Introduction to Lighting

Intro to Lighting for Unreal Engine 4 - Page 1

Lighting is what really makes games go from average to great. It is not only important visually but interactively. You can paint hints and paths for players to follow with light becoming one of the most powerful design aids to help players navigate your level. In this exercise you will be lighting a scene from Unreal to see how you can do versus how they lit the scene. We will be lighting one of the scenes provided by Unreal that demonstrates the final part of the level design cycle process.

Otter dancing with a fish

You will need to install the latest version of UE4 4.25.x by downloading the Epic Games Launcher. You will also need a GitHub account which is free to sign up for as we will be using version control. You will also need a mac or PC that is powerful enough to run unreal. If you are on a PC you will have to download and install git (on a mac it may prompt you to install git as well but you can do it through the terminal). We will also install Github Desktop as it provides a GUI interface so you don't have to worry about command line. Once git is installed you will also need to download and install the Git LFS (Large File System) as well for both PC and mac. For this simple introduction that is all that is needed.

Lets make sure you can see hidden folders. On the PC follow these Windows 10 Turn on Hidden Folders directions. On the Mac it is a bit more involved so go and turn on hidden folders on Mac.

1. Setting Up Unreal & Github

We will be working with a level that has already ben grey blocked and modelled. It is a finished level minus the lighting. This was created by the team at Unreal and included in their Content Example project. You will also have a first person character to move through the environment.


Install all Software

If you have not installed the required software go and add Epic Games Launcher, git (PC only), Github Desktop, Git LFS (Large File System) on your mac or PC. Make sure you have a valid GitHub account. Make sure it has a 4.25 in front of the version (4.25.x) so that we know this walk through will be compatible with your version of Unreal.


Git Repository

If you are a student of mine in class you will have received an email of this same repository and will view the invitation and accept it. Now you can download the starter file I have created.

Just like below image, go to the new GitHub repository and click on the green Code button and select Open with GitHub Desktop then confirm that you will open in desktop then pick a directory and press Clone.


Download From GitHub If NOT a Student

If you are not part of the class you can login into github with your personal account and navigate to and in the top left corner press the fork button.

Once forked, click on the green Code button and select Open with GitHub Desktop then confirm that you will open in desktop then pick a directory and press Clone.


Open Intro To Materials Project

Double click the UE4 project IntroToMaterials.uproject to load it.


Update License File

Go to the directory in where you installed the project and open the LICENSE file in a text editor. If you want to change the type of license now is the time to do so. If you want to keep the MIT license then just replace ENTER NAME HERE with your legal name. Press save and quit.


Update GitHub

This file has changed and is NOT in the Content folder. So go to GitHub Dekstop and add a commit message and commit the change to your local repository.


Load Room

The project should load up in the Room/Level Basic Materials. It should look like a pitch black room as there are no lights. Also, the game will be building the shaders. You might want to wait for all the shaders to render before moving on.


Change Lighting Mode

You will also most likely see a dark room that has not been lit. To see what is going on swtich to Unlit mode. Next page we will start lighting the scene from scratch.


Blocking Volumes

Lets look at what is included in this project. We have blocking volumes. These are collision volumes with no visible geometry. Press BlockingVolume5 and press the F key to focus on it. Notice that is is blocking the player from jumping outside the unblocked window archways.


Building Meshes

The Building Meshes folder contains all the static meshes for the level.


Collision Volume

Each of these meshes may or may not have a collision volume with the model.


Illumination Volumes

Illumination Volumes folder contains the fog, ocean, and sky sphere that are not visible in the game currently. We will fix that shortly.



We also have some cool particle effects included in the Particles folder that we will see better soon.


Game Mode

The Game Mode loads up the Blueprints | BP_ThirdPersonCharacter that the PlayerStart object launches the player in the front terrace.


World Settings & Project Settings

Now go into Settings | World Settings and expand Game Mode. This is overrides the settings that are in project settings for this one level. This is selecting our custom BP for Game Mode and BP_ThirdPersonCharacter as the Default Pawn Class. The Default Pawn is the game object that we are controlling in game. You will see all of these blueprints running and added to the scene when running the game.

Open up Project Settings. We also have the Lighting_Map room loading by default.