Stop Motion Lighting Tips

We all could do with some stop motion lighting tips at times when the results of our efforts when animating do not meet our expectations.

Lighting – 3 Point System

A basic lighting setup for Stop Motion animation should include at least 2 lamps to light up your scene and reduce or avoid shadows.

However you should ideally have up to 4 light sources or lamps. But don’t be put off, 2 will work quiet well. If you are using 4 lamps then they are categorised as  

  • A Back light –  to illuminate the subject from behind.
  • A Background light – to illuminate the background of a shot.
  • A Key light – the main light source illuminating your subject or scene.
  • A Fill light – to illuminate or fill in shadows and reduce contrast.


The use of four lights is called three-point lighting. But you said four lights or lamps..I know but the background light is not counted really as it does not illuminate your subject but more the backdrop to your characters or subject.

The combination of the four lights placed in  the right position, with the correct intensity and with the right quality will create an excellent effect.

Firstly the “Key Light” is the main light that you will use for your brickfilms. It important that your key light is not too hard or too soft. By this we mean too bright or too dull (soft). If your light is very bright you can tone it down with greaseproof paper (also known as cooking paper / wax paper). We will talk more about this in our “brickfilm lighting tutorial” in the tutorial section

Key Light

This is the main light. It is usually the strongest and has the greatest influence on the look of the scene. It is placed to one side of the camera/subject at anything from 15 to 45 degrees so that this

3 Point Lighting

3 Point Lighting

side is nicely lit and the other side has some shadow.

Fill Light

This is the secondary light and is placed on the opposite side of the key light. It is used to fill the shadows created by the key. The fill is usually be softer in tone and less bright than the key. To achieve this effect, you could move the light further away or use greaseproof paper.

Back Light

The back light is placed behind the subject and lights it from the rear. Rather than providing direct lighting (like the key and fill), its purpose is to provide definition and subtle highlights around the subject’s outlines. This helps separate the subject from the background and provide a three-dimensional look.

The fourth light will be called the background light and can be used to illuminate the background of the set.

Daylight is an alternative to artificial lights. However, the problem with relying on sunlight is that the sun moves in the sky throughout the day. Shadows will move on your set following the path of the sun. Clouds and other objects in the path of your light will cause unexpected shadows that you may or may not notice until after you have finished shooting your footage. If you do shoot by sunlight, be sure to work in the middle of the day when the sun’s position in the sky remains fairly “constant”.

There are problems that you will encounter when lighting brickfilms that you would not normally encounter when filming people or other larger subjects and they are caused by their small size and their high reflectivity.

Even when using the 3 point lighting system described you still may get white spots on you characters or bricks because they are so shiny and reflective. However if you do encounter this then either move your lights back from the characters or use more greaseproof paper. Experimentation is the only way you will get it right in time as every bodies  setup will be invariably different.


Stop Motion Lighting Tips – What to use – watch the video below from  Edu Puertas

Stop Motion Lighting – What to use

Stop Motion Lighting - What to use

Stop Motion Lighting Tips – Aardman

Stop Motion Lighting Tips - Aardman

Stop Motion Lighting Tips – Brickfilms

Stop Motion Lighting Tips - Brickfilms

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