In the next steps, you light part of the desk by creating a spotlight and positioning it within the desk lamp. A spotlight emits light from a single point within a limited cone angle. You can aim a spot light in the direction you want the light to illuminate.

To create a spotlight

  1. Select Create > Lights > Spot Light > .
  2. Turn off Interactive Placement, then click Create.

    This creates the spotlight’s icon at the center of the grid. The light points toward the back wall.

  3. Move the spotlight above the lamp. (Drag the light up along its local Y-axis.)

    If you look at the spotlight icon from several angles, you’ll notice that it is shaped like a cone with an arrow pointing out of it.

    The cone symbolizes that a spotlight emits a beam of light that gradually widens with distance.

  4. Select Modify > Transformation Tools > Show Manipulator Tool. See Modify > Transformation Tools > Move Tool, Rotate Tool, Scale Tool, Show Manipulator Tool for more information.

    With the spotlight selected, this tool provides two manipulators that you can move to position and aim the light precisely.

    The look-at point specifies where the light focuses. The eye point defines the position of the light source. All types of lights have an eye point, but not necessarily a look-at point.

  5. Move the look-at point to the top of the table, and move the eye point roughly to the center of the lamp housing.

    You can also use the Rotate tool to center the eye-point more accurately in the lamp housing.

    An alternative way to position a spotlight is to select the light and then select Panels > Look Through Selected. You can then dolly and pan the view to focus on the desired surface. The area of focus is where the light strikes the surface. To return to the perspective view select Panels > Perspective > persp.

  6. If you render the scene, you’ll notice that the spotlight lights up a circular region on both the desk and the floor.

    By default, light passes through and lights up each surface in its path. The circular region of light is wider on the floor than the desk because a spotlight emits a beam of light that widens with distance.

    Only the floor, not the desk, will be lit by the spotlight in the scene view. You’ll see the desk lit up only if you render the scene.

  7. You can prevent the light from passing through the table. With the light selected, display the Attribute Editor. Open its Shadows section and then the Depth Map Shadow Attributes section, then turn on Use Depth Map Shadows. Rendering creates this result:

    By turning on Use Depth Map Shadows, the spotlight’s lighting is blocked by the first surface it hits (the desk). The floor is in the shadow of the desk so it receives no light. You’ll learn more about Depth Map Shadows later in the lesson.