Smooth Shadows In A Fully Dynamic Lit Level (Trick I Discovered)

I’m not sure if this “tip/trick” has already been posted, but I did some research beforehand on the forums while trying to find a way to make my shadows less harsh. Needless to say, I never found a good solution or anything like what I’m about to relate to you guys.

So basically, my entire map (a small full-interior house) needed to be lit by dynamic lights only. I was wondering why the shadows were so harsh and how I could correct that. I learned about the HDRI cubemaps and how they can help to spread lighting across the map, so I made my own. This messed with a lot of the materials in the level, so no go there. I read you could use a skylight to solve this issue; however this made my dark parts of the map bright, thus killing the ambiance. After playing around with the dynamic lights by making them static and even stationary, I found out a good trick.


If you build all the lights as static and then go back and change them to dynamic, you can play with both with a static lightmap and fully dynamic shadows. As long as you don’t add another static light, you don’t need to redo this process (unless you build more onto the map, then yes you do do have a lightmap baked on it). I’m not sure is this can carry over into a finished build but it works in the editor just fine. Dynamic shadows are not hard and are soft. The plus side is, you keep all the dark spots in your maps and it doesn’t mess with the more metallic and specular materials.

EDIT: I realize that stationary lights do almost the same exact thing but this is a trick if you want a fully dynamic lighting.