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V-Ray lights are designed specifically to work with V-Ray and optimize its features. V-Ray also provides shadow options for standard 3ds Max lights, and utilities to assist in the lighting process.


While you can use 3ds Max standard lights with V-Ray, V-Ray includes a set of lights designed specifically for rendering with the V-Ray engine.

V-Ray also provides two shadow options for standard 3ds Max lights: Ray Traced shadows and Shadow Map shadows. These shadow types work similarly to their standard 3ds Max counterparts, but are optimized to work with V-Ray.

The V-Ray Light Meter utility helps evaluate the lighting in a scene so adjustments can be made to improve lighting.


Image courtesy of Sonny Ferian

Types of Lights

As with standard 3ds Max lights, you can create these lights using the Lights tab on the Command Panel. Depending on the scene and the effect you are trying to create with light, you might elect to use only one type of light, or any combination of lights.

  • Area lights are useful for simulating man-made light sources in an interior environment, such as lamps. An Area light can have any one of many different shapes: plane, disc, sphere, or the shape of a mesh object. A dome light, which creates light within a dome shape to create a traditional global illumination setup, is also considered an Area light.
  • A Sun light is a spherical light source placed at a specific location which simulates the sun in the sky. A Sun light has some unique qualities. Check VRaySun page for more information.
  • Photometric lights are designed to simulate light sources exactly as they behave in real life by loading and using an IES (Illumination Engineering Society) file with details about the light's behavior, such as how the light passes through lenses and its intensity and falloff.
  • Ambient light permeates a scene and illuminates from all angles equally without providing contrast.

Lighting Tools

The following tools are provided by V-Ray to assist with lighting:



V-Ray also provides shadow types that work with standard 3ds Max lights. These shadow types take into account V-Ray-specific features such as V-Ray Proxies, Displacement, and Fur. For more information, see VRayShadow.


Light Lister

This UI window is a handy way to modify many common attributes of all of the lights in the scene. It works with both V-Ray lights and standard 3ds Max lights. Find more: V-Ray Light Lister


Light Meter

The VRayLightMeter helper is an aid for showing how a scene is illuminated and is intended to simulate the use of a real-life light meter that is used in photography and film production. Find out more: VRayLightMeter




The information that is presented by VRayLightMeter does not change or otherwise affect the lighting in the scene in any way; it only reports on it. This helper is intended to provide information so you can make adjustments to the scene's lighting at your own discretion.


  • When the Store with irradiance map option is enabled on any V-Ray Light, it is then no longer treated as a direct light source and will not be available within the Light Select Render Element.