Blender – Adding a texture to an Area Light

Software:
Blender 2.82

Adding a texture to an area light can make it produce softer and more detailed highlights and an overall more organic lighting effect.

Note:
Since an Area light in Blender isn’t rendered as an actual mesh object with UV coordinates, it’s texture coordinates are parametric (see below).

Adding a texture to an Area Light:

  1. In the Area Light properties click the Use Nodes button (see image A) to initiate its node graph and allow texturing it.
  2. In the Shader Editor view (with the light selected), drop your texture to the light’s node graph and connect it to the light’s Emission node’s Color input. (see image B)
  3. Create a new Input > Geometry node, and connect it’s Parametric output to the Image Texture’s Vector input. (see image B)

A. Without a texture the Area light produces a hard flat highlight:
a

B. With the vignette texture, the Area light now has a more subtle organic effect:
* The Emission node’s Strength was increased in this case to compensate for the lower light output with the texture.
b
Related posts:

  1. Cycles Area Light pleasent surprise
  2. Cycles Area Light shader visibility

5 thoughts on “Blender – Adding a texture to an Area Light

  1. Thank you very much for posting this!! Something I’ve been struggling with for a while – wanting to texture area lights but not knowing how to get the projection of the texture set up correctly πŸ™‚

  2. Hey there,

    Thanks for posting this. It helped me out a lot!

    I do have problem with this method as it seems to be making all the black areas of the texture translucent.

    For example. If I would load a texture of a Beauty dish with a grid on it, the grid and all the dark parts of the texture would not show up in the reflections of the object that im rendering.
    Instead of also showing the dark areas of the texture it masks them out. Any Idea if there is a way to keep the dark areas as part of the light? That way they would show up in the reflections as they would in photography.

    I hope that makes sense.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Jazz,
      I’m glad you found this post useful!
      When an image is used as a texture of a light source,
      Dark areas in the image = no light output, and so no reflection.
      If the reflective surface is metallic, like a mirror finish,
      The result will be that the dark areas in the texture appear to be dark as they are in the reflection (i.e. no reflection), and the bright areas will be tinted by the hue of the metal (yellowish for in case of gold for example).
      But, in case the reflective surface is dielectric, like a red plastic for example,
      What will appear in the reflection in the dark areas of the texture (no reflection) will not be darkness, but the red diffuse color (i.e. diffuse reflection) of the red plastic material, so the result will be a reflection of the bright areas in the texture added to the overall red diffuse color.
      Hope this is helpful,
      Cheers!
      Oded

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