Using Skylight Portals in Shaderlight

  • What are Skylight Portals?
  • How do they work?
  • Where do they need to go?

We often see these questions in support so we’ve put together this quick tutorial which should hopefully give you all the answers and help you make the best of your renders!

Room with ladder_Portals

What are Skylight Portals and how do they work?

What are Portals

Skylight Portals can be found under the ‘lightbulb’ icon on the Shaderlight toolbar.

They are basically ‘seals’ which act as a one way window to direct natural light into the Interior and stop it escaping again.

Without Skylight Portals it’s likely you will get a ‘noisy’ render as the light rays are bouncing back and forth in the scene. This will show on the render as white speckles or ‘noise’.

This is the same render without Skylight Portals…

No Portal Render

The render is very dark and grainy even though it has been rendered at high quality. The natural light does not fill the room and you get lots of harsh shadowing and noise where the light is present.

Where do Skylight Portals need to go?


Skylight Portals should be placed over any opening where the Interior is exposed to the outside space. It is best to cover all openings even if they are not directly in the room.

The Portal needs to be placed on the outside of the window. If you start by selecting the Portal and clicking on the corner of your opening you should see an orange line in the centre of the portal as you drag it across. This line needs to face into the room, which indicates the direction the natural light will travel in.


Once you have placed the Skylight Portal over your opening, you should see a yellow half circle in the centre of the Portal. This should also point into the room again to indicate the direction of the natural light.

You then need to repeat this process for all other openings in the model so the Interior is completely ‘sealed’.

You can then render your model!

This render shows the left side of the Interior rendered with Skylight Portals and the Right side without Portals.

mixed renders

You should find the render is much brighter and sharper when you render with Skylight Portals!

To find out more about Portals please have a look at our YouTube Channel.

To download a free 14 day trial of Shaderlight for SketchUp visit our website.

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Shaderlight sets the stage for star studded concert designs

StarLight Visual is an entertainment design firm that specializes in the set lighting and visual displays for major touring concerts.  They are at the cutting edge of music concert design so need to ensure their concepts translate into a show-stopping backdrop for some of the biggest artists around.

Jonathan Goldstein, Lead Designer at StarLight Visual, started using SketchUp to develop his ideas a couple of years ago.  One of the most difficult elements of their business is the ability to communicate with clients on a visual level so since discovering Shaderlight he hasn’t looked back.

“My passion is to bend, meld and twist the idea of modern art, architecture, and visual media into forms that have not been seen on stage”

Using SketchUp and Shaderlight to develop their ideas is the first step for taking sketches and building something that would resemble a real life show.

AK-VMA-4 (1)

“We typically start by adding in our venue, in most cases this is a sports arena, we then layout our staging and scenic and go from there. Our scale can range from a show to fit in a hockey floor arena layout to a festival ground so we are ALWAYS dealing with huge scaled items. The best approach for our first layer of designs is to begin with the chalk render, it gives us a generic feel to our model and allows us to keep the canvas a bit open ended creatively so it doesn’t lock our client into a specific outputted rendered image.”

AK-Chalk-VMA-2 (1)

Projects can be won or lost on the quality of images as Jonathan cannot always be in front of the client when they are viewing the design proposals. Images have to speak for themselves, too cartoonish or lacking in detail and the client can take this literally.

“In our latest project we had to simulate a theatrical sharks tooth scrim – a netting based fabric material that is weaved open to allow light to pass through. In the renders we created we were able to pull off the transparency in a way that felt realistic and we were able to really make the client understand the concept behind the visuals and lighting.”

A quick turnaround is vital and to improve productivity Jonathan and the team are using Shaderlight’s cloud rendering to produce complex renders and animations.

AK-VMA-3 (1) AK-VMA-2 (1)

“Shaderlight is quick and works seamlessly with SketchUp. The integration and simple interface is very intuitive but the Cloud rendering is our most favourite new feature.  Our workload sometimes meant that machines could be tied up for a whole day rendering.  The ability to send jobs to the cloud have not only freed up our local machines but mean we can render more detailed visualisations that simply wow our clients.”

IMG_1182 (3)

The images used in this case study are the actual renders created for the Alicia Keys performance at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards.   StarLight Visual Designed the Set and Lighting for the performance. (1)

Here is the video of the live performance.

If you’re in the USA you can watch the video here.

Starlight Visual have an impressive list of clients and their state of the art set designs for Electric Zoo Festival 2012 have recently appeared in Rolling Stone.  Jonathan’s work with Rihanna also featured on the cover of Live Design Magazine in Oct 2010.

“We are currently working on the Alicia Keys ‘Set the world on fire’ World Tour and we just finished Mariah Carey’s Australian Tour.  Following this year’s success, we have also been brought back as the production design firm for the Electric Zoo Festival in 2013.  All of these projects have been and will be designed using Shaderlight and SketchUp as our primary 3D visualisation tools.”

You can read more about Jonathan Goldstein and Starlight Visual’s work on their website.

 About Lead Designer, Jonathan S. Goldstein


To date Jonathan and SLV have traveled for clients around the world 3 times to remote destinations such as Singapore, Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, and Hong Kong just to name a few! He has been able to collaborate and work with some of today’s top musical artists , fashion designers, photographers and directors.

Of recent years Jonathan has worked with musical artists such as: Rihanna, Donna Summer, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Trey Songz, Kid Cudi, Mariah Carey , Alicia Keys, Karmin , Armen VanBuren, and many more!

SLV’s work has been seen with musical artists on the 50th Grammy Awards, Saturday Night Live, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, The Late Show with David Letterman, The American Music Awards, VH1 Do Something Awards.

SLV’s work has also been featured in the Glow in the Dark book by Nabil Elderkin and the 2009  release Last Girl on Earth book by Simon Henwood both published by Rizzoli.

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Create your first Shaderlight Render in 7 simple steps…

So you’ve downloaded the Shaderlight 14 day trial – what next?  If you’re new to rendering with Shaderlight you may need some help getting started.  So for all you rookie renderers out there, we’ve put together this simple, 7 step tutorial to help you complete your first Shaderlight image.

Lounge with fireplace1

For an extra incentive to get rendering – make it unique, send it to us and you could win a 12 Month Shaderlight License!

Step 1 – Activate your 14 day Trial


Step 2 – Download and open the model Lounge_Test


Step 3 – Add some Finishes to your model

Lounge_Test-Slide4Select your surface, then use the SketchUp Material selector to pick a Material or upload your own. Apply the Material to your surface then use the Shaderlight Material Editor to change the finish.

Step 4 – Add some Lighting

Lounge_Test-Slide5Use the Shaderlight Lightbulb Tool to add some lighting to your model.

Step 5 – Seal the openings with Skylight Portals

Lounge_Test-Slide6Skylight Portals can be found under the Lightbulb tool in Shaderlight.  They are used to ‘seal’ the room and direct natural light in. It is important to seal any openings – windows or doors where the Interior is open as this will reduce any noise on the render.

You can find out more about Portals on our YouTube Channel

Step 6 – Check your render settings

Lounge_Test-Slide7When your happy with your model, its time to check the render settings. It’s best to use a lower quality and smaller output resolution when playing with settings as it will render faster. Use the Camera Icon to export your render. Try setting up a daytime scene and also an evening scene using the different settings.

Step 7 – Render your scene!

Lounge_Test-Slide8When you are happy with the settings you can adjust the output resolution and set your quality to high. You will notice it changes to tiled mode, which is the most effective way to render your high quality scene. You can then export your render using the Camera icon, or use the Cloud button to send your render to the Cloud using your complementary free credit!

You can find out more about Cloud Rendering on our Website

Happy rendering – we look forward to seeing the results!  Don’t forget, send us your finished renders before the 30th March and you could win a 12 month license.

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Improve your performance with Shaderlight 2.4

If you haven’t already heard the news – users of Shaderlight can now render faster and more efficiently, thanks to the release of version 2.4 of the leading interactive and intuitive rendering plug-in to SketchUp.

Available to download for free if you’re an existing v2 customer, this latest update to Shaderlight delivers dramatically improved export and rendering performance to users when rendering complex components such as trees from 3D Warehouse or using Replace Me functionality.  In tests, Shaderlight 2.4 has reduced memory usage up to 90%.

Excited about the capabilities of the latest release 3d artist Duane Kemp posted on Facebook:

“Friends, I have to share this news. Shaderlight… the new version 2.4!!!!! This version is the first one that has been able to open my complete (330+ meg, 6’528’171 Edges, 3’040’774 Faces, 28’098 component instances, 7’991 Groups, 796 Materials) Rivendell model WITH TREES! ALLELUIA! Finally… for the first time, I get to see what I built… rendered. I’m so excited. I’ve been waiting for two years for these images to come! Thank you ArtVPS so much for the investment of time for this new and IMPROVED Shaderlight! Renders and fun to come!”

Rivendell Mill. Rendered by Kemp Productions

Shaderlight Cloud Rendering, the first and only SketchUp rendering plug-in to harness the power of cloud computing, also benefits from this latest release with vastly improved export and render times.

Head to our website to get hold of the latest software.  New users can purchase the new release as a full or timed access license from our webstore.

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New Year – new way to render with Shaderlight

  • Your deadline is looming and you need more rendering power. It’s hard to justify the cost of more licenses when not every project is this big.
  •  You use SketchUp day in, day out, but only render your models when a client requests. It’s important that your software choice delivers value for money.
  • You’re just starting out in 3D and have a limited budget for everything upfront. It’s vital to choose a tool that will deliver great results from the start.

We know that these scenarios are common in visualisation studios around the world which is why we’ve introduced some new ways to render with Shaderlight.

Shaderlight’s Timed Access Licenses let you pay for the rendering time you need – whether its to boost rendering capacity for a large project, render a one off image or simply spread the cost of rendering your SketchUp models.


Starting at $50USD for 30 days, 3 or 6 month licences are also available.

Perpetual Shaderlight licenses are still available to give you full access to Shaderlight’s Pro features whenever you need it.

Visit our new web shop to purchase Shaderlight Timed Access licenses for your next project.

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Shaderlight’s 2012

This gallery contains 12 photos.

As we come to the end of 2012, we thought it would be a great opportunity to look back at the last 12 months and highlight some of the exciting things that we’ve been up to. We started the year … Continue reading

Gallery | 2 Comments

Kemp Productions gets animated with Shaderlight for SketchUp

Duane Kemp, director and owner of Kemp Productions /, has been using SketchUp since 2008.  He’s been rendering for a couple of years and tried most renderers on the market, but was never satisfied with the results. What Duane needed though was an affordable render plugin that could deliver high quality images and render animations.

In 2011, Duane started rendering with Shaderlight and was impressed with the image quality he could achieve. Luckily the team were in the midst of developing v2, which included an animation feature so Duane helped them put the new release through its paces.

The project

Kemp Productions was asked to develop a series of promotional materials to publicise a new development of luxury apartments.  In addition to a logo, high resolution images and documentation, a new iPad compatible website would feature two 30 second films – one showing the exterior of the building within its village environment and the second, a virtual tour of the apartment revealing an amazing view of Mont Blanc and the French Alps.

In order to achieve the desired result for the setting of this new apartment complex, Kemp Productions set about modelling the actual buildings in the small town of Luins, Switzerland, entirely in SketchUp.  The ‘Residence Michelange’ model had over 2,600,000 faces and took several months to complete.

Duane said: “With the price-tag between 2 – 3’000’000 – CHF for each apartment , we wanted to communicate the concept of “home” in the promotional imagery we produced so that potential buyers could imagine themselves living there.  The fact that all apartments sold in less than 4 1/2 months speaks volumes.”


When preparing the model to render, Duane relied heavily on creating realistic surface textures and setting the right lighting to achieve the desired result.

He explained: “The lighting tools available in Shaderlight provide a simple way to achieve the natural, warm and inviting finish we wanted on both exterior and interior scenes. Using a combination of artificial and image-based lighting we were able to bring each scene to life.”

With familiarity comes speed and, after using Shaderlight for a short time, Duane found he could fine-tune each render setup with ease to produce the level of photorealism he wanted.

Duane said “Compared to some of the more complex renderers, Shaderlight makes rendering a scene in a real life environment possible with little effort.  From its simple toolset of user-friendly options that made rapid work of setting surface reflectivity and bump mapping, to the clever feature that maintains render settings as you move through edits, the software has a number of time saving features that proved indispensible for Kemp Productions”

He continued “I’m sure we could have got to the end of the project with other renderers but not, in our opinion, with the same quality and ease of use as Shaderlight.”

The images rendered by Kemp Productions for this project are available to view here.

Highlighting the quality Duane has managed to achieve with his Shaderlight renders, one of the images won third place in the Shaderlight render contest we held earlier this year and four other images have been selected by Daniel Tal for his upcoming publication “Rendering in SketchUp.

Anatomy of a 3D Build

Kemp Productions delivered a selection of 3D images, graphics and video content to its client – the results of one year of modelling, collaboration with the architects and rendering animations for Residence Michelange’.

To offer a step-by-step progressive tour that traverses the enormity of the job, Kemp Productions has created the following video that dissects the project taking SketchUp users through ‘The anatomy of a 3D build.’


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