This page provides a step-by-step introduction to Interior Lighting in V-Ray for Rhino.

Page Contents



This tutorial covers lighting techniques for interior spaces. We will light and render this project using artificial lights as well as the environment sunlight.

To follow this tutorial, you will need to have the V-Ray for Rhino plugin installed.  This tutorial page is a companion that goes with the QuickStart video posted on our YouTube channel and is available here:





Tutorial Assets

To download the files used in this tutorial, please click on the button below. This Rhino scene is provided by Grigio18.


Tutorial Steps

Open the Example Scene

Begin by launching Rhino. Open the project file Interior_Day_Start.3dm, which can be downloaded from the Tutorial Assets section above.




The first thing is to turn on Material Override to allow us to better focus on just the lighting and to also speed up feedback with the Interactive Render as we go along. Open the Asset Editor and on the Settings tab, turn on Material Override to temporarily assign a simple gray material on everything.




If you open the rollout, you’ll see you can adjust the material that is assigned to everything with the override. 




There is, however, a glass material in these doors that need to still be glass so that it will still let light into the space from the outside.  Click on the Materials tab, within the Asset Editor and find the material in the material list, Glass_Window_Neutral.  




Open the settings flyout, and scroll down to the Options and disable Can be overridden.




There is a V-Ray Proxy in the back which is this skin system, which is a very complicated piece of geometry. Open the Layers Panel if you don’t already have it, and under the Walls layer, disable the Skin sub-layer.




Go to the Settings tab and under Renderer make sure it’s set to InteractiveRender Output should be a nice small size like 480 x 600.




Start the Interactive Render.




Setting up the Rhino Sun

Open the Sun panel, and experiment with some different positions for the sun. 




Then set the  Azimuth to 320 and the Altitude to 49.





Go to the Camera rollout and adjust the Exposure Value or EV. Lower values get brighter, and a higher value gets darker. Here we set the EV value to -10.




Set the EV value back to its default of 10.




Setting up the Portal Lights

The next thing to do is enhance or augment the light coming into the scene using a portal light, which is a job for the VRay Planar light. We’ll make one for each of the 3 windows we have to augment the light coming through these glass doors. Stop the render.




In the V-Ray Lights tab of the toolbar, and click on the Planar light.




In the Front view, go ahead and click to start placing the Planar light around the glass door like this. Overlapping into the solid part of the door is totally fine, just make sure to place it so it covers all the glass.




Place the light on the outside of the window like so. 




I’ll explain why we’re doing it this way shortly, for now, let’s get two more placed for the other doors. Hold down Alt and use the gumball to drag out two copies of the Planar light for the other doors like this.




Look in the Asset Editor’s Lights tab and you can see the three new lights.




They are individual lights, so changing one does not change the other, as we have done in previous QuickStart videos. But if you would like to link lights together so that the changes to one affects all the others, you can use a Rhino group.  So, select all three of these lights.  




In the UI here, type in Group and it creates a Rhino group. 




So, if you select one, it selects all three.  Go back to the Asset Editor and change the settings for one, and you’ll now see that it now changes the settings for all three lights.






Start a new Interactive render.




You’ll see the nature of the light is much different here. That’s because each light is using simple values and blocking sunlight from entering the space from outside.




But what we want to do instead of using these values and instead of blocking the light we want to take the environment light and enhance it as it enters the space by using portal lights.

In the Asset Editor, turn on Portal Light.




Now the environment is again lighting the room through the windows.




Now let’s talk about why we put portal lights on the outside of the windows as opposed to inside the room up against the windows.  Drag the three windows into the room now.




You will notice this weird kind of shadow line on the edge inside the window frame. 




That’s created due to the placement of the portal light so the light on the left side of the shadow is not being enhanced while the light on the right is.  So basically, it creates an unnatural shadow line, so I’ll put them back outside.




Now, there are two types of portal lights: Simple and Accurate. Simple lights will ignore any geometry, any light bouncing or otherwise being affected by geometry and simply pass through an enhanced environment light.

Accurate Portal lights will take into account the effect geometry has on that environment light, so let’s take a quick look at what that means. Stop the render.




In the scene, you will notice outside of the space there is an infinite ground plane. If we got to the Asset Editor, under the Materials section, there is the Infinite Ground Plane Material




So, let’s make this something bright so that the environment light will bounce off of it and show as something very obvious, a bright fuchsia.




Open the Right fly out for this material.  Under the Options section, uncheck Can be Overridden.




Restart the Interactive render.




Now notice the fuchsia color on the outside, bouncing on the outside and hitting this surface, but it does not affect the inside at all.  That is because we are using the simple [portal] light.




Go back to the Lights tab and modify the portal lights from Simple to Accurate




Notice that the fuchsia is bouncing on the inside as well now, though this can take longer to render. 




So if you don’t have anything in the environment that needs to affect the light coming in, use the simple portal.   Reset the portal lights back to Simple.




Then, in the Material tab, set the Infinite Ground Plane material back to gray.





Now, let’s get back to the sun. The location of the shadows and the light coming through here great but the shadows are a little too sharp.  




So to soften the edge a bit we need to change the settings for the Rhino Document Sun which is under the Lights tab in the Asset Editor.   The Size Multiplier is what we need.




Adjusting the value here will make the edges of the shadows softer.  You can increase the value larger than the slider range by inputting a value like 100, but it makes the shadows too soft and unrealistic. 




It is best to use a value between 1 and 10, so let’s use a Size Multiplier value of 8 for some nice soft shadows.   



Setting up the finishing touches

Go to the Layers tab and re-enable the Skin layer from before. 




Under Renderer; disable Interactive and also disable Progressive.  Under the Render Output adjust the Image Width/Height to be 800 x 1000.  Then disable the Material Override.  If you have Swarm to render this on multiple systems, you can enable it now.




Go ahead and start your render.




Now we can click Show corrections control to make adjustments to the render.




We want to make this scene a little warm so let’s start with White balance.  Adjust the slide to see the change and we use a value of 8811.  




We want the shadow to still be cooler we can do that using Color Balance and only selecting the Shadows.  We use the values -0.05, 0.0, and 0.10.




Then we are going to adjust the Color Curve.  The top value should be around (0.670.93) and the bottom value should be around  (0.090.16).



The bright areas are a little too over bright which we can correct by adjusting the Exposure.  In the Exposure section adjust the Highlight Burn to a value of .65.  You can find the color corrections file as we have set it up here as part of the downloaded assets so that you can import them in.




Now let’s add a little Bloom to the image so open the Lens Effects settings. 




Enable Bloom and adjust the Weight to 11.32, the Size to 12.21 and the Shape to 14.98 to get what I have here.





And there it is, a daylight render of this interior space.