Thinking outside the box with Shaderlight

As you know, here at Shaderlight we are always keen to share the great work done by our talented users.

A wonderful example was recently sent to us by the clever people at Fruntside.  The animation entitled “think outside the box” is an idea to promote modified shipping containers.

Fruntside Think Outside the Box

Manu Whatarangi, a concept designer at Fruntside, told us a little about how he uses SketchUp and Shaderlight.

“I work in the Brand Activation and Mobile Marketing industry in Australia and use Sketchup and Autodesk products to design our Mobile Marketing Units, I then use Shaderlight to render them so that myself and others can pitch them to our clients.  I choose Shaderlight because it’s fast and intuitive to use, just like SketchUp.  I recently created an animation of a basic shipping container that transforms in various ways and hope that you enjoy it!”

Funtside DJ Kombi

Be sure to have flick through some more of Manu’s concepts and renders on the Fruntside website, it really is great to see our users “thinking outside the box!”

Fruntside AMP

Thank you to Manu and the team at Fruntside for sharing their work with us.  If you’d like to do the same, please contact me at – we love to see what you’ve been up to!


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Shaderlight helps to transform New York City

Ed Wonsek is a full time digital artist who specialises in retail marketing for exclusive New York City cliental.

As an accomplished SketchUp user, it wasn’t until he started using Shaderlight that he finally saw a way he could integrate SketchUp into his workflow and still produce the quality of images his clients expect.

It absolutely blew me away….it was like the first day I discovered SketchUp.

“I primarily used digital matt painting and compositing techniques as my clients loved the effect I could achieve – straddling the line between sketchy and photo-realistic.  Although I used SketchUp, I could never really find a place for it in client work as the raw output was just not up to the standard of my matt painting techniques.”

“Rarely do I get more than a day or 2 from the time I get the phone call from the client to the delivery on an image.  My deadlines are too tight to invest the time in using high end but complex rendering software like Vray.”

“Upon discovering Shaderlight I thought I’d give it a shot.  Having used Podium unsuccessfully in the past I was sceptical however after watching the tutorial videos on YouTube I was able to dive right in to a project.  It absolutely blew me away….it was like the first day I discovered SketchUp.”

The first project that Ed completed with his SketchUp/Shaderlight workflow was the New York Yankees Clubhouse Store, a design which was inspired by the Yankees Stadium itself.  Since then he has produced hundreds of images for some of the most highly respected names in the New York commercial market however he often doesn’t have much to go on at the start of a project.


“The most I typically receive from the client is an existing photo and a brief description of their goals. I take care of everything else from that point on. Often the clients do not include existing conditions CAD files; I use my eye to design and model on the fly

“Fundamentally I am a conceptual artist. The goal is not to achieve photo-realism but instead to quickly create compelling 3D concept sketches that appear to have been created by an entire marketing and architectural team. Shaderlight is the only rendering software that I have used that can keep up with my workflow and deadlines and has, I believe, elevated the work to another level.”

The quality of Ed’s work speaks for itself however he’s been kind enough to share with us some of the detail behind the images he produces.

1530 Broadway Times Square NYC.

This is a current project under development in the heart of Times Square NYC. Since there is no building designed yet tenants are having a hard time signing on for the rent they are asking in Times Square, typically approaching $1,500/sf. At these prices, tenants won’t sign on until they understand what they are getting but owners are not willing to invest in design teams until they know who the tenants are. This work serves as the key to making the deal happen and Shaderlight has been been instrumental in expediting the process.




GM Building Ferrari

This is an excellent example of the power of Shaderlight in my workflow. The brokers discovered at the last minute Ferrari was interested in leasing a retail space on 5th Ave but we only had until the end of the day to pitch an idea to them. I realized the key to selling them on the GM Building space vs other opportunities on 5th was that remarkable plaza in front adjacent to the famous Apple cube store. I built the interior model in a few hours and then spent about 20 minutes downloading every exotic Ferrari I could find on 3D Warehouse. The ease of use and power of the Shaderlight lighting and material engine was critical in making those exotic cars the hero of the image. By arranging them in the plaza and along 59th Street, in a matter of hours we had a powerful image showcasing the unique value this property represented to the Ferrari brand. Plus it was great fun!




530 Fifth Ave NYC

Lululemon is a great brand to work with because each store is designed differently and are very creative. A tiny boutique store currently uses a Mondrian tile pattern on the exterior so I played off that for this larger scale store which the owner requested be “transparent and bold”. Shaderlight once again allowed me to quickly create a convincing interior that would have been impossible with matt painting. Shaderlight has become the cornerstone of my process at this point. Plenty has been documented regarding it’s capabilities, but what I value most is that it allows me to experiment while simultaneously making my work appear as though it has been produced by an entire team of specialist. Exactly the qualities my clients expect from me.



Visit for more information about Ed and his work.

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Learn about Shaderlight Cloud Rendering

Shaderlight Cloud Rendering 

Shaderlight Cloud Rendering is the first and only SketchUp rendering plug-in to harness the power of Cloud computing.

More and more Shaderlight customers are turning to the cloud when rendering high resolution images and animations.  Not only does it free up their desktop by rendering on high-powered 64-core machines from Limitless Computing but delivers a fast and cost effective alternative to rendering locally.

If you’ve not used Shaderlight Cloud rendering before, here’s a step by step guide to your first render or animation.

To access the Cloud plugin click the ‘Cloud’ icon on the Shaderlight toolbar. You then need to create an account to register for Cloud rendering.


Cloud Log in

My Profile.

You can change your registered details under ‘My Profile’. The email address you provide will be used to notify you that a render has finished, so please make sure this is filled in correctly.

Cloud Profie1

Under your Profile you can also add users to your account so you can share your Cloud credits with others who would like to use Cloud Rendering.

The ‘Billing’ section allows you to add more Cloud Credits and to store your card details for future Credit purchases.

Cloud Credit Prices.

Pricing for cloud rendering is based on a credit system.  When you sign up you will receive one free credit to get you started.

So what will 1 Cloud Credit get you?

  • 1 Credit = 1 Scene up to 1920×1080
  • 1 Credit = 15 frames of animation at 480p

Take a look at the online calculator to work out how many credits you need for your project.

You can also log into the Limitless Computing website to view the progress of your Renders and download them to your machine. This can also be done in the ‘My Scenes’ tab, which is mentioned below.

Uploading a New Scene.

To send a scene to the Cloud you need to click on the ‘New Scene’ tab. Here you have the options to verify or change the Shaderlight settings for the scene. Shaderlight Cloud will use the scene you have open and set up in SketchUp, so make sure you are on the correct scene in your model.

Cloud New Scene1

You can then select any alternate settings for the scene. It is advisable to check the ‘Use Max Quality’ button as you want to have the highest quality render possible. Then you can also select the render size either from the preset list or specify your own size.

Once you are happy with the settings it will show you how many credits you need for the render. You can then click the ‘Start Render’ button to upload your scene to the Cloud.

My Scenes.

Under the ‘My Scenes’ tab you can see the progress of any live renders under the ‘Active’ heading. Once a render completes you will receive an email to let you know and you can then log into the Cloud and find your render under the ‘Scenes’ heading.

Cloud My Scenes1

Any completed Animations will be under the Animations heading. You can then download your images and animations to your computer. Here are a couple scenes rendered using Shaderlight Cloud:


This Render cost 1 Cloud Credit. It was rendered at size 1980 x 720 in High Quality and took 1 hour, 9 minutes and 5 seconds to render using Shaderlight Cloud.


This Render also cost 1 Cloud Credit. It was rendered at 1980 x 720 in High Quality and took 2 Hours, 42 minutes and 30 seconds.

Cloud Rendering on the go.

Users of desktop Cloud Rendering now have the power to view their renders anywhere using an Android or Apple mobile device thanks to the Cloud Viewer app developed by Limitless Computing.


  • View SketchUp Renders (scenes and animations) associated with your Shaderlight Cloud account.
  • Save files directly to your device.
  • Check the status of on-going renders on the Cloud.
  • Control users and set user permissions
  • Manage payment information
  • Download your Shaderlight Cloud renders 24/7.

Download on iTunesGet it on Google Play

Shaderlight Animation.

Animation Toolbar

When rendering an animation locally, you must set the location and filename of the frames to be rendered and the frame rate (which is the number of frames rendered for every second of your animation).

Animation Settings copyThe Browse button allows you to select a location and a filename for your rendered frames. It is best to set up new a folder for the rendered frames.

The filename will become the prefix of the frames name. Each frame will then have a frame number after the prefix. For example if the filename is: Animation, the rendered frames will be Animation_000, Animation_0001…and so on.

The frame rate sets how many frames are rendered for every second of your SketchUp animation. The more frames you render per second, the smoother the animation will appear when it is played back. But the more frames, the longer the animation will take to render.

You will see Shaderlight displays the total number of frames to be rendered for the whole SketchUp animation, based on the chosen settings. You have the option to render part of the animation or the complete animation using the Scenes/Frame Range controls.

When happy with the settings, you can click on the ‘Render’ button to start rendering your animation. You can also upload your animation to the Cloud….

Uploading an Animation.

Cloud New Animation1

The same process applies when you want to upload an animation to the Cloud. Firstly you need to verify the Shaderlight settings. You can change the frame rate which will determine the speed of the animation. As you change the Frame rate, you will see it gives you a break down of how long the Animation will be and how many frames it will render.

Then as with a scene you can check the Max Quality box and specify the animation render size. When you are happy with the settings you can upload the model by clicking ‘Start Animation’.

When your animation has finished rendering on the Cloud, you will receive an email and you will be able to download the frames or the finished animation in a compressed video format.

Here is an example of an animation rendered using Shaderlight Cloud:

If you need any help getting started with Shaderlight Cloud rendering, then please contact with any questions.

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Shaderlight contest winners announced

The winners of our third annual render contest have been announced and, once again, we have been blown away by the quality and creativity of the images we received – you clever lot!

The judges may have picked their top three but we wanted to make sure that all of our favourite images got a mention.  Here are the top 12 Royal Nursery renders from this years’ competition.

First place went to Adriano Lombre with this fantastic render.  The judges were impressed not just by the quality of the image but the innovative wide screen presentation.Yellow_room

“My thought process behind my design was classical simplicity. The nursery fits into a classic room with large windows, high wainscot, crown molding, and a tall ceiling. It is more than just a modern room holding a crib, toys, and dresser, but one of a comfortable meeting place for mom, baby, and family.”

Dane Wild took second place with a much more understated design that used a nice balance of natural and artificial lighting that made the room warm and inviting.Clouds

In third place was Connor Titus.  His render of a brought the outside in to the room through patio doors leading to a balcony.Union_jack

In no particular order, here are the renders that didn’t quite make it to the top three but we think are great!

Balloonsby Karen Whittle

Blue_roomby Sukrit Srisakulchawla

Grey_roomby Marcus Renaud

London_busby Brett Tripp

Nightby Daniel Ubalde

Red_carpetby Sterling Leyminster

Rocking_horseby John Barber

Royal_crestBy Brian Goodnough

Spotlightby Richard Thurlow

Thank you to everyone who took the time to send us their renders and congratulations to our winners. 

Thank you to our judges too – Daniel Tal, Mike Tadros and Eric Schimelpfenig – you did a great job!

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Streamline your SketchUp models for rendering with Replace Me

What is Replace Me?

We all know that too many complicated or detailed components in your model can cause the performance of SketchUp to slow down and consequently, slow down your rendering.

Shaderlight’s unique Replace Me feature allows you to render detailed 3D components without having the heavy geometry in your SketchUp Model. Replace Me components are simple, lightweight components which, when rendered in Shaderlight will appear as detailed and textured objects. The Replace Me feature is only available for SketchUp 8.0 or later.

Replace Me 1

In this SketchUp Model I have used a combination of Replace Me Tree components from the Shaderlight Library and also created my own Replace Me components. This Tutorial will explain how to use Replace Me in both ways.

Mountain scene

Shaderlight Replace Me Component Collection

We have created a series of Replace Me Trees and People on the 3D Warehouse which can be downloaded straight into your SketchUp model.

You can access them from the SketchUp Toolbar under: Window> Components. Then type ‘Shaderlight Library’ in the search bar.

Window-components Shaderlight Library copy

Follow the steps below to get your Replace Me component into your SketchUp model:

SL Library and Replace Me

Once you have found the model you want, simply select it and the model will be downloaded straight into SketchUp.

Replace Me Components

By adding the Replace Me library to your favorites, you can then access it anytime you want from the components browser favorites menu.

Replace me favourites

All of the components in the Shaderlight Library are very simple and usually have a ‘face me’ billboard  and a marker on the ground to show the ‘footprint’ and orientation of the detailed model when rendered.

Replace Me Tree

Rendering your Replace me component

When you are happy with the position of your Replace Me component you can render it and see how Shaderlight brings your model to life!

Click the Render button on the Shaderlight Toolbar:


Shaderlight automatically downloads a detailed component for each different Replace Me component in your model. This only happens the first time you render as the detailed replacement model is cached on your computers hard drive so there’s no delay in rendering.

Shaderlight will then render using the detailed model instead of the Replace Me model seen in SketchUp.

Rendered Tree

If for any reason you need to disable Replace Me, this can be done on the SketchUp Toolbar under Plugins> Shaderlight for SketchUp menu. If you uncheck the Replace Me then only the simple Replace Me components will be rendered and not the detailed ones.

Disable Replace Me

Creating your own Replace Me Component

You can use models on the 3D warehouse or models saved on your machine to create your own  Replace Me components.

  • Using a 3D Warehouse Model…

To do this, on the SketchUp Toolbar select Plugins> Shaderlight for SketchUp> Replace Me Creator. You can either make a simple component or select a component you want to replace in your model. You will see the component name appear in the Replace Me Creator.

Replace Me Creator

To replace your Component with a model from the 3D Warehouse you need to copy the URL of the Warehouse model. To do this select the ‘Download Model’ button and right-click on the download link, then select ‘Copy Shortcut’.

Replace me Warehouse

The shortcut needs to be pasted into the Source box on the Replace me Creator:

Replace Me link

Then when you render, the component will be replaced with your 3D Warehouse model!

Replace Me Creator render

You can then duplicate the Component and watch your Render update as you go!

Multiple Replace Me

  • Using a model located on your machine

To create a Replace Me model using a component saved on your machine, the process is very similar. The benefits of this are that you can modify the model and change the finishes so you are happy with the model before you use it as a Replace Me.

You need to open the Replace Me creator box and select the component you wish to replace. Next, use the ‘open’ button and then navigate to the model you would like to use as a replacement component.

Replace Me computer

You should then find that the source code will appear once you have selected the model on your machine. Then hit render and watch your Replace Me component transform your SketchUp model!


If you have any questions about getting the most out of Shaderlight , please head to our forum or check out our YouTube Channel.

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Rendering Glass

Rendering Glass in Shaderlight

We often get asked about how to render glass – a difficult question to answer as it really depends on the type of glass you are trying to create. For example a double glazed frosted window would require different settings to a single pane of glass.

The simplest way to render a glass material is by using the SketchUp Translucent Presets in the Material Editor.  These will then be set to ‘Auto’ in the Shaderlight Material Editor giving you glass.  Alternatively, you can change the Shaderlight finish type or use any other material and change it to be Transparent or Translucent to get the effect you want for your final image.


Glass Colour Settings   Transparent1jpgShaderlight’s Transparent setting is probably the most frequently used for creating Glass.

Transparent material is opaque and can also be coloured. It will produce reflections in the same way you would expect for normal glass.

Thin Glass Vs Thick Glass

What is the difference between Thin and Thick Glass?

The main difference between the two is that thick glass will refract where as thin glass will not.  Refraction means ‘The bending of a wave, such a light as it passes from one medium to another medium of different density.’

So if you are wanting to render an object which has more than one face, for example a double glazed window, then it would be best to use Thick Glass to that the light is refracted and reflected in the window. If you are creating a single sheet glass panel, then Thin Glass would be suitable.

Here is a render showing a wine bottle & glass. The colour used is just ‘white’ then in the Shaderlight Material Editor I have set the glass to be ‘Transparent’, ‘Thick Glass’.


Wine Bottle & Glass Settings

A little Tip…

We often have questions about glass material not showing as ‘opaque’ on all sides. SketchUp will see a single sheet as having 2 faces – a front and a back so you need to make sure that all the faces of your object are set to the same glass material for it to render correctly.

When you have a box or cube which you want to be glass, the same applies that each face has a front and back. So if you find one of the sides is not showing as opaque glass in your render you need to check all the faces are set to the correct material. There are 2 ways in which to do this:

1) Select the face so that it highlights in SketchUp, right click Reverse Faces. This will then flip that face round to expose the other side so you can check the material settings.

2) If the object is big enough navigate until you are inside so you can see the internal faces to check the materials.

All Glass


Glass TranslucentTranslucent1

Translucent Material is generally more cloudy and therefore does not reflect as much as Transparent Material.  It can be used to create a frosted window or anything where the glass is to be less opaque.  Again, Translucent Thin material will not refract the light, where as Translucent Thick material will refract.

The image below has been rendered using a ‘Translucent’ finish on the window. When you are creating a moody scene, I find that the Translucent finish often adds a nice feel to the overall render as it is not so shiny and reflective.

AutoSave_Chess-RoomTranslucent snipet

We hope that you have found this Rendering Glass Tutorial useful. If you have any questions about getting the most out of Shaderlight , please head to our forum or check out our YouTube Channel.

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Rendering a Night Scene in Shaderlight

A simple guide to rendering a night scene.

Night scenes can often take a bit more time to set up than a daytime scene. The tricky part is getting the right balance between exposure and lighting.

In this quick tutorial I am going to show some basic settings for rendering an exterior night time scene.  First thing to note is that I have the Shaderlight settings on ‘Exterior’.

A little tip…



Something we do here at the Shaderlight HQ when rendering a night scene is to create a custom ‘nightsky’ jpg to use as the environment background. This is just a small dark blue image file which will then bring some light into the scene giving it that ‘blue’ night time glow.

Under the Lighting heading in the Shaderlight Render Settings, set the Type to ‘Custom’, then under Image navigate to the location of your ‘nightsky.jpg’.

Night Settings copy


The next thing is to set the exposure. Auto Exposure works just like your digital camera.

  • If your lighting is very bright, the exposure is automatically adjusted so that the image isn’t burnt out.
  • If you have very little light, the exposure is adjusted so that you don’t have a very dark image.

For this particular night-time render, I have turned off Auto exposure. This then allows me to have full manual control over the exposure levels and to be able adjust them accordingly for my render.

Gherkin Night Scene


The scene lighting has to be balanced using a combination of light Intensity and scene Exposure levels. In this scene I have used Spotlights and Area lights to cast light up the sides of the building. You can see the Light Intensity is not that high, which is because I don’t want them to be too bright in my night render.

Spotlight setting Area Light Setting


I have used the ‘Lighting Environment’ for the Background setting, which means that Shaderlight will render the environment that is lighting the scene instead of the SketchUp background. You can then upload your background image and adjust the Brightness levels to suit your scene. It is best to check you are happy with your settings as you do them by rendering on a low quality. This will allow you to change them if you need to and using ‘Auto’ update you will be able to see the changes happen as you make them.

Once you are happy with all your settings, you can the render your model at high quality.


If you have any questions about getting the most out of Shaderlight , please head to our forum or check out our YouTube Channel.

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