Digital Lighting, Shading and Rendering

Become a lighting artist!  

Lighting defines the focus, atmosphere and time of day in a scene. Moreover, it induces drama and highlights moods. Its roots lie in the art of stage lighting for theater, photography and film. For a lighting artist, aesthetic judgement is just as important as technical knowledge. Therefore, this course offers the basic theory of colors, light, film and photography needed to embark on further creative and technical processes involving lighting, shading and rendering. 

We will use the latest technology available on today’s market:  
•    Arnold renderer: currently the fastest and the most simple raytrace renderer.   
•    Alembic: currently the best file format for data transfer in 3D.  Exercises are designed in a way that reflects real VFX production, so the models used for lighting and shading are the work of students or current models from Crater Studio production. Students will learn how to use everyday situations and transfer real-life experiences into 3D. 

Furthermore, students will learn how to use cameras, lights and shaders, as well as how to produce, with equal success, photo-realistic and cartoony results. Ultimately, the training students will receive in applying the right approach and thought process of lighting will enable them to master any renderer they may need in the future.


Basic information:
course duration:  4 weeks  
requirements:     Digital Image Editing*

                         3D/VFX Essentials*
prices for international students click here        

prices for home students click here               
    *or equivalent computer skills 
  **price based on minimum 5 participants
***internship available

Online application send here>


Course program:

Introduction and overview of the course program
  • Getting to know each other, assessing individual levels of experience and a general overview of the course contents

Theoretical introduction to light, color and materials and a short look at Arnold renderer
  • Basic theoretical introduction
  • A short look at Arnold renderer

Arnold settings
  • Render settings

Shaders (materials) 
  • Types of material, description of the parameters and their application
  • aiStandardSurface and all its settings: diffused, reflective, refractive, semipermeable and sss materials
  • Other materials, Ray switch, Hair, Mix shader,displacement, Utility shader, Ambient occlusion, Shadow matte
  • Procedural shading
   (Afterwards students are assigned exercises to create all types of material including rock, glass, fabric and milk on models from

Lighting in Arnold
  • Types of light: distant, spot, area, point, skydome, mesh, photometric
  • Parameters of light
  • Filters for light: gobo, light blocker, barndoor, decay
   (After this lecture students are assigned their first “real” exercise where they are given an object with textures that they must shade)

Stand-ins (Proxy objects)
  • About stand-ins
   (Students will create massive scenes: forest, armies, rows of lamp posts, grass fields or something else interesting to practice


  • Methods of rendering hair
   (After this lecture students will illuminate and materialize the hair or fur on a model)

  • Methods of rendering skin
   (After this lecture students will illuminate and materialize the skin on a model)

  • Open VBD
  • Volume shading - aiStandardVolume

  • Camera, camera settings, DOF, Motion blur
   (We will observe how Arnold works with Motion blur and DOF on animated models from production)

  • Build in AOVs 
  • Light path expressions 

  • Why pipeline is important for light 
   (About the Alembic file format and its practical application)

Literature* :

Yot Richard, Light for Visual Artists, Laurence King Publishing, London, UK, 2010

 * the literature upon which the course is based is available to students in the Crater VFX Training Center library



Upon completion of the course students will receive the internationally recognized Autodesk Certificate of Completion, as well as the Crater VFX Training Center Certificate.


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