Light and Shadow Controls

Visualizer 1.3 adds huge improvements for creators of interior spaces: light/shadow controls and section planes that allow light. Not only can you get better-looking inerior spaces, you can get them faster than ever -- a lot faster. We're really excited about this, and hope you also find it a spectacular improvement to VIsualizer's usefulness.

Here's an image of the entire model shown in detail above, a great educational model of the Roman Pantheon. (We've only made one adjustment: ungrouping the section plane). In this picture, we've selected the two key checkboxes in SketchUp's "Visualizer" menu that make all the difference:

  • Respect Light/Dark Slider
  • Section Plane Allows Light

Full Pantheon Section View with Light Controls ON

Compare to the image withough turning on the new features:

Pantheon Section with Lighting Controls turned OFF

Big Difference! Not only in appearance, but also image completion time: the top image was complete in just a fraction of the lower one's time. Without extra light, the tiny window in the roof (the famous "oculus") is doing all the work of lighting the interior space -- this means a lot of scattering light and a very long render time.

The speed difference can be 10x faster or more, as we can see in the super-simple example below:

Standard Light, Standard MaterialsStandard Light, Standard Materials: 17 minutes

Standard Light, Enhanced Materials  Standard LIght, Enhanced Materials: 22 minutes

Light Control, Standard Materials Shadow/Light Controls Active, Standard Materials: less than 2 minutes

Controlled Light, Enhanced Materials Shadow/Light Controls with Enhanced Materials: about 2 minutes

As you can see, a big, big acceleration, letting you create interior images as quickly as exteriors, while still maintaining Visualizer's easy-to-use control.

Managing the Shadow Settings SketchUp's built-in Shadow Control Dialog

By default, Visualizer ignores SketchUp's bult-in shadow and lighting controls -- only the time and date are followed. If the "Respect Light/Dark Slider" option is active, however, they will instantly apply to the scene. You'll see a change right away, and Visualizer's quick response can let you interactively work-out exactly the look you need in seconds.

To get the Shadow Settings dialog shown here, just find it in the SketchUp "Windows" menu, named "Shadows." There is also a toolbar control available.

The shadow controls (and section planes) are saved by SketchUp as part of SketchUp's "Scene" mechanism, by the way -- so if you want to present multiple views with different sorts of lighting setup, it's now straightforward to construct them, save each setup as a SketchUp scene, and quickly work through your selected views.

Here's one more shot of the Pantheon, this time an interior with the section plae removed. Useing standard lighting, an interior shot like this would have been both dark and slow: hours to complete. By using the shadow and light controls, we can not only get a more complete view, but have it done in under 25 minutes!

Pantheon Interior