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SketchUp Skydome

SketchUp SkydomeKeeping with the theme of clouds and textured globes, I though it would be interesting to create an accurately textured skydome model for SketchUp. This uses a ‘sky’ panorama painted onto the inside of a large hemisphere – a quick way to fake a 360 degree backdrop for 3D models.

SketchUp Skydome (400kB)

This is a short video produced in SketchUp ,  demonstrating how the Skydome looks in combination with my Turning Torso Model.  Notice the subtle use of 3D Text at the end. 🙂


Same difficulty applies to texturing skydomes in SketchUp as spheres, so I did the simple thing again and imported a pre-textured model in, using a similar method to the anim8or imported globe

The cloud image comes from this panoramic photography website:  Philo’s Sky Collection.   Kudos to Philo for making these great images available for download.

The model’s current texture can by replaced with any of the other sky panoramas from Philo’s website.  To do this:

  • Download one of the ‘equirectangular corrected images’.
  • Open the SketchUp Skydome model and click on the paint bucket tool.
  • SketchUp Paint Bucket
  • Double click on the current cloud ‘material’ to open the Edit tab.
  • SketchUp Material Edit Options
  • Replace the texture by clicking on the ‘load material’ icon and opening the new image.
  • SketchUp Load New Material
  • Break open the proportions lock and re-enter 0.0254m and 0.0508m as the horizontal and vertical measurements.
  • SketchUp, Texture Dimensions
  • Close the Materials Window.

If you use sky panoramas from other websites, such as the 2 sites listed below, you’ll probably need to use different values for the texture’s measurements.   0.00254m for both vertical and horizontal works with most images.

  1. June 24th, 2007 at 20:00 | #1

    Hi James,

    I’d like to try a night view. The only tricky part would be to make the ground look dark. I suppose we could overlay a dark partially transparent overlay on the ground. Not sure what to do about 3D buildings though, except turn them off. I suppose you could make 3D buildings with materials set up to make them look like night-time versions…


  2. June 25th, 2007 at 11:02 | #2

    Genius! – nice idea 🙂

  3. June 25th, 2007 at 11:25 | #3

    Great idea Frank.

    Is there a night sky image you have in mind ? Incorporating night-time 3D buildings sounds tricky – i.e. getting a realistic match between the light levels in the various components.


  4. June 25th, 2007 at 12:31 | #4

    I’m trying to give you something to aspire to now that you are reaching perfection with a daytime sky. 🙂

    Not sure where you can get the night-time view. You could use Celestia and maybe use Digital Urban’s technique of taking a panorama so you can convert it over to a equirectangular projection. Maybe someone already has a nighttime equirectangular shot. Although I didn’t find one using Google Images, I did find a couple of sunset shots.

  5. June 25th, 2007 at 12:57 | #5

    Frank – Might be easier just to plaster the entire celestial sphere onto a global image overlay and stick it at altitude. 🙂

  6. papablo
    October 1st, 2007 at 09:08 | #6

    You can assign a semi-transparent material to the external surface to easyest know what you are seeing win you zoom-out or move outside the eskydome. Thankyou for your job.

  7. dscm
    January 8th, 2008 at 13:02 | #7

    You can add a night-time view even if it is not an equirectangular projection. I’ve found one on continuum3d.com. here’s the link: http://continuum3d.com/grafix/3dSkyInMot/SIM-10.html#

    just cut off the black part at the bottom and set the proportions to both 0.0254m

  8. ellen the model builder
    May 7th, 2008 at 03:23 | #8

    What a beautiful sky dome!
    How did you make a hemisphere in anim8or?
    How did you texture the inside of it?

  9. August 10th, 2008 at 19:32 | #9

    I am using this technique to preview images for fulldome (digital planetarium) projection. Try using an equirectangular image other than a skyscape and you’ll see what I mean (you may have to squeeze or crop the image for the best view). This also may be useful to preview your building model in the location it will be built – shoot a panorama of stills, stitch into an equirectangular frame, and you have your environment. Thanks for the tip!

  10. September 26th, 2008 at 11:19 | #10

    Skydome looks great in your video but when I import it into my model the whole model becomes very dark and falls into shadow. Ive unchecked the cast shadows in entity info and this does nothing. Even when I delete the skydome from the scene it still stays dark. Would be great to get it working any help would be appreciated.

  11. Pitt
    October 20th, 2009 at 08:54 | #11

    I have the same proble. My model gets dark if i try to render it with Podium or so. Is there a trick?? One workaround is to make the skydome emit light but it slows down the rendering tremedously. Any ideas???

  12. January 18th, 2010 at 13:46 | #12

    Have you adjusted the opacity setting on the dome, eg 100% transparent for the suns light source to shine through?

  1. June 25th, 2007 at 07:09 | #1
  2. June 25th, 2007 at 18:56 | #2
  3. June 26th, 2007 at 18:28 | #3
  4. June 27th, 2007 at 01:41 | #4
  5. June 30th, 2007 at 01:28 | #5