How to Create Lights in MagicaVoxel using Emission

If you make voxel models in MagicaVoxel you make have come across a situation where you need to create a light. Whether it's making a streetlight for a city or the headlights on a car, lights can enhance the visual effect of your scene. In this tutorial, we will show you how to make lights using the Emission material inside of MagicaVoxel.

Create Lights in MagicaVoxel using Emission

What is an Emission Material?

If you did any searches prior to this you may have seen the word Emission being used. In 3D modeling, adding Emission to a material will make it appear as a visible source of light in your scene. This is important to understand because there is another window in MagicaVoxel called Light. This window allows you to adjust the global lighting of your scene and behaves similar to the way the sun behaves in the real world. 

However, using an Emission material will allow you to emit light from a specific voxel to create lighting effects like a light bulb or neon sign. For this tutorial we will be creating a lantern out of a sample voxel model that comes with MagicaVoxel. The center voxels will emit light onto the floor and the outer case.

This tutorial uses MagicaVoxel 0.99.6 or newer. If you need help installing MagicaVoxel, view our previous tutorial How to Install MagicaVoxel. There you can find a step by step tutorial on getting MagicaVoxel running on your computer.

Getting Started

First let’s open up MagicaVoxel. For this tutorial we will use a the "8x8x8" sample model that comes with MagicaVoxel. You can find it in the project window on the right side.

8x8x8 Sample Voxel Model File in MagicaVoxel

In this example we will be turning this model into a lantern that shines light to its surroundings. Now that we have the base for our lantern, let's add some voxels to the center for the light itself.

To add voxels select the Attach tool from the Brush window. This gives you the ability to add voxels to your model. Then select a color from the Palette window. This is the color the voxel will be when you add it. For this example we used a very bright yellow to simulate the look of a flame. Of course feel free to try other colors to create cool effects! 

Attach tool in MagicaVoxel

Now that you have your tools ready, we can create a set of voxels for the light. For ours, we created a 4x4x4 set of voxels directly in the center of our lantern base. We also turned on our Grid, which you can find in the bottom left of the screen, to make it easier to see the voxels. Go ahead and add some voxels like the image below. 

Add voxels for the lantern

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How to Create an Emission Material

As we mentioned before, in order for your voxels to emit light, you will have to change it's material to an Emission material. By default, MagicaVoxel uses Diffuse for all materials, which is basic flat shading. We will change that so that it casts lights.

So in order to create an emission material we must first switch from Model mode to Render mode. You can find that button at the top left of the screen.

Enable Render Mode in MagicaVoxel

When you click the button you’ll notice that several of the windows inside the MagicaVoxel editor change. The one we want to focus on is the new Matter window that appeared on the right side. This window allows you to change the material type for your voxels. 

Matter window in MagicaVoxel

Make sure that you have the color you picked earlier selected. As you can see the Diffuse material is currently applied to that color you selected. Change it to Emission by clicking the Emission button.

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Go ahead and change the properties to the ones I used below. This should give you some decent light.

Keep in mind that we are in Render mode, so any changes you make will have to be rendered into the main window. This will take a few seconds, but after that you should see something like this. Congratulations you just made your first light in MagicaVoxel!

How to Create Lights in MagicaVoxel using Emission

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Wrap Up

This important feature in MagicaVoxel is the starting point for creating awesome lighting effects for your voxel art. With the Emission material you can make lit up signs, street lights and even car lights. For a bonus experiment with the color of the light to adapt it for your environment. Also play around with the Power property to make your lights more intense.

Thanks for reading, and if you found this helpful please consider sharing it.

We created a video version of this tutorial on Youtube if you would like to watch the full process.


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