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Learning Basic Lighting Effects: Part 2

Basic Lighting Effects
Adobe After Effects Tutorial


Joe Chao teaches us some Basic Lighting Effects

Joe Chao (Cao Jun) Joe Chao,
Jiangsu, China
©2007 Joe Chao and CreativeCow.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
In this tutorial, CreativeCOW Contributing Editor Joe Chao demonstrates creating some light effects. This is part two of Joe's Genie in a Lamp series.





The second wish from the genie:

A formula of light effects in After Effects

Light effects are very often used in many projects. We often create light streams, light stars, light logos and so on. So, is there anything common among them? Can we conclude some formulas for these cases? In my opinion, it's not only possible but also useful to conclude a formula. Thus, we can save quite some time when creating light effects.

Now, open the project file we made last time and get started.

If you haven't seen part one of this tutorial series, click here.
Let's begin




First of all, we have to add some more details into the scene.

  • set key frames for the camera, and let it go close to the lamp during the whole process.
  • apply the filter: effects/distort/Corner Pin to the lamp layer, animate it. Let the lamp jump up and down lively.

you can set it reference to these pictures below:







Adding Some Light Effects


We can add some light effects into our scene.

The lamp looks a little simple now. A mysterious lamp should glow all along, so we must add some glow light effects. This step is quite simple: duplicate the lamp layer and apply "glow" effect to the lower layer. Switch this layer's mode to "add". You can set the filter "glow" like this:




Now we can see that the lamp is glowing. It looks quite nice after such a simple operation. From this process some friends must be able to discover a rule of making light effects in AE. It's like this: create the shape of the light, adjust the color and switch the layer's mode.

Let's prove it with the next effects: To make the glow light more mysterious, we are going to add some flame-like light around the lamp. Out strategy is to create some flame around the lamp and switch the mode to "add" or "screen". I wrote a text fire tutorial some months ago, and now we can create the light in the same way:

  • Duplicate the lamp layer, and pre-compose it.(tip: do choose the "leave all attribution in…"option)
  • Open this comp, open the comp settings box, set the composition settings like this:







Click the lamp layer in this comp, pre-compose it again. This time we can select the "move all attributes into… "option.

  • Click the pre-composed layer, and apply "CC PS Classic" to it. Set the filter like this:





After that, go to the main comp, switch the layer of lamp flame to "add", and apply "Displacement Map" to it, adjust the filter like this:


Thus we have created some mysterious flames around the lamp. The effect will be like this:





Our next step is to create some light circles under the lamp.
With the experiences we have had, we can easily get the idea of how to make it.
We can use the texture we used last time to create it:




Create it on the floor:





Is that all we can do? Certainly not. Next, we are going to describe the appearance of light circles. In some movies we often see some light appears with some volume light, so we can also try to create it in Aftereffects.

When creating such effects, some friends immediately appeal to "trapcode shine". It's a good idea to work with Trapcode's plugins, but today we will try another idea:

  1. Create a mask on the circles' layer. Add some key frames to the property of "mask shape", and make the circles appear gradually.

  2. Duplicate the circles, click the nether one, pre-compose it, and don't forget to switch on the "layer collapse" option. Set the layer mode to "add", and apply "CC Radial Blur" to it. Set it like this:





After that, we get.......nothing!? Don't worry. We can fix it. If you Observe the alpha channel carefully, you can find that the light is too thin to be seen. So we can fix it with a filter "curve":




(don't forget to do the same thing to alpha channel)
To make the light brighter, we can apply the filter "glow" to it:




Until now, I think I have found the formula of making light effects:
Shape+color+mode=lighteffect


That means, when creating light effects we can follow these steps:

  1. Create the shape of the light
  2. Adjust the colors
  3. Switch the layer's mode to "add" or "screen" or another mode.

At the end of this tutorial let's try using this formula on creating a cross light in the scene.

Step 1: Shape
Create a new solid layer, set it's size as 800*800. Draw a cross mask on this solid layer. Set the "mask feather" property as 50, It can be like this




Step 2: Color
Choose your favorite color for this layer. I like yellow.

Step 3: Mode
Convert the layer to a 3D layer, place it at the proper place,and switch the layer mode to "add". Now we get a result like this



It seems a little simple, especially at the center, so we shall fix it. Create a new solid layer - apply the filter "lensflare" to it, switch the mode to "add", and adjust the position of the layer. The final effect of all the steps above should be like this:




Wow, it looks fairly well! What's our next step? Of course, it's time to create the 3D light stream, smoke, and the genie. We will talk about that in the third tutorial. See you next time.


Feel free to ask questions in the After Effects forum at CreativeCOW.net.



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