Posts by J.melzer

    This tip assumes the user has a basic understanding of the Vectorworks spotlight toolsets. If not please see the online tutorials provided by Vectorworks.


    In Vectorworks a cyc style lighting device outputs only as a single source of light from the center of the unit, not the entire length of the cyc.

    Below is a trick to make the output from a cyc light look correct in a rendering.

    Step 1

    Find the lighting symbol that you would like to use in the resource manager and import it into the current file. In this case a Colorforce 72, 48 and 12 are being used.

    Step 2

    In the resource manager duplicate the imported lighting symbol. Select the duplicated symbol and right click to edit the 3D components. Rotate the unit so the face is pointing up leaving the legs / trunnions in place. Select everything and copy the selection. Close the edit menu.

    Step 3

    Paste the edited unit in the design layer. Go to a front view and draw a vertical line from the face of the unit upward a distance of 5’. Draw another line a few inches in from the outside edge of the unit on both sides creating a total of 3 identical lines. Go to a side view and align all three lines down the center of the fixture.

    Step 4

    Select one of the 3 lines go to modify>Covert> Convert to line light. Do the same for the other 2 lines. At this point you can duplicate these line lights vertically to accommodate the height of the subject you are trying to light. Keep in mind that the real fixtures output will drop off the further away from the unit it gets.

    Step 5

    select all the created line lights and move them to their own class. Now select the fixture and the line lights then go to Modify>Create symbol. Make sure that the Convert to Group check box is selected, create a title for the symbol and click OK.

    Step 6

    In the resource browser select the newly created symbol and right click on it. Select edit 3D components. Select all the objects of the symbol and move them vertically so the legs of the unit are at a zero Z height. Exit the edit window.

    Step 7

    Delete the existing symbol in the design layer. Now double click on the new symbol that was created and place it into your current document. This can be done multiple times depending on how many of these units are needed.

    Step 8

    To change the intensity or color of these units go to the visualization – Lights pallet and select the line lights. You can select more than one at a time. Once selected right click and adjust the dimmer and color of the units to the desired look.

    Step 9

    Run Enscape, set the view to nighttime. Modify the dimmer of the lights in Vectorworks until the desired look is achieved.


    • When creating a line light it will not output past 10’ so you will need to create multiple[le shorter line lights for lengths over 10’
    • Adding large numbers of lights into a drawing can slow down rendering time and possibly crash Enscape depending on the GPU’s available ram and drivers.


    With the example you are showing in the original file, VW and Enscape render these types of lights slightly different. If the object is a surface that was converted to an area light it will only emit light from 1 side. This side is typically the side that is facing down originally. Try rotating the surface 180 degrees and see if that helps. Also make sure that the render geometry checkbox is checked. If you converted an extruded surface to an area light it will emit from all sides.

    A different option for unique effects is to outline the surface with a line and convert the lines to a line light. This will create a glowing edge effect.

    If you use both the area light and the line lights together you can make the outside glow 1 color and the inside a different color.

    Lastly the surface material that the light is projecting onto will react differently depending on your material settings.

    Keep in mind the more lights you add into a project the more strain it will put on a GPU.

    Creating light output with theatrical fixtures from Vectorworks

    This tip assumes the user has a basic understanding of the Vectorworks spotlight toolsets. If not please see the online tutorials provided by Vectorworks.

    ***Before starting this exercise make sure to have a stage or extruded surface for the lighting instrument to focus at.***

    Step 1.)

    Import a theatrical light using the Lighting device tool. For our example we will use a Martin MAC Quantum profile.

    Step 1.png

    Place the fixture into the desired design layer and class. Change the Z height to the correct elevation, rotate the 2D symbol so it has the correct orientation for the drawing. Do not worry about 3D orientation currently.

    Step 2.)

    Using the focus point tool create a focus position in the drawing at the desired location the beam should focus at. In this example our focus point is named SR for stage right.

    Step 2.png

    Step 3.)

    Select the inserted lighting device. In the object info palette scroll down to the “Focus” line and insert “SR”.Step 3.png

    Step 4.)

    In the Resource Manager locate the Lighting fixture Martin Mac Quantum Profile and right click the resource, select Edit 3D Component.

    Edit 3D comp.png

    Step 5.)


    Rotate the view to a front view and zoom into the fixture, double click the head of the fixture to open the head group. In the Vectorworks preferences menu under the Display tab make sure the “Display 3D Loci:” drop down is set to Always click okay. The Loci point should now be visible between the yoke arms in the center of the head of the fixture.


    Switch to a bottom view and change the view to Rendering / Open GL. Draw a circle at the center of the fixture approximately the size of the front lens.


    Extrude the circle to 6” and return the view to a front view. Align the bottom of the newly created cylinder to bottom of the fixture where the lens is.


    Change the view back to a wireframe view, select the center top point of the cylinder and stretch it above the 3D Loci point.


    Select both the head of the fixture and the cylinder and select model / Subtract solids. Make sure that the Head of the fixture is the object highlighted to be subtracted from.


    Some fixtures will have more geometry in the group at the lens of the unit. For instance, our example symbol has a small cylinder at the front of the head, this needs to be deleted or light will not pass through it.

    Steps 5.1 through 5.6.png


    Exit the head group. Before exiting the symbol select the head of the fixture group. Make sure in the data tab of the object info palette the head of the fixture has a record attached to it. The record format should be the “parts record” and “Body” needs to be check marked. Once you have checked the items exit the symbol.

    Step 5.7.png

    Step 6.)

    In the design layer change to a 3D Iso view and make sure that the fixture focuses to the focus point. The subtracted cylinder should show in the wireframe part of the head of the symbol aiming at the focus point. Select the unit; in the object info palette under the shape tab go to field Angle and set the desired degree of output from the light.(Example 36 degrees) Field angle is the only parameter that Enscape currently uses to determine beam size.

    Step 6.png

    Step 7.)

    Open the Visualization – Lights palette click on the lights tab and select the light in the drawing. Right click the light and select edit. The properties widow will open, this is where the brightness is adjusted for the light output. Recommend starting with a brightness of 125%. Color for the light is adjusted in the Object info palette under the shapes tab in the color field.

    Step 7.png

    Step 8.)

    SAVE THE FILE. Start Enscape, change the time of day to nighttime. The beam will appear where it is focused in the rendering. Use the exposure settings in Enscape along with the brightness settings in Vectorworks to achieve the desired look. Note that if the file has a large number of lighting fixtures pausing Enscape before making adjustments in Vectorworks will reduce the potential for a crash.

    Step 8.png