Aug/28
2009

Step 2 - Lighting your scene with the light-up plugin

So, you've built your little area and now it's time to give it some realism by adding lights to it. The good news is that the light-up plugin actually pays attention to where shadows are being cast inside Sketchup. Not to get too far ahead of myself here but the image below shows you what I mean.

With regards to using the plugin, here's what you need to know.

After you've installed light-up and restarted sketchup, you should have a new set of buttons at the top of the of the interface.

The first one, which looks like a gear, is the preferences button. If you click it, you will be presented with the following options...

The check box indicating whether or not geometry is double sided is fairly important. You'll remember that we spent some time ensuring that our faces were all properly aligned with the 'reverse faces' option. If this box is ticked, you don't have to do any of that. The downside is that the model will have twice the number of polygons. Truth be told, this isn't as bad as it sounds since GPUs these days are easily able to render millions of polygons.

If you're serious about this however, you need to make sure your faces are properly aligned since that's what professionals do and it's a good time to be forming habits conducive to achieving best practice. It's up to you, export your geometry double sided or single sided.

If you're having trouble with it, don't worry and just set it to double sided.

You'll notice that I've set my resolution to 20x. The default is 1x and you can replace x with any unit of measurement you like. It determines how much detail the lightmap contains. The larger the value, the more detail and the longer it will take to render. For ease of use (and surviving until the end of this tutorial) I recommend setting it to 6x.

You'll notice that there are 'documentation' and 'tutorial' buttons at the bottom of the menu, I encourage you to make use of them if you want to get the full value of this plugin. I'm going to move on now but know that 'direct sources' includes Sketchup lighting from the sun. Also, it's good to have some form of AO/ambient occlusion so make sure 'screen with AO' is also checked. I recommend setting the AO to 'external' for ease of use. Just be sure to switch it back to 'direct sources' afterwards otherwise it will only render the AO. Read more about ambient occlusion here. Lightup has its own point light sources you can find in the components section (under 'windows').

Once you're ready to test your lighting, click the footprint symbol and sketchup will appear to have crashed. Don't worry, it hasn't. Depending on your rendering settings it will remain unresponsive for a long, or short, period of time. During this phase sketchup is rendering out your lightmap. Once it's done you can navigate your scene by holding down left click with the mouse and moving it. Navigate on the axis with the arrow keys on the keyboard. If the gliding motion is annoying you or you're moving too slowly, you can edit those options by clicking the button in the middle (the light bulb with a question mark).

You can see here that I haven't lit the inside of my house, nor has it been textured. My goal here is only to show you how to get the lightmapped model into Unity.

Let's move on to the next page where I show you how to get your model inside Unity!

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