Directional Lights and Mental Ray

Directional Lights and Mental Ray

Maya 2012 Tutorial


How to Add Directional Lights for a Maya Mental Ray Render



Directional lights are unique because they project a series of parallel light rays. So you need to be careful as you set the light's direction.

Since directional lights don't have a decay attribute, it doesn't matter where you place the light in the scene. All objects in the scene receive the same light intensity with no soft falloff on the edges. Because of these qualities, they work great as a sun light.

Raytraced directional light shadows tend to look better than Depth Mapped shadows.


Step One

Add a NURBS sphere to the workspace by choosing Create > NURBS Primitives > Sphere.

Step Two

Add a floor to the scene by choosing Create > Polygon Primitives > Plane.

Step Three

With the plane selected, click the Scale tool (r key) and resize the plane several times larger than the sphere.

Step Four

Using the Move tool (w key), position the sphere above the floor object.

Step Five

Select the sphere, then right click the sphere and choose Assign New Material > Blinn.

Step Six

With the sphere selected, open the Attribute Editor. Click the Blinn tab, Color rectangle to change the sphere color to blue.

Step Seven

Activate Mental Ray by clicking the Render Settings icon and choosing Render Using: Mental Ray.

Step Eight

Click the Quality tab and choose Quality Presets: Production.

Step Nine

Add a directional light by choosing Create > Lights > Directional Light. Use the Move tool (w key) to move the light above the scene.

Step Ten

With the directional light selected, use the Rotate tool (e key) to set the light's direction.

Step Eleven

To activate Raytrace Shadows, select the light and open the Attribute Editor.

Step Twelve

Open the Shadows section, Raytrace Shadow Attributes sub-section and click the Use Raytrace Shadows checkbox.

Step Thirteen

Increase the Shadow Rays to 30 and render your image by clicking the Render Current Frame icon.

Step Fourteen

To soften the shadow, return to the light's Raytrace Shadow options in the Attribute Editor and increase the Light Angle value to 5.

Turning the Light On and Off

In the light options you can turn your light on or off by selecting the Illuminates by Default checkbox.

Don't forget the Light Color

Light color works wonders to set the tone and mood of your scene. For example, a warm yellow conveys a different mood than a cooler blue or blue/green color.

Can't Find Mental Ray?

If Mental Ray doesn't appear in the Render Settings, Render Using: menu, choose Window > Settings/Preferences > Plug-in Manager. Make sure Mayatomr.bundle is loaded.


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