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Lighting design fundamentals: How and where to use colored light

GamaSutra - Buzzwords like "fragment shading" and "per-pixel attenuation" might sound like pure geekery, but they're going to be critical to effective game art over the next five years. The most important advance in next-generation graphics quality will be a huge leap in quality of lighting. In most contemporary games, lighting is utilitarian at best: It helps players perceive the structure of 3D spaces, provides directional cues, and indicates places of concealment. In far too many games, the lighting doesn't even reach that basic level. In film and theater, though, it's universally recognized that lighting isn't simply about making things visible. Lighting is the instrument that controls the emotional pitch of a scene. For character and environment designs to engage the player's intellect, the lighting (much like music) must bypass the analytical, and works directly on emotions. If that sounds extreme, play a little game of mental mix-and-match with some familiar visual icons. Try to imagine Blade Runner shot under the florescent glaze of a Star Trek: The Next Generation set and you'll start to get the idea.

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