Lighting mode

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Desktop version
Desktop-Only Content: This information applies only to the Desktop version of Terraria.
The four different lighting modes. The green light in the colored modes is caused by the Cursed Torch placed on the left.

The lighting mode determines the way light from all sources renders in the World. It is set from Terraria's settings menu, in the "video" sub-menu. There are four different lighting modes available, which can also be cycled during gameplay by pressing ⇧ Shift+F9 key.

The lighting mode also dictates whether the game will utilize certain performance-intensive visual effects, like the smoothing of liquid flow, along with the following shader effects (most of which were introduced in 1.3):

The effects above will only be applied in the Color or White lighting modes, and are deactivated in the Retro and Trippy modes.

The chosen lighting mode will have an effect on the performance of some computers. Refer to the table below for each mode's performance requirements (lower means better performance on worse computers).

Mode details

Color mode is the default. It determines light levels using pixel clusters that are smaller than tiles, which means that light transitions more smoothly. White mode does the same, but all light is white, regardless of the color of the source.

Retro mode renders light levels per-tile, producing a more "blocky" or "pixelated" look, and also renders all light as white-colored. This mode reproduces Terraria's look from before its 1.1 update. Trippy mode does the same, however, allows colored light, whose colors are similarly determined per-tile.


Mode Engine Performance requirement Effect
Color New / Color High Light transitions smoothly, and can be colored, depending on the light source.
White New / White Mid-High Light transitions smoothly, but all light is white, regardless of the source.
Retro Old / White Low All light is white, and light level is set per-tile, producing a more "blocky" look.
Trippy Old / Color Medium Same as Retro, but with color. Light level and color are set per-tile.


  • Light-producing animations become more active in the Retro and Trippy modes. Torches and other spark-releasing light sources produce sparks more actively. The same is true for the sparkle effect from Gold Chests and other sparkling items, as well as the bubbles released by Lava. This is most likely due to the difference in load.
  • On older systems, it is suggested to use the Retro and Trippy modes, as these can easily increase framerate.
  • The darkening shader produced by The Constant seed and the Radio Thing accessory does not work in the Retro and Trippy modes.


  • Desktop 1.1: New lighting engine that allows smooth sub-tile light transitions instead of per-tile, and colored light instead of all-white light. Lighting options added.