Lighting for Animation : The Art of Visual Storytelling book cover
1st Edition

Lighting for Animation
The Art of Visual Storytelling

ISBN 9781138018679
Published July 1, 2016 by Routledge
272 Pages

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USD $56.95

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Book Description

Lighting for Animation is designed with one goal in mind - to make you a better artist. Over the course of the book, Jasmine Katatikarn and Michael Tanzillo (Senior Lighting TDs, Blue Sky Studios) will train your eye to analyze your work more critically, and teach you approaches and techniques to improve your craft. Focusing on the main philosophies and core concepts utilized by industry professionals, this book builds the foundation for a successful career as a lighting artist in visual effects and computer animation. Inside you’ll find in-depth instruction on:


• Creating mood and storytelling through lighting

• Using light to create visual shaping

• Directing the viewer’s eye with light and color

• Gathering and utilizing reference images

• Successfully lighting and rendering workflows

• Render layers and how they can be used most effectively

• Specific lighting scenarios, including character lighting, environment lighting, and lighting an animated sequence

• Material properties and their work with lighting

• Compositing techniques essential for a lighter

• A guide on how to start your career and achieve success as a lighting artist


This book is not designed to teach software packages—there are websites, instructional manuals, online demos, and traditional courses available to teach you how to operate specific computer programs.  That type of training will teach you how to create an image; this book will teach you the technical skills you need to make that image beautiful. 


Key Features

  • Stunning examples from a variety of films serve to inspire and inform your creative choices.

  • Unique approach focuses on using lighting as a storytelling tool, rather than just telling you which buttons to press.

  • Comprehensive companion website contains lighting exercises, assets, challenges, and further resources to help you expand your skillset.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Why We Light

The Role of Lighting

Creating Visual Shaping

Directing the Viewer’s Eye

Interview with Chris Wedge – Director :: Blue Sky Studios

Chapter 2: Observing the World Around Us

Gathering Reference

Processing Reference

Utilizing Reference

Interview with Sharon Callahan - Lighting Director of Photography :: Pixar Animation Studios

Chapter 3: The Lighter’s Toolbox

Common CG Lights

Basic Properties of Light


Interview with Andrew Beddini – Technical Supervisor of Imaging :: Blue Sky Studios

Chapter 4: The Lighter’s Workflow


Understanding the Roles of Each Light

Let There Be Light!

Render Layers

Render Workflow

Interview with Mike Knapp – Art Director :: Blue Sky Studios

Chapter 5: Dissecting a Well-Lit Shot

Telling the Story By Emphasizing the Mood

Directing the Viewer’s Eye

Visual Shaping

Interview with Josh Staub – Visual Effects Supervisor & Lighting Supervisor :: Walt Disney Animation Studios

Chapter 6: Lighting Scenarios

Character Lighting


Interior Lighting

Exterior Lighting

Interview with Haji Uesato :: Blue Sky Studios

Chapter 7: Materials and Compositing


Simulating Specific Materials



The Final Touches

Interview with Brian Hill – Materials Supervisor :: Blue Sky Studios

Chapter 8: Honing the Artistic Eye

Image Breakdowns

Interview with Gabriel Portnoff – CG Supervisor :: Dreamworks Animation

Chapter 9: Lighting Walkthroughs

Lighting Scenario One :: Character Beauty Lighting

Lighting Scenario Two :: Character and Environment

Lighting Scenario Three :: Multiple Characters

Interview with Yann Mabille – Creative Director/Partner :: Interstate

Chapter 10: Master Lighting

Look Development and Master Lighting

Creating a Clean Rig

Interview with Eldar Cholich– Lighting Lead :: Blue Sky Studios

Interview with Kurt Kaminski – Lighter :: Walt Disney Animation Studios

Chapter 11: Closing Statements

Getting Started as a Lighting Artist

Thriving in the Industry

Interview with Deb Stone – Manager, Talent Development :: Blue Sky Studios

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P. Jasmine Katatikarn is a Senior Lighting Technical Director at Blue Sky Studios. She holds a B.A. in economics/art history from Vassar College and received her Master of Science in Digital Imaging and Design degree from NYU. After graduate school, she began working in the field of 3D medical visualization and moved onto vfx/commercial work, working at The Mill, Framestore, and Rhinofx for seven years before moving into feature animated film work at Blue Sky Studios.  Her lighting credits include Peanuts, Rio 2, Epic, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Rio, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Ghost Town, and The Nanny Diaries.

Michael Tanzillo is a Senior Lighting Technical Director at Blue Sky Studios. He began his career as a photographer and studio artist after completing his BFA degree in Photography from Ohio State. Michael switched his career focus and freelanced as a 3D artist before attending the Savannah College of Art and Design and receiving his MFA in Visual Effects.  In 2008, Michael joined the lighting team at Blue Sky Studios and his lighting credits include Peanuts, Rio 2, Epic, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Rio, Scrat’s Continental Crack-up, and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.  Michael has also been credited as a compositing artist on multiple projects.  

In 2012, Jasmine and Michael co-founded the online school tdu (  Together they teach lighting courses and develop web-based curriculum in multiple disciplines to train students on the artistic side of animation and visual effects.