Scene Light and Panorama Settings

Configure options for light source and environment and reflection maps for 3D viewports.

The Light and Panoramic settings applied to every Viewport can be configured with a dialog. The dialog shows up when clicking on the light button of the main toolbar.


The Light parameters control how objects are lit in the 3D viewports.

Parameter Function
Sun position source Switches between "Time and Month" and "Direct Solar Entry". For "Time and Month" to work, the Scene Coordinate System needs to be set correctly.
Time Time of Sun Position.
Time Zone Time Zone of Sun Position.
Month Month of Sun Position.
Solar elevation angle Altitude of the sun, the angle between the horizon and the centre of the sun's disc.
Solar azimuth angle Azimuth angle of the sun.
Solar intensity Scene light intensity.
Ambient intensity Scene light ambient intensity.
Shadow attenuation Attenuation of shadows (blend to black).
Ambient occlusion attenuation Attenuation of screen space ambient occlusion (blend to black).
Shadow quality Switches between "Low", "Medium", "High", and "Interactive".
Radius mode Switches between "Manual" and "Interactive".
Ambient occlusion radius Radius in meters of screen space ambient occlusion samples.
Ambient occlusion samples Number of screen space ambient occlusion samples, or "Interactive".

Interactive Modes

The "Interactive" modes are designed to deliver great visual quality without the need to manually adjust parameters.

When "Shadow quality" or "Ambient occlusion samples" are set to "Interactive", the best visual quality is used when the camera stands still, while the quality is reduced based on performance during camera moves.

When setting "Radius mode" to interactive, the ambient occlusion radius is automatically adjusted for best visual quality in the center region of the viewport. If you want to tweak this, set the mode to "Manual".

Ambient Occlusion

CityEngine's Ambient occlusion uses screen space ambient occlusion, a special real-time rendering technique that approximates ambient light occlusion. Ambient occlusion is a shading method used in 3D computer graphics which helps add realism by taking into account attenuation of light due to occlusion. Ambient occlusion attempts to approximate the way light radiates in real life and is especially well suited for outdoor scenes.

Left: Solid shading without ambient occlusion. Right: Ambient occlusion enabled.

Left: Low ambient occlusion radius. Right: High ambient occlusion radius.


The panorama settings contain the background skydome shown in the 3D Viewports:

Parameter Function
Environment Map

Image to be used as environment map.

The environment map is used to texture the sky in your scene

Reflection Map

Image to be used as reflection map

The reflection map is used on reflections on generated models that have reflection enabled in their material settings.


Show or hide the panorama

The directory ce.lib/maps/panoramas contains a selection of panorama maps.

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