Establishing Basic Lighting in Unreal Engine

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

Lighting in Unreal Engine is one of the most important parts of the process to make your project and/or the portfolio stand out to the industries and recruiters. Today I will show you some settings which are fundamental for the lighting of the scene:


Exposure:

Setting up the exposure at the start helps with capturing the overall value of the brights and darks of the scene, and that can facilitate avoiding some issues later on in the project. To get the desired look, play around with its 3 settings.

At the same time, when tweaking these settings you are able to change the values in realtime and see what looks the best. You are able to change these at any time.

Directional Light:

Intensity: this will allow you to increase the sun brightness for the overall scene.

Indirect Lighting Intensity: This helps spread bounce lighting around the scene.

Skylight:

Intensity: When bumping the values on these settings, they will increase the visibility of the shadowed areas.


Post Process:

Exposure Compensation: This setting can change the overall exposure in the scene.

Min/Max Ev100: Adjusts the auto exposure based on the min and max when the camera looks in bright or dark areas.

Global Illumination: This setting allows fake bounce lighting and increases the visibility of the shadow areas as well.

(if needed) Shadows Contrast: This is a colour grading setting that you are able to adjust just in case the other settings above may not work as desired.


Different type of lighting mobility:

In Unreal Engine there are 3 different lighting mobilities that can be used.

Static: A static light captures the result from a light build (Also referred to as a bake) which mostly calculates from the UV lightmap channel from the meshes in the scene.

This is the cheapest light a project can have, and it is always recommended to have the lighting at least partially baked to make the project run smoother.

Stationary: Stationary is a mixture of a static and dynamic light. It can create realtime shadows which are mostly calculated from the geometry and also from the UV lightmap. This type of light can change its colour and brightness at runtime, but cannot be moved, rotated, and it's influence radius size cannot be changed.

Movable: A movable light is a fully dynamic light that can be tweaked in real time; it calculates only the vertices of the meshes, however it's the most expensive type out of the three.


Bounce Lighting: The setting for Bounce lighting is quite important to use as it will help increase the quality of your work in terms of creating something realistically. It will also help blend the colours together, give more variations in contrast and interest to the composition. The setting called Indirect Lighting Intensity will only work if the lights are static and baked from the lightmass. If you want dynamic bounce lighting you will have to tweak all the settings manually.

That's it for the basic explanation of these settings.

There is a lot more advanced information you can look up in the Unreal Documentation, as lighting is a lengthy process, which requires a lot of patience and tweaking... But you will see that the more you practice the easier it gets.

Seeing your project come to life will make it all worth it!

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