Lee, Andrew Hickinbottom (3D) Tank Girl, Pedro Conti (2D)

View Full Version : Functions of lights - let's clarify this

02-06-2011, 02:36 AM
For a long time I couldn't get what's the difference between key and fill light, except for key being much brighter. Then it sparkled that that though key models form, and though fill can too, but also may not (i.e fill may be completely flat value, whereas key can't), they can't be interchanged, that what defines them. The problem for many people they can switch them, which is mistake. So what's the mistake here? If you switch key to fill, your fill may not model the form well at all, whereas key will do the wrong function, lighting planes which don't reveal form at all. Hope it helps to some. So your first light you place which defines the form, which is a key light.
Then go separation lights, which are backlight and background lights. With background light there's nothing complex, but other light functions are not very clear to me.
There are several separation lights, which I call backlights, thought they have separate names:
rim light
and even glow

So in some sources I read rim light is placed just infront of the camera, so the subject hides it, so 180 degrees from the camera axis. As far as I understand, it does a very thin lighting of the rim, may be very subtle. Very suitable for hair and stuff like this.
Kicker is enhancement and can be considered as a modeling light, and placed around 135 degrees from the camera axis.
What are liner and glow lights? Glow is placed about 90 degrees from the camera axis, so I guess it adds a subtle glow? And liner is a bit further. Their functions are not clear to me. Hope someone knows?

02-06-2011, 04:19 PM
Key, fill, rim, environment. Everything you ever want to do with lighting can be described in those terms. Everything else is just confusing terminology imo.

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02-06-2011, 04:19 PM
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