Under Construction


This tutorial will explain a way to create a night scene with lights, using only Sketchup and Photoshop. I typically use this style when I need to light a large building with many windows. Inserting hundreds of lights though a rendering program in a large structure with a lot of windows is difficult, takes an enormous amount of time, and really increases the rendering times. This technique is quick if your under a time crunch.





1. The first step, as always, is to save a scene of the preferred view in sketchup.

     This can be done by going to View>animation>add scene



2. Next export (File>export>2D graphic) 2 images with the following face styles and edge styles :

      FACE STYLE: Shaded with textures,  EDGE STYLE: shadows OFF, edge lines OFF

      FACE STYLE: X-ray on, Shaded with textures, EDGE STYLE: shadows OFF, Edge lines ON

3. Open the exported image -shaded with textures, no edge lines- in Photoshop

     Duplicate this layer (right click layer>select duplicate) and move it to the top



4. With the top layer selected, open the Hue Saturation dialog box   (Image>adjustments>hue/saturation)

     Check the COLORIZE box in the bottom right hand corner

     Adjust the HUE, SATURATION, LIGHTNESS similar to the image below, you can see the settings I used.




5. With the same layer selected, open the LEVELS dialog box (Image>Adjustments>Levels)

    Move the left triangle slider to the right until the dark colors in the image are almost black. You can see the settings I used in the image below. Typically, you want to move the sliders to where the curves on the graph are the highest.



6. Duplicate the original layer (the one straight from Sketchup),  move it between the two layers already created, and turn OFF the blue layer (click the eye next to the layer)

    Open the Levels dialog box (Image>Adjustments>Levels), but this time, move the center triangle to the left to make the image brighter. You can see the settings I used below



7. Above this layer, create a new layer (icon next to the trash can in the bottom right of the layers palette)

    Fill this layer with a faded out yellow color using the paint bucket tool (shift G)

    Change the Blend Mode (drop down menu on the top left side of the layers palette) to OVERLAY

    Set the OPACITY (top right of the layers palette) to 35%

    Your layers palette should look something like the one below



8. Now we can begin to add lights

     Select and Turn ON the top blue layer created earlier (the eye next to the layer in the layers palette)

     Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool (shift L for PC's)

     With the blue layer selected, begin lassoing windows or areas you would like to light up



9. With the area selected, select the ERASER tool (shift E for PC's)

    Set the hardness to 0, size to 125 or so, and the opacity to 35%

    Begin erasing away the blue layer, and you will see the other layers show through giving the appearance of light.

    (NOTE: it would probably be more appropriate to use a layer mask for this step if you plan on making many changes. For simplicity reasons, I am just using the eraser tool for this tutorial)



An important thing to remember is how light will be reflecting off of surfaces and the ground. This will ultimately bring realism to the image. Here is what the image looks like after this step. Notice how the green color of the grass shows through and how light is fading out on certain surfaces.



10. These next few steps are personal preference that add a little interest to the final image

      Create a new layer and move it to the top

      Select the paint brush and use the settings: Hardness=0, Size=200, and Opacity=10%

      With the new layer selected, paint around the windows to give a glow effect. This step is very subtle, but adds a little more drama to the image



11. This last step I like to do when I am using Sketchup images that have a lot of flat, evenly shaded areas. This will add a little texture and excitement to those areas.

     Open the -X-ray with edge lines- image exported from Sketchup at the beginning of the tutorial

     Move this layer to the top and set it to Overlay

     With the eraser tool, erase away areas where you may not want the x-ray showing.

The final image:


Reader Comments (47)

Hey, I love this technique.. great stuff..thanks for sharing

May 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJuan Perez

hey alex
nice and easy.. great technique

May 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAditya

thanx really..!!!

June 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersatish

Thank you for sharing.. good work!! :)

keep your blog please ;)

September 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMatias

i just want to remove all the things i learn about lighting in 3ds max ... great

October 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHooman

Great blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Plz keep the site...

October 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJon

well done, learned some neat tricks. thanks!

October 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSTU

Hey alex. great respect

January 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteradam

Thank you...for everything

March 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersagar chitrakar

what should i do to reach your level :S

May 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLuca from italy

Hi Luca,
I learned most of what I know about photoshop from graphic design blogs showing photoshop techniques and tips. They get pretty creative with PS and its a lot of fun applying those techniques to architecture illustrations. So branch out of the architecture blogs and into some blogs like http://psd.tutsplus.com

May 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Hogrefe

Awesome stuff Alex, Very Inspiring! +1 for keeping the blog!

June 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKevin K

your tutorials are awesome! thank you for sharing and keep up the good work!

June 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterifana

Very nice technique. And quick too.



July 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOlivier Graeven

very well,All things in their being are good for something.Experience without learning is better than learning without experience.-online replica Hugo Boss

Great blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Plz keep the site...-discount Jessica Simpson Boots

Alex,I'm a student from China.I really really appreaciat what you've done.You tought me even more than my teachers.Thank you very much. You are a quite smart student who can use the least steps to creat the best result.Great blog! Plz keep the site....Thx ^~^

August 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterelf

very very great stuff you are sharing here..god bless you ..(even more..:)

August 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAMEYA

I can't thank you enough for these tutorials. Great work, simple, easy and so helpful when you don't have much time in hand. Please do keep up the good work. If you have any 3D max tutorials for beginners, that'd be awesome!!...... i just found this site and still browsing through all your tutorials and get more excited as i go through each of them. 11/10 for the awesome work!!

October 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGhezal

This is a very good rendering tutorial architectural rendering

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterarchitectural rendering

Thanks for teach us man, im doing all your tutorials, and in one afternoon im better image maker,


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December 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfghfg

Amazing work, I'm an architecture major student and is amazing to have this as a way to make my work better and be able to please the professors that seem to be never pleased.

Thanks a lot!

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanny

I don't really get the next step after the number 9! What effect should I use after 9th step to get the final night perspective?

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSunho

espectacular loco! saludos desde argentina

April 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergonzalo

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