Training Livestream - Lighting Techniques and Guides - Jan 24 - Live From Epic HQ!


Rendering a beautiful scene takes no time at all in UE4, but it helps to have a little guidance. On this stream, Tim Hobson joins us to talk about his techniques, tips and tricks to getting your levels looking sharp. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with lighting in UE4, make sure to also check out Tim’s website, the troubleshooting guide and the Lighting documentation. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced artist, you’ll learn tons of great information from Tim’s expertise, so tune in!

Tuesday, January 24th @ 2:00PM ET Countdown]


Tim Hobson - Support Technician - @TimHobsonUE4](
Alexander Paschall - Community Manager - @UnrealAlexander](

**Assets from stream: DOWNLOAD
Feel free to ask any questions on the topic in the thread below, and remember, while we try to give attention to all inquiries, it’s not always possible to answer everyone’s questions as they come up. This is especially true for off-topic requests, as it’s rather likely that we don’t have the appropriate person around to answer. Thanks for understanding!


Hey Tim,

Can you bake lightmaps to a paper 2d tilemap?

I’m using paper 2D for GGJ and would love to know how/if it works?


Sounds like a good subject!

Would be nice to see lighting scenarios hands-on how-to (having maybe 6 scenarios total, e.g. morning, sunny noon, cloudy noon, evening, night with and without moon light, and switching between them; persistent level should have multiple streamed sub-levels, for a good measure :slight_smile: ).

Also, could you please go over real-time lighting culling/clipping (if anything) and how to work with lighting in real-time randomly generated levels for desktop and mobile VR to maximize performance and yet having decent look ?

Also maybe touch on lighting for ArchViz and how to achieve realism for indoors and outdoors using only baked lighting?

Thanks beforehand

yeah lighting for outdoor scenes with best quality in mind like for archviz for example would be awesome .

Hi Tim,

could you talk about the current state of dynamic GI and the future plans?
That’s the topic I’m most interested in.


Just so… for once and for all… (/me looks at the anwerhub and forums)

Tim, can you adress the following?
How to avoid seems on modular walls/floors/ceilings.
(in other words, lightmap settings, lightmap unwrapping, lightmap rendering settings, vertex normals, normal maps etc)

Sorry, I won’t really be talking about this one too much. I can point to Lighting Propagation Volumes (LPV) as a dynamic GI solution, but currently there aren’t any plans at the moment that I’m aware of for active dynamic GI development. This could always change as priorities change, though.

Since LPV is not considered a “production ready” feature, although it’s really useable, I won’t be covering too much about it. I may just do a high-level tips for getting the best out of it during hte Q&A part of the stream, though. We do have Distance Field GI for landscapes (see the Kite Demo for more on this), but not for static meshes because the research/development was put on indefinite hold. Once we have something that is in a finalized state that can be shown and demonstrated effectively I’d love to do a stream just showcasing those features and dynamic GI. :slight_smile:

Hey Tim,

I have a question, I may be overthinking the science of lighting but how do you control the light bounce, reflection and refraction specially in a big open world scene?

Many Thanks

Andrew Booth 3D

Hello Tim,

If you could please explain the following points:

1 - Shadow Cascades and logic behind them, pros and cons for each of the settings.

2 - Can you please explain how to achieve consistent high quality shadows throughout a map, especially during long camera movements from close-ups to wide shots.
Example (similar to image below): Starts on close up face. (to my understanding the only way to get high fidelity shadows on the face parts on a shot like this in order to have self shadowing in areas like the nose and eye area plus hair to face shadows is to fine tweak the dynamic shadow distance parameter to a desired level (example below set to value of 2000 for the close-up Bias settings in this case are set to default since i found that they don’t have much effect directly on this, we always end up re-adjusting the shadow distance regardless of the Bias).
However when camera starts tracking back naturally the shadow distance parameter settings won’t work anymore and the shadow fidelity disappears to lower settings with an apparent transition. The only way is to re-tweak the distance parameter to the desired level for that specific camera distance.
Is there a way to “link” specific dynamic shadow distance parameter values via blueprint or code to specified camera distances so we could have shadows maintain their constant high settings, is this possible as a workflow and without breaking anything else? If so can this be done without noticing any apparent transitions in shadow map changes on the character?
The apparent transition areas can be a problem, for instance if a character has hair shader the hair will suddenly start glowing during that transitional phase because shadow areas would be either of very low quality or don’t exist at all for that period of time.

3 - When we adjust Shadow distance parameter to a desired result for higher quality shadows we seem to introduce Faceted surfaces on the geometry, this happens with almost all geometry types (recently i had a few threads about it, and I did receive some explanation), however can you please touch on this subject further and give us more explanation as to why it happens and any possible hint on how to avoid this if there is a way?

4 - Can you please explain the following three parameters in more
detail (Image below)? Please note that these settings have had no effect over
shadow quality issues mentioned above. Cinematic shadows
seem to help out with far shadowing of a skeletal mesh however
the parameter also seems to override the shadow distance option
and introduce low res to no self shadowing?

Thank you!

Hey Tim! Will you touch Mobile and VR topics? One thing bothers me at the moment - LDR gives unpredictable lighting on Mobile. I know in LDR scene light is normalized in gamma space, but could you talk a bit about it? How to predict LDR lighting?

Thanks for this, I figured this would be about baked lighting solutions only.

I know it’s not your fault or decision on the engine direction but can we rant about it anyways? I remember when the Kite demo was being marketed as “you can make games like this” and then the tech gets put on hold and left unfinished, only pushed enough for a tech demo. It’s hard to justify complaining now that the engine is “free”, in some ways I would still like to pay a small amount just to have a small say. Dynamic GI isn’t the only solution to think about anymore. Realtime lightmap baking is definitely coming as a middle ground for dynamic VR experiences.

Please guidance on how to use Lightmass for Tiled landscapes would be awesome, cause baking everything creates big file sizes…

Hey Tim,

I love that you are doing this. I will be following it.

Could you include some basic lightning knowledge? For instance, after reading, viewing and studying several lightning documentations, tutorials, etc. I still find myself encountering issues with some of the most basic stuff. For instance take a look at a issue of me here: Lighting build explanation needed. - UE4 AnswerHub

I really would love to hear some tips and tricks about problems that might occur and go in-depth why its happening and how to solve it. I am talking about issues with mobility changes, and its relative performance impact. Seems, light bleeding (And not about the basic stuff such as quality of UV’s, I encountered problems with a square object with perfect UV’s and light still bleeds), using child actors within blueprints and its mobility hierarchy, emissive baking, choosing between increasing lightmap resolutions for baked lighting and stationary lighting with decreased lightmap resolutions regarding performance, how to use lightning in a VR setting for optimal performance etc.

Hope to gain some knowledge!

Kind regards,


Hi Tim,

I’m really looking forward to this.

Any tips on optimizing for interior Arch Viz scenes would be great.
I’d love to hear about some best practice methods to achieve high quality GI bakes besides simply ramping up the lightmap resolutions.




Hello Tim,

reading about this thread and your upcoming twitch stream made me see the light!
It was clear to me that this was THE time to ask well-lit questions and bask in your radiant glow of knowledge.
Your answers could set me ablaze, inspire me and let me cast off the dark chains of obscurity!
I just know I had to write this in a flash, quivering with anticipation!
so without further solemn and dusky due, please be so kind to answer these well polished questions!

Lets flare of the first question:
Could you please enlighten me and tell me what kind of lighting would be perfect for my desk?

I am currently rocking three 3 watt LED’s giving me a slightly warm 2700k.
Would you suggest colder or warmer colors? keep using LED or go back to the slightly warmer energy saving bulbs?
Imho their IES profiles feel better as well.

Also, what kind of light would you suggest for a kitchen?
I tried fluorescent light so I could clearly see how well I am cutting the vegetables, but the romance is just lost.
Even just having the strip-light turned off, its still visible… the shape of it… well… its turning me off.

What is your opinion on blacklight? do you know of any tricks to make sure the blankets dont lights up like a lighthouse set ablaze?

Would you argue that whiter walls are a must to make a room look bigger, or would you go with warmer colors?
What about mirrors near windows to fill the room with brilliant sunlight?
speaking about light, what do you think about god-rays?
To me they just look like the man in the clouds just let one rip amirite? hehe.
All kidding aside though…

How many Unreal Developers would it take to implement a working DGI model into UE4?
hmm I am sure there is a joke in here somewhere… But I am not seeing it.
Maybe you can come up with an idea with an illuminated light-bulb above your own bulb to finish that joke!

oh well, I hope you will answer my questions and don’t leave me hanging in the dark.

Ps: any chance you could talk about anti-light? (taking light away from a scene) and if that would ever be a working thing? (instead of faking it)
It might be against your policy, but if you would lighten up a little…
That would really light up my day :slight_smile:

PPs: Whats up with Michael Bay and all those lens flares, lasers, and beams!? You’d think his proverbial filament is a bit lose.

PPPs: I can already hear the fireworks going off in my head hearing your sweltering answers!

Signed, Thomas Edison & Nicola Tesla


This stream sounds great! Will you be covering tips on how to do clean lighting in sparse, minimal environments? Lightmaps can make this a real challenge. Hoping you can… shed some light on this. :cool:

I also want to add my voice in wanting to see VR-specific lighting techniques and strategies. Thanks for doing this.

Hey Tim,

Really looking forward to this stream!

I’ve noticed that most existing examples and tutorials for lighting seem to be aimed mostly at lighting rooms and environments for first/third-person views, but I always find it hard to light things like a topdown/isometric view or something like a simple top-down view of a 3D puzzle board or similar, so I would appreciate some tips/information on that.

Also ambient lighting doesn’t seem to be very straightforward in the engine and whenever I’ve tried setting it up, it resulted in a loss of color, as if the whole scene was viewed through a fog, so some guidance on that would also be greatly appreciated!

@Luos: Oh you haha

Also, turn down your bloom a little, the back of your chair is blowing out a bit. Super unrealistic.

thats the eye adaptation…