How Do I Create a Free Shadow in Sketchup?

Creating a free shadow in Sketchup can add depth and realism to your 3D models. Shadows help to define the shape and position of objects within a scene, and they can give your designs a sense of scale and perspective. In this tutorial, we will explore different techniques to create a free shadow in Sketchup.

Method 1: Using the Follow Me Tool

The Follow Me tool in Sketchup allows you to create complex shapes by extruding a profile along a path. By using this tool, we can easily create shadows for our models.

  1. Select the object or group that you want to cast a shadow.

  2. Activate the Follow Me tool by clicking on its icon in the toolbar or navigating through Tools > Follow Me.

  3. Click on the face or edge that represents the path where you want the shadow to be casted.

  4. Sketchup will automatically extrude the selected object along the path, creating a shadow.

Note: The size and position of the created shadow will depend on the orientation and distance between the object and its casting surface.

Method 2: Using Plugins

If you are looking for more flexibility and control over your shadows, there are several plugins available for Sketchup that can assist you with creating realistic shadows. Some popular plugins include:

  • V-Ray: A powerful rendering engine that provides advanced lighting options and realistic shadows.
  • TIG Shadow Projector: A plugin specifically designed for casting accurate shadows in Sketchup.
  • Maxwell Render: Another rendering engine that offers comprehensive shadow creation capabilities.

These plugins can be easily installed by following the instructions provided by their developers. Once installed, they will typically add new menus or options to the Sketchup interface, allowing you to customize and create shadows according to your requirements.

Method 3: Using Material Properties

If you don’t want to rely on external plugins or tools, you can also create a simple shadow effect using Sketchup’s built-in material properties.

  • Open the Materials window by navigating through Window > Materials.

  • Create a new material or select an existing one that matches the desired shadow color.

  • Edit the material properties and adjust the transparency or opacity settings. Lowering the opacity will make the material more transparent, creating a shadow-like effect.

  • Apply the modified material to the face(s) of your object.

  • Note: This method works best for simple shapes and objects. For more complex scenes, it is recommended to use plugins or other advanced techniques for better control over your shadows.


    In this tutorial, we have explored different methods for creating free shadows in Sketchup. Whether you choose to use the Follow Me tool, install plugins, or manipulate material properties, shadows can greatly enhance the realism and visual appeal of your models. Experiment with these techniques and find what works best for your specific design needs!