Blender tutorial No. 16: How to create light layers in Blenders compositor

By Christoph Werner

Today we talk about light layers. In my example “light layers” are actually rendered images of all light sources in a 3D scene. Every rendering is representing a single light object, a light group or a complete world lighting.
The final rendered results will be used in Blenders compositor to control their light intensity and color. All your lighting adjustments will be updated in about real time. And because every image is already in high quality, there is no need to rerender the whole scene when changing the light intensity. And the very best: you can do this even for complete frame sets or animate the light values, if needed. This can be a real time saver!

This video is for compositing newbies, intermediate users and all who are interested in this technique.

I’ve published a version for professional artists here:
It’s much shorter and I don’t go into detail. So if you’re are already familiar with Blender or have less time then this is the right one for you.

If you don’t like to watch the full video, you can use the following links to jump directly to the topic you’re interested in.

The preparation part (What we need, before we start)
0:00 – Intro
1:18 – The setup
2:26 – Object positioning
2:38 – The image output
3:44 – Preparing the light brightness
4:50 – Pass organisation

The compositing part
5:38 – Let’s go
10:15 – Explaining the preview node
12:35 – Explaining the mix node
14:12 – The right blend mode
15:41 – Hot to brighten the image
16:58 – Adding the first light layer
20:13 – Colorise the light sources
24:42 – First node clean up
25:47 – Node grouping
27:37 – Setting basic input sockets
31:04 – Setting exposure input sockets
34:52 – Dynamic denoised layers
40:33 – Muting nodes for faster editing
41:51 – Completing the layer setup (time lapse)
42:35 – Explaining the final setup

Exporting the results
48:34 – How to save the compositing results
50:04 – Quick insight into the file output node
53:16 – How to avoid overwriting files