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Create highly realistic 3D architectural drawings with V-Ray, a popular third-party renderer for SketchUp. This course shows how to take a single scene with interior/exterior elements and add lights, move cameras, and enhance objects with translucent and reflective surfaces. Author Brian Bradley explains concepts like irradiance mapping, perspective correction, and fixed rate sampling, while showing how to leverage each of the V-Ray tools and its material and lighting types to achieve specific effects.
When rendering with V-Ray in SketchUp, especially if we are producing visualization pieces, there is a very high likelihood that we will need to create, or maybe recreate, artificial light sources for our scenes. V-Ray gives those four light types that can be used to cover up pretty much any such situation that may arise. If we come up to our V-Ray toolbar, we can by means of the tooltips actually examine the light types available tools. So you can see we have an Omni Light, a Rectangle Light, a Spot Light, and an IES Light.
Over the next four videos in this chapter, we're going to briefly look at each of these light types and of course examine the parameters that control them. Creating our light objects is a very simple matter indeed. All we need to do is left-mouse-click on the desired icon, find a spot in the scene that we want to place our light object, and then again simply left-mouse-click to put it into our scene. Now that process holds for each of the light types except for our Rectangle Light. If we just come and select that, you can see here what we need to do is place an initial click, which will allow us to draw out the shape of our rectangle, and then a second click will create the light object in the scene for us.
To help us keep things focused in our start scene, we're once again working with an artificially darkened environment. In this instance though, we have also disabled the V-Ray Physical Camera. This means that our light intensity will be derived only from the settings found on our light objects themselves. We don't have to take any exposure settings into account as we look at the illumination in our test renders. To take a look at the lights we have already got set up in our scene, we need to come up to our Window menu.
We just left mouse-click and then come down to Layers option. Again, select that, which will bring up the Layers dialog for us. If we just take a look down at the bottom of this dialog, you can see we have four light layers, each with a different light type placed on it. As in this particular video, we want to focus on the Omni Light, we can put a check in that box, which of course makes our Omni Light appear in the scene. And then we can just go and dismiss our Layers dialog. Something worth noting about SketchUp layers is that whenever they have a light object placed on them and then that layer is disabled or hidden, we will no longer get any illumination contribution from the light object in the scene; we have effectively turned that light off.
Of course, as we've just added a new light into our scene, this would be a good time to take a test render for ourselves. Each and every time we add new lights into the scene, it really is a good practice just to take a render of that light in isolation, and then we can see what kind of a contribution it is making in terms of illumination to our environment. So let's go across to the V-Ray toolbar and use the Start Render icon to take a test render. Straight away we can see--perhaps not surprisingly giving the name of the light type that we are working with--we can tell that we have omni directional light being cast in the scene; light is traveling in every direction.
In fact, if we examine this upright shelving unit, we can see that we have very nicely captured the emission of light from our Omni Light. You can see we have this very bright spot in the center and as we travel away from the light-emitting object, we have this nice falloff, or decay. Of course, as well as adding lights into the scene, we need to know how to control them, so let's just move our V-Ray Frame Buffer to one side while we just select our light object in the scene, and then we can right- click and in our pop-up list, we can come down to the V-Ray for SketchUp entry and then just click on the Edit Light flyout.
This brings up the Light Editor for us that houses all of the control parameters for this particular light object. We do of course want to be able to see our test render, so let's just move the Light Editor off to the side also. Now we can start to take a look at some of the control parameters. Of course we have the ability to enable or disable our light in the scene. We can set its color by means of this color swatch. We can control the Intensity or the output of our light.
We have the option to set the Unit type that we work with. You can see, at this moment in time we're working with the Luminous Power option. This means that our intensity value is set in lumens. We can of course work with any of the other real- world light units that can be found in this list. If we just come across to the Option section, you can see that we can also control the Decay, or the falloff, of light in our scene. By default, the Inverse Square setting is used. This means we get realistic behavior from our lights. The decay will act as per light in the real world.
This then is, perhaps more often than not. going to be the option that we want to use. But if our scene has special requirements, if we just drop down the list, you can see we do have other options available to us. Just below, we have the Affect Diffuse and Affect Specular options. These allow us to control how our light object will interact with scene materials. We can disable a light's contribution to diffuse components of materials or disable the way it interacts with specular components.
We do get, as you can see, considerable control over shadows from our light also. We can enable or disable. We can set shadow colors. Perhaps one of the more important options in here is this Shadow Radius setting. You may have noticed over in our test render that the shadow terminator is extremely sharp; this is because by default our Shadow Radius is set at 0. If we want realistic soft edges to our shadows, we need to increase this value. We're going to jump it up to something perhaps a little above, realistically.
But we really want to just demonstrate this effect to you, so we're going to increase it a little higher than perhaps we normally would. So let's set a value of 20 and let's click OK. Now before we take a render, I just want to use our secondary scene camera to just push in a little bit on our test objects, and then again, we can use the Start Render icon. Now, as you can see, we do get a very nice soft edge to our shadows, albeit quite a bit noisy. You may be a little bit concerned about the level of grain that we can see in these soft or area shadows.
Well, we can easily fix that using our lights controls. Let's just close out our V-Ray Frame Buffer. Let's come back to our wide camera. And again, we just want to go into our Light Editor. In here the setting that handles the quality in our soft or area shadows would be the Shadow Subdivs value. If we increase this, we will definitely smooth things out in those shadows very nicely. So that's an examination of the controls for our Omni Directional light. We do of course still have three light types that we want to look at.
So in our next video we're going to make an examination of the Rectangle Light.
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