Quick Guide to Using Lights in Adobe After Effects

2013-06-24

This tutorial will show you How to use Lights in Adobe After Effects. Lights in Adobe After Effects are pretty much just like lights in real life. You can change their intensity brighter or darker, you can open up their cone angle and have a real spotlight or you can widen it out. There are different types of lights as well.

How to use lights

To start, go to “Create”, then New Composition.

Click on Composition Window.

Go to Layer, choose New, then Solid.

There you will see the background colour; here it is Royal Blue. Click Make Comp Size, the same size as your composition and hit OK.

You will find a solid rectangle which is basically two dimensional.

You can make the solid rectangle a little bigger because it’s going to act as a backdrop to shine the light onto.

To do this, you can toggle down the transform parameters and go to scale. You can hit ''S" to activate this option.

As highlighted on the slide, click this little box (little cube) to make it a 3D Layer. That’s going to allow you to push it back in 3D space.

Create any object you want to add lights to shine on 3D.

We got our backdrop set and we need to push it back.

To do this, use the Position parameter.

It’s got C at zero point zero, push that back and zoom it up till 970.

Click T or the ”type tool”. Then type some text to shine your light onto.

For an example we typed the word “Text”.

Here you can activate the camera and change it to top.

Then you can see the distance of your object. Right on top of it, you’ll see how it will look like.

Click on the text and you will see one that’s in the front, back and the background.

Change back to the active camera to zoom back in.

To make lighting effects go to Layer, then New Light to create a light effect.

You will find a number of options, you got Parallel, Spot, Point and Ambience. Here we are going to use the Spotlight effect. Spot effect shoots directly onto one subject.

Make sure the cast shadows is on. Here we are using white light effect.

Right away you can see some shadow to the edges of your background. Now we can position the light on to the text, and you can actually see the shadow behind it.

Right now it should be causing some shadows, but we haven’t changed the text parameter in the material options to cast shadows.

Go to material options and select Cast Shadows option and turn it on. Only then will you see a shadow on the background of your object.

If you are animating some kind of movie, you can deactivate the Accepts Lights parameter. Then it’s not going to read the light that’s shining on it and it’s not going to make any shadow.

You can animate your light position using Transform tools.

There are also several options like Position, Orientation, and Resolution text that you can play around with. For this example, we did some light movements and gave it timeframes.

That’s how you can use the basic lights in Adobe After Effects.