How can I achieve photo-realism in my VRay renders?

I am rendering a kitchen using VRay. I think the result looks good, but it is not near what I am aiming for and what I have seen online.
I have attached examples of what I am aiming for.

I am at max settings for VRay. Rendering on CPU.

Here is my file – Квартира Ники v7.skp - Google Drive

How do I get that quality I am after? Is it the lighting I need to work on? Some VRay settings? Are my textures too low quality? Is it bump maps? What can I look into to get there?

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Here is where I am at right now. I did not wait for the redner to complete, but you get the idea

There are a few obvious issues, like the electric sockets on the wall are clipping the tiles, but I don’t think that is what causes the issue and what needs to be fixed

You have placed too many lights in this small room, or change the intensity of each light.
It removes the shadows and the overall contrast.

The result below with only the SunLight and the Rectangle Light#1 activated.

For info the SunLight ALWAYS at 1 in intensity.

Okay, that feels better, but the room is too dark and cold now, I feel. How can I keep the contrast and realistic shadows without making the scene too dark?

You have to play with the different settings of each light. BUT one light at a time.
And then you play with different options in the VFB Displays Correction.

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And what are VFB Displays Correction doing?
Can you share the file and what you did with it? So I can see what you have changed?

I did not keep the file. I’m sorry.

But there are dozens and dozens of tutorials on the internet.

Ok so there’s a lot going on here to try and teach but for starters, make sure to go back and review the fundamentals of modeling in SketchUp. See below for small errors that will have a negative impact on your renders:

Geometry not lined up and missing surfaces or incomplete:

Reversed faces - these can make V-Ray render materials incorrectly. Blue faces are the back sides and should be ‘reversed’ to all show as White:

Give your walls a thickness. In the real world, nothing is built as a single plane and always has depth. This will help prevent light from ‘leaking’ in at the seams:

Composition - Try to pick a better camera angle…In a small space like this it is tricky. A ‘one-point’ perspective may be more effective. Looking down on a subject usually feels strange so try to set you camera angles to ‘2-pt perspective’ whenever possible - This is what architectural photographers do. That or they correct the lens tilt in post production afterwards.

Furnishings, materials and design details. As you can see below, I changed some furniture and colors to be more ‘neutral’. If the design calls for pink tiles then go for it but consider that the eye goes to the brightest objects and most saturated colors so use that to your advantage. Here now there is a sense of calm with the materials and the furnishings are thin and transparent to fit better in such a small space (you can ignore all these comments if you want since design is subjective but the reference image you posted above in your first post has a very clear and balanced choice of materials and furnishings which go along way in creating a compelling rendering):

Ok, now to render settings. Start with a ‘Material Override’ in order to get a good sense of your lighting (with or without artificial lights). Here I changed the sun angle to come into the apartment and highlight the seating area. You can use ‘Light Mix’ (V-Ray Version 5+) to toggle or edit lights after the rendering finishes to give you more control.

That last render was too dark. So to @DCHA34’s comment, the VFB is the Frame Buffer. The slide out to the right is where you can make corrections to the render. Adding an ‘Exposure’ channel or layer allows you to boost the exposure or brightness up while bringing the Highlight Burn down. Some people set the exposure values in the Asset Editor under the Camera settings but I tend to find doing it here in the VFB works just as well for me.

Render with Material Override turned off. Not perfect photo realism but adding more entourage, working the materials a bit more and cleaning up your model as well as enabling ‘Bloom and Glare’ in the Lens Effects layer will all help contribute to a better result. Once looking good, do a final high resolution render to make it look even better. These are low res at 1000 px so that they can be done quickly for this example.

Added the background in last so that I can control it separate from the rest of the scene.

Lastly (maybe this should have been first), check out our course on SketchUp Campus on V-Ray to pick up more tips and see each thing I did here step-by-step - V-Ray for SketchUp: Modern Cabin Exterior Good luck.


No time now to absorb this now, but this seems like a good short short course in setting up a scene.

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Thank you so much! That was really helpful. Based on this, this is what I ended up with. Still a lot of room for improvement, but it got much better.


Lighting is an art by itself. Opal glass balls are a modernist lighting innovation but to be honest, the light from them is often bland. They suit best to corridors and other such spaces. In a dining area I would use a light fixture that directs more of the light downwards with a smaller proportion of it bouncing from the ceiling and walls.


lighting is the most difficult to achieve in Vray, but once you get it, the results are amazing. I typically turn off the sun and use dome lighting with a good HDRI image, which takes care of the exterior environment. For the interior, I create my own lights via groups and create mesh lights from them. You could opt for using IES lights, as they are based on real lighting and might help in your case of this kitchen. Above all else, try looking at some examples online of real interiors to get a sense of how the lighting works and then after you place your lights, you can tweak the settings and run interactive rendering in Vray to see the results. To reitterate an earlier comment, using the material override feature in Vray allows you to create a render to see how the lighting interacts with your scene, without the rendering of textures, which can be quick and helpful.

There is something that I am wondering about. I haven’t used IES lights myself, but recently, in another thread, someone else had, and they emitted almost no light. Is it possible that metric units (millimeters) are confusing V-ray’s lighting strength parameters? Even with standard V-Ray lights, you have to increase the lighting values 10-100x from the default to see anything. It is the same with V-ray materials - texture sizes are way off when you bring them into your model.

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Actually, and funny you should mention about the units conversion for Vray, that the latest update to Vray for Sketchup, they implemented code that automatically converts the units in the materials to inches from centimeters (as an example). As for unit conversions for lighting, I am unsure at the moment, since I haven’t had cause to use IES lights recently, however, when using IES lights, it’s important to have IES lighting files that are true and correct. A good example is if you were to use Delta Lighting’s IES files, they will hold true to the lighting you use in your scene. There are a LOT of IES lighting files floating around the net, some of which will trip your anti-virus as being a possible virus, so use caution on which ones you download to use, so as such, I only recommend getting IES files from lighting manufacturers. Overall though, I haven’t come across issues with IES lights not emitting like they should, and that may be due to the aforementioned file origination. If you know your files are true and correct, something else may be causing a loss of light and the first thing I would check is your exposure settings in Vray, which I typically have to bounce back and forth between say 14 and 10 (for exterior and interior scenes respectively). I’m no expert at Vray and their “guides” and/or tutorials really only scratch the surface and don’t really explain every feature like they could.