Lighting in SketchUp

Overview

As SketchUp has no lights of its own, Enscape provides lights that are accessed via the Enscape Objects window, either using the Extensions menu option or via the Enscape ribbon, if it is active.

Enscape Objects button

Enscape Objects button

Enscape Objects window

Enscape Objects window

NOTE
Real-time rendering is unable to process an unlimited number of lights sources, depending on your hardware. While equally spread lights are usually no problem, many lights overlapping each other can impact performance in Enscape.

As you can see, you have five light sources to choose from:

These can be easily placed with two to four clicks, which we will describe below.

Light Types

Sphere Light

A sphere light is essentially an omni or point light in that the light sends out light rays equally in all directions from a single point, meaning there is a gentle fall-off in all directions.

Two click is all it takes to place a sphere light, the first click will select the surface or axis off which the placement of the actual light source is based of, and the second click will place the light itself.

Select the surface/axis the placement of the light source is based off

Select the surface/axis the placement of the light source is based off

Second click places the sphere light

Second click places the sphere light

You can then adjust the intensity of the light using the “Luminous Intensity” slider, which is then shown in SketchUp by the size of the light object increasing / decreasing respectively.

Adjust the intensity of the sphere light

Adjust the intensity of the sphere light

You will also see the change in the Enscape window. Here we have created a simple white cube object in the scene so that the light has something to cast on to.

NOTE
If it appears as if you don’t see the intensity changing in the Enscape window, you probably have the Auto Exposure setting enabled (Visual Settings / Rendering Tab). This will cause Enscape to mimic the human eye and adjust the overall brightness automatically. Disable this setting to get a neutral impression of how bright the light is.
Intensity of the sphere light viewed in Enscape

Intensity of the sphere light viewed in Enscape

Adjusting the radius of the light (in meters) will result in the central area of the light becoming brighter, and the light fallof stretching across a wider area. This adjustment is only visible in the Enscape window.

NOTE
The light radius is best visible in reflections!
Adjust the radius of the sphere light

Adjust the radius of the sphere light

Spot Light

A spot light is placed with four clicks, the first two clicks determining the end point and the second two clicks determining the direction of the light cone. It is sometimes easier to quickly place the light and then adjust it to how you want it to be after the initial placement.

So, to place a spotlight, click once to select the surface or axis off which the placement of the actual light source is based of.

Click 1: Pick Spot light source placement surface / axis

Click 1: Pick Spot light source placement surface / axis

Moving the mouse will then allow you to define the axis or face that you wish the light to run along or be placed.

Once decided, make the second click to define the lights light source.

Click 2: Place the light source

Click 2: Place the light source

Move the mouse again to select the surface or axis off which the placement of the light target is based of.

Click 3: Pick Spot light target placement surface / axis

Click 3: Pick Spot light target placement surface / axis

Once you have clicked to select the face or axis, move your mouse to finally select the actual light target.

NOTE
The maximum length for a spotlight cone in Enscape is 10 Meters.
Click 4: Place light target

Click 4: Place light target

Once placement has finished you will see three red control points on the light. These can be individually clicked to alter the lights ‘From Point’, ‘Target’, and ‘Beam Angle’. You will also notice that more options become available for the light in the Enscape Objects window.

The Spot light is now placed

The Spot light is now placed

Now, you can see all of the above steps in action when placing a Spot light.

Full Spot light placement

Full Spot light placement

Clicking on the SketchUp Select button, or hitting the ESC key on the keyboard, will result in the Spot Light’s control points being hidden. Double click the light to show the light’s three red control points again.

The Spot light with its control points hidden

The Spot light with its control points hidden

As already mentioned, the Enscape Object window will show two sliders which will allow you to adjust the Luminous Intensity, which defines the brightness and range of the light (measured in Candelas), and the Beam Angle to control the width of the light’s beam.

Also available is the option to load an IES Profile file.

Spot light controls

Spot light controls

Here, the light is shown in the Enscape window when a low Luminous Intensity and Beam Angle is set.

Low Luminous Intensity and Beam Angle setting

Low Luminous Intensity and Beam Angle setting

Now shown with a high Luminous Intensity and Beam Angle being set for the light.

High Luminous Intensity and Beam Angle setting

High Luminous Intensity and Beam Angle setting

NOTE
It’s important that the light source is not placed on, but just next to, the surface of your geometry as setting it directly on an object’s surface could result in the light being obscured. The 2-Click System described above allows you to ensure the light source is placed away from an object’s surface. You can also use the Left, Up, and Right arrow keys between the first two  clicks to set the axis direction.

Rect (Rectangular) Light and Disk Light

These two lights behave in almost the same way, the only difference between the two being the shape of the beam.

The difference between these two types of lights and the Spot light, is that where the Spot light source is a single point, the Rect and Disk lights have the same shape at each end of the light.

Placing either is done in the same way as is done with the Spot Light, using the four click system.

There are some slight differences between the two lights, however.

Once a Rect light has been placed, you will get a number of control points which allow you to adjust the length and width of the beam.

Rect light control points

Rect light control points

One difference with the Rect light is that it has one control point which is colored pink.

Rect light rotate control point

Rect light rotate control point

Clicking that point will make it turn blue, and will also display two blue arrows horizontally placed either side of your mouse pointer. You can then drag the mouse horizontally to rotate the light around the light direction’s axis.  This rotation is based on the local co-ordinates of the light.

Rect light rotating

Rect light rotating

We can adjust the initial size of the Rect lights source by adjusting the the four control points, as shown here.

Adjust Rect light

Adjust Rect light

We can also achieve the same result using the sliders in the Enscape Objects window.

Adjust light Width and Length with sliders

Adjust light Width and Length with sliders

The same applies for the Disc light, although we have less parameters to control.

Disc light sliders

Disc light sliders

For both of these lights, we can adjust the intensity of the light via the Luminous Power slide, which is measured in Lumens.

Adjust the Luminous Power of a light

Adjust the Luminous Power of a light

Line Lights

Line lights are linear lights that can be used to represent fluorescent lights that are tubular in shape. Only the lights length can be adjusted, up to 3 meters in length.

The placement is done using the 2 click method, and the light, once placed, can be further defined and rotated to fit your scene.

Here you can see the initial placement, and then through the use of the lights control points, length adjustment and the two possible rotational options available.

It is worth noting that rotation of the light is only available via the control points, or the native SketchUp controls for rotation.

Placement of a Line light

Placement of a Line light

You can then adjust the Luminous Intensity of the light using the slider in the Enscape Objects window. This is measured in Candelas.

Adjust the Luminous Intensity of the Line light

Adjust the Luminous Intensity of the Line light

Coloring lights

Coloring lights is done via the use of the SketchUp Paint Bucket tool, whereby you can pick a color from the SketchUp Material Editor and apply it by clicking on to the light object in the SketchUp window. As you can see once a color has been applied you can then further adjust the color which will be seen directly in the Enscape window.

Adjust the color of an Enscape light

Adjust the color of an Enscape light

Emissive lights

Lastly, one other lighting option that is not available in the Enscape Objects window.

Emissive lighting is implemented either by adding the keyword Emissive to the material name, or through the Material Editor, which allows you more control over the materials options such as luminance, intensity, and color. You can read more about how to use this technique by clicking here.


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