Lighting Tutorials and the Book by Gleb Alexandrov


Have you ever struggled to create awesome lighting in your scenes? But no matter what you do, the results still suck?

The Lighting Project is a manifesto of a think-different approach to digital lighting.

This book will help aspiring artists to revolutionize CG lighting by embracing artistic weirdness and aesthetic perception.

It’s the weirdest book about lighting in the world (according to my wife).

Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter to get notified when it’s published.


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17. Tone Mapping Your HDRI the Wrong Way (You’ll Love It)

tone mapping in blender

16. Use 3 Lomography Tricks to Make Sexy & Hipster Lighting (Mmmm… the Light Leaks)


15. The Most Important Thing About Lighting And Visual Overstimulation

lighting tutorial

14. Are You Overlooking This Way to Make Amazingly Complex Lighting?

lighting tutorial glass

 13. 3 Simple Steps to Creating Super Dramatic Lighting (By Colliding Different Emotions)


12. Why Personality Matters So Much (Even If You Are a Table Lamp)

practical light tutorial

11. 4 Reasons Why All-Devouring Fog is Actually an Amazing Thing (And a Massive Creative Force)

fog tutorial

10. Why Adding Atmospheric Effects (Like Dust) is Crucial for Creating Jaw-Dropping Grungy Interiors?


9. Night Lighting Tutorial for Those Who Love Traveling at Night

night lighting tutorial

8. How You Expose the Light by Capturing it?

7. Five Reasons You Should Look Beyond the Mirror

6. Why No Lighting is the Best Lighting Sometimes?


5. Ambient Lighting: Embrace the Dull

ambient lighting blender

4. Introduction to Low Key Lighting. When Less is More

low key lighting tutorial

3. High Key Lighting: Isn’t Overexposure Beautiful?

blender lighting tutorials

2. Create Realistic Ice and Seriously Awesome Refraction

blender ice

1.  Light Texture or How to Breathe Life into Dull Scene

light texture blender


Here is my plan: I’m going to post a series of lighting tutorials here on CreativeShrimp, each devoted to some aspect of CG lighting. Then I publish the book. As simple as that.

And well, this project is OPEN. It means that I’m super interested in hearing your thoughts. I’m interested in chatting with you and seeing your renders and photos.

And of course, I will appreciate your help with promoting this project, so the other CG nerds can see it.


The goal is to publish (surprise!) the book. And also to post a new lighting tutorial every week.

Along with making of’s, work in progress and other exciting stuff, that will go straight to social media.

I love how the quotes from Dear Esther resonate with this dock
I love how the quotes from Dear Esther resonate with this dock

Blender Conference 2015 Talk: The Lighting Project

Projects are more fun when done together.

Feel free to follow me on TwitterFacebook and Youtube, and on my blog, of course.


  1. rickles13

    Thanks Gleb…looking forward to learning more about better lighting which I consider to be one of the hardest elements to grasp in 3D.

    • Hardest, but pure fun when it starts to work in your scene. 🙂

  2. Randy Brooks

    Hi Gleb.

    I am really excited about the book that you are writing.
    I love the tutorials.

    Thank you for all that you are doing.

  3. Mason Menzies

    so excited about this!!! i’m like a kid at Christmas time… oh wait i am 😀 something i have always struggled with a bit was night time lighting. i can’t get it good enough for my liking.

  4. Jeffrey Wilson

    Gleb thanks for the chance to be a part of this! First question HRDI in blender. “Every one” says use one and you are done. What are your guide lines for using them, how to tel la bad one from a good one. Dose resolution matter. Ect. I am tracking all my lighting strugles over the next sevral weeks and look forward to sharing my thoughts with you and seeing the result!

    • Jeffrey, you are welcome!
      1. HDRi resolution doesn’t matter much if it’s going to be used just for illuminating scene. But if it’s also will serve as a background, then it’s another story )

      2. The good and bad, – I would rephrase it as ‘appropriate’ and ‘inappropriate’ for particular kind of scene. Look at what do you want to achieve with lighting, and try to pick appropriate HDRi, that will play well with your idea.

      For example, some HDRs have a good contrast to even simulate direct lighting. Other ones are just ambient kind of thing.

  5. Jeffrey Wilson

    Gleb, Bellow is my failure in lighting xmas bulbs. After playing with brushes in PS i got frustrated and just went for crazy creative and it turned out not so good. I would like to see “cheats” in PS for light flares.

    • Looks nice 🙂
      In my point of view, you may improve the image in a big way just by returning to Blender and making these emissive bulbs to shine stronger. So they actually illuminate the fur tree. Then glow in PS will seem more natural.


  6. John-David

    Just wanted to drop by and thank you Gleb for everything that you do and wish you a happy new year. Always looking forward to both your work and tutorials. Listening to you on Andrew’s podcast was hilarious and full of great tips. Hope you get to be on more of them, you are both amazing artists and tutors I really look up to! 😉

    • Mate, that’s seriously awesome. Thank you so much.
      Heh, we had a great time recording podcast – pure fun 🙂
      Happy new year, tons of inspiration and all the best to you in 2015!

  7. Sadman Mehrab Naqueeb

    Will the book be free?

  8. Walter Karlson

    Thanks for writing the book, Gleb, that will be great! Lighting is everything. As for subjects, I am familiar with HDRs, but have always struggled with creating a natural light in interior scenes. Even when I combine sun lamps and HDRi’s, somehow, I still fall short of ideal. Personally, I would find hearing about lighting interior scenes extremely helpful! I have watched several tutorials on interior lighting, but none of them seem to stick for me. Regardless, thanks for all that you do.

    • This subject – combining hdri with various lamps, is pretty interesting thing. And speaking about interior scenes, I almost always add some area lights to the setup. So, we need to talk about it, yeah.

  9. Sk Firoz

    Hey Gleb, Thanks man for showing awesome tricks. Sharing knowledge and tricks are not everyone’s cup of tea. And u done it very well. I’m eagerly waiting for ur upcoming tricks.

    I’ll like to know how one can decide what kind of look or light setup can given to a scene. Like is thr any rule or idea that some kind of scene will look good in some setup. And i’ve attached an image which i’ve done for Chrismas 2014 compition posted by Andrew. I’m like to hear from you about it. That what I missed are what else could i have done. I’ve used ur lighting technique using gobo..:)

    Thanks Firoz

    • Love how you set up the lighting in this scene – colors are especially awesome. If you would have to make some changes, it may be adding some details and playing with house texture. Lighting already is very cool.

      Also, thanks for the suggestion. )

  10. rickles13

    Looking forward to more and more lighting Technics. I would be interested in the position, number, type and strength of a particular lighting setup. I tried to get the same effect in your tutorial about dappled lighting but it didn’t seem to work for me. Like I said before realistic lighting is the hardest for me.

  11. Jovica Šalović

    Hello Gleb !

    In the world of Blender I am about 1 year. So, one of the biggest problem for me is lighting techniques, NOISE in high number of samples in render.
    In your book you can write, if you have knowledge for that, about:
    1. UNIVESRAL DENOISE SETUP especially for dark and shadowed renders
    2. effect of caustics in cycles render engine (not in lux renderer, on in VRAY etc…)
    3. effect for dispersion of light through glass object (I saw one tutorial but it was made for Blender Internal render not for Cycles)

    Now I am working on some “portfolio/demoreel” project for XPERIA T commercial, You can see my progress here:

    I have planned to make lot of things like water splash, caustics, lens flare vfx, rigid body and so on >>> all in Blender Cycles. I dont want to move to VRAY for Blender, but problem is THE NOISE IN DARK and SHADOWED areas of rendered images as you could saw on my example…

    Otherwise I learn Blender (arch)CAD form lot of tutorials.

    Thanks a lot.

    • CVETKO

      Epa prijatelju, svejedno, mozda si vec ovo i video ali, nadam se da pomazem:
      i da, sto se tice videa, lepo odradjeno nema sta, ideja sve, samo malo ti detalji i sve to, treba malo vise realisticno da bude, nikad nemoj da pravis nista da izgleda savrseno, sve ima svoje greske. 🙂

      • Jovica Šalović

        Ма до сад сам скупљао туторијале, и скупио око 100 гб ! Па учим CAD i Architecture visualisation преко Блендера…
        Ма имам екстра идеје за ову рекламу, али је то све јако тешко за мој ниво, ово радим још од августа, мада не сваки дан.
        Имаш ли ти свој канал на јутубу да видим твоје радове…

        Уздравље, хвала ти још једаред 🙂

          • CVETKO

            Well, i gived him some tips on Serbian, and he said thanks, and asks me about me and thinks like that… That’s it… sorry for that… 🙂

        • CVETKO

          Хехе, пааа, гледај ако треба било шта имаш мој профил на фејсбук па ти тамо могу дам слике што сам радио, немам неки видео, сем кад сам почео и то је ужасно, стоји на јутјуб за украс, све у свему мој линк профила:
          Све у свему шта год да треба кажи, и немој да скидаш туторијале, нема ништа од то, увек излазе нови и нови начини, лакши и бољи, ал за све што ти затреба јави, у задње време комп ме зеза па не могу да правим ништа, иначе знам овако неке ствари детаљније па ти можда могу помоћи… 🙂

    • Jovica, I’m definitely going to write about noise. That’s a hot topic in Blender community, all this Cycles fireflies and noise (paired with longer render times).

  12. Alejandro Dominguez

    it will be great to see,some lighting in CG principles,and how to create nice lighting setup in blender,not just a do this,and this and then this, tutorial,instead some really helpful subjects so we can understand lighting,also some cheating techniques will be cool,and in general know how to use lighting properly,i think is one of the most important thinks to learn and one really amazing subject to,i know that you will end up making some awesome tutorials about it,one of the most awesome thinks that i like about your work,is how you work with lighting in your projects,and well all the great content that you bring in to the community,for that thanks Gleb 🙂

  13. adminbromo

    Hey Gleb, I love your energy! I would like to hear your thoughts on effectively lighting a dark scene. Something spooky, like Halloween. I’ve just discovered your website, so sorry if you have covered this already. 😀

    • Nice idea – to light the scene, and still retain the darkness. Challenging, but so interesting. I’m in!

  14. Bintang Senja

    How about the relations of texture color on the object and the lighting itself, like tips for better color composition and how the lighting respons to the color. Sometimes the texture is over saturate or too desaturate, or lighting is over expose, etc. Also what kind of Color Management you used for your rendering ?

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  16. Dave Walls

    Gleb, Thanks for taking the time and energy to do this. I went through your video on Light Texture, and it changed the way I now think about lighting a scene. Being less than one year into CG and Blender overall, I’m trying to soak up all I can…


    • Then get ready to even more useful tricks (as well as useless ramble, though) 🙂

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  18. Ben Muensterman

    Hi Gleb,
    I really want to learn about lighting a nighttime scene. Particularly, I want to make scenes that take place in an urban setting at night with the glow of neon lights, street lamps, etc. An example of what I’m thinking about is the Blue Umbrella Pixar short. I don’t understand how to suggest a place is dark, but still provide enough light to see the subject. Would you please make a guide about lighting this kind of scene?
    Thank you, Ben

    • Ben, I’m really looking forward to writing the article about illuminating the nightime scene. And actually, I’m pretty excited to do it, because this setup is going to be so interesting. Like when you going by car and watch dozens of lights passing by. Or staying in the dimly lit hallway with a light flickering.

      • Ben Muensterman

        I’m glad you are planning on this, Gleb! What I haven’t been able to understand–Is nighttime lighting for CG actually less lighting (less strength), or is it just bluer lighting than a daytime scene?

        • It’s up to you 🙂 You can either implement movie-style solution with full lighting and bluish color grading, or literally start in darkness and then add dim lights. I often choose the second variant.
          Also, check the Film emulation, Color Management and Exposure settings, it maybe useful for simulating nighttime.

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  20. Lou

    Hi Gleb !

    I am interested in learning how to do a render that simulates a night scene or a dark atmosphere. But often this brings up too much noise in the images or it takes so long time to calculate. I am thinking that light must be add, and maybe we have to play with the color but I am lost…
    Thank you in advance. I follow you behind the scene and thank you very much !
    Thanks to you now I feel that creation is a game that I can play too !

  21. Pepe

    I’m excited and expectant for every tutorial where you solve the questions of capturing light in Blender. Thanks Gleb
    My reflection is about working with light at different times of the day, is not the same a sunrise to the sunset, the light of morning, noon light, the light at dusk …
    Solve this is to create art

  22. Hey, thanks for doing this! I’ve got a couple questions about doing abstract renders. Often I have strange, unusual and impossible-in-real-life objects, but I often have trouble with backdrops and lighting setups that are interesting and show the shapes and movement of objects well. is a good example of kind of what I’m going for.


    • Oh, I like this video! It reminds me of demoscene type of graphics, and the abstraction is stunning. Thanks for sharing, Eden.
      Regarding the lighting: to me it looks like a three-point setup with a soft area lights and strong ambient component. What makes the object and the backdrop look pretty is post processing – glow, vignette (it creates a gradient) and color grading.

      • Thanks! Yeah, the vignette is important, as you’ve mentioned before. What I’m having a little trouble with is the shadows, but it’s coming along. Setting the background color to a dark grey certainly helps, but I think you’re right in that a lot of the character is added in post-processing. I’m trying separating the object and the backdrop in the compositor and adding separately controllable coloring and vignettes. Here’s what I came up with:

        • After seeing it, I think you’re on the right track. Looking forward to seeing a sample from the video 🙂

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  24. Love the tuts Gleb. Interested in your book too.

    As I have more of an artistic backgorund I tend think about lighting in more of a painterly way. Have you considered trying emulate some of lighting scenarios we see in classical paintings. For instance what about chairscuro and sfumato? I guess the photographic equivalent would be low key and ambient but there is also the colour effects seen in painting which depend more on the viewers perception. Cool light is sometimes accompanied by warm shadows which is more of a perception effect rather than a photographic consideration. Just something to think about maybe?

    • Alex, absolutely. Perception of color (and also eye vs camera dilemma), painterly techniques and art side of digital lighting – I’m very much interested in exploring it.

    • Niranjan Raghu


      I’d just like to chip in my ideas here, too.

      Chiaroscuro is among my favourite techniques, but in my studio photography sessions, I’ve never been able to recreate it per sé, but in Blender, though, it took me about twenty minutes to set up (check image)

      As for your comment about the perception effect, I think it depends a lot on what’s dominant in the subject itself. If the dominant colour of the subject *and* the lighting colour is cool, the warm tends to stand out more and vice versa.

      • Yeah Niranjan. I agree with you here. Color talk about color accent as something that is opposed to the context of other colors.

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  28. Hans Erdmann

    Interesting approach.. I am still struggeling with diffraction effects ..there are thousends of tricks but very very few solutions. If you join me and invite me at linkedin you can see diffraction questions and people fighting with solutions.
    One Italian Lady Artist in Jewelry / Diamond area has created a program to create diffraction effects.. limited but working. If you look at my latest posting in Linkedin you can get a free version with a program containing a Prism sample of diffraction to benchmark.. Tell us if it is a way to go or not.. Kind regards by Curious Hans..

  29. Minhaj Khan

    The world needs more people like you, Gleb. It’s a really awesome initiative you’ve done and at such a young age

  30. You’ve already given us your insight on such a broad range of lighting ideas, I hope this means you’re nearly finished with the open lighting project!

    • Moby, I wish it was true 🙂 I still have some work to do (my estimate is 10 more chapters).

      • Damn, well at least it means we have even more to look forward to

  31. David Nickisson

    Will the book be published soon?

    • David, I’ll quote Gabe Newell on this one: “when it’s done”. 🙂 A lot of things to do still. Thank you for your interest!

  32. David Nickisson

    Could you perhaps add pdf download links under each chapter?

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  34. yang li

    Much obliged! No doubt, the vignette is vital, as you’ve specified previously. What I’m having a little issue with is the shadows, yet it’s tagging along. Setting the foundation shading to a dull dark surely helps, however I believe you’re right in that a great deal of the character is included post-handling. I’m taking a stab at isolating the protest and the scenery in the printer and including independently controllable shading and vignettes. Here’s what I came up

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