Help! Making Sketchup more realistic

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GRAPHICS Help! Making Sketchup more realistic

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    Yeah, the professor who taught me to “hand render” in photoshop is amazing and gets almost identical results as with his prismacolors. I really wish I was taught traditional hand rendering because it is a style that no computer can beat. With that said, it is nice to be able to erase mistakes, and also change colors. But I feel that this type of rendering should still be taught because no photo montage or computer rendering can compare; and I am a huge computer guy.

    Andrew Spiering

    Hi Nicole,

    Great question!  We have a webinar series coming up in a couple of weeks with Daniel Tal on SketchUp & Shaderlight.  It will definitely be worthwhile for you to attend.  Check out the details on the event page –




    Wow!  Thank you everyone for your input.  This discussion has turned out to be extremely informative and I’m excited to research all of the different programs suggested.


    Hi Andrew,

    I am already signed up and looking forward to it!



    Andrew Spiering

    Great!  It’s gonna be a good one…


    Just my 2 cents. I have worked with and in a 3D modeling studio in a large multi-disciplinary firm (Architects, Interior Designers, LA’s and planners) so drawing from my experience at that firm:


    Any program you choose to render exterior site design with the goal of getting sharp graphics will require an investment in time and depending on the program, resources (a good computer and vegetation and modeling components).  


    3Ds Max is an excellent program and I worked with an LA at RNL named Trent Cito who is a 3Ds Max wizard. He also has 12 years of experience working with the program.


    SketchUp can achieve results beyond the basic block-model massings (see attachment). If you wish to render your SketchUp model you have many options – but only a few of the rendering programs will handle modeling-vegetation components.


    The key to any of the modeling and rendering programs is process and workflow.

    Regardless of the program. Some have easier learning curves. Other require a greater investment in computing power (like needing a render network).


    E-ON VUE is the current king of vegetation rendering. However, many have found the best results in using Photoshop. And to echo what others have stated, Photoshop is a must when creating illustrations.


    The attached image (work in progress just as a note) was modeled in SketchUp and rendered in Shaderlight with post production in Photoshop.  The key to working with vegetation in SketchUp is using layers. These programs work for me. It might not for others.


    I do not believe in a single program is the solution for everyone (something that AutoDESK has been trying to provide for years).

    Lana Merrill

    Great link!


    Hey David

    I was helping beta test LumenRT. It has potential for sure and they have some good plans to for the future to include plants. Problem with it is the length of time it takes to produce even a draft render. Ideally, I wish I had access to a render farm as I would use VUE. There are render clouds I could use though – but have not tired them yet. Anyone have any experience with them?


    I like Shaderlight because its stable, I can run renders with high poly-models, I can batch render, there options for adding backgrounds is ok and will improve, they will release an animation version soon, etc…

    Render[IN] is not stable though the lighting is excellent.


    Podium produces some of the best renders as far as quality but cannot render large models (vegetation)

    Vray is the best out of all of them but is complex and harder to learn (the manual is huge and not easy to follow).


    Twilight is pretty cool but the UI is confusing. It produces great renders but cannot handle large models.

    IRender (NextRender?) has some cool features (like fog and light effects) but the quality of the render is not best.


    Most integrated rendering programs for SketchUp are directed towards architects and interior design. I don’t like spending to much time doing post production work in PS because most clients want to see multiple views. So finding the right program that works for me(landscape design, arch) has been key.


    Though again, it really is a matter of experimentation and preference.  Honestly, many clients are ok with just plain old SketchUp graphics.  


    agree – this is excellent

    Juan Antonio Lopez

    I would definitely use Photoshop for all of my vegetation.  I find that using sketchup for trees slows my computer down a lot. If I must have 3D trees I use sketchup or Rhino to create a basic mass model and then I texture it using Artlantis on a PC.  Artlantis trees are great and don’t really slow down the computer.  The only downside is that you have to purchase them and they might not have a specific tree.

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