SketchUp is one of the most widely-used 3D modeling programs around, especially among architects and interior designers. It provides the speed and flexibility to make quick changes to a design, and lend strength to the process of developing a project. By itself, SketchUp is a powerful design tool and an adequate visualization tool.
However, there is a power locked away in SketchUp that can only be unlocked with supplementary software and plugins that transform its rudimentary graphics into photorealistic representations of your work.
The rendering programs on this list are the best for use with SketchUp because of the way they transform the most accessible 3D modeling program into a visualization powerhouse. Many of these programs are just as easy to use as SketchUp itself, making for a smooth transition for those who don’t have much experience in rendering and post production.
Here are 5 rendering programs for use with SketchUp.
SU Podium was designed from the ground up to be used specifically with SketchUp - making it the only one of its kind on this list. There aren’t many bells and whistles here, just an easy-to-use rendering plugin that will have your SketchUp models looking shiny and new in a matter of minutes.
If you spend time detailing your SketchUp models and finely tuning the applied textures and lighting sources, Podium will do the rest. It allows you to tweak things like brightness, contrast, and color filters after the rendering is complete, adding some flexibility to the whole process. For new users, Podium is the first place you should look for rendering help.
No matter how far we’ve come since the early days of computer graphics and 3D rendering, V-Ray will always be at the top of the food chain. As technology advances, so does V-Rays ability to produce the most mind-bending visualizations, renderings, and animations possible with ones and zeros.
V-Ray comes equipped with a plugin that interfaces directly with SketchUp. It certainly comes with a learning curve, but those willing to put in the time are rewarded with the ability to do just about anything with a rendering. With V-Ray, SketchUp is instantly transformed into a rendering tool professionals can be proud to utilize.
Twilight Render is a visualization tool for professionals and hobbyists alike. In fact, that’s exactly how it’s marketed, and with good reason. It presents the user-friendly interface SketchUp users appreciate, with a powerful rendering engine that can produce photorealistic images for even the greenest of amateurs.
Twilight Render isn’t the most feature-rich rendering program in the world, but it provides just enough in terms of quality and speed to find plenty to like here. For people who are just getting their visualization foundation underneath them, it’s an absolute slam dunk and one that won’t cost them much to get up and running.
If you’re looking to dip your feet into the bleeding edge of rendering technology, look no further than Keyshot. It utilizes real-time rendering in a way that allows you to see the results of a rendered scene as you’re working on it. That means you can tweak textures, lighting, camera, and even massing and instantaneously view the rendering.
Keyshot is still working on a proper plugin for SketchUp, but does have the ability to import your models into the base rendering program for quick use. SketchUp users will be impressed at just how easy Keyshot is to use, especially considering the technological magic it carries with it under the hood. Keyshot is something that has to be seen to believe.
If SU Podium doesn’t have enough to satisfy the professional renderers needs, Brighter 3D is another exclusive SketchUp plugin to try out. It works within SketchUp’s already user-friendly interface, and has enough in terms of options and flexibility that experienced users will love. It supports a variety of different lighting models, including artificial and HDR.
Brighter is a CPU multi-tasking rendering engine, meaning you won’t need an expensive graphics card to unlock its power. It is the perfect rendering plugin for people who don’t have the money to build themselves a dedicated visualization machine.