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Fine-tuning your shadows

You can control which entities in your models cast shadows; you can also determine which ones are able to receive them. Case in point:

Recently, I needed an image of a traffic light that appeared to be lit up. I searched the 3D Warehouse and found a nice one uploaded by the Manager. It appears to have been modeled by Andy Glucker and made available for free on

Fine-tuning your shadows

I used Styles to make a blue sky, set my Field of View to something wider than the default, dragged my modeling window into a long, wide rectangle, and aimed my camera up:

Fine-tuning your shadows

The green light should be lit up, so I colored it bright, light green. The red and amber lights got painted darker to increase the contrast between them and the green one:

Fine-tuning your shadows

To give it some definition and make it "pop" a little, I switched on shadows. There's a problem, though: lit-up faces shouldn't be able to receive shadows.

Uncheck Receive Shadows to tell faces not to let shadows fall on themUncheck Receive Shadows to tell faces not to let shadows fall on them.

No worries; I selected the green light, opened and expanded the Entity Info dialog box, and unchecked "Receive Shadows":

Fine-tuning your shadows

I also made sure the underside of the "eyebrow" over the lamp didn't receive a shadow. To make it look like it might be receiving greenish light, I painted it a green-tinted dark gray.

It's not a photo-rendering, but it works.

About the Author

Aidan was a beloved member of the SketchUp team for ten years. He taught countless SketchUp classes, authored SketchUp books, and is a jolly fellow indeed.

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