A Lighting Artist Explains His Job, and It Turns out Lighting Artists Are Awesome


Animated films are fun to watch, but most people don’t realize that it takes boatloads of creatives to really pull it off. One of those behind-the-scenes jobs in animation that you’ve probably never heard of before: lighting artist.

Like Dan O’Brien. He’s a lighting artist who has contributed to some really cute scenes. But how exactly?

O’Brien went on Twitter to explain what his job is because most people just don’t know what lighting artists do. He shared some illustrations before and after his involvement so we can see exactly what he contributes for ourselves. Check out his thread:

As you can see, the scene on the left looks half-finished, while the scene on the right looks three-dimensional and has a clear mood.

It’s easy to forget that O’Brien was working on a spy film when looking at the art on the left. On the right, we really feel the tension as police sirens pop.

Softer, moodier lighting also helps us see objects and facial expressions more clearly.

You can really see what adding the lighting effects does – without them, the scenes don’t look real at all. The light adds drama, context, and emotion that just isn’t there beforehand.

Of course, O’Brien wants us to know that it takes a team to truly make a good scene great.

Animated films feature contributions from all kinds of talented artists. That’s why they take so long to make – an animated movie can take many thousands of man-hours of work, distributed among an enormous team of different types of animators.

Now that we’ve learned a little about the people behind our favorite scenes we can better appreciate their work!

What surprised you the most about the before and after shots? The comments section is open and ready for your musings.