Under Construction


I'm pretty excited about this video. It explores the idea of Ambient Occlusion shading to easily and quickly add realism to Sketchup images via Photoshop. This is done without ever using a rendering engine such as MAX or VRAY. The idea behind Ambient Occlusion is basically a really fast way of adding realism to a rendering by adding shadows in corners where geometry meets. You will often see me adding this affect in a lot of the videos I created using the BURN tool in Photoshop. This video demonstrates how easy it is to get a really cool effect using just images exported from Sketchup, and a few tools from Photoshop.

If any of you have watched my Kerkythea clay model tutorial, you will notice that you get a similar look. The rendering engine is doing all of the work for you. The idea behind this new video is to show the power of the BURN tool in Photoshop, and how it can be applied to architectural illustrations. If there isn’t a lot of complex geometry in the image (in my case an aerial view of my design) than this method serves as an option to bypass using a rendering engine such as Kerkythea altogether and still get a really nice looking final result. Also, if your final illustration is looking a little flat, its an easy way to add a little punch to it.


Exported SU image in hidden line mode

Exported SU image with shadows turned on, and lines turned off

Final image after using the burn tool and Gaussian Blur filter in Photoshop

A couple of notes:

I may have overdone it a little with the blurring of the shadows haha. The main idea to take away from this part is to avoid having really sharp shadow edges. The shadows cast by a building will usually have a little falloff, adding more falloff as the shadow moves further away from the building

You will notice that in the beginning, I export an image with no lines, shadows turned on, and in shaded mode. I then take it into Photoshop and tweak it so that I am left with just shadows. Sketchup 7 will not let me export just shadows in hidden line mode. So this is a little work around I came up with. If you have any better ideas on how to export just shadows, feel free to post them.


Reader Comments (12)


If you have not figured how to do the shadow export in Sketchup 7, instead of exporting in shaded mode export in all white except for the shadow layer. Hope that helps.'


March 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

Hey I am folllowing your post for couple of month and they are awesome..
A tip for u
You dont have to drag the photo to place it on top of another photo.. just go to layer-> duplicate layer -> select the file. This way the photo gets overlapped in exact position. so no need to make those adjustments
Thankx :D

May 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSagar Chitrakar

hi. there are not steps to show how you achieve this.
will you email the video to me?
thanks very much

October 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

hi. there are not steps to show how you achieve this.
will you email the video to me?
thanks very much

my email: 376240890@qq.com

October 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

Thanks for the tip Sagar. Did not know that!

October 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterALEX HOGREFE

just. simply. amazing

February 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHey

Create a "Monochromatic" STYLE setting with Edges and Profile turned off, Sky and Ground turned off, Background color set to white, and Front and Back colors set to white. Shadows turned on, obviously. This leaves you with only the shadows showing on a white field. Save that setting somewhere for reuse.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff

Alex, I also prefer to print to a PDF from Sketchup and open that in Photoshop (at 300dpi with "Anti-Alias" box not checked) rather than to export a JPEG. The resulting image is much less jagged at the edges. You may have different results.

Great final image by the way.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff

One final note. Once you select a plane in Photoshop, it's good practice to right-click and "Layer via Copy" and to work on that Layer. That way if you "over-burn" an area, you can always lower the "Opacity" of that layer so that the burn is not as severe. You can also more easily rework an area that you might have botched the first time around.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeoff

Hi Alex,

I just stumbled upon your website recently and I must say how impressed I am at how talented you are at manipulating pictures. It's incredible the results you achieved! Just wondering though whether you use other softwares other than Illustrator, Photoshop, Kerkythea and Sketchup. What other CAD programs, like AutoCAD or ArchiCAD, do you use and will you be doing tutorials on those ones?


June 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

I've spent the last hour on your website in complete awe. Your work is amazing and very inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your work and your techniques. Even though I'm not an architect, you've inspired me to step up my computer drawing/designing skills!

January 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJerry Inscoe

Thank you so much Alex! just love all of your amazing tutorials :) You helped a lot, especially for a student like me :) looking forward for another great tutorials.

greets from Indonesia ;)

June 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAngela Agnes

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