My firm is currently looking to advance its ability to render a sketchup model beyond sketchup's capability. I have been playing around with Vray and Hypershot. I know Vray is very popular among architects and landscape architects (large following thus a large support system). Hypershot seems to be quicker and more intuitive but less popular and thus less advanced (less support). Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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I use Vray at a very basic capacity.
there is a free program called Kerkythea that works with sketchup. You build your model in SU as usual and export to Kerkythea. there you can adjust lighting, textures, shadows, etc. The learning curve can be steep (there are tutorials) but it is quite powerful for a free program.

http://www.kerkythea.net/joomla/
a new rendering system that was based on kerkythea, Twilight is getting great reviews on the sketcucation website, the learning curve is quicker than Kerkythea and it works within sketchup so there is no export needed. I tried the free download and it works very well, the full version cost $99 so it is very nicely priced. The support group forums are growing quickly and the people are very friendly.
I would definetly check out Artlantis as well. It's quite a powerful rendering program, easy to use, and not to expensive. I've had some pretty good experiences working with vegetation, materials and lighting. I think they have a 30-day trial version.
http://artlantis.com/
Artlantis has a lot of capability and also is quite easy to use. There is a free trial and the pro version is comparably cheap.

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