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Book Description

Illuminated Pixels is built on the fundamental idea that great digital lighting comes from knowledge of three basic areas. Each of these areas is important, much like a three-legged stool. We all know what happens if one of the legs of a three-legged stool is wobbly or short. These three basic areas are (1) the aesthetics of the image, (2) the physical properties of real-world lights, and (3) appropriate technique. I coin these three areas the why, what, and how of lighting respectively. (Catchy, isn't it? ;) )

  1. "Why" is the question "Why are you lighting?" and refers to the aesthetic intent of your lights, defined by 10 goals of lighting discussed in the book.  These Goals of lighting underlie great cinematography, photography, and even in many cases even paintings.
  2. "What" asks the question "What are the physical properties of light which you are trying to imitate?"  Without a knowledge of real lights and surfaces you may inadvertently create illumination which appears odd or unnatural. The book discussed the properties of light not just in a theoretical sense, but with further discussion of the digital tools which re-create them.
  3. "How" asks the question "How will you accomplish this?". It is the last question to ask, and it refers the what specific digital technique you will use. The mention of appropriate technique is important because you will want to know a variety of techniques, their pros and cons, and pick which one is best suited for the task at hand. While not overly emphasizing technique, the book naturally discussed quite a bit of it. Technique is, after all, going to get the job done and mastering it is an essential skill for any accomplished digital artist.


Much training material on the market today focuses almost exclusively on specific techniques. To be a great lighter and create compelling imagery, however,you need an understanding of all three areas. For this reason Illuminated Pixels looks extensively at not only technique, but also at the underlying principles which make these techniques successful.