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Not to be confused with Lightning.
This article is about the game mechanic. For the block called "Light" in Java Edition and "Light Block" in Bedrock Edition, see Light Block.
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Lighting preview

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[]

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[]

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 - 1 (south) - 1 (east) - 1 (down)).

In Bedrock Edition, light-filtering blocks can reduce more than 1 level of block light.

On a surface, this effect produces a diamond-shaped pattern of illumination around the light source.

In Java Edition, when calculating lighting, the shapes of some blocks are detected: pistons, daylight detectors, enchanting tables, farmland, lecterns, stonecutters, dirt paths, snow, end portal frames, slabs and stairs, so that the light passing through them can spread only in specific directions. For example, dirt paths prevents the light from propagating downward, but the light can propagate in other directions.

Sky light[]

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, transparent blocks such as glass and iron bars have no effect on the sky light level. All light-filtering blocks, however, reduce the spread of sky light.

When sky light of a level of 15 spreads 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: piston, daylight detectors, enchanting table, farmland, lectern, stonecutter, grass path, snow, end portal frame, slabs, and stairs. They have directional opacity, so that the light passing through them can spread only 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[]

In Java Edition, all of the following light-filtering blocks decrease sky light by 1 level (but do not affect block light).

Light-filtering blocks in Java Edition
Icon Block
Water JE16-a1 Water
Waterlogged Oak Fence All transparent waterlogged blocks
Bubble Column Bubble Column
Ice Ice
Frosted Ice Frosted Ice
Cobweb Cobweb
Oak Leaves Leaves
Slime Block Slime Block
Honey Block Honey Block
Monster Spawner Monster Spawner
Lava Lava
Beacon Beacon
End Gateway End Gateway
Chorus Plant Chorus Plant
Chorus Flower Chorus Flower
Shulker Box 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
Beacon Beacon 14
Anvil BE Anvil 3
Hopper Hopper
Brewing Stand Brewing Stand
Cauldron Cauldron
Ice Ice
Frosted Ice Frosted Ice
Water BE Water 2
Cobweb Cobweb 1
Oak Leaves BE Leaves
Powder Snow Powder Snow
Stone Slab Slabs (except double slabs)

Light-emitting blocks[]

The following values are the brightness of the blocks themselves.
Light Level Block
15 Beacon, Conduit, End Gateway, End Portal, Fire, Four waterlogged Sea Pickles, Froglight, Glowstone, Jack o'Lantern, Lantern, Lava, Lava Cauldron, Lit Campfire, Lit Redstone Lamp, Respawn Anchor fully charged, Sea Lantern, Shroomlight
14 Colored Torches[edu & BE only], Cave Vines with berries, End Rod, Torch, Underwater Torch[edu & BE only]
13 Blast Furnace when lit, Furnace when lit, Smoker when lit
12 Four lit Candles, Glowing Obsidian[edu & BE only], Three waterlogged Sea Pickles
11 Nether Portal, Respawn Anchor 34 charged
10 Crying Obsidian, Lit Soul Campfire, Soul Fire, Soul Lantern, Soul Torch
9 Three lit Candles, Lit Deepslate Redstone Ore, Lit Redstone Ore, Two waterlogged Sea Pickles
7 Enchanting Table, Ender Chest, Glow Lichen, Lit Redstone Torch, Respawn Anchor 12 charged
6 One waterlogged Sea Pickle, Sculk Catalyst, Two lit Candles
5 Amethyst Cluster
4 Large Amethyst Bud
3 Magma Block, One lit Candle, Respawn Anchor 14 charged
2 Medium Amethyst Bud
1 Brewing Stand, Brown Mushroom, Dragon Egg, End Portal Frame, Sculk Sensor, Small Amethyst Bud
0–15 Light Block

Comparison of the different light levels that blocks emit.

Internal light level[]

Internal light with time and skylight

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 13,670–(Midnight/18,000)-22,330

(8,660 Gtk/7:13)


(8,660 Gtk/7:13)


(8,660 Gtk/7:13)

5 22,331–22,491

(160 Gtk/8 sec)


(160 Gtk/8 sec)









6 22,492–22,652

(160 Gtk/8 sec)


(160 Gtk/8 sec)









7 22,653–22,812‌[JE only]
22,653–22,813‌[BE only]J: (159 Gtk/7.95 sec)

B: (160 Gtk/8 sec)


(159 Gtk/7.95 sec)









8 22,813‌[JE only]–22,973
22,814‌[BE only]–22,973

J: (160 Gtk/8 sec)

B: (159 Gtk/7.95 sec)


(160 Gtk/8 sec)









9 22,974–23,134

(160 Gtk/8 sec)


(159 Gtk/7.95 sec)






(240 Gtk/12 sec)

11,941‌[JE only]–(Dusk/12,000)-12,299
11,942‌[BE only]–(Dusk/12,000)-12,299

J:(358 Gtk/17.9 sec)

B:(357 Gtk/17.85 sec)

10 23,135–23,296

(161 Gtk/8.05 sec)


(161 Gtk/8.05 sec)





60–(Noon/6,000)-11,940‌[JE only]
60–(Noon/6,000)-11,941‌[BE only]J: (11,880 Gtk/9:54)

B: (11,881 Gtk/9:54)

11 23,297–23,459

(162 Gtk/8.1 sec)


(162 Gtk/8.1 sec)





12 23,460–23,623‌[JE only]
23,460–23,624‌[BE only]J: (163 Gtk/8.15 sec)

B: (164/8.2 sec)


(164 Gtk/8.2 sec)


(12,017 Gtk/10:00.85)

13 23,624‌[JE only]–23,790
23,625‌[BE only]–23,790

J: (166 Gtk/8.3 sec)

B: (165 Gtk/8.25 sec)


(166 Gtk/8.3 sec)

14 23,791–23,960

(169 Gtk/8.45 sec)


(168 Gtk/8.4 sec)

15 23,961–(Dawn/24,000/0)(Noon/6,000)(Dusk/12,000)-12,040 N/A N/A

To obtain an internal sky light for a sky light level s less than 15, take the internal level L at 15 and subtract from it the difference between 15 and s: 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[]

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


Mobs may ignore the light level they are supposed to spawn in after using /fill.[1]

Light level >

Mob v

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Bats Spawn at y: 0–62 Spawn at y: 0–62 from October 20 to November 3‌[JE only] Do not spawn
Blazes Spawn in Nether Fortresses Do not spawn
Wither Skeletons Spawn in Nether Fortresses Do not spawn
Zombified Piglins Spawn in the Nether Do not spawn
Slimes (slime chunk) Spawn in slime chunks at y: -64–40
Slimes (swamp) Spawn in swamp biomes at y: 50–70 Do not spawn
Chicken jockeys
Spawn in the Overworld Skeletons spawn in the Nether Do not spawn Do not spawn, burn in sunlight
Drowned Spawn in oceans and rivers Hostile, do not spawn Burn in sunlight, ignore player outside water when in sunlight
Spawn in the Overworld Do not spawn
Phantoms Spawn in the Overworld if player hasn't entered a bed in over 3 in-game days Do not spawn Burn in sunlight
Cave spiders
Spider jockey
Spawn in the Overworld Hostile, do not spawn Do not spawn, neutral unless provoked
Silverfish Spawn from monster spawners in the Overworld Hostile, do not spawn
Endermen Spawn in all three dimensions Spawn in the Nether Do not spawn, teleport randomly in Overworld


Block Level 0–3 Level 4–7 Level 8 Level 9 Level 10 Level 11 Level 12 Level 13–15
Snow[note 1] Forms Neither forms nor melts[note 2] Melts
Ice[note 1] Forms Neither forms nor melts[note 3] Melts
Mushrooms Spread Uproot unless on mycelium, podzol, or nylium
Pumpkin or Melon stems
[note 4]
Does not grow Grows
Beetroots[note 5]
Uproot Does not grow Grows
Grass Block
Mycelium[note 6]
Becomes dirt if opaque block or partially transparent block on top Does not spread Spreads to nearby dirt (see below)
Dirt[note 6] 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. a b Sunlight does not affect snow or ice melting.
  2. "[MC-217420] Snow neither forms nor melts at block light level 11 - Jira"Mojira, March 1, 2021.
  3. "[MC-217424] Ice neither forms nor melts at block light level 10 - Jira"Mojira, March 1, 2021.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. a b The relevant light level is that in the air block above it.

Rendered brightness[]


Examples of the internal lightmap texture (the game's brightness setting is at the default of 50). 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.

In Java Edition 20w14∞, most unique dimensions have unique lighting system. However, most of the Easter egg dimensions do not have darkness at all. Instead, they are fully bright, but in an Easter egg dimension called gallery has the blue lighting nearly identical to the Overworld at night (only significantly brighter). Easter egg dimensions that resembles the Overworld with just world generation modifications (namely busy, chess, decay, holes, pillars, rooms, slime, and zone) have the same lighting as in the Overworld. blacklight has the inverted lighting system derived from the Overworld. colors, red, green, and blue dimensions resembles the Overworld with lighting mixed with dimensional tinting, and darkness is blended with darkness at higher distances far away from the origin. Its darkness cannot be fixed with Night Vision effect.

Light level of daylight/biome
Light level >
Biome/time of day v
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Overworld (day)
Overworld (night, approximate)
Blacklight (day)
Blacklight (night, approximate)
  1. a b c d e f Brightness here refers to ITU-R BT.601 luminance value (luma)

Smooth lighting[]


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, item frames[2] and water surfaces[3] are unaffected.‌[Java Edition only]

Smooth lighting can be turned on or off in the video settings.

Ambient occlusion in Minecraft[]

This section needs cleanup to comply with the style guide. [discuss]
Please help improve this page. The talk page may contain suggestions.

In many newer games, ambient occlusion is mainly generated dynamically by the GPU. But Minecraft calculates ambient occlusion in the code based on voxel placement and brightness levels.

Ambient occlusion is responsible for adding shading to an ordinary texture. It is a layer of translucent textures, on top of the normal textures. Overlaying these AO textures onto a texture is called AO mapping. There are about five AO texture patterns used in Minecraft's smooth lighting, excluding flips and rotations, and only three patterns algorithmically. Strictly speaking, it's probably more than that. That's when the intensity changes with the brightness level. But they are solved by tint.

AO texture pattern[]

This section needs cleanup to comply with the style guide. [discuss]
Please help improve this page. The talk page may contain suggestions.

If AO mapping is selected only to the northwest of the voxel, the following pattern is possible.

Number Image
0 Aomap example (W) Aomap example (NW) Aomap example (N)
1 Aomap example (nW) Aomap example (n-w) Aomap example (Nw)
2 Aomap example (w) Aomap example (nw) Aomap example (n)
3 Aomap example (none)

These classifications allow one the ability to deduce a pattern from the placement of each voxel. The following function can then be used to compute the opacity of the voxels' vertices, depending on the presence of the side and corner voxels.

function vertexAO(side1, side2, corner) {
  return 3 - (side1 + side2 + corner)

This generates a 2x2 pixel image using the values of each vertex. The pixels are small, but when zoomed in using anti-aliasing, it gradates.

Ao texture (x40) Ao texture (x40 anti-aliasing)


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 10 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.
20100204-2Passive mobs now spawn only in higher light levels, and hostile mobs spawn only in the dark.
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.[4]
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 have a smooth transition.
Artificial light now gives a subtle "flicker."
Java Edition
1.4.212w39aDinnerbone fixed black patches in world generation,[5] and began overhauling the lighting systems such as changing the lighting of blocks to allow for directional lighting.[6][7]
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.[8]
1.814w30aThe lighting engine was significantly improved, removing most black spots present in world generation.
1.1418w43aThe lighting system has been rewritten.
18w46aAdded support for directional opacity of blocks.
1.14.2pre4All light is now re-calculated the first time a world saved in a previous version is opened.
1.1721w13aAdded light blocks, which helps the placement of light.
Pre-release 2Smooth lighting now works properly underwater.[9]
1.19.3Release Candidate 1The "Maximum" and "Minimum" settings for smooth lighting have been merged, since there is no difference between them.[10]
Pocket Edition Alpha
v0.7.0Added toggleable smooth lighting.
v0.8.0build 2Removed the ability to toggle smooth lighting.
Pocket Edition
1.1.0alpha the Smooth Lighting toggle to Video options.


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


  • In Minecraft's source code, the luminescences are defined using the floating point values in the third column. 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.