Modeling with Lighting Angles

Diagram of a Single (hypothetical) Lighting Area
Plan or Top View

1. Right back light

2. Back light
3. Left back light
4. Right side light
5. Top light
6. Left side light
7. Right front light
8. Front light
9. Left front light

Cross Lighting - Plan View
Key light - 45 degrees front/side
Fill Light - 45 degrees front/opposite side
Back light - directly behind


Key Light Example Key Light Example

Section or Side View
Medium (Head height)

Cross Lighting - Section View
Key & Fill lights at 45 degrees

Photographers refer to "high key" and "low key" as terms to describe how much white or black is in a photo.


High Key Photo Example

High Key Photography

Low Key Photo Example

Low Key Photography

In the theatre, key light has to do with visibility. Key light may not be the brightest light on stage. Oftentimes, back light is brighter than key light. Key light is the brightest light coming from the front, providing the greatest amount of visiblity.

Key Light Example

Key Light from Right Side

Low Key Light Example

Low Key (Front Fill) with Strong Back Light

Variations on Cross Lighting - Plan View

Variations on Cross Lighting - Section View