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Standard Lights

These standard lights are the “standard” lighting solution available for 3ds Max. Yeah, I know, you kind of worked that one out for yourself, didn’t you? These lights are truly “3D” lights—that is, they are created in 3D (of course), but they have no comparison to real-world lighting solutions. Sure, a spotlight is something that you know from the real world, but the spotlight solution available in the Standard Lights list doesn’t compare to any real-world parameters. This might not seem like a big deal right now, but when you start having to think about realistic lighting solutions and how the temperature of a light affects its color, you’ll see that these real-world parameters would come in pretty handy!

To create lights in 3ds Max, you have to head over to the Create tab, just as we usually do when you want to create something. In the Create tab, under the Lights category, we see two subcategories, Standard and Photometric, as shown in Figure 10.2.


FIGURE 10.2 Standard lighting is available in the Lights category on the Create tab. There are eight standard lights to choose from!

The Standard subcategory in 3ds Max give you a few good options to choose from:

  • Target Spot and Free Spot—Spotlights cast a resizable beam of light either toward a target or in a general direction.
  • Target Direct and Free Direct—Direct lights cast parallel rays of light in a single direction, just like the sun. You can target these rays to a specific direction or simply rotate the Free Direct version.
  • Omni—Omni lights cast rays in all directions from a single source, just like a real-world light bulb. In fact, the default lighting uses two of these omni lights in its setup.
  • Skylight—The skylight replicates daytime lighting for your scene.
  • mr Area Omni and mr Area Spot—These two lights are similar to the omni and spotlights you’ve already seen; however, you use them specifically when you’re using the Mental Ray (mr) rendering system. If I were you, I would just forget about these lights for the moment, until you dip your feet into Mental Ray rendering in Hour 20, “Mental Ray Rendering.”

Figure 10.3 shows the options available in the Standard subcategory.


FIGURE 10.3 The Standard subcategory offers a total of eight lighting options.

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