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This tutorial covers some basic lighting setups for replicating automotive studio-style shots. The key to successful automotive rendering is with realistic 'real world' lighting. A lot of work and 'fine-tuning' goes into lighting an automobile correctly in a studio. Achieving the right lighting is key to creating interesting specular reflections that will help accentuate the aesthetics of the automobile. The tips provided here aim to make this process easier. The scenes are simply lit with a quad_light representing large studio softbox lighting. A reflector may also be added to show reflections in the side of the car body.

  • A car model is available for download here.

The scene files can be downloaded here.

More tutorials that cover automotive lighting, shading, and rendering can be found here.


The zip file consists of three lighting rig scenes. They contain the body of a car to use as a reference for positioning your car model, render camera, and floor plane/cyclorama.

Importing the CAD Data

  • Download the CAD model (link above).
  • Extract the contents and import this step file: AUDI ASSEMBLY.SLDPRT (SolidWorks Part File) into one of the lighting rig scenes.
  • Position and rotate the car so that it sits flat on the grid (in the same place as the reference car body geometry).

3ds Max defaults to the Z-Up axis, whereas the axis of this original CAD data is Y-Up. The axis can be changed to Y-Up in File -> Import (Import Settings).

File -> Import Settings

Lighting Rig Scenes

The Audi R8 car model (link at top of page) imported into the various lighting rig scenes.

Soft Edge

You can specify a smooth falloff for the edge of the light by using soft_edge in the quad_light. This creates a softer look to the specular reflections of the light in the car paint and windscreen.

Camera Vignetting

Connect a circular ramp to the filter_map of the Arnold persp_camera to provide a vignetting effect. 

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