Master The Art Of VRay 2.0 Lighting With These 6 Tips



I come to you today bearing gifts! A gift actually. Well it’s a tutorial post. But! On one of VRay’s most important features: Lights. Yaaaaay.

As we all know, lighting is the number one element in any design; it can make it or break it, to be honest.

Having the right lights in the right places can transfer a rendered image from Meh to WOAH.

In VRay we have 6 types of lighting and I’m going to walk you through each one.

Now, let’s take them one by one and see their uses as well as how to optimize them for maximum (or sometimes subtle) effects.

Just keep in mind that light settings differ from person to person, due to the way they tweak the engine itself. All the values that I’ll mention in this tutorial are based on the values of my VRay Options; they control how bright the render is and how the light beams react to the surfaces they touch.

Let’s get started!

Where to Find them and How to Tweak them?

  • VRay lights are found of the second Tool Bar provided when you install VRay, labeled “Vfs:Lights”.
  • To tweak a light, place it where you want to, Right Click the light,  and from the sub-menu ‘V-Ray for Sketchup,’ you’ll find ‘Edit light’.
A Small Window will appear and that’s where all the tinkering happens.

Omni Light

Omni Light
Omni Light effect

Omni light, when selected and placed, is this roundish grey object that basically emits light when rendering. As you can see in the picture above; it’s acts like a Light Bulb. I’ll go over the settings first then I’ll let you know the best applications for it as well as any notes I have on this tool.
The Omni Light icon is on VRay’s tool bar, it looks like this:

Once selected, click and drag on the place where you want to add it and voilà! It can be resized to fit as you need it to.

If you decided to go with the settings I have, then you should input the following:

**If you’re a newbie and still haven’t figured out everything yet, then I advise you to use my settings, They’ll give you amazing results.

Usually, I go with a light gray color, but then again this yellow looks more natural. (compare a LED *yellowish* to a fluorescent *stark greyish or blueish white*)

The exact values of the color are: R:255G:248B:221 (goes well with all types of light,too).

Update: If you want a neutral colored light: 244-237-212 and if you’re going for a yellowish light: 255-209-187.

Now, click Ok after you adjust the values and we’re all set! Render away! The result should look like the picture up there.

Best applications for the Omni Light are:

Shade lamps, pendant lamps, or anything that requires a standard bulb in real life.

Rectangle Light

Rectangle Light
Rectangle Light Effect

Think of this light like those panel lights that are used for advertisements and shop banners. The bigger the panel, the more light it emits, so you have to be careful.

Since I’m not a big fan of emissive materials (too complicated and bad light quality, not to mention it affects render time) I use Rectangle Light as TV screens, Computer Screens, and sometimes LEDs or phones. The glow is subtle and reflects on its surroundings; giving a realistic feel to the environment.

You can find Rectangle Light here

It’s like drawing a Sketchup rectangle, and easily resizable with the Scale tool.

I’ll show you how to use it as a light source as well as a screen.

The values for using it as a light source are:

Keep in mind the bigger the panel is, the less the ‘Intensity’ should be, and vice versa.

The uses of a light panel:

ceiling light panels, cove lights, hidden lights, valance or, of course, screens, advertising panels, etc.

Now let’s go through how we can make the whole screen idea possible.

If you look at the above picture closely, you can see that the guy’s phone is glowing. This feature could add a lot of realism to your renders.

First, have a good quality picture of what you want on your screen. Could be a screenshot of a desktop or phone, an oven timer, or a dancing llama…

Then you add the rectangle light to your model, resized and fitted to the screen itself, but don’t stick it on the object; leave at least 1 mm between the screen and the rectangle.

Set your values like the screenshot below, and keep in mind that the intensity may vary depending on the amount of lighting from 2 to 5 or even 10. It’s really up to how bright is your interior and how much effect you want the screen light to have (try playing with the screen brightness of your phone in a dark room near a glossy surface, to get the whole idea).

As you can see in the picture, the ‘Use texture’ box is checked. Click on the ‘M’ button and you will see this:

Choose ‘TexBitmap’ from the drop down menu and then browse for that llama..err..whatever picture you decided on. Press Ok on both windows to close them and RENDER AWAY!

See? Simple!

Spot Light

Spotlight effect

As you can tell from the render above they’re a bit intense, and very precise on what they illuminate. I tried to make it less edgy but failed miserably (let me know if you can do that in the comments?).

Don’t let my failing hinder you tho, I substitute them with IES when looking for a softer result, and sometimes that result is what you actually need.

You can find Spot Light  here:

You click on a spot in your model, they appear. Resizable, too.

Right click that beast and let’s adjust it to our favor, shall we?

A few things you need to know about spot lights in VRary are the angle adjusting, how intense it is, and the positioning in general; to get the angle aimed correctly you can extend a line for the center of the cone to the object or surface you want it focused on to know the center of the light circle.

You probably noticed that the intensity for this light was really low; for two reasons. One, the space I did the lights for this tutorial was pretty dim for obvious reasons. Two, spot lights are so strong they whitewash the objects they focus on if we’re not careful; I recommend going from 2 to 10 to get the best results.

As for the positioning of the cone, I advise that you resize the light object to fit the modeled cone, and set it a bit back (1 cm back maybe) without a glass shield, to give it an authentic look and feel.

Best uses for Spot Light:

Desk/Study lamps, spotlights *duh*, and Stage lights (designing the opera?).

Sphere Light

Sphere Light is the way cooler sister of Omni Light; it’s more contained and color friendly, plus it has so many applications, you can’t help but love it better than the other one.

Sphere Light
Sphere Light effect

You can hide or show the element itself as shown above, as well as assign colors to it and they well come out perfect. It doesn’t have a huge range like the other lights, it’s just subtle that way.

This is the cool sister’s address:


You know the routine by now, so I’ll skip to the window part.

These are the settings used:

Best uses for Sphere Light aka the Cool Sister:

Chandeliers, bare bulbs, candles (hide the sphere), twinkle (Christmas) lights, detailed LED strips, garden lights, and -I kid you not- traffic lights.

IES Light

IES effect

This light is more of an aesthetic than a utility, since not all of its types give out a strong light (the one I used here is pretty good for an IES). With other types of light I use values between 4000 and 6000 (yes. Thousands) but for this tutorial I had to amp it up to 10,000 for it to show properly in such a dark space.

On the upside, the types of IES files available give you various intensities, patterns, widths and lengths of the beam itself to mimic the real deal.

Setting up an IES light is different from the others a bit, since you need to load a file that will define it in order for it to work.

The icon:

You click on the designated area and it appears, resizable with the Scale tool. You position it the same way you do the spot light, but the angling is optional; depending on the effect you want. For this tutorial I directed it downwards.

Right click to edit, and use the following values:

As you can see, and as I mentioned earlier, the intensity value is 10,000 but you can try a number between 4000 & 6000 (if you’ll use the camera settings I mentioned at the top of the post) tho I recommend 4500 and 5000 for the best result.

As for the IES files, you can either Google them or get access to the Subscriber’s Library for this specific type and others like it + a lot of other useful stuff.

Now, last but not least…

Dome Light & HDRI

Dome Light
Dome Light effect

To some, the whole process of the Dome Light/HDRI is either pointless (Photoshop, etc.) or just too complicated to bother with. Well, my dear Sketchup friends, I’m here to make your lives easier; Having Photoshop skills is cool. You can paste in a sky and yaay! right? Why waste the time? It’s not complicated at all and so worth the tiny hassle.

The Dome Light icon is pretty self explanatory.Light Icons (5)Now, you add the dome by clicking and dragging, outside your model, as show in the pictures below (The dome can be positioned anywhere and in any size, as long as it is outside).

HDRI (2)HDRI (3)I like making the dome huge so that it covers the model like this because it would be easily edited no matter where my camera is.

Before we right click that web, let’s open up VRay’s ‘Options’ and head to ‘Environment’ tab.

Screenshot (9)Uncheck both ‘GI(skylight)’ and ‘Reflection/refraction(Background)’, then close it. Right click the web and tweak the following

Screenshot (53)Screenshot (54)

‘Intensity’ will differ from HDRI to HDRI, so feel free to play with that number to get it just right.

Notice that the ‘Use Dome Texture’ is checked. Now press the ‘M’ button

Screenshot (55)Screenshot (56)Make sure that the ‘UVW’ Type’ is ‘UVWGenEnviroment’ and that the ‘Mapping Type’ is ‘Spherical’ in both the Light Editor and the Texture Editor.

Now I bet you’ve noticed that I had a texture loaded. That is the HDRI; High Dynamic Range Images (HDRI for short) allow you to import the complex lighting of a real scene in your individual 3D-design #Realistic #KillinIt

HDRIs can be googled and downloaded from a lot of sites online, for free or for a fee. I’ll attach the one I used to this post so you can take a look at it.

The most important thing when using the sky to render, is that you pay attention to where your shadows fall and to try to add as much of an atmosphere as possible. To do that I used this color (I usually go for it in early mornings and noons): R:255G:233B:219, added a tree, wall and grass.

That’s it for the HDRI. Simple huh?

The whole process of using all these lights is simple, and with time anyone can master it.

Here are the links I promised:

If you want the model I used for this tutorial with all its contents and lights + a lot of other goodies, make sure you get your free access to my ever growing Resource Library by subscribing.You’ll also be the first to know about any workshops, ebooks, worksheets, or tutorial series.

If you have any comments or suggestions, leave them below and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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18 thoughts on “Master The Art Of VRay 2.0 Lighting With These 6 Tips

  1. Thanks for this! For softer spot lights I use these same settings but change Penumbra Angle to 0.15 and set Cone Angle to either 2 or 3. I also adjust Shadow Radius to 30. Much more stress-free to use than IES which varies from IES file to IES file. Hope this helps!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Amazing post!, very useful. I would just add more information about IES Lights, I think the work very well if you now how to use it. The benefits of IES lights is that you can add photometric curves used by real luminaries. Knowing the real values for example from the philips lighting brand page you can find the photometry in IES format of the catalog of products and the luminous flux exprexed in lumens (intensity of the light) , you will have a result closer to the real calculations made by lighting programs.

    Liked by 1 person

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