Choosing the Best Lighting Plugin for Motion Graphics and 3D Renders

May 30, 2019 - By 

Trying to figure out how to get realistic reflections in your 3D renders? Want to add a colorful pop to your mograph? Check out these helpful lighting plugins and tools.

We have always stood by the words, “the best looking 3D always comes down to lighting and texturing.” That has always been part of the Greyscalegorilla mission statement dating back to the original Light Kit Pro plugin.

Lighting with Light Kit Pro 3.

Now with all the lighting options available to you, let’s figure out what tool is best for your own individual workflow.

What Cinema 4D Lighting Tools Are Available?

If you have Cinema 4D, you already have access to the built-in lighting tools for Physical/Standard/Pro-Render. If you use a third-party render engine, you’ll also have access to additional lights in each different render engine, like Redshift, Arnold, Octane, Corona, V-Ray, and others.

Greyscalegorilla also offers three different lighting plugins for Cinema 4D, as well as HDRI packs and area light maps.

Area Light Maps HDRI Link - Ford GT Dome

Lighting with HDRI Link + Area Light Maps.

Cinema 4D Lighting Plugins:

Lighting with HDRI Link + HDRI Pack Modern Industrial.

HDRI Packs

What does each lighting tool do?

Let’s dive into what each tool is best used for.

Light Kit Pro 3

Light Kit Pro 3 is the ultimate lighting plugin for Cinema 4D. Featuring seven different types of studio lights and nine backdrops, you can build and save entire light studios from scratch, or even choose from a wide selection of studio presets.

Results from Light Kit Pro 3 Render Switch.

In addition, Light Kit Pro 3 features all new Render Switch technology that offers similar looks and the ability to change between Physical/Standard, Redshift, Arnold, and Octane renderers.

Light Kit Pro 3 comes with 40 studio presets, which can be expanded to 120 studios with the Pop Studios and Product Studios packs for Light Kit Pro. Get the plugin and all the presets with the Light Kit Pro Suite.

Learn more about Light Kit Pro 3.


For Cinema 4D using third-party render engines, HDRI Link is a tag that can be applied to lights in Redshift, Octane, Arnold, Corona, V-Ray, and most other render engines. It is the most versatile lighting tool in terms of the number of compatible render engines.

HDRI Browser – featuring HDRI Link and Area Light Maps

Just add an HDRI Link tag to your dome light or area light, then use the HDRI Browser to add any Greyscalegorilla HDRI.

Learn more about HDRI Link.

HDRI Studio Rig

For Cinema 4D Physical/Standard render engines, HDRI Studio Rig is our classic plugin built for high-dynamic-range images. With the HDRI Browser, you can quickly scan through our HDRI packs and preview different looks in a flash.

Rotating HDRI with HDRI Studio Rig.

Rotate your HDRI to get the best looking results, and you can even add seamless floor backdrops all with HDRI Studio Rig. The plugin comes with 70+ HDRI, and can be expanded upon with the other HDRI packs.

Learn more about HDRI Studio Rig.

HDRI Packs + Area Light Maps

These HDRI environments and light maps are EXR files, meaning they can be used in nearly every 3D program. There are nearly 500 different HDRI available with the various packs.

For Cinema 4D users, we simplified the process with our HDRI Browser (built into HDRI Link and HDRI Studio Rig). This allows you to instantly apply our different HDRI to dome lights and area lights.

Curious about which packs are most popular? Grab any of these top selling HDRI packs.

Can’t decide which packs to get? Check out the HDRI Suite, which includes all the HDRI at a discounted price.

What is the best lighting tool for my render engine?

Choosing the right lighting tool comes down to a multitude of questions, but it can be best simplified by the render engine (or engines) you use.

These are mostly categorized as Physical/Standard for the built-in Cinema 4D render engine. Then the most popular C4D motion graphics and product viz third-party render engines, Redshift, Arnold, and Octane. Then all the specialty third-party render engines for film/television, arch viz, and other industries, V-Ray, Corona, Renderman, and dozens more.

With all the options available, we tend to simplify things into 2 categories. Cinema 4D and Non-C4D Apps. Then we break out Cinema 4D users into three groups.

Cinema 4D Render Engine Compatibility:

  • Physical/Standard
    • Light Kit Pro 3
      • Pop Studios
      • Product Studios
      • Light Kit Pro 3 Suite
    • HDRI Studio Rig
      • HDRI Packs
    • HDRI Suite
  • Redshift/Arnold/Octane
    • Light Kit Pro 3
      • Pop Studios
      • Product Studios
      • Light Kit Pro 3 Suite
    • HDRI Link
      • HDRI Packs
      • Area Light Maps
    • HDRI Suite
  • Most Other Renderers
    • HDRI Link
      • HDRI Packs
      • Area Light Maps
    • HDRI Suite

Non-C4D Apps (Maya, 3ds Max, Houdini, Blender, etc)

  • HDRI Packs
  • Area Light Maps
Posted In:  Cinema 4D News Products

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