Exterior Night Rendering: SketchUp to Photoshop

By Alex Hogrefe

This tutorial will create an artistic night rendering by exporting images from SketchUp to Photoshop. As in some of my previous tutorials no external rendering programs are needed… saving a lot of time!

1. Firstly, a SketchUp view should be saved, as multiple images will be exported and overlayed in Photoshop. Accidentally moving the view will make it almost impossible to get the images to line up correctly on top of each other later. This can be done by going to View>animation>add scene in SketchUp.

Add Scene

2. Next Export 3 images with the following Face Styles and Edge Styles :

(You can do this all by going to Window > Styles and the Styles Panel will appear. Clock on the Edit Tab to set up these settings).

a. FACE STYLE: Shaded With Textures, EDGE SETTINGS: NO edge lines.  Shadows set to on.

b. FACE STYLE: X-Ray on and Shaded With Textures, EDGE SETTINGS: Shadows on, Edges on.

c. FACE STYLE: Hidden Line, EDGE SETTINGS: Shadows on, Edges off.


3. In Photoshop, open the first image with Shaded With Texture but no Edge lines, Shadows on. Desaturate the image (Image > Adjustments > Desaturate). Adjust the Levels so that the gray tones are a little more dramatic (Image > Adjustments > Levels).

Desaturate and Adjust Levels

4. Open the second image with X-Ray mode, Shaded With Textures with Edges and Shadows on, in a new layer above the previous layer. Set the blending mode to Overlay (blend modes are found in the layers palate on the top left).

Set Blending Mode to Overlay

5. Next, duplicate the top layer (X-Ray with Edge lines). Change the blending mode of the layer to Difference.

Blending Mode to Difference

6. Open the final image with Hidden Line, no Edges and shadows on and set it as the top layer (on top of the pile of layers). First, the shadows need to be darkened to black. To do this, bring up the levels panel (Image > Adjustments > Levels or Ctrl+L) and move the left little black triangle to the right until the shadows are pure black.

Adjust Levels

7. Next, set the blending mode of that same layer to Darken (Note: This step will darken shadows in the overall image giving the rendering more depth. However, in some areas you may not want pure black shadows in which case you can erase or lower the opacity of the layer).

Set Blending Mode to Darken

8. Finally, create a new layer and move it to the top. With a paint brush (set to round soft, opacity set to 50%, and color set to black) paint edges in the background where the ground plane ends, as well as around the boarder creating emphasis to the center of the rendering. I also made minor tweaks to the towers and other areas by erasing sections of certain layers and adjusting the levels of others. Since this was more image specific, I didn’t include it in this tutorial. The final rendering, based on this tutorial, is achieved in a pretty short amount of time with no external rendering engines needed, just Photoshop.

Final Image

Exporting the SketchUp images at higher resolutions will dramatically increase the quality of the rendering. I usually try to export at twice the screen resolution or higher. Line work is usually much cleaner when this is done.

I hope you found this tutorial useful and a new quick way of achieving an exterior night render without having to actually render it using a separate rendering application.


Alex Hogrefe

Check out Alex’s other tutorials here at SketchUpArtists:

Daytime Rendering – SketchUp to Photoshop

SketchUp to Photoshop – lighting

Visit Alex’s own website for more of his great work – Alex Hogrefe Architectural Blog

7 Responses to “Exterior Night Rendering: SketchUp to Photoshop”

  1. Javier on June 8th, 2011 11:43 pm

    Thank you, I really appreciate the tutorial.

  2. SketchUp Stig on June 9th, 2011 12:25 pm

    Nice technique Alex and easy to remember…love the SketchUp to PS tuts!

  3. nomer on June 11th, 2011 12:24 am

    Another excellent use of photoshop. thanks for sharing.

  4. mahdi on June 22nd, 2011 9:38 pm

    real tnx … alex! your works are great!

  5. Tutorial: Exterior Night Rendering | ss_site_title on April 1st, 2015 8:52 am

    […] Sketchupartists.org has released another tutorial of Alex Hogrefe. This tutorial is how to produce a night render by just using sketchup styles and photoshop. More HERE. […]

  6. Archicgi on December 17th, 2015 3:42 pm


  7. teamdesignsau on July 23rd, 2019 10:05 am

    Very interesting.

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