HDRi Sky Tutorial

HDRi Skies will improve your SketchUp Rendering with realistic backgrounds and exterior illumination.

This HDRi Sky Tutorial will guide you through a simple exterior rendering using an HDRi Sky for a background.

Download and Installation

(If you have already downloaded and installed IRender nXt, ignore this step)

  1. Download IRender nXtfrom the Downloads Page
  2. After downloading the .ZIP file, click on the file name inside to install IRender nXt.
  3. During installation, select the proper version of SketchUp if you have more than one version installed.

Start SketchUp ^Download SketchUp 8 from Here: ( SketchUp Download ) if you don't have it yet. (IRender nXt works with both the free and professional versions.)

Start IRender nXt

  • Select IRender nXt Load from the SketchUp Plugins menu.

Exterior Scene with HDRi Sky

HDRi Skies and backgrounds provide a full, 360 degree, image used for the visual background, as well as lighting and reflections. See: HDRi Skies

Sample HDRi Sky
Sample HDRi Sky.jpg

Just part of the full Panorama. The HDRi contains the full 360 degree image with sky and some landscape

Select a model

For your first rendering we suggest a simple exterior.
We are going to render it, using default HDRi Sky settings, without making any changes to the model. This will let you see the effects of the default lighting of IRender nXt. For exteriors, this is easiest to see if the model has roof overhangs, porches, or other features which will benefit from subtle lighting effects.
  1. Download this model from the 3D Warehouse: Sample Exterior model
  2. I kept the same view, et. from the model after it downloaded.

3D Warehouse model you could use for the first rendering
SketchUp Model for HDRi Sky.jpg

Start Rendering

  1. Click the Render icon: Render24.PNG
  2. After you click the start rendering icon, the Rendering Settings dialog will appear to help you with your settings.
  3. Click the HDRi Sky Preset
  4. Click Start Rendering to render your first image.

Rendering Settings Wizard
Rendering Settings-HDRI.jpg

Rendered image - 10 rendering passes - Rendering time less than 1 minute
HDRi Sky Rendering.jpg

Notice the reflection in the windows from the Sky behind us.

Brightness Adjustment

IRender nXt applies an automatic exposure control to set the brightness of the rendered image. If it is too bright, or too dark, use the brightness slider to adjust it.

Here I increased the brightness using the slider to make a brighter image.

Rendered image with brightness increased.
HDRi Sky Rendering2.jpg

Use the brightness slider at the upper left of the window.


  • This 3D Warehouse model uses edge lines for its trees. These are not normally rendered and the trees look barren. There is an option in IRender nXt to render the Edge Lines if you have models which use edge lines for detail. Also you could replace the trees with RpTreeMaker trees which always render with full detail.

Rendering of Side of House with Edge Lines to see Tree Detail.

Normally edge lines are off to save on rendering time.

Other Exterior Rendering Tutorials

If you want to try more things with Exterior check out these Tutorials: