Dome lights: how do I use them to create a night time CGI?
Using a Dome Light in V-Ray for SketchUp. You may not know it yet, but a dome light is the answer to creating ever-more realistic lighting setups within your CGIs…
How to use a dome light in V-Ray for SketchUp…
Before we dive in with the blog - for those of you looking for more advanced lighting solutions, check out our Complete Guide to V-Ray for SketchUp where you can learn the fundamental lighting principles to create professionally lit V-Ray scenes consistently.
In a daytime scene, we have direct sunlight to illuminate our scenes. Direct light also scatters through the atmosphere and illuminates our environment.
Using a Dome Light in V-Ray for SketchUp
HDRIs from PG-Skies.net. is a great way to illuminate your night scenes.
V-Ray considers both direct and indirect illumination as two separate light sources.
To create a night-time scene, we require a technique to remove direct sunlight, whilst being able to create a night-time environment.
To do this, we use something called a Dome Light
A flattened, spherical HDRI from PG-Skies
A Dome light is a type of V-Ray light that surrounds our entire model, forcing light inwards. Images can be loaded into these light sources, which enables the user to simulate real-world environments by using panoramic HDR images.
Learn more about the benefits of a Dome Light on our Complete Guide to V-Ray for SketchUp course.
I like to think of a Dome Light as a giant snow globe – with our model in the centre. We can choose what the sky looks like by swapping in different panoramic images.
Now that we know what dome lights are; what does this mean for you?
Select the highlighted tool to add a Dome light into your scene. Putting this into practice is straightforward. Pick out the Dome light tool from your V-Ray toolbar…
Click on the chequered box to import your HDRI…
Load in your HDRI…
Rotate to ensure that your shadows are pointing in the correct direction!
Hit render! Don’t forget to rotate your dome light to adjust the position of the sun
Over the years we have come across many different sources for dome lights…
But we want to recommend three places to look...
Chaos Cosmos has to be the first place. It is a collection of high-quality assets that you can simply drag and drop into your V-Ray for SketchUp scenes.
There are a huge number of HDR skies to choose from... and the best part?
It is included with your V-Ray license.
For variety, we highly recommend taking a look at Poliigon. Besides offering free assets; they operate a simple, subscription-type service where, depending on your package, you obtain different amounts of credits every month to spend on HDRIs, textures or models.
If you are looking for top-quality HDRIs, look no further than Peter Guthrie’s shop – PG Skies. This in-depth collection of ultra high-quality HDRIs contains skies for all occasions. The handy preview renders show each of these in action, to make picking out your favourite that much easier!
Thank you for reading, happy rendering!