Controlling Light Sources

Reference Number: KB-01007
Last Modified: July 16, 2015

The information in this article applies to:

Home Designer Professional or Home Designer Architectural


When I create a 3D camera view, my cabinets and other objects appear washed out, or do not have the definition that I want them to have. Why is this?


In 3D views, lighting is calculated on a room-by-room basis; only the light sources in the room containing the camera are used.

When the camera is outside a building, the program  normally uses sunlight for lighting calculations and turns off all other  light sources. You can turn the sunlight off and use all the other  exterior lights to simulate night time views.


The maximum number of light sources that can be turned on in a view at the same time is determined by your video card. If your video card's maximum number of lights is eight, the program only uses the eight light sources closest to the camera's position. You can manually turn on and off certain lights in order to get the desired lighting effects. 

Lighting is extremely important in 3D views. Even small changes can have a large impact on image quality.

 Notice the difference between the two images below. The top utilizes the default light and the cabinets are clearly defined. The lower image has only had a single light placed above the bed, but this drastically changes how light reflects on the cabinet faces, making them less defined.


There are four ways to create light sources for 3D views, and each individual light source has a set of properties, such as intensity and color, that can be defined. The four ways to create light sources are:

  • Default Light

  • Light Fixtures

  • Sunlight

  • Added Lights

Default Light

If you create an interior 3D view and no user defined lights exist, the program creates a Default Light source within the room. The Default interior light acts like a central point light source.

The Default Light cannot be adjusted in any way. If you want to control the light in an interior 3D view, you must add a light to the room that you are rendering by placing a lighting fixture, or by adding a light source using 3D> Lighting> Add Lights .

Light Fixtures

An electric symbol that represents a Light Fixture has a light source associated with it. Properties for the light source such as color and intensity can be modified in the fixture's Electrical Service Specification.



Default Sun Light

If you create an exterior 3D view, the program creates a Default Sun. The Default Sun acts like a parallel light source, but its location is not based on any real world locations.

The Default Sun can be opened for specification in a 3D view by selecting 3D> Lighting> Adjust Lights  to open the Adjust Lights dialog, clicking on the Default Sun option to highlight it, and then choosing the the Adjust button. 

Added Lights

3D> Lighting> Add Lights
  allows you to quickly add a light source in floor plan view. Added lights display 2D symbols in floor plan view and serve as sources of light in 3D views, but do not display as objects in 3D

Added lights can be placed into objects that normally do not generate light, such as a TV.

There are three types of light sources, each of which generates light in a different way and allows you to create a variety of lighting effects. These three light sources are
Parallel Lights, Point Lights, and Spot Lights

  1. Parallel Lights

    A parallel light has a direction but no position. The light appears to illuminate all objects with equal intensity, as if it were at an infinite distance from the object. A Parallel Light source is commonly used to simulate distant light sources, such as the sun. It is the best choice of light to use for maximum speed generating 3D views

    Parallel Light sources are represented in floor plan view by three arrows

    To add a Parallel Light:

    1.  Select 
    3D> Lighting> Add Lights .
    2.  Click and drag in floor plan view. 
    3.  When you release the mouse, a parallel light pointing in the direction that you dragged is created.  

  2. Point Lights

    Like a bare light bulb, a Point Light radiates light equally in all directions from its origin. It slows rendering down, but it is a more realistic representation of electric lighting and should be used where visual fidelity is the deciding concern. 

    If no user defined light exists, Home Designer creates a Point Light source to represent a light within a room. Any light source, except a sun angle, can be changed into a Point Light source by changing its light type in the specification dialog.

    To create a Point Light source: 

    1. Select
     3D> Lighting> Add Lights . 
    2. Click in floor plan view. Do not drag the pointer when you click the screen, or you will create a parallel light source.

  3. Spot Lights

    A Spot Light focuses the light in a specified direction. The location, tilt angle, direction, and intensity of a Spot Light can be defined.


    Spot Lights cannot be placed directly in the plan. They are created by changing an existing light's specification. Once defined as a Spot Light, the direction of a spot light can be changed in the Light Specification dialog or for an added light source, by rotating the light in floor plan view. 

    To create a Spot Light source:

    1. Create a Parallel or Point Light source. 
    2. Select the light and open it for specification. 
    3. Change its Type to Spot Light in the Light Specification dialog. 

Adjusting Lights

Light sources in the current plan can be accessed and edited using the Adjust Lights dialog. Select 3D> Lighting> Adjust Lights  to bring up the Adjust Lights dialog. 

All lights in the current plan display in the Adjust Lights dialog list. Check the box beside a light to turn it on or uncheck the box to turn it off.

To adjust the properties of one or more specific lights, select that light in the list and click the Adjust button. Make changes to the light in its specification dialog and click OK once done. Select another light to adjust or click Done.

If you are in a 3D view, the view will regenerate based on the new light settings.