How Do You Add Natural Lights in SketchUp?

SketchUp is a powerful 3D modeling software that allows you to create realistic and detailed models. One important aspect of creating a realistic model is adding natural lighting.

Natural lighting can greatly enhance the realism of your model by simulating how light interacts with different surfaces and objects. In this tutorial, we will explore different ways to add natural lights in SketchUp.

Using the ‘Shadow’ feature

If you want to add natural lighting to your SketchUp model, one simple way is by using the ‘Shadow’ feature. This feature allows you to simulate the position of the sun and how it casts shadows on your model.

To enable shadows in SketchUp, go to the ‘View’ menu and select ‘Shadows’. A window will appear where you can adjust various settings related to shadows.

  • Time: You can set the time of day by adjusting the ‘Time’ slider. This will change the position of the sun in your model.
  • Date: The ‘Date’ slider allows you to set the date, which affects the angle of the sun’s rays.
  • Light/Dark: The ‘Light/Dark’ slider controls the overall brightness of your model’s lighting.

You can experiment with different settings to achieve different lighting effects. For example, setting a low time value and a high date value will create long shadows, simulating a late afternoon or early morning lighting condition.

Adding Light Sources

In addition to using the ‘Shadow’ feature, you can also add light sources directly into your SketchUp model. This gives you more control over the placement and intensity of lights.

To add a light source, go to the ‘Window’ menu and select ‘Components’. In the Components window, search for ‘Light’ and choose the type of light you want to add.

Once you have selected a light source, click on your model to place it. You can then use the Move tool to adjust its position and orientation.

To control the intensity of the light, select the light source and go to the ‘Entity Info’ window. Here, you can adjust the ‘Intensity’ value to make the light brighter or dimmer.

Types of Light Sources

SketchUp offers different types of light sources that you can choose from:

  • Point Light: This is a single point light source that emits light in all directions.
  • Spotlight: A spotlight emits a cone of light in a specific direction. You can adjust its angle and intensity.
  • Area Light: An area light emits light from a surface, simulating a large window or skylight.

You can experiment with different types of lights to achieve different lighting effects. For example, using spotlights can create dramatic shadows, while area lights can provide soft and even lighting.

Fine-tuning Lighting with Materials

In addition to using shadows and adding light sources, you can also fine-tune your model’s lighting by adjusting material properties. Different materials reflect and absorb light differently, which affects how they appear in your model.

To adjust material properties, select an object in your model and go to the ‘Materials’ window. Here, you can choose a material or create a custom one by adjusting its properties such as color, reflectivity, and transparency.

For example, if you want a surface to appear more reflective, increase its reflectivity value. If you want a surface to appear more translucent, increase its transparency value.

By experimenting with different material properties, you can achieve a wide range of lighting effects and make your model look more realistic.


Adding natural lighting in SketchUp is essential to create realistic and visually engaging models. By using the ‘Shadow’ feature, adding light sources, and fine-tuning material properties, you can achieve various lighting effects and enhance the realism of your model. So go ahead and experiment with different lighting techniques to bring your SketchUp models to life!