Understanding Lights in Maya Part 2: Point Light & Spot Light

Tutorial posted about 3 years ago
by aziz-khanaziz-khan

Hello everyone and welcome once again in part 2 of understanding lights in Maya tutorial. Well, in this part we will explore Point Light and the Spot Light. In the first part we already cover the Ambient and Directional Light.

Point light: step 1

If you haven't yet, please check out Part 1 here: Understanding Lights in Maya Part 1: Ambient Light & Directional Light

Create a Point Light (Create>>Lights>>Point Light) and drop it in the scene and open the attributes editor, you could see the settings are pretty much the same as we saw in the Ambient light and Directional Light, but one thing is extra in this light that is the (Decay Rate).


Decay rate = deals with intensity of your lights, For instance if you choose (Quadratic) then you have to crank up the light value from default 1 to something 200 or 300 according to your scene setup.

Point light: step 2

Now scroll down to bottom to (Raytraced Shadow Attributes) and then check out (Use Ray Trace Shadows), we had the chance to talk about these settings in the part one

Point light: step 3

Now change the Decay rate from no Decay to (Quadratic) and crank the intensity values to something reasonable according to your scene

Point light: step 4

Hit render you should see something like on the image below

Point light: step 5

xpand the light effects tab, as you can see there is (light fog), (fog Type), and so on,


Light Fog = by clicking on the checkered box you will add fog into your light and you will be redirected to fog settings,

Fog Type = this will allow you to choose the type of you desired fog,

Fog Radius = this deals with the size of your fog in the scene,

Fog Intensity = its pretty self explanatory, deals with the intensity of fog in your scene,

Light Glow = this is pretty neat effect by clicking on the checkered box you are telling Maya to add glow to your light and then you will be able to play with the settings to make it more interesting

Point light: step 6

Now add the fog to your light, click on the checkered box in the right hand corner, After adding the fog you will have settings for the fog, play with the settings until you are not happy

Point light: step 7

Hit render if you see closely nothing was changed except a moony looking light

Point light: step 8

Now change the following values

Point light: step 9

Hit render again and now you can see a big moony looking light

Point light: step 10

Now add the glow to the light

Point light: step 11

Hit render again and you might be thinking what's the heck and where the lights and fog gone? This is because we are in mental ray and mental ray don't deals with such things

Point light: step 12

ok go to (Render Settings) change your renderer from Mental ray to Maya Software

Point light: step 13

Now lets remove the fog from the light since we added Glow, Right click on the fog and then from popup menu choose (Break Connections)

Point light: step 14

Once you break the connection with fog its time to control the Glow effect, click on the arrow sign for the Glow and you will be in the Glow setting panel and then do the same

Point light: step 15

Ok hit render and you should have something like in the image illustrating below

Point light: step 16

Break the Connection with Glow since we don't need it now in my case, but if you need it you are more than welcome to keep it

Point light: step 17

Now go to (Render Settings) turn on (Global Illumination), and (Final Gathering) and then hit render


Here is the final result of Point Light. Point light is also called "Fill Light".
You can find the file to compare your scene with mine here: Point light sample scene

Spot Light: step 1

Create a spotlight and place somewhere in the scene, also choose your Renderer type to Maya Software

Spot Light: step 2

In the Spot light you will find some extra options like,


Cone Angle = deals with the size of the light cone angel, higher the values the bigger cone angle,

Penumbra Angle - Deals with the softness and harness of the light fall,

Dropoff = this deals with the size of you light intensity,

also add the fog to see how the fog works with spot light, and then do the desired settings, as you can see there is a extra option (Fog Spread) i just added the noise material, I will show you how.

Spot Light: step 3

For the Fog density crank the value to 3 or 5

Spot Light: step 4

Here shown how the Noise choosen for Fog Spread and then do the settings

Spot Light: step 5

Hit Render, the result is pretty nice and noisy

Spot Light: step 6

If you see in the Light Effects you will see there is couple of new buttons (Intensity Curve) and (Color Curve) first we will explore the (Intensity Curve),

What is Intensity Curve? - Well Intensity Curve is pretty nice and time saver for instance you have several lights in the scene and you want that one of your spot lights shouldn't Illuminate to the objects or to the wall or what ever, here Intensity Curves are coming handy, we will explore it out in just a sec.

Spot Light: step 7

Ok, now click on the Intensity Curve button and you will see nothing happens, to see actually anything happens open the Graph Editor

Spot Light: step 8

Once the Graph Editor opens, you will see bunch of points, the points in the left side represent the intensity of your light in the scene and the right side ones represent the distance of your light between objects in the scene, select the few points in the right side and then by middle mouse button drag to the left side, and do the same thing with the left ones, and then hit render you will see something very interesting, play with the points you will really love them.

Here I played with the points

Here's is my result, your's can be little different

Spot Light: step 9

Ok, let's play with (Color Curve), click on the Color Curve Button and then open Graph Editor

Spot Light: step 10

Once your Graph Editor opens you will see Color R, Color G and the Color B, play with each color points and then see what happens.

Color R deals with Red, Color G deals with Green, Color B deals with Blue, so keep playing with each Color

Spot Light: step 11

Once you played with the points now hit render, and you will see something different

Spot Light: step 12

Now scroll a bit to bottom and you will some more extra option like Barn Doors, Barn Doors are basically not more then to create Square shadows, play with the values and see the changes

Spot Light: step 13

Check "Use Ray Trace Shadows" and do the settings as you can see or according to your scene setup

Spot Light: step 14

Hit Render


Activate Final Gathering in the render Settings and once again hit render, now you will see a bit brighter result, You could use spot lights as your Key Light in the scene. This concludes Part 2 of this series, I hope these tutorials are helping you and if you have any comments, suggestions, feedbacks, questions, please feel free to write me.
As always, you can find the scene here: spot light sample scene

Continue to the following parts here:
Part 3 : Understanding Lights in Maya Part 3: Area light & Volume Light

Part 4: Understanding Lights in Maya Part 4: Interior Lighting

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Software:Category:Tags:
  • maya
  • lighting
  • point
  • spot
  • light
  • autodesk
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