Image from "Coco"


Lighting in RenderMan is flexible but also very straightforward for users.

RenderMan includes a set of basic geometric lights, built-in. These specialized shapes - DomeLight, DistantLight, RectLight, and SphereLight (particularly the latter two) - can provide superior sampling behavior, compared with arbitrary geometry (i.e. standard geometric primitives with a light Bxdf attached). There's also a PortalLight to improve lighting interior scenes lit indirectly through openings like windows and skylights as well as a Daylight simulation.

Light Filters can also be used to modify and direct the lighting with even more control and artistic options. You can find real-world possibilities like Gobos and Cookies as well as advanced ways to link and control results like object specific intensities from a single light.

  • Note that due to these optimizations, the spherelight requires that all scale transforms be uniform, e. g. X,Y, and Z scale must all be the same so as not to skew the sphere shape into an ellipse or other form.
  • Lights are not visible in refraction/transmission by default. This can be enabled in the light visibility settings.


Note there are three main ways to light a scene:


Analytic Light Types

Geometric Light Types

Utility Light Types



Lights also have some special parameters regarding shadows and bidirectional path tracing made possible by the PxrVCM and PxrUnified integrators. You can refer to the technical memo: