Light

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Light (or lighting) in Minecraft affects visibility, mob spawning, and plant growth. There are three aspects of Minecraft's lighting system: light level, internal light level, and rendered brightness.

Light level[edit]

Light levels can be found on the debug screen in Java Edition. Light may come from two sources: the sky and certain blocks. There are 16 light levels, specified by an integer from 0 (the minimum) through 15 (the maximum).

Block light[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

Block light comes from light-emitting blocks, and spreads using a flood fill algorithm.

The block light level decreases by one for each meter (block) of taxicab distance from the light source. This applies to each of the 3 coordinate axes. In other words, the light level decreases diagonally by the sum of the distances along each axis. For example:

  • If a torch with light level 14 is placed on the floor, the light level of the adjacent floor blocks in all four directions is 13, while the diagonal blocks in all four directions have a light level of 12 (14 minus 1 south, minus 1 east).
  • If a torch with light level 14 is placed on a wall one block above the floor, then the block on the floor that is one block southeast of and below the torch has a light level of 11 (14 minus 1 south, minus 1 east, minus 1 down).

On a surface, this effect produces a diamond-shaped pattern of illumination around the light source. In Bedrock Edition, light-filtering blocks can reduce more level of block light.

In Java Edition, when calculating lighting, the shapes of some blocks are detected, including and only including piston, daylight detector, enchanting table, farmland, lectern, stonecutter, grass path, snow, end portal frame, slab and stair, so that the light passing through them can only spread in specific directions. For example, the grass path prevents the light from propagating downward, but the light can propagate in other directions.

Sky light[edit]

The sky light level for blocks exposed to broad daylight is 15. Sky light cast onto blocks can spread to darker areas using a flood fill algorithm. Sky light is not reduced at night; rather, the spawning of mobs is determined by internal light values.

Opaque blocks can prevent the spread of sky light. By contrast, some transparent blocks such as glass and iron bars have no effect on the sky light level. All other transparent blocks, however, reduce the spread of sky light.

Sky light of level 15 spreading down through a transparent block, the level remains unchanged. When it spreads horizontally or upward, it reduces 1 light level. However, when it spreads through a light-filtering block, it does not follow the above two rules and attenuates specific light levels.

Sky light with a level less than 15 spreads as block light - when it propagates to adjacent (including top and bottom, six blocks in total) blocks, it is attenuated until it is 0.

In Java Edition, when calculating lighting, the shapes of some blocks are detected, including and only including piston, daylight detector, enchanting table, farmland, lectern, stonecutter, grass path, snow, end portal frame, slab, and stair. They have directional opacity, so that the light passing through them can only spread in specific directions. For example, the grass path prevents the light from propagating downward, but the light can propagate in other directions.

Light-filtering blocks[edit]

In Java Edition, all of the following light-filtering blocks decrease light by 1 level.

Light-filtering blocks in Java Edition
Icon Block
Water.png Water
Waterlogged Oak Fence.png All transparent waterlogged blocks
Bubble Column Upwards (non-fancy) BE1.png Bubble Column
Ice JE2 BE4.png Ice
Frosted Ice 1 JE2 BE2.png Frosted Ice
Cobweb JE2 BE2.png Cobweb
Oak Leaves TextureUpdate.png Leaves
Slime Block JE2 BE3.png Slime Block
Honey Block JE1 BE2.png Honey Block
Spawner JE3.png Spawner
Lava.png Lava
Beacon JE6 BE2.png Beacon
End Gateway JE2 BE1.png End Gateway
Chorus Plant JE2 BE2.png Chorus Plant
Chorus Flower JE2 BE2.png Chorus Flower
Shulker Box.png Shulker Box

In Bedrock Edition, light-filtering blocks can reduce more levels of block or sky light. The following values are the amounts by which each block decreases the light level.

Light-filtering blocks in Bedrock Edition
Icon Block Amount of decrease
Ice JE2 BE4.png Ice 3
Water.png Water 2
Cobweb JE2 BE2.png Cobweb 1
Oak Leaves TextureUpdate.png Leaves
[more information needed]

Light-emitting blocks[edit]

Comparison of the different light levels that blocks emit.

The following values are the brightness of the blocks themselves.

Icon Block Light Level
Beacon JE6 BE2.png Beacon 15
Cauldron (filled with lava) BE2.png Cauldron containing lava‌[Bedrock Edition 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 JE3 BE2.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
Shroomlight JE1 BE1.png Shroomlight[upcoming: JE 1.16 & BE 1.16.0] 15
Conduit Revision 1.png Conduit 15
Lantern.png Lantern 15
Campfire JE2 BE2.gif Campfire, when lit 15
End Rod JE2 BE2.png End Rod 14
Torch JE4 BE2.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 JE1 BE1.png Blast Furnace, when lit 13
Lit Smoker.png Smoker, when lit 13
Enchanting Table JE4 BE2.png Enchanting Table[Bedrock Edition only] 12
Glowing Obsidian BE1.png Glowing Obsidian[Bedrock Edition only] 12
Sea Pickle 3 JE1 BE1.png Sea pickle with three bodies, when in water 12
Nether Portal.png Nether Portal (block) 11
Crying Obsidian JE1 BE1.png Crying Obsidian[upcoming: JE 1.16] 10
Soul Fire.png Soul Fire[upcoming: JE 1.16 & BE 1.16.0] 10
Soul Lantern.png Soul Lantern[upcoming: JE 1.16 & BE 1.16.0] 10
Soul Torch JE1.png Soul Torch[upcoming: JE 1.16 & BE 1.16.0] 10
Soul Campfire.gif Soul Campfire, when lit‌[upcoming: JE 1.16 & BE 1.16.0] 10
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 JE2 BE2.png Ender Chest 7
Redstone Torch JE2.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 BE2.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 JE2 BE2.png End Portal Frame 1
Respawn Anchor Charges 0 JE1.pngRespawn Anchor Charges 1 JE1.gifRespawn Anchor Charges 2 JE1.gifRespawn Anchor Charges 3 JE1.gifRespawn Anchor Charges 4 JE1.gif Respawn Anchor[upcoming: JE 1.16 & BE 1.16.0] 15, 11, 7, or 3

See Respawn Anchor for details

Light Block (Light Level 1).pngLight Block (Light Level 2).pngLight Block (Light Level 3).pngLight Block (Light Level 4).pngLight Block (Light Level 5).pngLight Block (Light Level 6).pngLight Block (Light Level 7).pngLight Block (Light Level 8).pngLight Block (Light Level 9).pngLight Block (Light Level 10).pngLight Block (Light Level 11).pngLight Block (Light Level 12).pngLight Block (Light Level 13).pngLight Block (Light Level 14).pngLight Block (Light Level 15).png Light Block[Bedrock Edition only] 0 - 15

See Light Block for details

Internal light level[edit]

Internal sky light versus time and sky light

The internal light level is used for calculations within the game. The game uses the internal light level of one block to compute aspects of the game, which include mob spawning, plant growth, and daylight detector outputs.

The game uses sky light, time, and weather to calculate an internal sky light value (also known as darkening sky light), then uses the maximum level of the block light and the internal sky light to calculate the internal light (formula: (max(internal sky light,block light))). This value is an integer with a maximum level of 15; it can also be negative.

Here are the levels of internal sky light at a sky light of level 15:

Internal sky light Clear Rain or Snowfall Thunder
Time Time Time Time Time Time
4 13670–22330 13670–22330 13670–22330
5 22331–22491 13509–13669 22331–22565 13436–13669 22331–22671 13330–13669
6 22492–22652 13348–13508 22566–23798 13203–13435 22672–23010 12990–13329
7 22653–22812‌[JE only]
22653–22813‌[BE only]
13188–13347 23799–23031 12969–13202 23011–23352 12648–12989
8 22813‌[JE only]–22973
22814‌[BE only]–22973
13027–13187 23032–23266 12734–12968 23353–23700 12300–12647
9 22974–23134 12867–13026 23267–23504 12497–12733 23701–59 11941‌[JE only]–12299
11942‌[BE only]–12299
10 23135–23296 12705–12866 23505–23745 12256–12496 60–11940‌[JE only]
60–11941‌[BE only]
11 23297–23459 12542–12704 23746–23991 12010–12255 N/A
12 23460–23623‌[JE only]
23460–23624‌[BE only]
12377–12541 23992–12009 N/A
13 23624‌[JE only]–23790
23625‌[BE only]–23790
12210–12376 N/A N/A
14 23791–23960 12041–12209 N/A N/A
15 23961–12040 N/A N/A

To obtain an internal sky light for a sky light level s less than 15, take the internal level at 15 l and subtract it with the difference between s and 15: l–(15–s).

Icon Time Internal sky light when sky light is 15
noon, during clear weather 15

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

Effects of internal light[edit]

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

Mobs[edit]

Level ≤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, burn in sunlight
Drowned Spawn in oceans and rivers Hostile, do not spawn Burn 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, burn 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, teleport randomly and often ignore players when in sunlight
  1. These restrictions apply only to Silverfish spawned in a Spawner, not from an Infested Block.

Blocks[edit]

Level ≤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 there is no opaque or semi-transparent block on top
Frosted Ice See Frosted Ice for details
Daylight detector Output
  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.

Other[edit]

In Java Edition, the light in predicate is internal light-level.

Level ≤3 Level 4-7 Level 8 Level 9 Level 10 Level 11 Level 12 Level 13–15
Cave Ambience [more information needed]

Rendered brightness[edit]

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

The game uses the light level (instead of internal light level), time, and weather to compute the rendered brightness of a given block or an entity. Light is completely monochromatic and cannot be truly colored.

As mentioned above, sky light is not reduced at night, instead, the brightness curve itself changes based on the time. Entities cast circular‌[Java Edition only] or tridecagonal‌[Bedrock Edition only] shadows; however, these are unrelated to the rendering of blocks.

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 applies to 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)

Smooth lighting[edit]

The difference between Smooth Lighting on and off.

Smooth lighting is a lighting engine that blends light levels across block faces and darkens corners using ambient occlusion to add semi-realistic shadows and glowing from light sources. It affects only rendered brightness, not the 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, it has three settings: Maximum, Minimum (an older version of the engine), 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. [needs testing]
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
0.3120091223-1Added 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)..
20100109There 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.
20100212-1Sunlight'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]
1.8Pre-releaseImplemented 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.
1.7.213w36aBlack 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.
1.14.2pre4All light will now be re-calculated the first time a world saved in a previous version is opened.
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 the 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]