How To Create Light Trails in Blender (To Simulate Traffic Trails Effect)



As a photographer, you already know how to capture time. Time is the light trail, created by a long (slow) shutter. As a digital artist, you bang your head against the keyboard. Painful process.

You can’t capture time so gracefully. Motion blur in Blender doesn’t work in such complex way, to create a long trails of light.

I wish we had a true shutter simulation in CG software. Why not? You already have depth of field, motion blur, lenses and other photographic things at your fingertips in CG software. I’m not even speaking about film simulation (that’s just insane how much it adds to the ‘realism’ of your image).

But you know what? If you can’t make it – fake it. There is a way to bridge this gap and I’m going to show you how.

Discover how to simulate traffic trails in Blender, using emissive splines and procedural textures. 


STEP 1. Create a spline with the emissive material. Break up the strength of the emissive shader using Musgrave procedural noise.

blender light trails

STEP 2. Add a road (UV-mapped spline). After that, randomize the traffic trails material.

road traffic trails blender

STEP 3. Add a details, post-process your picture using film emulation. Tweak the color of the splines.

light trails blender



When you go by car from Amsterdam to Vilnius, tired and sleepy, it’s not easy to notice how captivating is a night highway lighting. Really, I am speaking from my experience of night travels. The last thing that comes to mind is that you see an awesome lighting, created by traffic.

In this tutorial we will talk about the unique lighting scenario of a night highway. For an artist, night highway lighting is a huge discovery. That discovery will help you create your own night and your own highways.

night lighting tutorial

  • Wedmath

    Amazing work!

    • Gleb Alexandrov

      Wedmath, high five!

  • illuminaughty

    You make it look so easy!

  • Blender Crystals

    Thanks for the great tutorial!! Awesome! :)

    • Gleb Alexandrov

      Cool! Almost a card for st. Valentine’s day.

      • Blender Crystals

        Haha! Yep!! I did a little edit. 😉

  • Todd McIntosh

    Thanks for the tutorial Gleb! I used the technique to create a hand animated text look by keyframing the scale value in the Musgrave texture.

    • Gleb Alexandrov

      Todd, that’s incredible – I can imagine it featured in a movie. Something between a hand animated text, and busy highway.

  • Pingback: How to Create Light Trails in Blender - Lesterbanks()

  • Guest

    Thank you Gleb!

    • Nelson Rosa Junior

      Could you del this? Glitched version was uploaded

      • Gleb Alexandrov


  • Nelson Rosa Junior

    Thank you Gleb!

    • Gleb Alexandrov

      That’s what I’m talking about. The image has a photographic feel to it and instantly catches attention. Good job!

      • Nelson Rosa Junior

        Thank you! Here’s a capture of the making and the composition nodes and numbers I’ve used for it