Nicer shadows, sky and light objects

I had a trawl through the feature requests and was surprised that this wasn’t listed: I know SU is a modeling package and not a render package, but it could be made to look much prettier and for a lot of applications eliminate the need to export to a render package (or use post-production) with a few tweaks -

  • I would like to see a few additional options on the sunlight dialogue:
  • toggle for northern or southern hemesphere
  • disable “Use sunlight for shading” tic box when sunlight is switched on.(it’s irrelevant)
  • include a “drop-off” slider to fade the shadow out as it goes further from the object casting it.
  • sharpness or “bleed” to soften the edges of shadows as if ambient light was creeping round the object.
  • shadow tint… erm… tints the shadow.
  • I would like to have transparent surfaces actually let light through according to their transparency level; if something is at 50% transparent, then it would still cast 50% of the shadow. {currently the threshold is that below 70% opaque surface will not cast a shadow - it’s on or off.}
  • Any texture with an alpha channel I would like to see the shadow/light settings acknowledge and use it so that light would come through it.
  • Tic box option to allow geometry that is on the other side of a cut plane to cast a shadow. (perhaps an option tied to the specific cut plane?)
  • An option for “Local shadows” that would work in a similar way as the current shading works (without sunlight switched on), except that instead of being a flat shader for each face getting darker as the face turns away from the camera, it would be a gradated shader with the closest edge being darker and fading out to the level indicated. (ie 2 points on the existing dark/light sliders)
  • If ground is turned off, then allow shadows to come from below the object (and allow the time to be 24 hours)
  • It would be really cool if you could also have a “moonlight” setting - exactly the same as the “sunlight” settings, just a different tab.

I think that the sky could also have a few options to improve it;

  • Have a sky colour (as just now) and a horizon colour
  • Tic box to position glowing orb in the sky
  • Position it according to the geo position and shadow settings (and have the same dialogue for geo positioning)
  • Option to colour this orb (this would also add the same tint to the “light” value of shadows)
  • Option for size and glow
  • If ground is turned off, then still position the sun where it should be; below the horizon.
  • Tick box and slider for cloud cover (you could go towards the render level of accuracy and have various layers etc, but that’s for render packages - a simple waft of clouds to give the right impression would be enough)
  • Option to overlay (underlay?) a panoramic sky dome image. And panoramic “bowl” image if the ground isn’t turned on.

It would also be really nice to add a basic light emitting object, having all the same settings as the sunlight, but with a numerical “drop off” value for a distance. This would be a simple 360º point emitter.