Elective | 3D Classroom. CG Master Academy
The Art of Lighting for Games
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Registration Starts On
Monday, Feb 26th 2018
Class Begins On
April 28, 2018
Omar Gatica

Omar Gatica is currently a Sr. Lighting Artist at Infinity Ward studios. He has been working in the video game industry since 2005. Working professionally at AAA studios including NC-Soft, Activision, Naughty Dog and Neversoft. Over the last decade, he has shipped such titles as Guild Wars, Uncharted 1, 2, 3 and Call of Duty - Ghosts. Most recently, he shipped the latest installment of Call of Duty - Infinite Warfare.

Course Description

Students will be given an intermediate introduction to the science, technology, and art of lighting. In the first half of the course, they will learn the fundamentals of how light works, how we simulate and emulate the physical characteristics of light in a digital environment, and how we can break all the rules for the sake of art. The second half of the course will demonstrate some different approaches to lighting various scenes for visual appeal, mood, story and gameplay. (*note: this course description and course outline are subject to change)

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Pre-reqs: Knowledge of Maya (or equivalent 3D software) and Unreal Engine

Course Format: Standard
Duration: 10 Weeks
Lecture Type: Pre-recorded
Assignment: Deadlines each week.
Feedback: Individual Recordings
Q&A: Once a week. 

*For classes with fewer than 6 students feedback may be provided during the live Q&A session.

Estimated time for course work: 10-20 hours per week

Course Outline


Exterior Environment 1

  • Considering player pathing, and mood.
  • Gathering reference
  • Setting up the sun direction, color, and intensity
  • Setting up the sky light. (IBL)
  • Setting up the sky dome.
  • Setting up simple reflections
  • Setting up a lightmass importance volume
  • Baking a GI solution


Exterior Environment 2

  • Understanding HDR values
  • Understanding post processing
  • Working with fog and exposure
  • Learning to look for separation of foreground and background elements
  • Setting up a different time of day


Interior Environment 1

  • Considering player pathing and mood
  • Gathering reference
  • Thinking about visual language, leading the eye
  • Using primary vs. static lights
  • Setting up local lights
  • Setting up interior reflections


Interior Environment 

  • Basic light budgeting
  • Visual language (cont.)
  • Emissives
  • IES profiles
  • Spherical Harmonics



  • This class will examine a top-down real time strategy environment. (i.e. League of Legends). We will use tools and concepts learned in previous projects and apply them to the needs and requirements of this platform.
  • Player Pathing
  • Visual language
  • Effect light contribution  


MP vs. SP

  • Character visibility
  • Post processing: character rim lighting
  • Considering performance


Cut-scenes: Environment Lighting

  • Working with an interior environment
  • Lighting the scene for a fixed or limited camera perspective
  • Considering special cases: dynamic conditions, moving platforms, scripted lights
  • Working with post-processing


Cut-scenes: Character Lighting

  • Working with a 3-point light rig
  • Determining readability
  • Integrating the characters with the background lighting


Final Project

  • Putting together a final level with interior and exterior areas
  • Polish the level
  • Color grading
  • Post processing: volumetrics and auto exposure


Final Project (continued)

  • Discussing performance
  • Discussing PBR
  • Expectations of a professional work environment


  • Architectural Previz
  • Game Environment Artists
  • Visual Effects Artists
  • Visual Development Artist
  • Concept Artist