Understanding Lights in Maya Part 4: Interior Lighting

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

Hello guys and welcome to the last part of Understanding Lights In Maya tutorial, in this tutorial we will light up an interior scene which should help you understand how lights works and how to setup lights to illuminate any interior scenes. Ok, let's start working!

Step 1

Download this scene: Sample scene for interior lighting or create your scene as per your wish, then open the scene to create 2 Area Lights.

Step 2

Place the lights on the windows, but keep little gap between windows and lights.

Step 3

Ok it’s time to simulate the sunlight to serve our purpose and we will use Directional Light since it will work fine for such situations, Create a Directional Light and then place it something like shown on the image below, make sure that light is passing through the window to inside the room

Step 4

Fix your camera inside room to start test rendering

Step 5

Once you setup your lights and you are happy with placements of lights then hit render, and you should see a blown and washed out image

Step 6

Let’s start working on lights, select Area Light one by one and do the same setting for both

Step 7

Select Directional Light and activate shadows

Step 8

Now in the Render Settings do the same settings as you can see in the image below

Step 9

With these settings set, now hit render and you should see very dark image except the lights from directional light

Step 10

ok now select one of your Area Lights and turn on (Emit Photons) and do the same settings or according to your scene size, Photons are scene dependent, if you have larger scene then low amount of photons won’t work until you increase them

Step 11

In Render Settings in the mental ray tab choose (Mitchell) for Multi-Pixel Filtering

Step 12

Turn on (Final Gathering) and do the rest as you can see on the image below

Step 13

With these settings set, hit render. Your result might be different then mine because I am using texture on the floor so this also cause to emit photon same as color of my floor texture

Step 14

Ok, Apply the textures everywhere to all of your scene and if you hit render you will see a very dark image, if you deal with darker wood textures or something like this.

As you can see in the above image the wood texture for the floor is pretty dark if I apply this texture to all room I am sure I will get pretty dark result, you might be asking why is this and what cause this heck? Well the answer is pretty simple, the texture which you are applying to the objects, the material itself has Photonic Attributes, and then the material starts emitting Photons the same color as our texture in the scene that is why we are getting darker result, to solve this problem select your material where the texture is set for the walls, and then hit CTRL+A to open attributes editor, expand the Mental Ray tab scroll down a bit uncheck (Derive From Maya) check box, and then click on (Take Settings From Maya), now if you see in the (Color) slot our texture is connected that is why its emitting dark photons, do the right click and from popup menu chose break connections and set the color to something brighter as you can see in the image below.

Step 15

Now hit render and this time you should see pretty nice and interesting result, here is my final rendered image

If you like to see my settings, here is my end scene: Sample scene for interior lighting- finished version
Congratulations guys! You have successfully completed the series of the tutorials I hope this helped you out to learn more about lights in Maya.

If you missed any of the previous parts you can find them here:
Part 1: Understanding Lights in Maya Part 1: Ambient Light & Directional Light

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

Part 3: Understanding Lights in Maya Part 3: Area light & Volume Light


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  • lighting
  • maya
  • light
  • beginner
  • interior