Expert Tutorial

Customizing Character Lighting

30 minutes

Posted on: July 8, 2018

Learn Sumerian
Customizing Character Lighting


three-point light setup

In this tutorial you will learn about:

Basic Character Lighting

In this tutorial, we go over basic three-point lighting concepts. Then we show you how to apply them to light your Amazon Sumerian Host effectively for your scene.

You’ll learn about:

  • Creating a three-point light setup.
  • Some simple tips and tricks for lighting your Sumerian Host.


Before you begin, you should have completed the following tasks and tutorials:

Step 1: Understanding Three Point Lighting

Before we get started, let’s go over some lighting concepts and three-point lighting.

Three-point lighting is a very commonly used lighting setup. Once you know the basics about it, you can apply it to any other lighting setup you want to use.

As the name implies, this technique involves the use of three lights around our subject (the Host) to create an appealing or beauty lighting environment. These lights are the Key Light, Fill Light, and Rim Light (also known as Back Light).

Light Placement

Key Light

The Key Light is the main light on the character and is usually the brightest. It’s placed off to one side and points at the subject, so that one side of the character is lit and the other is more shadowed. The purpose of the Key Light is to bring out the dimension and form of the subject. This light is placed over the top of the subject, and acts like an overhead light for indoor scenes or the sun for outdoor scenes.

Key Light overhead view

Key Light only

In the second image, one side of the character’s face and body is heavily shadowed, while the other is brightly lit. When lighting our character, we’ll want to add some light to the shadowed side of the character’s face as this is going to be a beauty lighting setup, so the character should be more evenly lit.

Fill Light

The Fill Light is the secondary light to the Key Light and provides softer, less bright light than the Key Light. It’s used to add some light to the side of the subject that’s shadowed by the Key Light so that the subject isn’t so stark.

The Fill Light also acts like a bounce light, recreating the light that would hit the ground and bounce back toward the subject. Be careful that the fill isn’t so bright that it causes the character to flatten out or become too evenly lit.

The Fill Light should have a low enough intensity value to allow some of the shadowing from the Key Light to remain visible and have the character maintain its shape.

Fill Light only

Key Light and Fill Light together

In the second image, we see the Key Light and Fill Light used together. The shadowed area is now lit and the character’s lighting is much more even. However, there is still enough shadow so that the dimensionality of the character isn’t lost or flattened out.

Rim Light

The third light in the three-point lighting setup is the Rim Light. The Rim Light is placed behind the subject and creates a light outline around the edges of the character. This pulls the character away from the background and adds some depth and dimension to the character.

Rim Light only

Notice the the effect when all three lights are working together

Light Color

We can also color the lights to add more interest to the character’s shape.

By using a white color for all three lights, we get a more sterile mood, as seen in the first image below.