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Light Map / Shadow Map differences?

Can someone explain to me the differences between shadow maps and light maps. I have done some research and from what I read:

Light Maps:
  • Pre-calculated on a per object basis.
  • Creates a texture when baking that uses all lights projected onto a mesh.
Shadow Maps:
  • Created dynamically on a per-light basis(?)


  • Virion
    Light maps only for static objects. Plus, it can bake shadow, lighting, global illumination, ambient occlusion etc. onto the light maps because it's pre-calculated.

    Shadow maps are only for dynamic/moving objects (you can use it for static objects, but you will get performance problems if there are many objects around) and only for shadows
  • GimmeSome
    Thanks you so much that clears things up so nicely. :D
  • McGreed
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    McGreed Polycount Sponsor
    It's the same principle with static and dynamic lights, one if for lights not changing, and one if for lights changing/moving, and obviously, generating light once and leave it is much faster then dynamic lights, which needs to be calculated all the time.
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