Lighting Career- HELP!


I need anwsers. I have been restlessly trying to figure out what is required in this field at a professional level. I have gathered a good amount of information but I still have a couple of probably silly questions.

First off, what is shading? Is this any different than texturing?Is there a different between a Lighting TD, and and just a Lighter? (Laugh) Is there even a difference?

Secondly, is it a requirement to be able to understand and write scripts? Or write lighting equations? It seems like lighting has a lot of math involved, in this the case?

Third, do all of you guys know how to model and texture as well? Is that just part of what it takes to do lighting?

To sum it up, at a professional level, what are the skills that Lighting people need to know?If you guys have any links to articles that could clear my head on this, that would also be super helpful.


Shading (sometimes referred to as Lookdev) is the process of assigning shaders and textures to a model in order for it to look good on screen. For example on a car you would need to make the car body look like it’s made of metal and the tyres like they’re made of rubber.

It largely depends on the studio/company as to who does this job and what is involved in doing it. A few different scenarios…

[li]TD writes shaders, their job is purely a code based one. Someone else does the artistic part.[/li][li]TD occasionally writes shading code when needed. But mainly an artistic one.[/li][li]TD doesn’t write any shading code, purely an artistic one.[/li][/ul]The last one on that list is becoming more and more common, especially if your using a renderer like Arnold, Vray or Mental Ray. Check the descriptions of Lighting TD job postings to get an idea of what they’re looking for.

It’s helpful but not hugely important when your starting out.

You should have some fundamental skills in modelling, animation and texturing - for example…

[li]knowing how to create a simple stand-in model to cast or receive shadows[/li][li]create a simple light rig which can be constrained to another object or animated[/li][/ul]


Thanks so much earlyworm, for taking the time to answer my questions, this was extremely helpful!


It really depends.
A lighting TD can be either mostly technical, mostly artistic or an even blend of the 2.
Unless you want to become a technical lighting TD, you do not need to know scripting. There are plenty of lighting positions that do not require this skill set. However, usually as a lighter, you will need to deal with a lot of technical issues, so whether you can script or not, it’s very important to be a good problem solver.

Shading positions can be divided into shading artists and shader writers. In general, shader writers need to know how to code and write/maintain shaders, they need to deal with the math and physics. Shading artists will mostly focus on the look dev part using existing shaders, they may or may not paint their own textures. Some shops have dedicated texture artists.

I know basic modeling and texturing, simply because when I first started (1996) I had to create my own assets in order for me to light them.
To be a stronger lighter, you should have some general knowledge about the department before and after you, specifically shading/texturing and compositing, because as I mentioned, you will face many technical problems so it’s better you know how to properly address them.

a useful link:


Thanks so much isreal! This was a big help


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