Wish: Ambient occlusion spread

The new ambient occlusion feature in 2024 is absolutely fantastic!!!

But I have one suggestion for improvement. In addition to the shadow intensity setting, I think it would be awesome to also have a “spread” setting where we could make the shadows extend further.

I work in architecture / urbanism and with this I could achieve a softer look for large objects such as city districts.

Thanks for considering this!

Am I missing something?


Yes, I didn’t realise that there is a setting called distance already so that made my post confusing. I will update it to clarify.

This controls the distance from the camera at which ambient occlusion applies. This is really useful as well but I am looking for something else.

I meant something like this. Emphasised sketch for illustration with the current behavior on the right, but I would like the possibility to achieve something like what’s visible on the left:

It controls the spread of the ambient occlusion - exactly as your diagram :slight_smile:

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Oh, my bad then! I assumed the feature was doing something else since I tested on large models only.

In that case my wish is actually this: is it possible to make the maximum value higher? The shadows are very sharp in bird’s eye views of city structures.

Ambient occlusion is by design there to emulate the look of areas where light doesn’t reach - small cracks in floors, the corner of rooms , where walls meet floors etc.

I suspect by definition what you are asking is not really what AO as a concept is designed to tackle.

Definitely worth a wish! There are several different approaches to AO, maybe some others would be better suited for what you describe.

Understood, I guess I am trying to use AO for something else than intended.

It does work very well though! So if it was possible to change the max value in model settings for example, to avoid confusing the typical user of AO, it would be awesome.

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I also would like to see if the distance and intensity sliders could be bumped up a few notches to allow folks that are doing large scale modeling with context (like urban planning) the ability to see more AO. Love the feature, but it does get a bit lost while designing city blocks rather than a single building. All-in-all, a terrific addition to SketchUp.


I’m not entirely convinced it was only designed for close up views. It would excel at large scale models as well, between buildings, if it weren’t limited in scope. Much like a miniature balsa model would do.

In computer graphics you are only using AO where light doesn’t easily penetrate.

If you go larger If you have 2 buildings 2 meters apart at full size, then neither is really occluding the other from ambient light.
It will typically manifest itself as small edges on things. Maybe they can increase the draw distance on it .

At larger scales it tends to end up looking just like edges anyway, I guess if they can increase the draw distance on the AO - then that might help out.

I totally get it, but it helps to visualize even on large models between buildings, like you would see in a physical model. This is normal for ambient occlusion going back many years. It’s quite limited in SU at the moment for scale. Here’s an example I found in a quick search to show how useful it would be. https://www.fluidray.com/citymap1/

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Not exactly. It’s just a way to add a sense of depth between areas, it’s not an actual shadow or anything :slight_smile: but you know that.

I just mean strictly in terms of how the calculations for light are split up. AO itself is one of the many components of what make up the image.

Anyways, here is a fun picture, digging into SU’s AO , which is SSAO it appears.

Here it is when it is first calculated

And then it is blurred to smooth it out.

I kinda like that Charcoal like look before it is blurred

Hey Y’all. Im happy to hear that you all are enjoying the new AO. I want to thank you all for taking the time to send your thoughts and wishes. Please know that we are always striving to make things “better” for our users, and the above has some good thoughts and potential.

Stay tuned over the next “few” months for more exciting features.
Until then keep it up.

PM Graphics