Light

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Light (or lighting) in Minecraft affects visibility, mob spawning, and plant growth.

Brightness[edit]

Lighting curves. Horizontal axis is block light, vertical is sky light.

There are 16 light levels, which are specified by an integer from 0 (the minimum) to 15 (the maximum). The game uses the light level of a block to compute the brightness of a given block. Light is completely monochromatic and cannot be truly colored.

The brightness of a block depends on both the level of light from other blocks and the level of sky light. Note "sky light" here is not reduced at night, instead, the brightness curve itself changes based on the time. In this, it matches the sky lighting value on the debug screen.

In general, lighting due to blocks results in a higher brightness, which is balanced by the fact that light due to blocks effectively starts at 14 (solid light-source blocks emit a level of 15, but that's for the light source block itself) while sky-light brightness is 15 outdoors. Light due to blocks also tends toward orange in the middle ranges, while sky light in the Overworld daytime is white.

In the Overworld with the "Moody" brightness setting, full daylight reaches 98% brightness,[luma 1] while at night brightness is reduced to about 17%[luma 1] and is shaded blue. Full darkness is about 5% brightness.[luma 1]

In the Nether, sky lighting doesn't play a role since there is no source of sky light (although if there were, it would reach about 99% brightness.[luma 1]) Full darkness with the "Moody" brightness setting is at about 25% brightness,[luma 1] slightly darker than a block light level of 7 and no sky light in the Overworld, and is shaded orange like block light.

In the End, sky lighting wouldn't play a role even if there were a source of sky light; this can also be seen if lightning is summoned in the End, there is no flash of brightness like there is in other dimensions. Full darkness in the End with the "Moody" brightness setting is about 28% brightness,[luma 1] and is shaded toward a bluish-green rather than the orange of the Nether and of block lighting.

  1. a b c d e f Brightness here refers to ITU-R BT.601 luminance value (luma)

Spread[edit]

T 13 12 11 10 9 8 9 10 11 12 13 T
13 12 11 10 9 8 9 8 9 10 11 12 13
12 11 10 9 8 9 10 9 8 9 10 11 12
11 10 9 8 9 10 11 10 9 8 9 10 11
10 9 8 9 10 11 12 11 10 9 8 9 10
9 8 9 10 11 12 13 12 11 10 9 8 9
8 9 10 11 12 13 T 13 12 11 10 9 8

The light from light-emitting blocks decreases by one light-level for each meter (block) of distance from the light source. Note that this applies to each of the 3 axes including N/S, E/W, and up/down. In other words, light decreases diagonally by "taxicab distance", or the sum of the distance along each axis. This means that if a torch (level 14) is placed on the floor, the light level on the adjacent floor blocks in all four directions is 13 while the diagonal blocks in all four directions has light level 12 (e.g. 14 minus 1 south, minus 1 east). Along a floor, this effect produces a diamond-shaped pattern of illumination around the light source. Light is also able to spread along complex, twisting paths if blocked by opaque blocks, using a kind of flood fill algorithm.

Remember, light decrease takes place in three dimensions. This means that if a torch (level 14) is placed on a wall one block up from the floor, then the block on the floor that is diagonally one block away (i.e.- not touching the wall) has a light level of 11 (e.g. 14 minus 1 south, minus 1 east, minus 1 down).

Sources of light[edit]

Comparison of the different light levels that blocks emit.

Blocks[edit]

The following values are the brightness of the block itself:

Icon Block Light Level
Beacon.png Beacon 15
Cauldron (filled with lava).png Cauldron containing lava‌[Bedrock and PlayStation 4 editions only] 15
End Gateway JE2 BE1.png End Gateway (block) 15
End Portal.png End Portal (block) 15
Fire.png Fire 15
Lava.png Flowing Lava 15
Glowstone JE4 BE2.png Glowstone 15
Jack o'Lantern JE3 BE2.png Jack o'Lantern 15
Lava.png Lava 15
Lit Redstone Lamp.png Redstone Lamp, when lit 15
Sea Lantern JE1 BE1.png Sea Lantern 15
Sea Pickle 4 JE1 BE1.png Sea pickle with four bodies, when in water 15
Conduit Revision 1.png Conduit 15
Lantern.png Lantern 15
Campfire.png Campfire, when lit 15
End Rod JE2 BE2.png End Rod 14
Torch.png Torch 14
Purple Torch.pngBlue Torch.pngGreen Torch.pngRed Torch.png Colored Torch[Bedrock and Education editions only] 14
Underwater Torch.png Underwater Torch[Bedrock and Education editions only] 14
Lit Furnace.png Furnace, when lit 13
Lit Blast Furnace.png Blast Furnace, when lit 13
Lit Smoker.png Smoker, when lit 13
Enchanting Table.png Enchanting Table[Bedrock Edition only] 12
Glowing Obsidian.png Glowing Obsidian[Bedrock Edition only] 12
Sea Pickle 3 JE1 BE1.png Sea pickle with three bodies, when in water 12
Portal.png Nether Portal (block) 11
Redstone Ore JE2 BE2.png Redstone Ore, when touched 9
Sea Pickle 2 JE1 BE1.png Sea pickle with two bodies, when in water 9
Ender Chest.png Ender Chest 7
Redstone Torch.png Redstone Torch, when lit 7
Sea Pickle 1 JE1 BE1.png Sea pickle with single body, when in water 6
Blue Ice JE1 BE1.png Blue Ice[Bedrock and Education editions only] 4
Spawner JE3.png Monster Spawner[Bedrock Edition only] 3
Magma Block JE2 BE2.png Magma Block 3
Brewing Stand.png Brewing Stand 1
Brown Mushroom JE2 BE2.png Brown Mushroom 1
Dragon Egg JE1 BE1.png Dragon Egg 1
End Portal Frame Revision 2.png End Portal Frame 1

Light Blocks[edit]

Light blocks have an associated value between 0 and 15 inclusive. When placed as a block, they produce this light level.‌[Bedrock Edition only]

Other[edit]

Icon Source Light Level
Sunlight 15

Sunlight, during Rain or Snowfall 12
Sunlight, during a Thunderstorm 10[storm 1]
Moonlight 4
  1. During thunderstorms, hostile mobs are allowed to spawn as if the sky light level were actually 5.

Light-filtering blocks[edit]

How ice affects light. Click through to see it animated between ice and water.

Opaque blocks prevent the spread of light; a 21×21 square of opaque material is enough to spawn mobs in the shadow underneath. By contrast, some transparent blocks such as glass and iron bars have no effect on light level. All other transparent blocks reduce the spread of light.

Leaves and cobwebs do not have any extra effect on block light, but they do diffuse sky light. This means that below these blocks, the sky light level decreases by 1 for each block of distance downward, starting at the obstruction. In Java Edition, water has the same effect. This effect can be clearly seen by creating an opaque 1×1 chimney with leaves or a cobweb at its opening at the top.

The following values are the amount by which each block decreases the light value. The light emitted decreases by one for each block of distance from the light source, more depending on the block it passes through.

Icon Block Amount of decrease
Farmland Revision 2.png Farmland Full decrease as if opaque‌[Legacy Console Edition only]
Ice JE2 BE2.png Ice 1 ‌[Bedrock Edition only]

None, but diffuses sky light at the top-most block‌[Java Edition only]

Water.png Water
Cobweb JE3 BE2.png Cobweb None, but diffuses sky light at the top-most block
Leaves.png Leaves

Mobs also cast circular‌[Java Edition only]/tridecagonal‌[Bedrock Edition only] shadows; however, these are unrelated to the light level.

Effects of light[edit]

Note: Keep in mind that light level is only one of the considerations that apply to mob spawning and plant growth.

Mobs[edit]

Level 0–3 Level 4-7 Level 8 Level 9 Level 10 Level 11 Level 12 Level 13–15
Bats Spawn at y: 0-62 Spawn at y: 0-62 from October 20th to November 3rd‌[JE only] Do not spawn
Blazes Spawn in Nether Fortresses Hostile, do not spawn
Wither skeletons Spawn in Nether Fortresses Hostile, do not spawn
Zombie Pigmen Spawn in the Nether, neutral unless provoked Do not spawn, neutral unless provoked
Slimes Spawn in swamp biomes at y: 51–69 Spawn in certain chunks in most biomes (except mushroom fields, the Nether, the End, and the Void) at y: 0–40
Zombies
Skeletons
Spawn in the Overworld Hostile, do not spawn Hostile, burns in sunlight
Drowned Spawn in ocean and river Hostile, do not spawn Burns in sunlight, ignore player outside water when in sunlight
Creepers
Witches
Silverfish[note 1]
Spawn in the Overworld Hostile, do not spawn
Phantoms Spawn in the Overworld if player hasn't entered a bed in over 3 in-game days Hostile, do not spawn Hostile, burns in sunlight
Spiders
Cave spiders
Spawn in the Overworld Hostile, do not spawn Do not spawn, neutral unless provoked
Endermen Spawn in the Overworld, the Nether and the End Do not spawn, neutral unless provoked Do not spawn, teleports randomly and often ignores players when in sunlight
  1. These restrictions apply only to Silverfish spawned in a Spawner, not from an Infested Block.

Blocks[edit]

Level 0–3 Level 4-7 Level 8 Level 9 Level 10 Level 11 Level 12 Level 13–15
Snow
Ice[note 1]
Forms, does not melt Forms and melts Melts
Mushrooms Spread Uproot unless on mycelium or podzol
Saplings
Pumpkin or Melon stems
Bamboo
[note 2]
Does not grow Grows
Wheat
Carrots
Potatoes
Beetroots[note 3]
Uproot Does not grow Grows
Grass Block
Mycelium[note 4]
Becomes dirt if opaque block or partially transparent block on top Does not spread Spreads to nearby dirt (see below)
Dirt[note 4] Does not accept spread Accepts spread if no opaque or partially transparent block on top
Frosted Ice Look at link
  1. Sunlight does not affect snow and ice. The relevant light level is what would be in the block if it were air.
  2. For growth, the relevant light level is that in the block above the plant. The growth of pumpkins or melons from a stem checks the light above the stem, not the block where the pumpkin or melon grows.
  3. For growth, the relevant light level is that in the block above the plant. For uprooting, the relevant light level is the plant block itself.
  4. a b The relevant light level is that in the air block above it. "Partially transparent" blocks are those that reduce light by at least 3 levels (2 in addition to the normal propagation reduction), such as water or ice.

Other[edit]

Level 0–3 Level 4-7 Level 8 Level 9 Level 10 Level 11 Level 12 Level 13–15
Cave Ambience On Off

Smooth lighting[edit]

The difference between Smooth Lighting on and off.

Smooth lighting (including ambient occlusion as well as interpolating lighting across block faces) is a lighting engine that blends light levels and darkens corners to add semi-realistic shadows and glowing from light sources. It affects only how the world is rendered on the screen, not how blocks calculate their light level, so it has no effect on mob spawning or crop growth. It is set on by default. Paintings and water are unaffected.‌[Java Edition only][1]

In Bedrock Edition, smooth lighting can be turned on or off in the Video settings, accessed from the Settings menu. In Java Edition and Legacy Console Edition. it has three settings: minimum, maximum, or off, and can be changed by accessing Video options from the Options menu.

Video[edit]

History[edit]

Java Edition pre-Classic
Cave game tech testThe lighting engine in Classic was simple, with only two light levels, bright and dark. "Sunlight" is emitted by the top edge of the map and hits any block that is under it, regardless of distance. It passes through transparent blocks to light blocks underneath. Blocks that do not receive light are in a dim shadow that remains at the same level of brightness no matter how far they are from a light source.
Java Edition Classic
May 26, 2009Notch discussed the feasibility of having dynamic lighting with limited range, allowing possibilities like defining blocks like lava to emit light.
Java Edition Indev
0.31December 23, 2009, 1Added 9 degrees of brightness, with a maximum of 9 for full daylight and a minimum of 0 for almost complete darkness. Brightness is a linear scale and represents its value divided by 8; for example 8 is 100% (88) and 7 is 87.5% (78)..
January 9, 2010There are now 16 degrees of brightness, with a maximum of 15 for full daylight and a minimum of 0 for almost complete darkness.
Sunlight now has a maximum light value of 15.
IndevFebruary 12, 2010, 1Sunlight's light value steadily decreases from dusk, until it reaches a night-time minimum value of 4, representing moonlight.
Java Edition Alpha
?Lighting is no longer linear.
Each brightness value below 15 is 80% as bright as the one above it. For example, 14 is 80% as bright as 15, and 13 is 64% as bright as 15.
Sunlight now has its own light array and optimizations to make dawn and dusk smoother. During dusk, nighttime, and dawn, a "darkness" value is subtracted from the sky to create the effects of different times of day.
v1.2.0previewAdded the Nether, where light decreases by 10% each level, rather than the normal 20%.
Hostile mobs could spawn in higher light levels at lower depths, using the formula 16 − (Layer / 8). At level 8 and below, mobs could spawn even in sunlight.
v1.2.1Notch reverted mob spawning to the original method, saying, "It was way too annoying. I have plans on what to do with this."
Java Edition Beta
1.3Smooth lighting engine added with the help of MrMessiah.[2]
1.8?Implemented a new lighting engine. The lighting on a block is given a tint based on the most prominent source of light.
Day/night cycles no longer require chunk updates and is a smooth transition.
Artificial light now gives a very subtle "flicker."
Added void fog, which increases darkness at extreme depths.
Java Edition
1.4.212w39aDinnerbone fixed black patches in world generation,[3] and began overhauling the lighting systems such as changing the lighting of blocks to allow for directional lighting.[4][5]
1.513w05aImproved lighting interaction with stairs.
13w06aSeveral lighting optimizations.
13w09aAdded three different levels of smooth lighting: Off, Minimum, and Maximum. Minimum uses the old Smooth Lighting, and Maximum fixes a bug with stairs.
1.7.2?Black patches in world generation and structure generation were made a lot less common.[6]
1.814w30aThe lighting engine was significantly improved, removing most black spots present in world generation.
14w34cThe void fog and particles were removed in order to improve performance.
1.1418w43aThe lighting system has been rewritten.
18w46aAdded support for directional opacity of blocks.
Pocket Edition Alpha
0.7.0Added toggleable smooth lighting.
0.8.0?Removed the ability to toggle smooth lighting for no apparent reason.
Pocket Edition
1.1.0?Readded Smooth Lighting toggle to Video options.

Issues[edit]

Issues relating to "Light" are maintained on the bug tracker. Report issues there.

Trivia[edit]

  • In Minecraft's source code, the luminescences are defined using the floating point values in the third column. In a weird quirk, these floating point numbers are fractions of 16, but are multiplied by 15 to get the integer light value.
    • This means that both 0/16 and 1/16 (0.0 and 0.0625) correspond to the integer light value 0.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]