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Interior Lighting QuickStart

This page provides an introduction to interior lighting in V-Ray for SketchUp.

Page Contents


This tutorial covers the basics of lighting an interior scene using V-Ray in SketchUp. It will build off of the previous Exterior Lighting Quickstart and include a variety of V-Ray Lights for both day and night renders. By the end, you will gain an understanding of the general lighting workflow for interiors in SketchUp.

To follow this tutorial, you will need to have the V-Ray for SketchUp plugin installed. This tutorial is a companion to go along with the QuickStart video posted on our YouTube channel and available here:

Tutorial Steps

Open the Example Scene

Begin by launching SketchUp. Open the project file Interior_Lighting_Start.skp, which can be downloaded from the Tutorial Assets section above.

Start an Interactive render.

Notice that the scene has a Material Override that affects everything except for the glass to allow light to come in from outside.

To see how this has been set up, navigate in the Asset Editor to Materials.

Select the Glass material, and open the Settings.

In the Options rollout, you can see that the option Can be Overridden is off, so the Glass does not respond to the Material Override set for the rest of the scene in the render settings.

Adjust the time of day so that we get light through this back window.

Go into the Settings tab.

Open the Camera rollout.

Set the Exposure Value to 9 to let more light into the camera and brighten the scene.

When you’re satisfied, Stop the Interactive render.

Setting Up Portal Lights with V-Ray Plane Lights

Next, we will make some portal lights to help light the room. From the V-Ray Toolbar, create a V-Ray Plane light.

Place and scale it like so in front of the window.

Copy this light and then and place it outside of this sliding glass door, sizing it roughly to the door’s scale.

This exterior light will send light through the glass door into the room, while the other one inside we’ll soon make into a portal light to facilitate the existing sunlight to come through from the outside environment.

Set the view to RenderView_00 and start an Interactive render.

We have a giant square of light in the scene, not quite something you see in real life.

To adjust this, open the Asset Editor, and in the Lights section, find the rectangle light.

Change the Color, and observe how the interactive render updates and fills the room with color.

In the Options, change this to a Portal light.

The render updates to fill the room with a much more natural look of light coming in from the outside.

There are two types of Portal lights, regular Portal light that I’m using here, and Simple portal light. The Simple type ignores all the objects behind it, effectively cutting a hole to let light in from your environment, while the regular Portal Light samples all the objects behind it including solid objects and those with transparent materials. If you compare the Simple portal light render to the previous regular Portal light, you can easily see how the curtains are affecting the light coming into the room, as well as slightly less illuminated overall. The Simple Portal is faster but the regular Portal look more accurate.

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Simple portal Light

We’ll stay with the Simple portal light.

Now that we have a baseline look for the lighting, turn off the Material Override, and watch the Interactive render to see the lighting with the proper materials in the scene.

Setting up the Day Production Render

Turn off Interactive and Progressive in Settings tab of the Asset Editor.

Set Quality to Very High.

Set the Resolution to 1280 x 720.

Feel free to adjust the resolution and Quality level to your system’s comfort level, as this high quality HD render will take some time to process.

Click Render.

You can continue on to the next steps with your own render or you can load the finished image as we have it. To do the latter, in the VFB, click the Load image icon.

Navigate to IL_Day_01.vrimg in the downloaded assets to load this render instead of waiting for your own, because we will be making image adjustments in the VFB next.

Color Correcting and Lens Effects with the Day Render

In the VFB, enable Show corrections control also Force color clamping to show which areas of the image are blown-out.

Enable Exposure and set the Highlight Burn to about 0.5. Be careful not to go too low, as that could flatten the appearance of the image.

For the provided render, set the Highlight Burn value to 0.75 which provides a good balance so the overbright areas are not pronounced.

Enable White Balance and set it to 6000.

The Hue/Saturation controls provides adjustments for color and lightness.

Color Balance allows a more sophisticated way to control the color in the image. Experiment with these controls to find a good color balance to your taste.

The Curve control is a good way to adjust the contrast levels in your scene.

Now click Open lens effects settings button at the bottom of the VFB.

Enable Bloom for a more photographic response to the light in the far window. Reshape this bloom and make it smaller for a more subtle effect so set the value to 20.50. The Weight parameter controls how much the bloom affects the entire image. Set this to 2.83 to provide just a hint of bloom. Then adjust the Size to 9.41.

At this point, save your image with the Save icon, and we’ll move into making a night time scene. Save your scene as well as we’ll be changing it.

Adjusting the Scene for Night

Turn on Interactive and lower your resolution to 900 x 506 for faster test rendering.

Turn Material Overrides on then start an Interactive render.

In the Asset Editor in the Lights section, disable the SunLight.

In the Settings tab. under the Environment rollout, turn off the Background map and see how much light we lose inside.

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Set the Color to a slightly darker purple and increase the Background value to 2. Then, set a Color you prefer for a nighttime sky.

As the interactive render works, feel free to adjust the background color to taste.

Afterwards, stop the render. Let’s add some artificial lights next.

Adding V-Ray Spot Lights to Scene Components

Adding a light to a single component, will add that light to all the components in the scene. We will use this for adding V-Ray Spot Lights to the pendant lights in the scene. Select a pendant light here.

Click Spot Light in the V-Ray toolbar.

Place it at the center of the pendant light. Note how it appears on all the other pendant lights.

To finish editing the component, right click once and select Close Component and repeat to select Close Group.

Adding V-Ray IES Lights and a Sphere Light

Next, let’s add a couple IES lights to this corner of the room. Move the camera to get a better view.

Click the IES Light icon in the toolbar.

Navigate to the provided 10.IES file.

Click to place the IES light in the scene.

Then make a copy of it for the other side as well. These IES lights will give a real nice look in this corner.

Finally, the kitchen area could use some general lighting. Navigate to a better view of the kitchen.

Click on Sphere Light icon in the toolbar.

Place it close to the ceiling to illuminate this portion of the house.

Fine Tuning the Lights

Return to the starting view by clicking the RenderView_00 tab, and start an Interactive render.

We will focus on the IES lights first. To isolate the IES lights, the other lights in the scene can be disabled temporarily. In the Asset Editor’s Lights section, select the V-Ray Spot Light and expand the settings. Disable the spot light as well as the Sphere Light.

Click the Render region icon in the VFB, and draw a box around this area of the image to keep render updates to just this part.

Then, select the IES light. IES profiles have brightness information built in, but we will override them for the scene. Click Override Intensity and set Intensity to 4000 to manually make those lights a bit brighter than before.

Now define this region of the image to work on the incidental kitchen light.

Give the Sphere light a little warmth to the Color.

Then boost the Intensity to 100.

If you need to, widen your render region a bit and then, select the Spot Light, and enable it.

Select the Spot Light and Enable it again. Open the Options rollout where we can see Decay and Penumbra Falloff parameters. Change Decay to Inverse Square, to more accurately show the light’s decay over distance, and set Penumbra Falloff to Smooth Cubic.

The scene gets a bit dimmer as a result. We need to change our Intensity quite a bit to account for the natural decay of the light. First set the Units to Radiant Power (W) and that gets us too bright at 30.

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Lower Intensity to 8.

Expand the Angles rollout and increase the Cone Angle to 1.8 for a wider spread. The Penumbra Angle softens the edges of the spot, so I’ll set mine to 0.8 for a more natural look.

Test a few regions to see the pendant light contributions to the scene. Here on this chair, notice that the shadows are quite sharp.

Change the Shadow Radius to 1 to add softness to them.

When you’re satisfied, turn off Region render in the VFB to update the whole image. Set an amber tone to the spotlight in its Color parameter.

You will see that a little color goes a long way.

I’ll do the same to reduce the saturation of my kitchen Sphere light.

Now since this is a general light in a corner that we don’t see directly, using an unmotivated, fixture-less light like this can make sense.

Setting up the Night Production Render

Stop the render and set my resolution back to 1280 x 720.

Turn off Interactive and Progressive; set the Quality to High.

Turn of the Material Override. Click render, and after about 35 minutes of elapsed time, we have a fantastic quality interior rendering.

Color Correcting and Lens Effects with the Night Render

For the final touches in the VFB, you can use your own render, or click Load image and select the provided IL_Night_01.vrimg

Click Show corrections control here in the VFB, to open the color adjustments available to us.

Start by adjusting Exposure as you see fit.

I’ll adjust the White Balance a bit.

Then adjust the richness of my colors with Saturation.

Then to add a little punch with some finishing in Color Balance to find the right look.

Lastly, I’ll make a slight Curve like this, to punch up the tones in the render for more impact.

When you’re happy with your own corrections, right-click on the VFB background here and select Black for the background. Click on the Globals… bar, and you’ll be able to save your color corrections to disk. Let’s load a sample we made for you after you save your own.

Just click Load and select the file night_CC_01.vccglb from the downloaded assets. Load the night_CC_02.vccglb file for a warmer, more contrasty interpretation of this render.

Close the corrections control and click Open lens effects settings icon in the VFB so we can add some lens bloom and glare.

Enable Bloom Effect and use Shape, Size, and Weight sliders to find a nice looking light bloom.

Then turn on the Glare Effect and set the Type to Glare type from camera params.

Set the Weight to about 11.3.

Notice how nicely these pod lights look.

Now we didn’t add these pod lights as traditional lights in this video, they are using emissive materials to light up, which we’ll talk about in future videos.

Zoom in on them and experiment with different bloom and glare values to get the right photographic look from these lights. Below are the final renders of the day and night renders.