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

Page Contents



In this tutorial we’ll go over lighting techniques for a nighttime architectural interior scene using IES lights and sphere lights.

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_Night_Start.3dm, which can be downloaded from the Tutorial Assets section above.



Turn on Material Override to make it easier to focus on just the lighting, and to also have faster feedback with the Interactive Render as we go along. Open the Asset Editor and on the Settings tab, and turn on Material Override to temporarily assign a simple gray material to all the geometry.




There are, however, a couple glass materials here that we need to respect and not override, so in the options panel for Glass_Frosted, turn off Can be Overridden.




Do the same for Glass_Window_Neutral as well.




There is a V-Ray Proxy in the back wall that is a decorative skin system, which is a pretty complicated piece of geometry. Open the Layers Panel, if it's not already visible, and under the Walls layer, disable the Skin sub-layer. This will also help with performance.




In the Lighting tab, disable the Rhino Document Sun with either the switch at the top right  as shown in the image below, or with the toggle next to the light's name on the left.




Now for the sky: switch to the Settings tab and expand the Environment rollout.  The sky texture is being used here for the Background, so uncheck the box shown below to disable it in the scene, which will cause the environment to revert back to black.




Setting up the Sphere lights in the scene

We’ll start with the pendant lights in the scene. Zoom into the first pendant light as shown below, and you can see the light’s model consists of a housing, some internal parts, as well as a lens for the light.




We need to place the light inside the housing above the lens.  In the Lights tab of the toolbar, click on the Sphere light icon. 




Click and drag out a sphere in the Front view like so. It needs to sit inside the lens geometry without touching or overlapping it to prevent any unwanted artifacts in the rendering.   




Place the sphere light inside first pendant using the Front view. Then in the Top view, move the light so that it is nice and centered into that pendant light geometry as shown below.




Type in Copy in the Command line at the top of the Rhino UI to duplicate the light.




Using Copy command again to place a second light into the next pendant, and then another in the next pendant and so on for all the remaining lights.




In the Asset Editor, there are 6 total sphere lights created for the pendants.




These lights are all individual, so changes to one do not affect the others. So let’s use Rhino’s grouping to make a group. Select all six of the sphere lights.




Then use the group command (shown below) to make the sphere lights into one group together. This way, changes to one like Intensity or color will be reflected in the other 5 as well.




Click the Interactive Render icon to start a test render.




The sphere lights are beginning to light the scene.




In the Settings tab under the Camera rollout, lower the Exposure Value to a value of 4 to brighten the image to better see the light emitted from the sphere lights.





Setting up the IES Lights

Let’s add lights to the recessed light fixtures now. Stop the render.




We’ll use an IES light, which uses an ies profile to define the look of the light. For more on IES lights, see our previous QuickStart video tutorial on Exterior nighttime lighting.  Click on the IES Light icon shown below in the toolbar.




In the Front view, move over to a space outside the geometry for now, and then click once and drag to define the size of the IES light, then move the mouse up to define its direction, and click to set the light pointing down as shown here:




The light is set to emit from a single point right now. We need to make sure that this point sits below the geometry of the light cans to maintain the proper lighting from the IES file.  Select the light and move it over in the Front view to be below the light can as shown here:




Now use the Top view to finish centering the light on the can.




Now copy the light and place it under the next can.




Keep copying and placing the IES lights for all the 7 can lights.




For ease of use, select all 7 lights, and group them together like we did with the sphere lights earlier.




Make sure the group is still selected. In the Asset Editor, select one of the IES lights and assign the IES profile Spot3.ies found with the downloaded assets for this tutorial. Since the lights are grouped, they all will get the same profile.




Start a new Interactive render.



And we get a ton of light. 




In the Camera settings, adjust the Exposure to 8.



Now you can better see the ies profile against the walls.




Go to the Lights tab and select one of the sphere lights. We need to make these lights brighter, but the slider is already maxed out at 30 as shown below.




Simply enter a value directly in the entry box to define a higher value. Enter a value of 500 for the Intensity.



Select one of the IES lights, and since the light is pretty much defined by its ies profile file, we have to manually turn on Intensity, which is measured in lumens. 




Now we have 1700 Lumen lights in the cans which give us more light than before, but not enough. Set it to 2400 lumens.





As mentioned before, the IES lights emit from a single point, which gives the harsh shadows as you can see in the render above. To soften the shadows a bit, we need to change the Shape of the lights in the Asset Editor shown below.




Choose Circle for the shape, and leave the Diameter at the default, as that’s doing a well-enough job with the shadows.





Adjusting the lights

Now let’s address colors to make the can lights emit a cool light and the pendants to emit a warm light. In the Asset Editor, click on the color swatch and pick a very pale blue as shown below, with just a touch of color to it.




Select a Sphere light and in the Asset Editor change the color to a pale orange as shown below, again, with just a touch of color to it to get a warmer light in the scene.





We excluded a frosted glass material from the material override, which is used for the glass of the can lights. Since we have the IES lights below the glass for the can lights, the glass lens is not lit and the lights look like they are off.  One option is to apply an emissive material to the glass lenses, which will make the glass look like it is lit. As was mentioned above, for the IES profile to stay intact, the light needs to be below the glass lens as not to alter its profile, so we’ll have to go with an emissive material to give the appearance of these lights being lit.  In the Material List in the Asset Editor, select the Glass_Frosted material. Switch to the Quick Settings tab.




The material is a glass type material; switch it to an Emissive material. Emissive materials do not emit direct light, but the do emit some global illumination.







The lenses now look like they are turned on now. Since the material doesn’t actually emit a direct light into the scene, only an indirect light, it doesn't affect the overall lighting of the scene.



In the VFB, zoom in for a closer look at a can light with the mouse scroll wheel.




Increase the Intensity of the lens’ emissive material to 5 to generate more light at the lens.




It doesn’t change the lighting noticeably at all, but it will make a nice difference when adding glare to the render later in the VFB.




The lights in the inside look good. Now let's get a touch of environment to come in through the glass doors as well. Go back to the Settings tab and the Environment rollout.




The Background is just black right now, so click the swatch and pick a pale dark blue as shown below, and we’ll see a hint of a night sky through the glass door.





Stop the render, and let’s set up for a final render.


Setting up the finishing touches

Go to the Layers tab and re-enable the Skin layer on the wall.




In the Asset Editor, disable the Material Override.




Under Renderer, disable both Interactive and Progressive, but leave Quality at High.  Under the Render Output adjust the Image Width/Height to be 800 x 1000. Then if you have Swarm set up to render this on multiple systems, you can enable it now. 




Make sure Vista 02 view is selected, and then click Render.




We have our final rendering.




And of course, final is never really final, so click Show corrections control to make adjustments to the render.




Make the scene a little warmer with White Balance.




Then in Color Balance. Set the Shadows to be a bit cooler.




Add a Color Curve like shown in the image below to enhance the contrast in the image.  Use a value of [0.42 ; 0.97] for the upper point and a value of [0.12 ; 0.10] for the lower point to get the curve like this:




You can always load the adjustments as we have them here, from the downloaded assets.




Now the areas of the image where we can see the light sources (i.e. the pendant lights and the can lights) are extremely bright in the image.




Turn on Force color clamping with this icon in the VFB:




You’ll see where the image is over-bright.




The light sources are very over-bright, while the top of the counter is not too bad. Now we verified that the light sources are where the most brightness is, so turn off the Force color clamping.  These over-bright areas at the light sources will work to our benefit. Turn on the Lens Effects. 




Then turn on the Glare Effect.




Change Type to Glare type from camera params and immediately the image shows us that glare at just the brightest areas of the image, i.e. the light sources.






Check on Turn On Diffraction for a nice color effect in the glare.





Adjust the Weight to 4.72 and Size to a value of 28.08 to find a nice subtle look like the image below. This is pretty easy to do because those light source areas were that much brighter than everything else in the image, so only they pick up the glare.






Experiment with how the glare looks to you, such as adjusting the number of Blades and rotating them to your liking.





And with that, we have a night render of this interior space using sphere IES lights.