GtkRadiant Editor Manual
Lighting a map is both an art and a science. For Quake III
Arena, the id designers worked to create instances of dramatic
lighting, while attempting to maintain a relatively consistent
intensity of light throughout the maps. Other designers worked to
create dark realms, full of shadows in which lurking assassins
Whatever style of lighting you strive for, remember one key
rule: The bots don't use light information. In a pitch-black room,
they would still see an opponent. Keep that in mind when designing
There are several ways to create light emitting objects.
The simplest is to place a light entity into your map. If you
do nothing, it has a default value of 300 and emits white light. If
you think of the light value as the wattage for an incandescent
light bulb, you are not far off target. The section on the Light
entity in the Entities Description Appendix contains specific
information on using light entities.
Textures can be made to emit light. The amount of light that
they give off is determined by two factors: the size of the texture
and the value given for its q3map_surfacelight parameter.
If you only plan on using id textures in your maps, simply use
the textures surrounded by a white box in the texture window. Many
of them have their light values as part of their names: Example:
ceil22a_5k. This would be a small, square light with a light
value of 5000. There is not a direct correspondence between
the light value of a texture light and an entity light.
If you want to make your own lights, either with new, custom
textures, or changing the light and/or color values of the emitted
light in existing id textures, plan on learning your way around the
shader files. The Shader Manual explains the light commands.
Place the new lights in unique directories. Example:
Mymapname_light\skull_light_2k. Use the q3map_editorimage key
to make multiple light intensity versions of your new lights.
Generally speaking, very small lights need to have very large
values to look right (a 32x32 pixel light could easily have a
surfacelight value of 10,000 or more). As the surface area of
the light becomes larger, the amount of light needs to be
substantially reduced for it to look right in the world. A
word of warning, though. Very large glowing surfaces (other than
skies) can look odd in the game world, especially if they are made
from a repeating texture. The light source will appear to be
generated from the center of the brush with the glowing
Quake III Arena was designed so that sky textures could
appear to emit light in a natural way. The q3map_sun parameter
creates a single light source in the sky. The mapper can control
the brightness, color, and position in the sky of this light
source. Furthermore, the designer can add a
q3map_surfacelight value to the sky, giving it an overall lighting
Ambient light is a property of the map's worldspawn entity. By
assigning a number value to the ambient key, the overall lighting
level of the map is raised. This has the tendency to flatten the
difference between light and shadow. The color of the light can
also be modified. This technique is considered a "hack." It does
not come recommended. You will find instructions that are more
complete later in this manual under the worldspawn entity heading
in the Entities Appendix.
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