How to create a skylight portal in Shaderlight 2016

In Shaderlight 2016 the old skylight portal placement tool has been replaced by a new version that allows you to pick any pre-existing face as a template for the portal. This makes it possible to create portals of any shape that you can create using any of SketchUp’s built-in drawing tools, or indeed with many third-party extensions.

To create a skylight portal, activate Shaderlight’s light tool and select ‘Skylight Portal’ from the pop-up menu.


Then simply click on the face you wish to use as a template. The new portal will be created precisely on top of the clicked face.


By default, the portal will face the same direction as the face you select. It is important that portals face in the direction that sun- and skylight will be travelling in – that is, the front face should be on the ‘inside’ of the enclosed space. The placement tool draws an arrow to indicate the direction of light flow and should point from the outside to the inside when you place the portal. The face under the cursor is also highlighted with a different shade of blue depending on the direction the portal will face – the ‘inside’ is a bright blue and the ‘outside’ is a dull blue.

Helpful hints

If you hold down the shift key while placing the portal, the direction of the portal will be reversed. This is helpful if the template face doesn’t already point in the correct direction.

You can also hold down the control (Windows) or option (OS X) key to erase the template face when creating the portal. Use this when selecting a temporary template face to specify the opening that the portal should cover but that doesn’t otherwise represent any geometry in your model. The standard behaviour is used when the template is a transparent or translucent object (such as a pane of glass) that should remain part of the model. Note that if the template face has an opaque material applied to it and you don’t erase it the portal will be ineffective, because the opaque face will still be blocking the light from passing through.

About Kate

Commercial Director at Shaderlight Ltd
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6 Responses to How to create a skylight portal in Shaderlight 2016

  1. Barry Nelthorpe says:

    Dear Kate,
    In your article you do not explain to a new user what a Skylight Portal does. Does it give off light ?
    You could have shown an example with and without a skylight portal. I am no nearer understanding this than I was before I read this article.
    Yours confused
    PS I have a paid copy of your software but am only just trying to work with Shaderlight.
    Wish me luck I will need it.

  2. Lisa says:

    i want to show an open door in my project is there a way to put the portal over an opening?

    • Kate says:

      Hi Lisa – To put a portal over an opening, create a temporary template face that covers the opening and use the Control (Windows) or Option (Mac) key to delete the template face as you click to create the portal.

  3. Kolin says:

    Often times the yellow arrow is running parallel to my surface when placing the portal. Is that a problem? I can still make one side dark blue and one light blue.

    • Kate says:

      No, that isn’t a problem as the portals will function correctly in the render. The colour of the portal after it has been created is what actually matters – bright blue on the inside face and dull blue-grey on the outside.

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