Video Tutorial: How to Create Realistic Lighting in SketchUp and Enscape

This week’s guest post comes from Vlad Moldovan of Modulus Render and will focus on lighting best practices for SketchUp and Enscape. Vlad is an architect and CGI artist who specializes in 3D photorealistic rendering and animation.

Discover Vlad’s lighting tips and watch his tutorial as he explains how to create realistic lighting in SketchUp and Enscape using different lighting types, techniques, and settings. Thank you, Vlad, for sharing your tips with us!

Creating realistic lighting in SketchUp and Enscape 

In order to achieve realistic results for my interior renders, I’m always looking at lighting. I want even lighting with soft shadows and visible contact shadows.

To do this in Enscape, I like to use the different light types (line, spot, sphere, rectangle, disk) in grouped arrangements to use them with more control over the shadows and the lighting they produce.

In the video tutorial below, I will explain the main ideas behind the lighting setup:

1. Atmosphere or outside lighting

Here, I like to bring the sun intensity down to about 20% and enable a clear horizon and white background. I also bring the shadow sharpness down to zero. This way, the yellow tones from the sun and the blue tones from the sky are greatly diminished.

Exterior lighting affecting interior Modulus Render_b

2. Fill lights or portal lights

After I have all the light fixtures in my scene, I like to add fill lights or portal lights that are made out of several line lights grouped together. These types of lights provide the scene with very soft shadows and a lot of ambient light.

3. Detail lights

These are used only on the inside of the room, just like photographic lights to enhance the final shot. In this case, I made a group out of multiple rectangle lights that are slightly moved and rotated around their axis. This spreads the light and shadow in different directions, again creating soft shadows, and they also enhance contact shadows (for example, where furniture touches the floor, or where spotlights touch the ceiling, and even when an object is close to the wall)

Lighting in Enscape and SketchUp Modulus Render_b

Furniture lighting Modulus Render_b

Lighting and shadows modulus render_b


4. Final adjustments

In this tutorial, for example, I had a 3D building outside that was kind of dark, so I used big rectangles with an emissive material to bring some light on the building without creating hard shadows.

After all the lights are set up, make sure the exposure is set correctly so that the image isn’t overexposed. I sometimes look at the live render in black and white to get a feel of the light balance in the image, without the colors of the materials (just bring the saturation down from the image settings).

This is the technique I use to achieve realistic lighting in my renders. Watch the full tutorial here:


For more Enscape tutorials, including tips on creating realistic interior lighting, check out my YouTube channel Modulus render.