I've used SketchUp for a few years now in architecture school and I have always hated it and used physical models and hand drawings to do my work. When I stumbled upon this site I was immediately surprised by the work that has been done in this program. So, I come to you all, the only experts on this program that I have ever seen, and ask you for your preference on renderers. Whether they be plug-in or free standing, which are the best, in your opinion, and why?
Feel free to post images of examples you have too, that would be a great help.
I know that a lot of you only build the form for perspectives that you then do in photoshop, but since I already know how to do that I would like to focus on an automated program.
I like Maxwell Render -- the best quality renders possible right now IMO.
I'll be doing a tutorial series on Maxwell (from a Sketchup users point of view) over the next few months... which should reduce the learning curve significantly.
I've only actually tried 2, Maxwell and LightUp. Each is good but for different reasons.
First, I'll agree with Jason that Maxwell Render has the best quality but its not cheap. It's also not the easiest software to use but there are far worse. If you leverage SketchUp for setting up the camera and doing the materials (can't do more than 1 texture per material though) it's rather brainless to get good renders. The good news is that the latest versions of the SU plugin have gotten much much better!
A downside is that it can take a good amount of time to render something at very high quality. In fact it will render for as long as you want, but eventually with diminishing returns.
What I enjoy most about Maxwell is that it's a "light simulator". This basically means if you know how camera's, lighting, and scenes are set up in real life then the settings make a lot of sense. Your not tweaking magic numbers, instead your thinking about the physics of the light and scene.
LightUp on the other hand does all the rendering inside SketchUp instead of using an external application like Maxwell. The results aren't anywhere near the quality of Maxwell but it will generate and bake ambient occlusion maps which can be exported to game engines.
I think it really comes down to your needs and intent. If you want something where you can just pop open SketchUp and demo a model to a client with semi-realistic lighting then LightUp might be good. On the other hand if you want to produce a photograph quality render for print or just something for your portfolio and can afford it then Maxwell is the software to go with.
There are several good free renders as well. I know Tonic has been doing some great work with Kerkythea. Examples of his work can be found here http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=146591
If your interested in examples of my Maxwell renders then click the SketchUp book link in my sig.
I'm curious to know what you'll pick and why so post something when you've chosen.
Wow guys, these are great.
I've "used" Kerkythea before, I put it in quotes because I barely understood it at the time. I'm interested in Maxwell, although the price is a little bit discouraging I might be able to get a student license for cheaper. ;) One of the students that im T.A-ing right now showed me LightUp not that long ago and I was somewhat impressed with it. Currently I have a copy of Artlantis and it seems to be adequate for what I need.
I love the photorealistic rendering in all of those examples, but for what I do, it doesn't pay off as much. It pays to be more fluid and etherial.
I guess what I'm looking for is something with basic lighting capabilities and then I can tweak the crap out of it in Photoshop.
(although part of me really likes the way that 3DSMax works with exporting SketchUp)
Also curious, who owns a Mac and who owns a PC? just wondering.
Thanks again guys. keep 'em coming.
What about Thea? It's made by guys behind Kerkythea, but for commercial purpose. Right now, it's at open beta phase and I must say the results are amazing. The graphic interface isn't so technical and clicky like vray or mental ray, so you could learn it quickly. There are manual, some video tutorials and very helpful forum community. You can download it and try - the free beta version is fully functional, with low-resolution and watermarks limitations. There is SketchUp exporter, as well. If you'd like it, you could buy it for half price - the price cut down will last for beta phase and one month after final release.
http://www.thearender.com/forum/ forum page
And there are few examples made by Solo - they're great and this guy uses SketchUp for modelling (unfortunately, you need to register forum account to see image attachments):
You can search for more his renders.
I thought mainly about Thea because of good quality, quite nice interface, good developer and community support and the 50% price cut-down.
From other side, I haven't used many renderers - only kerkythea and vray. There were other renderers, but I've used them only for "one second", so I don't say anything about them. To be honest, it's very hard to choose renderer when you're starting learning 3D. The more you know about renderer, the more differences, ups and downs you see, that's it.
Once I get Photoshop on my new Mac I'll get to updating my Sketchup folder with new renderers like Thea and some of the other aforementioned renderers. Much thanks to you all! :)
As a quick update, I landed an unpaid internship for the summer and have been here for about 6 weeks now just tinkering away and becoming a CAD monkey like I always "dreamed of" (sarcasm intended). The good thing is that since its a small firm, I'll be the only one here this coming week and that gives me plenty of time to screw off and build things in sketchup