Interior Enscape rendering of sofas and chairs and their shadows on the floor
Andreea Lipan

Andreea Lipan

Published: May 22, 2024  •  3 min read

Advancing Realism in Architectural Visualization with Ray-Traced Artificial Lights

The release of Enscape 4.0 in March has illuminated the path forward. This latest iteration includes the integration of ray-traced artificial lights (beta), which promises to redefine the very essence of how we perceive and render space in real time.

If you're an architect, interior designer, or 3D visualization professional, the insights shared here could help you unlock a new level of precision in your practice.

A revolution in realism

We're pleased to introduce ray-traced artificial lights to Windows users. This advancement has a singular mission: to make the artificial lighting appear more naturally placed in the architectural designs it illuminates.

Ray tracing is a rendering technique that can realistically simulate the lighting of a scene and its objects by rendering physically accurate reflections, refractions, shadows, and indirect lighting. Ray-traced artificial lights offer a range of improvements over the previous shadow mapping-based technique, such as the following:

  • Higher quality shadows—no aliasing of shadow borders, precise and sharp shadows for small point light sources, and physically correct soft shadows for area lights
  • No more unrealistic illumination cut-offs due to limited light radius range
  • Scalable to a large number of light sources with consistent performance


This new feature can be enabled in the Renderer settings with a graphics card that supports hardware ray-tracing.

Why it matters

In the past, small light sources in 3D scenes could create sharp, high-contrast shadows that often betrayed the fact that the light was artificial. In these cases, jagged edges and even missing shadow details were common, undermining the overall realism of the lighting scenario. By contrast, when large light sources were used, the shadows, though correctly cast in terms of direction, would lack the subtle softness one might expect in the real world.

The inclusion of ray-traced artificial lights addresses these fundamental issues head-on. It ensures that a lampshade's intricate patterns or a chandelier's network of metalwork cast the exact, detailed shadows one would anticipate.

A new paradigm in precision

With Enscape's ray-traced shadows, the size of the light source matters. Unlike legacy shadow algorithms that tend to oversimplify shadow sharpness, this new technology brings about a revolutionary paradigm in precision. Small light sources now cast meticulously sharp shadows, while larger light sources render incredibly soft shadows.

Soft shadows, precisely calculated by assessing the size of the light source, add a layer of charm to your renderings. This calculated subtleness enhances the depth of your visuals, bringing them closer to photorealism.

RE_4_0_RaytracedAL_LSRadius_1 - Medium (1)

Image captured with ray-traced artificial lights with a small light source

RE_4_0_RaytracedAL_LSRadius_20 - Medium

Image captured with ray-traced artificial lights with a large light source

An equally captivating aspect of our ray-traced artificial lights is the game-changing range extension of light sources. By eliminating unnatural cut-off points, we've successfully created a lighting environment that not only mimics the natural world but also pulls you into a space of total immersion.

Understanding limitations

While the impressive qualities of the ray-traced artificial lights are undeniable, it's important to highlight that this feature comes with slightly reduced performance due to its reliance on hardware ray-tracing technology.

Ray-traced artificial lights are an experimental feature, and the setting is default unchecked. This helps maintain your machine's performance while visualizing as you design. However, it means you have to enable 'Hardware accelerated ray-tracing' in the General Settings window when you are ready to generate final outputs.


The future is bright with Enscape 4.0

If you haven't already experienced Enscape 4.0, you can download it today to enhance your architectural visualizations with this advancement in artificial lighting.


Upgrade to 4.0


You can also share your thoughts and renderings with us on the Enscape Community Forum. The path forward might be illuminated, but it's the community that will define how we walk it.




As Kam highlighted, we're dedicated to the continuous development of Enscape’s rendering capacity as a short-term goal and dreaming big for the next few years. Our innovation and commitment push the boundaries of what's possible in our industry even further.

NEW: The State of AI in Architecture
Read the full report
newsletter-option-2 (1)
Andreea Lipan
Andreea Lipan

Andreea is the Enscape Product Marketing Manager, who focuses on tailoring the right narrative for Enscape functionalities and analyzing customer insights and workflows. With a background in architecture and interior design, her journey into the AEC industry as a university teaching assistant, architect, project coordinator, and freelance visualizer has been rewarding. It was through the process of discovering her passions, especially for VR, real-time rendering technologies, and exploring design challenges, that led her to Chaos to support creating user-friendly features for fellow architects and designers!

RE_4_0_RaytracedAL_LSRadius_1 - Medium (1)

Image captured with ray-traced artificial lights with a small light source

RE_4_0_RaytracedAL_LSRadius_20 - Medium

Image captured with ray-traced artificial lights with a large light source