The Art of Lighting for Games

A 10-week course introducing students to the science and art of lighting

Course overview Course overview

Course Overview

Understanding light for digital environments

This course will demonstrate a practical approach to in-game/real-time lighting within the context of a production pipeline. We are working in Unreal Engine, as it is an easily accessible platform, but the workflow and techniques will be presented in as much of a software-agnostic format as possible. This is because many studios use either proprietary or heavily modified engines that are unique or exclusive to that studio's pipeline. These techniques will apply to any contemporary pipeline. The course will guide students through weekly examinations of different lighting scenarios, environments, and gameplay styles. The instructor will demonstrate his own lighting approach, and the workflow that he uses to get them from a conceptual state to a working playable level. All necessary scene files for each week will be provided.


Course Format:   Standard
Lecture Type:   Pre-recorded
Feedback:   Individual recordings
Duration:   10 weeks
Assignment:   Deadlines each week
Q&A:   Once a week
Materials:   Maya (or equivalent), Unreal Engine
Skills level:   Intermediate
Prerequisites:   Knowledge of Maya (or equivalent 3D software) and Unreal Engine

Environment design WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

What you'll learn

The more you know, the better.

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Considering player pathing and mood | Gathering reference | Setting up the sun direction, color, and intensity | Setting up the sky light. (IBL) | Setting up the sky dome | Setting up simple reflections | Setting up a lightmass importance volume | Baking a GI solution
Understanding HDR values | Understanding post processing | Working with fog and exposure | Learning to look for separation of foreground and background elements | Setting up a different time of day
Considering player pathing and mood Gathering reference | Thinking about visual language, leading the eye | Using primary vs. static lights | Setting up local lights | Setting up interior reflections
Basic light budgeting | Visual language (cont.) | Emissives | IES profiles | Spherical harmonics
This class will examine a top-down real time strategy environment. (i.e. League of Legends). We will use tools and concepts learned in previous projects and apply them to the needs and requirements of this platform. | Player pathing | Visual language | Effect light contribution
Character visibility | Post processing: character rim lighting | Considering performance
Working with an interior environment | Lighting the scene for a fixed or limited camera perspective | Considering special cases: dynamic conditions, moving platforms, scripted lights | Working with post-processing
Working with a 3-point light rig | Determining readability | Integrating the characters with the background lighting
Putting together a final level with interior and exterior areas | Polish the level | Color grading | Post processing: volumetrics and auto exposure
Discussing performance | Discussing PBR | Expectations of a professional work environment

Your journey starts here

Lectures by Omar Gatica

Omar Gatica is currently a Sr. Lighting Artist at Infinity Ward studios. He has been working in the video game industry since 2005. Working professionally at AAA studios including NC-Soft, Activision, Naughty Dog and Neversoft. Over the last decade, he has shipped such titles as Guild Wars, Uncharted 1, 2, 3 and Call of Duty - Ghosts. Most recently, he shipped the latest installment of Call of Duty - Infinite Warfare.


October 5th!

August 6th - October 22nd

fall TERM Registration




October 5th!

Pricing & Schedule

Even though our courses are the most affordable for the quality of education.

These Finance Options allow you to focus on your goals instead of the barriers that keep you from reaching them.

Employer Reimbursement

Animation Guild CSATTF

Payment Plan

Companies that hire our students

  • Naughty Dog
  • Luma Pictures
  • Google
  • EA Games
  • DreamWorks Animation
  • Blizzard Entertainment

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