    Kronixx L5: Dapper Member

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    i dont think light reflects very well in this engine from my experience at least. There may be ways around that, but i would probably guess your best bet is to not rely on reflected light.

    Here are some shots from my first map, i used pretty much all light_spot which might not be the best way of doing it, but it was the only way i knew and it worked out well enough i guess.

    light_spots along the floor going up, 3 in the middle of the room on the ceiling going down. The angles are set to wide, like 50/80
    http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/257/ploverseaa10000.jpg

    This entire building is lit with 3 lights down that center ridge, approximately 40/70 spread but 7000 brightness!
    http://img22.imageshack.us/img22/204/ploverseaa10002.jpg

    Much like the first shot, but these are only lights from the roof, also a decently wide spread. probably in the ballpark of 40/65
    http://img410.imageshack.us/img410/3968/ploverseaa10001.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2009
  8. BrokenTripod

    BrokenTripod L5: Dapper Member

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    I hear people usually use a light_spotlight from the light source, then halfway between the floor and the ceiling, they put a light (just light) like, the 360 one.

    This lights the rest of the room evenly and preserves the spot-ish area on the floor that the spotlight gives.
     
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  9. Kronixx

    Kronixx L5: Dapper Member

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    that sounds like a good practice
     
  10. Mar

    Mar Banned

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    That's a great Idea!
     
  11. Schmoe

    Schmoe L2: Junior Member

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    The shadow_control entity is beyond my knowledge. I've typically seen ambient light based on bounces from the original light_spots to be fairly consistent with Valve maps. So... yes.

    If you have a leak in your map then the lighting from bounces will be eliminated from the final rendering.
     
  12. Loc_n_lol

    Loc_n_lol L10: Glamorous Member

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    You may want to tweak the vrad params to allow for more bounces, but it sounds like either your light_spots aren't strong enough in the first place, thus when they bounce back, it's barely visible, or you have no vis and so no bounces at all (which means pitch black ceilings).
     
  13. Sgt Frag

    Sgt Frag L14: Epic Member

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    I didn't read all posts.

    Ambient lighting is the lighting that naturally 'bounces around everywhere'. So in your light entity the regular light comes from the sun and will cast shadows. The ambient is a 'fill light' that will brighten everything up, good for getting rid of black and really dark areas/shadows. If overdone could look bad.
    That will help ceiling some.

    Also place a regular light entity in the room. Give it's 50% distance something small (maybe 100-200 units). Make sure the yellow helper sphere around it doesn't touch any walls/floor or you get a 'hotspot' which makes it obvious there is an extra light there.
    Give the 0% distance (distance at which it casts no light) a large number like 1500 or more. So the light will be bright inside the first sphere and fade out to 0 at the second.
    If you have a large 0% distance the fade will be very gradual and natural. That'll help light the room and the ceiling without having a visibly noticable light source to player.


    Colored lighting can have very moody and dramatic effects. However it is best if it's barely noticeable. More of a sub conciense thing. You don't want a bright blue room. But if the light has the slightest blue tint it will feel cold. If yellow if will feel warm...
     
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  14. Tom Foolery

    Tom Foolery L1: Registered

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    I thought about doing something like that, but I didn't try it because I figured it would look weird. I'll try it though, thanks.
     
  15. Tom Foolery

    Tom Foolery L1: Registered

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    Thanks for the clarification on ambient light and all the tips. I'll try those out.

    I'd actually read some about colored lighting. For example, the area in half life 2 where you are first following barney in city 17, the light goes from incandesent, to flourescent, and then to combine (very blue) to make the player uncomfortable.

    Most lights in TF2 are white or warm, though, so I'll probably only use white lights until I gain more experience.
     
  16. Pink_Panther

    Pink_Panther L3: Member

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    Here are some bits from another post i wrote, and I thought it may help you.
    ----

    There is an older technique for lighting called texture lighting that is very effective. Basically make a brush that looks like a light source (a shop light, tube lights, whatever) and then on one side use a texture that looks like a light (type light into the name filter in hammer). When compiled, they will act as a light source using a light.rad file. (you can search for that on the net and learn about them)

    Also, if your putting in lights before you texture it's ok. But, once you put textures in, the lighting effect will probably look totally different. Try texturing then adding in lights sparcely to allow for dim/darker areas then add a couple more here and there to control the darkness in spots that need to be lighted due to player movement and such.

    Dont be set on thinking that every set distance has to have a light. Think of a house, is there a light in every corner? or is there one or two placed around in a natural location to get the most effect and light only the areas needed? Also, is every light in the house the same brightness? Is every light the same color(some bulbs are whiter and some are more yellow right)? Is every light source a bulb?

    Lighting is easy to do, but extreamly hard to get right. The key is to allow it to be natural to the point that nobody really notices it. If its a smidge too bright or dark, wrong colors, too many lights or not enough, people will notice. When its natural, nobody will say a thing other than 'it looks nice/good' and they wont know why.
     
  17. Pink_Panther

    Pink_Panther L3: Member

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    (saw this after i posted)

    I recommend ignoring most maps out there. I have yet to see a valve map that I thought was even close to being lit correctly. They are ok, but may as well be full bright to me.

    Here is an idea that makes playing around with colored lights sorta fun and you can learn a crapload in a couple hours. Make a couple simple rooms and take 2 different color lights. Pick 2 that should never go together like purple and yellow(or whatever) Find a way to place lights of those colors in the same room together so that it actually blends together and looks nice. Dont be afraid to think outside the normal light positions either. Put some low on walls, some high, whatever...just make it look good. To speed it up, try a couple different arrangements in different rooms then compile. When that works, try changing the textures so that each wall is something different and see how the textures effect the appearance without changing the lights.

    another fun thing to try is playing with shadows. make a point light in the exact center of a smallish square room. change the lightmap size on each brush to like 2 or so. then make objects around the light and see how the shadows appear on each wall/floor/cieling. Then change/move around the brushs blocking the light to try and make designs with the shadows. This will help you understand how to control shadows and put them where you want them instead of accendental randomness.

    Hope that helps.
     
  18. Schmoe

    Schmoe L2: Junior Member

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    One thing to note is that TF2 maps are designed for playability. Using drastically cool/warm (e.g. blu/orange) lighting may affect the coloring of player models which would make it harder for folks to identify enemy's. RED will appear BLU in cool lighting and vice versa. To get a feel for how colored lights affect the player enable sv_cheats 1 and type "thirdperson" to see the player model (or drink some Bonk or taunt). To go back to first person, type "firstperson."