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Balls of Light

Author: xalthorn

Tools Needed

  • Poser


Quite often, a scene needs an object as a light source, whether it is a simple object or something more complex, having to move lights around all of the time can become tiresome. This tutorial will show you how to create an object based light source that can be moved around the scene as easily as other objects.

In this tutorial, we'll create a yellow ball that shines. Once you get to grips with it, there's nothing stopping you changing the colours for all sorts of fancy effects.


Step 1 - Place the ball

To start the whole ball rolling (sorry, couldn't resist) we'll place a standard ball prop into the scene.

To make our lives easier in a moment, we'll also need to change the view to wireframe so that we can see through the ball.

Whilst we're messing with the display settings, let's change to the front camera and move the view so that the ball is in the centre of the display.

With the ball selected, select Properties from the Object menu, tick the 'Display Origin' option and click OK to come back to the display. Your screen should now look something like the one below.


You'll notice that the origin is actually at the bottom of the ball, not in the centre, so what we'll do now is (making sure the ball is still selected), change the OriginY value to 0.050

We should now see something like the following with the origin in the centre of the ball.


Before we move on, let's put the view back into Smooth Shaded mode and make sure that the ball is in the centre of the scene by making sure that it's xTran, yTran, and zTran value are all 0.000

Step 2 - Set the ball up

Now we need to go back into the ball object's properties and make the following changes.

1. Change it's name to yellowglowball so that we can find it in the scene easily.

2. Untick 'Casts Shadow'

3. Untick 'Display Origin'

We have turned the shadows off for the ball because it would look a bit silly if a light source started to cast a shadow.

Once those changes have been made, select 'Materials…' from the 'Render' menu.

Change the ambient colour of the yellowglowball to bright yellow. An easy way to do this is use the RGB Picker option and set the Red slider to 100, the Green slider to 100, and the Blue slider to 0.

Our display should now look something like the following.


Step 3 - Place the first light

To start off with, let's get rid of all the default lights in the scene, they'll only confuse things at the moment.

To select a light, click on it in the light controls area of the screen or select it from the drop down lists underneath the main display.

Once the light is selected, just click on the trashcan icon in the light controls area.

Once they have all gone, add a new light to the scene and then, with it selected, do the following.

1. Make it point at the yellowglowball. Do this by selecting 'Point At' from the object menu and selecting the yellowglowball from the list that appears (told you it would be worthwhile renaming the ball).

2. Change the lights parent to be the yellowglowball in the same way that you made the light point at the yellowglowball, except you select 'Change Parent' from the object menu.

3. Change the xTran of the light to -0.050

4. Change the yTran of the light to 0.050

5. Change the zTran of the light to 0.000

6. Set the Red value of the light to 1

7. Set the Green value of the light to 1

8. Set the Blue value of the light to 0

9. Set the Intensity of the light to 50%

10. Set the Angle End of the light to 160

11. Set the xRotate, yRotate, and zRotate values to 0 (just to be tidy).

Now you should hopefully have a display like the image below.


It might seem a lot of work for a relatively small effect, but it'll all be worth it in the end.

Step 4 - Add the other lights

Now we need to put five more lights in. They all need to be done in the same way as the first one. The only things that are different are the xTran, yTran, and zTran values. The list below shows what the settings should be for each light.

light 2 = xTran:0.050 yTran:0.050 zTran:0.000

light 3 = xTran:0.000 yTran:0.100 zTran:0.000

light 4 = xTran:0.000 yTran:0.000 zTran:0.000

light 5 = xTran:0.000 yTran:0.050 zTran:0.050

light 6 = xTran:0.000 yTran:0.050 zTran:-0.050

Once those are all set, you should have a display like the one below.


Step 5 - Ready to roll

That's it really. Your light source is ready to be moved around.

Just select the yellowglowball and move it around the scene. The lights will all follow it and faithfully light the ball for you.

If you find that the six lights get in your way, you can make them invisible by changing their properties (select 'Properties' from the Object menu).

Obviously, the colours of the lights can be changed. You could either change all six lights to the same colour or have some bizarre light that shines in different colours.

If you intend to have a lot of lights in your scene, you might benefit from renaming the lights to yellowglowball1, yellowglowball2 or something else equally useful.

This becomes much more important if you intend to have more than one glowing ball in the scene or if you are using one of the Complex Lighting Packs where there are a whole host of lights.

To finish off I've popped in a couple of sample renders using the light created in this tutorial.