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Point/Area Lights

Filter Forge 2.0 allows you to create any number of point or area lights that allow you to specify how exactly you want your texture to be lit. Originally, Filter Forge had only one texture lighting method, the HDRI environment-based lighting, which produced excellent realistic results but suffered from certain inflexibility since all you could do to change the lighting was to rotate the environment or adjust its brightness and saturation. Now, with the addition of fully adjustable point and area lights, you are no longer limited by the set of lighting environments included with Filter Forge – you can set up any lighting you want!

Lighting setup

Multiple HDR Lights

In Filter Forge 2.0, you can create any number of light sources which support unlimited HDR colors and work together with other Filter Forge lighting methods – which is great for augmenting the default HDRI environment lighting:

Multiple HDR lights

Negative Light

Negative light is an interesting side effect of the unclamped HDR pipeline which we introduced in Filter Forge 2.0. The new HDR pipeline allows negative RGB channel values, and since the lights use HDR colors, you can pick a negative color for a light! The primary use of negative lights is "sucking out" the light added by other light sources, HDRI environment or ambient lighting which helps you create deeper, darker shadows – like in the example below based on our Organics filter:

Negative light

Since the negative lighting is not physically accurate, the results may look weird – but interesting nonetheless! This example, based on our Alien Metal filter, shows the result of a wide negative light interfering with a narrow positive HDR light:

Wide negative light with a narrow positive light

Adjustable Angular Width

Our light sources are called "area lights" for a reason. All lights in Filter Forge 2.0 have adjustable angular width, with possible values of 10, 30, 60, 90 and 180 degrees – ranging from a narrow spot to a full sky dome. To be completely honest, Filter Forge 2.0 doesn't have point lights per se – its nearest equivalent of a classic point light is the 10-degree light. One of the uses for an increased angular width is smoothing backlights, and another is softening specular highlights from a key light. You can quickly estimate the angular width of a light by the size of the wireframe "dome" around it:

Adjustable area lightingAdjustable area lightingAdjustable area lighting

Selective Influence

You can choose whether a particular light source influences diffuse lighting, specular lighting, or both. Restricting the light source to diffuse-only allows you to remove its specular highlights altogether leaving only soft diffuse lighting, which is very useful for backlights. A specular-only light source lets you add specular highlights to previously dull environmental reflections to liven them up. By default, newly created lights are set to influence both diffuse and specular lighting, but you can easily change that:

Selective light source influence

360-Degree Light Rotation

Every light source has a Backlight option which effectively provides 360-degree rotation for light sources. Normally, lights reside in the frontal hemisphere, and when the Backlight option is turned on, the light is moved to the back hemisphere located behind the texture plane. This is not physically accurate (because this way the light is located under the "ground"), but it has a lot of practical uses. In the following example, based on our Layered Stone filter, the "sunset light" is a very bright orange HDR light located slightly below the ground plane, casting sharp sunset-like highlights:

360° light rotation

Filter Forge's amazing node based editor has been invaluable in giving us the power to create textures that make the most of today's real-time pixel shaders.

Karl Wickens
Visual Effects Lead Artist
Electronic Arts

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