The rule of three

Good lighting isn't simply a matter of making sure that every object in a scene is illuminated. The last thing you want is for your renders to look as flat as the screen they are viewed on, so your lighting set-up also needs to ensure that the three-dimensional form of each object can be read clearly. This is where basic three-point lighting, a system derived from traditional cinematography, comes in.

Flat-looking output is most likely to occur when a single light source is placed behind the camera: a situation analogous to a photographer using nothing more than a camera-mounted flash. In contrast, three-point lighting treats light more like a modelling tool. The three light sources of which it consists - the key light, the fill light and the back (or rim) light - all serve different purposes, yet work together to emphasise shape and form.

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