[Skill Builder] Control shading for interior spaces

If you use SketchUp to model interior spaces, you adjust the shadow settings for every Scene you create, right? Ok, great… wait, you don’t do that? No worries; many people overlook this easy adjustment in SketchUp!

SketchUp Skill Builder: Control shading for interior spaces

This Skill Builder mainly addresses the notes in red... but if you're curious, here’s a quick tour (green) of the whole Shadow Settings panel anyway:

Follow these steps to start dialing in your shading:

  1. Go to Window > Shadows to open the Shadow Settings panel.
  2. (If needed, click on the icon in the upper right to expand the panel for more options.)
  3. Turn shadows off by using the shadows toggle in the upper left (or by going to View > Shadows).
  4. Check the Use sun for shading box to turn on the SketchUp sun.
  5. Move the Light and Dark values with the slider control until you like what you see.
  6. Note that you can also adjust the Time and Date sliders to alter the shading, but the changes will be less dramatic, so go to the Light and Dark sliders for quick adjustments.
  7. Don’t forget to save your settings by updating any corresponding Scenes.
  8. Admire (for longer than necessary) the improvements to your SketchUp model!

In the video, I also show how to instruct your ceiling to *not* cast a shadow, which can create the effect of overhead lighting when the sun is positioned directly overhead. If your ceiling plane is not casting one big unhappy shadow over your interior space, SketchUp’s simulated sun will then be able to shine “through” the ceiling and create shadows as if there were no ceiling at all. Weird, perhaps, but also useful.

Follow these steps to simulate general overhead lighting in your space:

  1. Go to Window > Entity Info to open that panel.
  2. With the Select Tool, click on the entity (in this case, the ceiling plane). Note that it can be a Group, Component, or even just a single face that is un-Grouped (gasp!).
  3. With that thing still selected, click on the icon furthest to the right in the 'Toggles' row of the Entity Info panel (see image above) to control whether or not shadows are cast by this thing. (Note that you'll also need to do this for any lighting fixtures you might have on your ceiling.)
  4. You’ll need shadows turned on for this, so engage them with the shadows toggle.
  5. Adjust your Time slider so that it’s close to noon. This is important because a midday time value produces shadows that appear to come from a light source directly overhead. You also may want to dial in the Dateslider to get those shadows just right.
  6. Save these shadow settings to a new Scene.
  7. Bask in the glow of an improved interior scene.

Thirsty for more shady information? Take a look at this stuff:


About the Author

Josh Reilly

Josh originally joined the team for a year with Google as a SketchUp Trainer in 2008 and later rejoined SketchUp with Trimble in 2013. He is a map nerd, enjoys long walks in the mountains, skiing, playing soccer, kickball, disc golf, and... any sport or backyard game out there!

More Content by Josh Reilly
Previous Article
Point clouds, scanning, and SketchUp
Point clouds, scanning, and SketchUp

Introducing the Trimble Scan Explorer Extension! This tool allows designers to import scan data from Trimbl...

Next Article
SketchUp Pro Case Study: Tropman & Tropman Architects
SketchUp Pro Case Study: Tropman & Tropman Architects

In this SketchUp Pro case study, we observe how the Australian firm Tropman & Tropman Architects are creati...