Lighting Design Basics

3-Point Lighting



In lighting, as in most creative endeavors, there are basic design guidelines. Mastering these guidelines provides a firm foundation for the development of your lighting skills and provides a starting point for more creative and daring lighting designs. One of the basic guidelines for designing a workable lighting design is called 3-point lighting. The 3-point lighting design uses three light sources to illuminate the subject, provide shape and 3 dimentionality, and separate the subject from the background. These three light sources are the Key light, Fill light, and Back light.

The KEY light is the dominant light source striking the subject. Typically, the key light is at least twice as bright as the fill light.  


Key light

In the basic 3-point design, the KEY light is placed 45 degrees to the side of the subject and at a 45 degree angle above the subject.

Key diagram

Key angle


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