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Lighting Basics

Adding light to a level is one of the key steps of creating a beautiful and complete map. Lighting shouldn't be used soley to provide light to your work, but to create atmosphere, enhance textures, and complement textures.

Let There Be Light!

To add a light to your map do one of the following:

  • Right-click the surface you want the light to appear on, and select Surface Context Menu → Add Light here.
  • Hold down the L key and left-click in a 3D Viewport.

Positioning Lights

Once you have lights in a map you can duplicate them the same as any other actor. You can move the light easlily with Control + left mouse in the 2D viewports. It can also be moved in the 3D viewport, but the mouse control is a little more involved.

Approximate Versus Exact Light

Although lighting will appear to show while inserting lights into a map, the light is approximate should you change its properties or move it. To get a correct render of the lights, rebuild your map: click on the little 'lightBulb' icon in the UnrealEd toolbar.

Changing Light Properties

The procedure for changing a lights' property is:

  1. Right-click the light and go to the Actor Properties Window
  2. Expand the property
  3. Drag the slider with the mouse or enter a number

Essential Properties

Summary here:

Property Description Location UT UT2k3
Radius Changes the spherical area size the light can affect. The default light radius is 64 and is usually either too big or too small. Lighting → LightRadius * *
Color & Brightness Sets the light brightness, color and depth or richness the color. By clicking the Color button in the upper right corner of the key, a color can be selected visually. LightColor → LightBrightness, LightHue, LightSaturation * *
Corona Used to show a corona from the light source. Not to be mistaken for a Lens Flare. Lighting → bCorona * *
Fog Depth of vision per map or zone Lighting → VolumeBright,VolumeFog,VolumeRadius * -
Special Lit Allows a light to affect only certain surfaces. See special lit for more. Lighting → SpecialLit * *
Light Types shapes and movement Lighting → LightType * projector
Light Effects Modulates brightness Lighting → LightEffect * projector
Light phase Sets start of cycle for light animation. Used with LightEffects and LightTypes. Lighting → bLightPhase * ?
Cycled colors Texture palette effect location * ?
Movable Allows light to be movable when attached to a mover Advanced → bMovable * *

Fool around with different values to achieve the look you desire. See Actor (UT)/Lighting to see all the property details that can be changed.

Things to write about (in here?)

  • Light types(cylinder)
  • Using in addition to fog

Related Topics

  • Lighting is the hub for everything on lighting
  • Creating light animations
  • Creating textures for cycled colors
  • Light Effects


ViKTiM: I have found that a lot of lights with a colour saturation of 0 screw your frame rate considerably, USE THEM SPARINGLY!!

Tarquin: Great :D Should we link Actor/Lighting too?

Sobiwan: I dunno; I dont use UT2k3. :(

Shuriken: Half updated table for 2k3... don't do much lighting though, so don't know it all.

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