How to achieve better lighting with V-Ray

Chaos Group Labs director Chris Nichols will be doing a keynote talk at Vertex, our event for the CG community. Get tickets now!

With the Adaptive Dome Lighting feature now available in V-Ray, you can render smarter than ever before.

A dome light is a type of spherical or hemispherical area light that shines inward and is often combined with panoramic HDR for image-based lighting. However the sampling of dome lights can be inefficient due to other light entering interior spaces, eg from a window in the scene, meaning that only a small amount of the dome light will contribute to the image.

Adaptive Dome Lights calculate which parts of the dome light are likely to affect the scene using Light Cache data, and here Chris gives us four steps to improving your lighting. 

01. Light an interior with IBL

Currently, when you’re lighting an interior scene using image-based lighting, you might add Skylight Portals near openings like doors, windows or skylights to help direct more light samples. Unfortunately, this is a manual process that takes time, but worse, it’s also not that accurate.

02. Build a smarter dome light

Click the arrows icon to enlarge this screenshot

To avoid this problem, we built a smarter dome light based on a similar concept to our Adaptive Lights algorithm. Using the Light Cache calculation phase to learn which parts of the dome will most likely affect the scene, the new Adaptive Dome Light can better predict its sampling.

03. No more skylight portals

With the Adaptive Dome Light, Skylight Portals are no longer needed for the lighting process. It automatically figures out which portions of the environment to sample and which ones to ignore, making it so much easier to set up and much more efficient and accurate to render.

04. Seven times faster IBL

Many factors can affect the overall speed gains that this feature can give you. Our early tests have shown speed increases from 10% up to 700%, depending on the scene. V-Ray 3.x for 3ds Max customers can register for the V-Ray Next Beta and try out the Adaptive Dome Light right now. 

Don’t miss out on Chris Nichols' keynote speech at Vertex! Book your ticket now at There are still some amazing workshops we’ve yet to announce so keep an eye on our website, where you can also find out more about the other amazing speakers, workshops, recruitment fair, networking event, expo and more.

This tutorial originally appeared in issue 116 of 3D Artist, the magazine offering practical inspiration for 3D enthusiasts and professionals. Subscribe to 3D Artist here.

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