is an option for Graphics3D and related functions that specifies what simulated lighting to use in coloring 3D surfaces.


  • The following settings can be given:
  • Automaticdefault lighting schemes
    Noneno lighting
    {s1,s2,}light sources s1, s2,
  • Each light source can be of the following forms:
  • {"Ambient",col}uniform ambient light of color col
    {"Directional",col,pt}directional light from pt to the center of the bounding box
    {"Directional",col,{pt1,pt2}}directional light along the vector from pt1 to pt2
    {"Point",col,pt}spherical point light source at position pt
    {"Point",col,pt,att}point light with geometric attenuation att
    {"Spot",col,pt,α}spotlight at pt aimed at the center with half-angle α
    {"Spot",col,{pt,tar},α}spotlight at pt aimed at tar with half-angle α
    {"Spot",col,{pt,tar},{α,s},att}spotlight with spot exponent s and attenuation att
  • Light source positions and aiming points can be specified as follows:
  • {x,y,z}explicit coordinates that move with the graphic
    Scaled[{x,y,z}]scaled coordinates that move with the graphic
    ImageScaled[{x,y,z}]coordinates fixed relative to the final displayed image
  • In ImageScaled[{x,y,z}], the and run from 0 to 1 across the width and height of the bounding box of the final displayed image. The coordinate runs orthogonal to the plane of the display, and is 0 at the back of the 3D region, and 1 at the front.
  • Coordinates specified in Scaled and ImageScaled will often not be between 0 and 1.
  • Lighting->Automatic uses ambient light together with four light sources fixed relative to the final displayed image. With the typical default setting ColorFunction->Automatic, colored light sources are used; if an explicit setting for ColorFunction is given, the light sources are taken to be white. »
  • Lighting->"Standard" always uses colored light sources in the default positions. »
  • Lighting->"Neutral" always uses white light sources in the default positions. »
  • Lighting can be specified globally for a 3D graphic by giving a Lighting option for Plot3D, Graphics3D, etc.
  • Lighting can be specified separately for particular objects in Graphics3D by giving a style option Style[obj,Lighting->spec]. »
  • In a list of graphics primitives and directives, the alternative form {,g,Lighting->spec,g,} defines lighting for objects that follow the lighting specification in the list. »
  • The final colors of 3D surfaces are determined by linearly adding RGB colors from three sources:
  • diffuse reflection defined by RGBColor etc. directives
    specular reflection defined by Specularity directives
    glow defined by Glow directives
  • The setting for Lighting affects only colors associated with diffuse and specular reflection.
  • Diffuse reflection is taken to follow Lambert's law, with light effectively scattered equally in all directions from a surface.
  • Specular reflection effectively takes light to be scattered only close to the mirrorreflection direction, as specified in the notes for Specularity.
  • Colors of light sources can be defined by RGBColor, Hue, or any other color specification.
  • Light sources with color specifications of the form {dcol,Specularity[scol]} are effectively taken to have colors dcol for purposes of diffuse reflection, and scol for purposes of specular reflection. »
  • Directional light sources specified by {"Directional",col,{pt1,pt2}} are taken to yield parallel simulated light rays, so only the direction vector defined by {pt1,pt2} is relevant, not its magnitude. »
  • Point light sources specified by {"Point",col,pt} effectively yield light that emanates from the point pt but does not attenuate with distance. »
  • {"Point",col,pt,{a,b,c}} yields light that attenuates like with distance . »
  • {"Spot",col,{pt,tar},α} yields the same light distribution as a point light source, except that it is restricted to a cone with direction from pt to tar, and with half-angle in radians. »
  • {"Spot",col,{pt,tar},{α,s}} gives fall-off away from the center of the cone. »
  • {"Spot",col,{pt,tar},{α,s},{a,b,c}} gives attenuation with distance . »


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Basic Examples  (4)

Default lighting on gray specular sphere:

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Neutral lighting on gray specular sphere:

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Directional light from the top of the specular surface:

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Specify lighting for each object:

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Scope  (24)

Generalizations & Extensions  (6)

Applications  (3)

Properties & Relations  (9)

Possible Issues  (5)

Neat Examples  (2)

Introduced in 1988
Updated in 2014