Dimension CC is a design tool which provides access to high-quality 3D, built from the ground up, for graphic designers. Lighting in 3D is modeled after real-world physical lighting which is different from creating lighting effects in 2D applications. This article outlines the various lighting types that are supported in Dimension CC.

Environment light

Environment lights are panoramic images that are spherically wrapped around a 3D scene. They can be considered to be the environment that the content lives in and provides general ambient lighting, shadows, and reflections. Environment lights are not highly editable and have a limited range of properties to adjust their content, as it is based on the image itself. They are incredibly powerful for providing quick scenes with realistic lighting and reflections.

A simple scene lit with two different environment lights.
  • Colorize Environment lights use each pixel of the image to shoot lighting information into the scene. The Colorize option colorizes the image to tint the overall lighting. Colorize works with any environment light and is ideal for studio lit environment lights.
  • Intensity The Intensity property controls how much light is generated from each pixel, as a linear equation. This affects all pixels in the image and not just the bright areas.
  • Rotation The Rotation property allows for the spherical projection of the light to be rotated horizontally around the scene. Rotating the light provides different highlights, shadows, and reflections based on its positioning relative to the camera’s view.

Supported Environment light formats

Dimension currently supports three formats for loading environment lights.

  • .IBL IBL or Image Based Light is another term for an environment light. IBL is a format used to store high-dynamic range panoramic images. .IBL files are packaged containers that hold multiple images for lighting, reflections, and backgrounds in a single package.
  • .HDR/.EXR These image formats store high-dynamic range imagery. Unlike the IBL format, .HDR and .EXR do not contain separate reflection and lighting images.
  • .JPG/.PNG Dimension supports low-dynamic range images such as .PNG and .JPG as an environment light. To improve the lighting results, Dimension converts them into a 360 panoramic image using Content Aware Fill technology from Photoshop to fill in the missing areas. However, dramatic lighting and shadows are not produced and are best paired with sunlight. Since the images are low-dynamic range, they provide ambient lighting and reflections. However, dramatic lighting and shadows are best created with sunlight.


Dimension integrates the V-Ray rendering engine and uses the Sunlight feature of the renderer. Sunlight is a customizable system which generates an artificial sun to provide strong directional lighting and shadows.

An abstract scene created with strong directional sunlight for dramatic shadows.

Colorize By default, the sunlight has its own coloring based on natural sunlight. When the height of the sun is high, the sunlight is blue-white. As the height decreases the sun changes to yellow and red, mimicking real-world sun color temperature. The Colorize property overrides the default color of the sun with a user selected color.

Intensity The Intensity property controls the brightness of the light generated by the sun. The sun is naturally brighter when it's high and dimmer when it's near the horizon.

Height The Height property controls the vertical rotation of the sun. A higher height provides top-down lighting while a lower height provides strong side-lighting. When Colorize is off, the height slider maps the coloring of the sun to time of day: 90° would be noon with bright white lighting, while 0° would be dusk or dawn with reddish lighting.

Rotation The Rotation property controls the horizontal rotation of the sun around the scene.

Cloudiness The Cloudiness property controls how direct the sunlight is. At a low cloudiness value, the sun is directly lighting the scene and produces hard edged, crisp shadows. At a high cloudiness value, the sun is being dispersed through atmospheric elements like clouds or fog and produces soft, faded shadows.

Match lighting to a background image

Dimension has a powerful set of features for compositing 3D scenes into 2D images. After loading a background, use the Match Image feature to allow Dimension to automatically align the perspective and generate lighting.

A model shown with a background and default light (left), then with a background which has used Match Image to generate lighting (right).

Environment Light Dimension converts a standard background image into a 360 panoramic image using Content Aware Fill technology from Photoshop. This fills in the missing areas, giving you custom lighting and reflections to match your background.

Sunlight You can allow Dimension to match the strongest lighting with the sunlight, by aligning the rotation and intensity to the directional light of the image.

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