138 ratings
Three Point Lighting
By rishi
This guide will teach you how to do basic three point lighting in the Source FilmMaker
What is Three Point Lighting?
Three-point lighting is a standard method used in visual media such as video, film, still photography and computer-generated imagery. By using three separate positions, the photographer can illuminate the shot's subject (such as a person) however desired, while also controlling (or eliminating entirely) the shading and shadows produced by direct lighting. Source: Wikipedia[en.wikipedia.org]

Three Point Lighting consists of three points of lighting. The Key Light, the Fill Light and the Back Light. There is also an optional Background Light, that can be used to light the background.

In this guide, I will be showing you what each light does on a subject, and the effect it has on the subject/scene.
An example of 3 point lighting. Source: Wikipedia[en.wikipedia.org]
Three Point Lighting in Source FilmMaker
Firstly, here is our subject (The Heavy) without any lighting at all in our scene:

Most of us can agree that this looks pretty bad. It's dull, and our subject camouflages in with the background. The first step to making our subject look a lot better is to add our Key Light:

The Key Light servers as the primary light source for the pose, marking out our subject. It's a rather intense light, which is pointed directly at the subject. If you want it to be colored, use lighter and more saturated colors to keep the theme of an image/scene.

However, if we only use the Key Light, there can be dark looking areas on our subject. This is where the Fill Light comes in. It's purpose is to be able to fill in the shadows that are created by the Key Light, while allowing the Key Light to be the primary light source. It is best to place the Fill Light at an angle that is opposite to the Key Light. Lets add our Fill Light:

Now there is one last thing for us to add to make this complete. Even though we have neat looking lighting, nothing makes it really stand out from the background. This is where our Back Light comes in. It's just a simple light above and behind our subject which gives them a little bit more of a "shine". This will make our subject stand out from the subject without being too in your face. Lets add one:

The Back Light gives a small, almost noticeable shine to the back part of the subject, but if you look carefully, it is noticeable!
Congratulations! You have just learned how to create Three Point Lighting in the Source FIlmMaker! You can use this in still images, or in videos as well.

And that concludes this pretty easy tutorial on Three Point Lighting. Have a free final render;

Feedback is also greatly appreciated!

Credit given where credit is due;

This guide is based off UberMunchkins' Three Point Lighting guide. Go check it out![facepunch.com]

One image and some text is from Wikipedia[www.wikipedia.org].
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Penguin Mar 8 @ 1:31pm 
Nice tutorial thanks!!
CynicalScoutϟᴷᴹᴳᴸ Sep 11, 2014 @ 4:42pm 
Quick and easy way to do this:

Right-click on any bone, select DAG utilities menu>create_lights_constrained.

This creates a lighting setup constrained such that the back light is always behind the subject, even if the camera moves
Salty Yooka Jul 19, 2014 @ 3:28pm 
omg thank you for this! ;_;
Armored-Struggle-Wagon V D™ Jun 13, 2014 @ 3:35pm 
Helped me out Significantly! Thank you very much!
Formiga Apr 30, 2014 @ 2:48pm 
Thanks for the guide, really helped me out.
[SFM] Nightmare Trooper Apr 22, 2014 @ 1:35pm 
wow nice thx for little help :D
.:{KinoriaN}:. Feb 2, 2014 @ 4:27am 
An interesting and greatly effective lighting trick, thanks for the deep explanation.
The Resonte! Nov 20, 2013 @ 6:22am 
This is a good guide.
.:|c|u|:. (Old Fart) Crusty JR. Jul 11, 2013 @ 2:09pm 
Thanks for making this, it really helped me!
Munchy Jun 1, 2013 @ 8:38am 
You're welcome man!