The Source engine is a 3D game engine developed by Valve Corporation. Its unique features include a large degree of modularity and flexibility, an artist-driven, shader-based renderer, accurate lip sync and facial expression technology, and a powerful, efficient and completely network-enabled physics system.

Learn how to use the light, light_spot, light_environment entities and the skybox texture to give your maps some light.

Posted by Silverfisk on Nov 13th, 2009
Basic Mapping/Technical.

In this tutorial I go through the basics of the three most common light entities and the skybox texture.

light - Emits light in all directions, is not very flexible and works best for things like fires. You might think this is the most used light entity but that's actually not the case, the most used light entity is the light_spot.

light_spot - This is a pointed light that emits light in a cone from its origin. This is the most commonly used light entity and is used for almost all kinds of light sources.

light_environment - Used to simulate the sunlight and ambient light in a map. The entity itself does not give off any light, instead it's used to control the light that emits from the skybox texture.

Please give me a comment telling me what you think.
Also, don't forget to give me tutorial requests!

Post comment Comments
Khameli Nov 14 2009 says:

cool tut, even if i knew that i liked to watch, cool notes all over screen! explains everything ^^

+4 votes     reply to comment
Silverfisk Author
Silverfisk Nov 14 2009 replied:

That you enjoyed just watching it is awesome! Thanks a lot!

+2 votes   reply to comment
Scav3nger Nov 14 2009 says:

Very helpful for new-comers looking for some basic lighting tips (like me :P)

You've got a follower :)

+3 votes     reply to comment
Silverfisk Author
Silverfisk Nov 14 2009 replied:

I'm glad you liked it and thanks for the follow! :D

+2 votes   reply to comment
ammd Nov 14 2009 says:

You did alot very worng! You can contorol a normal light much better then a light_spot. Never heard about "falloff distance"?

Sorry but lern a bit more before you make a tutorial!

0 votes     reply to comment
Silverfisk Author
Silverfisk Nov 14 2009 replied:

Right, that is your opinion, mine is different. If you compare the final result of a light entity with the final result of a light_spot entity on a lamp for example you will see that the light_spot looks much better though.

Also, Valve uses light_spot for almost all their lights, but maybe they're doing it wrong.

Oh, and I've been mapping for the Source engine for over four years, so I know a bit about it.

+2 votes   reply to comment
ZeFish Nov 14 2009 replied:

Even though an explanation of the more advanced parameters like fallout distance would be nice, it was just a basic light tutorial as the title implies. And light_spot results in a more realistic good looking light if you use it correctly. Sorry, but learn a bit more before you write a comment.

Oh and great tutorial :)

+3 votes     reply to comment
Silverfisk Author
Silverfisk Nov 14 2009 replied:

That is correct.


+2 votes   reply to comment
Croco15 Nov 14 2009 says:

Nice tutorial. Good for newbies.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Silverfisk Author
Silverfisk Nov 14 2009 replied:

Glad you like it!

+2 votes   reply to comment
SysOp. Nov 15 2009 says:


+3 votes     reply to comment
Silverfisk Author
Silverfisk Nov 15 2009 replied:

Thank you, stay tuned for more!

+2 votes   reply to comment
dafatcat Feb 9 2010 says:

Keep in mind that naming a light forces the compiler to compile 2 different lightmaps for the affected faces. If you had 3 named lights (with different names) all right next to each other, the compiler would have to generate 7 lightmaps for all the possible on/off combinations. If you name multiple light entities the same name, they are treated as the same light and only 2 (on and off) lightmaps must be generated for all of said lights combined.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Silverfisk Author
Silverfisk Feb 22 2010 replied:

Not only that but having too many different lighting possibilities might bring horrible lighting bugs in the game, so you do indeed need to be careful when dealing with this stuff.

+2 votes   reply to comment
Ganix565 Nov 21 2010 says:

... Dont mean to sound noobish, but I ran Hammer in Orange Box 2009, but how do you test the map? When I click "run map", it brings me to the menu.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Post a Comment
click to sign in

You are not logged in, your comment will be anonymous unless you join the community today (totally free - or sign in with your social account on the right) which we encourage all contributors to do.

2000 characters limit; HTML formatting and smileys are not supported - text only

Windows, VR, X360, XBOX, PS3
Send Message
Official Page
Release Date
Released 2004
Engine Watch
Track this engine
Report Abuse
Report article
Related Engines
Source Commercial Released 2004
Related Groups
Level Design Group
Level Design Group Hobbies & Interests with 610 members
The Human Pond
The Human Pond Hobbies & Interests with 9 members
Valve Developer & Publisher with 6 members