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Integrate expert training in V-Ray for SketchUp with your existing workflows

If you’ve been wanting your 3D design skills and processes to deliver more value for your business or your career, our expert training in V-Ray for SketchUp masterclass could be just what you’re looking for.

These tools can help interior designers create lighting or materials studies or explore 3D furniture layouts. They can help landscape architects visualise planting schemes or create accurate topographical 3D models. Our training in V-Ray for SketchUp can help set designers create immersive sets in 3D and realistic concept images that tell your story.

And that’s far from all. As 3D artists ourselves, we know that there are always new techniques to learn and existing processes that can be streamlined. But we also know that better 3D output can do a lot for you and your business. Especially if the way you improve those skills is designed to fit in around and support your existing workflows.

Expert training in V-Ray for SketchUp to improve your knowledge of 3D design.

Get training from V-Ray certified instructors

Archilime Academy is the first authorised V-Ray training centre in the UK. You or the designers, architects, and artists on your team will be learning from multiple industry award-winners with extensive experience.

We’re the people who produce visualisation that V-Ray developers Chaos use to market the software itself, so we really do know what we’re talking about.

The learning process is just like that which all of our artists go through when they join Archilime. We’ve tried to make it just as supportive, positive, and open for you and your team, with multiple ways to ask questions, receive feedback, and track your progress so far.  

Deliver real-world projects while you learn

This isn’t the sort of training where you or your team member needs a lot of time off. Instead of distracting from your daily work, our expert training in V-Ray for SketchUp is designed to fit in around and support your ongoing projects, be it designing a building in 3D, better visualising your latest set, or delivering a Land and Visual Impact Application in a much more persuasive way.

Your team can continue with real-world projects while they study. In fact, they’ll do so with their course mentor – as well as the very engaged wider Archilime Academy community – on-hand to talk everything through with.

The masterclass takes place over 12 weeks, with a half-day webinar per week and ongoing course material, empowering you or your team to slot it into existing workflows. This makes it an easy way to invest in yourself and your team and grow your offering without interrupting your day-to-day.

 

Rapidly improve your studio’s CGI output 

3D design or CGIs might not be your main sell. But mastering the use of incredibly powerful tools like V-Ray for SketchUp adds a huge amount of value to your business processes or your personal skillset.

From visualising plans and conceptual ideas more easily to maximising the value of your deliverables to selling high-quality 3D images for profit, our V-Ray certified artists will help you start leveraging everything high-quality CGI can do for you.

Our V-Ray for SketchUp masterclass finesses your existing talents, enables better conceptualisation of projects and processes, and helps you draw attention to the quality you already deliver. All while being smoothly integrated with and even supporting the projects you are currently engaged in.

What do you want to get from your V-Ray for SketchUp masterclass?

Contact us directly to talk through your aims for your course with one of our friendly experts.

 


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Our vision and mission for a V-Ray for Sketchup Masterclass

It’s our mission to teach the art of visualisation through the mediums of SketchUp and V-Ray on our V-Ray for SketchUp Masterclass. It’s our vision for that learning process to be open, transparent, positive, patient, and fully supported.

 

 

Teaching the world-builders of tomorrow

Add value to your business, reassure your customers, or boost your own skill set with a V-Ray for SketchUp Masterclass in visualisation from personable and passionate leaders in the field.

As the first company in the UK to become an authorised V-Ray for SketchUp training centre for key industry software developer Chaos – and the people they turn to when they want to create scenes to market their own products – our collective of artists are ideally placed to help you finesse your visualisation skills.

Get trained by a V-Ray certified instructor. Invest in yourself or your team and their capabilities. Fit the weekly half-day live sessions of your V-Ray for SketchUp Masterclass into your team’s training and development plan and the offline sessions in around even the busiest schedule.

We do this for a living. Now we’ve made it our mission to help you make visualisation a bigger, more effective part of yours.

Realistic vegetation can be achieved by using high quality sources and paying special attention to the method of scattering
Realistic vegetation can be achieved by using high quality sources and paying special attention to the method of scattering

Helping you expand the value your studio gets from 3D design with a V-Ray for SketchUp Masterclass

Our vision is to make it easier for studios of architects, interior designers, set designers, and landscape designers as well as all kinds of individual professionals to swiftly improve the quality of the visualisations they create and use throughout their design processes..

Delivering visualisations might not be the main focus of your business or career. Yet knowing how to produce better 3D output helps you:

  • Produce conceptual ideas quickly
  • Maximise value of existing deliverables and clearly demonstrate design scope
  • Upskill and invest in yourself or your team
  • Illustrate and combine with 3D programs you already use
  • Sell high-quality 3D images for profit
V-Ray for SketchUp Masterclass | Photo-Montages are an invaluable asset to present your ideas within context
Photo-Montages are an invaluable asset to present your ideas within contextual photography

Learn from the leaders in the field

The Archilime Academy is brought to you by Archilime Visualisations. Multiple award winners in the field, Archilime has extensive industry experience and a reputation for meticulous quality and visual integrity.

We bring the same approach to teaching others the skills we’ve gained. But we bring plenty of patience and positivity to the process too. This is a mirror of the path our artists take when they join Archilime, so we want it to be equally friendly and supportive.

You or your team will have weekly public face-to-face webinars for Q&A along with plenty of allowance for private check-in sessions and a high level of interaction with your trainer.

Once you’ve completed your course, you’ll have access to the live and engaged community of Archilime Academy delegates for life. So you can keep that support dialled-in over the years ahead.

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A V-Ray for SketchUp Masterclass: a new era

Besides hearing insights from the team at Archilime, this V-Ray for SketchUp Masterclass is the meeting place of inspirational artists, extension developers, software resellers and many more.

With a release date of September 2022, sign up to our mailing list here to stay tuned with exciting updates on our upcoming Masterclass webinars, tutorials, sneak peeks and discount offerings – you do not want to miss out!

If you would like to explore some bespoke private coaching, why not get in touch with us about our 3-Month Development Programs or Top-Up courses?

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Our vision: transparent, supported, positive learning 

Learning how to create professional studio-quality visualisations is a process. We’ve made sure you can easily track where you and your team are on your journey.

You can use your personalised dashboard to measure progress as well as flag problems for your trainer. We also provide qualitative assessments so you can get some detailed feedback on how things are going.

All while you continue to work and even use your new skills on real-world projects in the meantime. Confident in the knowledge that you have your trainer standing by.

 

Experience a Masterclass in visualisation

Boosting the quality of the architectural CGIs and other forms of visualisations you or your team can produce doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. It can support, fit in around, and expand the work your team does day-to-day rather than distract from it.

Even if this isn’t your main sell, studio-quality visualisations are a big value-add to your offering. They let you further highlight your skills, improve your deliverables, better conceptualise projects, and offer your team opportunities for personal development.

Instructed by the same industry leaders that the creators of the SketchUp software themselves use to advertise their products, you’ll soon be creating the kind of high-quality visual output that drives business and careers.

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Composite SKP Export + Clay CGI + Colour CGI of Paragraph 79 house in Devon, UK

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We chat to Dan and Jack, Head of Ops and MD of the Archilime Academy, for a look behind-the-scenes into how a lifelong love for Architecture evolved into the creation of a leading academy teaching the art of visualisation.

How did you get started in the CGI industry? Why are you passionate about “creating your world”?

Dan: For me it all stems from a love of Architecture. Hours spent playing the Sims after graduating from Lego sowed the seeds for an interest in the built environment, which naturally culminated in a desire to study Architecture at University. 

Uni was great in exposing us to the different roles that an aspiring architect would have to play. It was more than simply teaching us how to design, but how to create your vision so that others can buy into it. ‘Communications’ was one particular module that introduced us to the different techniques and technologies that we could use to present our work.

Personally, the 3D modelling aspect of this really piqued my interest. Coincidentally, Jack and I met during one of these lessons, and ever since then we have fed off this joint interest in visualising the world around us.

As a visual thinker myself, the ability to create my ideas in 3D and then intuitively edit them to my liking was just what I needed. In its most basic form, the only things needed were a laptop, an idea and a few hours.

The real watershed moment for me was when we discovered that it’s possible to take our cartoony SketchUp models to the next level by bouncing light around our models using ray-tracing programs like V-Ray

As we approached the end of the course, I discovered that my passion to visualise overtook the drive to design, which explains why when the opportunity came to join Jack and become a full-time CGI artist, it became a no-brainer.

Jack: My passion for Architecture came when I was thrown into a two week work experience stint back when I was in year 10 to keep me out of trouble!

My head teacher originally signed me up to get a work experience placement working as an elf in the Peacocks shopping centre in Woking which I regretfully had to decline (true story).

I loved to paint, draw and the shapes of architecture which always flowed through my art but I never knew what path I wanted to pursue.

There was no motivation or drive to really pursue any of my artistic passions so just stumbled along in school. I was then offered a placement within my first ever Architecture practice in Guildford called The Hall Design Group.

One of the directors that took me on is now a client of ours and the feeling is incredible to have been able to go full circle!

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I came to my final year of University and tried to apply to about 100 Architects practices all over Devon to absolutely no avail… Realising that there were too many students looking for the same position, I decided to see what else I could offer an architect that maybe another student didn’t have in their locker.

This seemed to be the ability to offer 3D modelling that the Architect could then take on a small cost and return to the client for a high value result. I started re-approaching the same contacts that never got back to me and soon started to get a response. It was slow at first but it was something I knew could grow if I was consistent.

To this day, we still have clients of Archilime that were Architects I approached for part time office work 9 years ago. The rest is history, we grew according to the ongoing clients needs.

When did you spot the need for an Archilime Academy?

Dan: Primarily as a visualisation company, we are massively lucky to have clients who really see the value in 3D modelling and CGI. We were often asked for tips by proactive and inquisitive clients who would like to try their hand at visualisation. So, the tips that we offered, quickly turned into mini sessions, which then evolved into full-fledged courses as they gained popularity!

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Something which is often overlooked is how we ensure that our standards internally are always met with multiple artists working on projects together. Besides the evident need for strong team chemistry, workflows need to be standardised to some extent so that any member of our team can pass their project to another without the quality of final output dropping. 

I guess you could say that the Archilime Academy is a product of both external and internal drivers which fundamentally teaches the same workflow to ensure cross-compatibility to the point of photorealism.

Jack: I always knew Dan and I had a very similar thought process about focussing on some sort of community. We both agree that natural skill can be found from anyone, it just needs nurturing and sustaining so that person has the best opportunity to flourish into the person they want to be. Ensuring their ownership and career journey being the most important part of the company growth.

We carry that exact same philosophy to the way Archilime hire staff in the way that we find positive, good attitude, productivity and coach the industry skills across over the space of 2-3 years. 

From this we wanted to form a friendly community that could offer support to any creatives that surround our industry. Dan has always had experience with coaching people especially younger kids and it’s a really natural gift he has.

The discussion of bringing an Academy to the business was had between the two of us and then Dan immediately started to build the foundations of the courses whilst generating ideas and scope of how this would run operationally.

There was definitely a massive need for creative professionals to learn how to showcase their proposals and designs in 3D form and this stretched across lots of SME’s within the creative industry, the main few being Interior Designers, Architects and Landscape Designers.

If we could add value to their service and provide them with a skillset they could then upsell to their own clients, we knew that it had a place.

What is the most rewarding thing about getting delegates through your courses?

Dan: Looking back and seeing how far they have come. For me this is evident especially on our 3-Month Dev. Programs, which (as the name suggests) spans several months, which highlights the increase in quality of output greatly from beginning to end.

First and foremost, it is a pleasure to be able to help anyone learn anything – so to have the opportunity to teach or coach concepts which we absolutely love is a huge honour for me personally and us as a whole.

Jack: Agreed with Dan on this really, the reward of seeing someone succeed after trying so hard to better themselves. That’s the point of why we are doing this. Yes, to help them find more value within a business service offering but also to offer support to companies and freelancers who wish to expand their know-how.

What has been your biggest challenge since starting up the academy?

Dan: I feel that Jack and I would give very different answers here, but my biggest challenge would be the number of different hats that I need to wear on a daily basis! Besides coaching and managing our amazing visualisation team, we need to keep an eye on how we market the Academy and look for business development opportunities outside of the daily duties that take up the majority of our time.

We are all learning lots as we grow the Academy ever more in 2022 as this presents plenty of opportunities for growth; both as a company but also professionally.

Jack: Definitely the most recent change in business climates damaged us and threw us a few obstacles to overcome, just like everyone else in some way. We invested a lot of finances into building a business plan that was then shook by Covid and forced us to essentially redesign the whole business model.

Going from a face to face, on-site coaching academy to shifting the business online to offer a single ‘zero to hero’ master class for anyone worldwide has taken a long time re-building this.

The effects of Covid pretty much froze the Archilime Academy for almost a year whilst the visualisation & design departments had to take priority for cashflow reasons. The silver lining to all of this is that it has allowed Dan and I to seriously re-sculpt the business model and do this again but learning from everything we had done before. Looking back, Covid has forced us to plan for the next 2-3 years and really look into how this could scale up. 

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your industry when it comes to educating artists?

Dan: I love this question! For me it comes down to adoption. 

Everyone appreciates a beautifully composed and high-quality image, but an awareness of the know-how to be able to create it requires investment in time and money – both of which may be limited when it comes to the fields of property marketing & architecture.

We have noticed that since the first Covid lockdown, the world has seen the value in CGI and embraced the industry out of necessity – mass adoption will continue with the emergence of VR, which from our point of view is a hugely positive sign.

Jack: I honestly don’t see it a problem when educating artists about what we can offer from the Archilime Academy. I believe in what we are doing – we add value for the delegate to pass onto their client. The most tricky aspect of sharing the value is trying to understand how the course can benefit individuals.

Every delegate will use it differently but this is exciting for me. I love the business development process of doing this! A lot of Architects use Revit or similar – what we are offering is something to come hand in hand to that. We aren’t aiming to to replace their already adopted process.

Can you tell me 3 words each that underpins the WHY of the Archilime Academy?

Dan: Market your ideas.

Jack: Learning, creative community 

Lastly, what are your hopes for the future of the Archilime Academy?

Dan: To reach a wider audience and expand our offering. 

We know how popular CGI is currently, and how widespread VR will be in the coming years. We genuinely feel that we are uniquely placed to be able to help people into these industries as new technologies become available and widely adopted.

Jack: What Dan said! To try to be the support arm of many creative industries looking to develop their technology offerings and add value to their client services. 

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A look back at the past year and a preview of what’s ahead

It’s a new year and we’re excited to take a look back at the past year at Archilime Academy. We’ve had some amazing milestones, completed lots of projects in our CGI “lab”, and have been planning for 2022. Ultimately, creating more amazing content for our delegates. 

As the World felt like it was closing in,  Archilime Academy broadened their offering:

Moving our courses to being completely online, we began hosting live Q&A’s and are now preparing pre-recorded content for our Archilime Academy Masterclass to be released in the Autumn. We made our courses accessible to anyone with an internet connection and tried to utilise working-from-home. Did you know over 50% of our audience are based in the USA? So going “online” is perfect -whilst also not forgetting our native delegates!

Human to human interaction is still key:

It’s no surprise that online learning is great in terms of accessibility, reach and convenience. However, we really wanted to ensure we had real-time human to human interaction, ensuring everyone felt supported. With an aim to be as hands-on as possible, we’re often praised for our attention to detail and guidance. Getting involved in our community and creating a sense of belonging is also key for any course we deliver.

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The industry is constantly evolving, be open to change:

We’ve been working behind the scenes on a brand new course and as we did, trends in CGI evolved. We quickly adapted and pivoted our content to be bespoke to the new V-Ray for Sketchup update which will be released in September. Working alongside Chaos, our new offering will be one of a kind, world-class and will contain decades of industry knowledge packed into one masterclass.

Upgrade marketing efforts

In the fast-paced world of CGI and property marketing, it’s becoming crucial to invest in marketing and really showcase the academy, tutors and software. More importantly, what it can do for our delegates and how you can use skills learnt in “real life”. From festive scenes to a slight brand refresh there’s so much in store for 2022.

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It’s true when they say Keep Calm and Carry On

It’s been a tough couple of years for most and the world has seemingly lost the plot! However, our delegates have been more dedicated than ever and their drive has pushed us further.  We are truly committed to bringing you the best in V-Ray for SketchUp training, support and know-how. From snazzy new renders to pushing the boundaries of SketchUp, we are working harder than ever before to ensure that our delegates can do the same. 

If you haven’t already heard, there’s a discount code running through January! Just input JANWITHDAN22 at checkout for any course booked during January.

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If you’d like to be kept in the know about upcoming courses, projects and events sign up to our newsletter here or give us a shout!


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Here is how we troubleshoot V-Ray for SketchUp errors

Are you often having to troubleshoot V-Ray for SketchUp errors? Does your machine run slowly when trying to render? Do you often experience crashes?

Troubleshoot V-Ray for SketchUp errors | Bug splats indicate a crash has occured and SketchUp needs to reopen the file

We want to give you all something a little different with this blog…

If you would like to understand how we troubleshoot our problems at a professional CGI studio – grab a drink and read on!

How do we begin to troubleshoot V-Ray for SketchUp errors?

To troubleshoot errors or crashes, we must always begin by trying to recreate the problem first, and then gradually rely on the process of elimination.

If we are able to recreate the problem, we know that the problem exists within the file and it is not an external issue caused by other running programs or drives.

If we encounter the same issues when we reopen the file after restarting the machine, we can be confident that the problem is confined to SketchUp & V-Ray.

Learning from these processes, we can over time become more experienced with troubleshooting V-Ray for SketchUp errors early on and ‘smell the smoke’ with new projects whilst putting in place new optimised ways of working after each resolution.

Eventually, your scenes will rarely run into problems and if they do, you will most likely be able to cross-reference previous projects and either resolve them quickly or have the knowledge to know how to find them.

Most hardware-related questions that we are asked by former delegates are solved by using the optimisation tricks that you will find below, rather than by investing in expensive new hardware.

Hardware is expensive and does not necessarily mean that you are solving the problem. It may be that you are merely increasing the power of your setup to deal with the problem quicker, but the problem and lack of optimisation still exists and remains unsolved.

My scene is really heavy and starts to lag when I orbit, what can I do?

 

Naturally, we’d immediately turn to hardware issues, but firstly we should think about the scenes’ complexity.

  1. Are we utilising proxies? This keeps geometry within SketchUp to a minimum, whilst preserving the level of quality that you need when rendering.
  2. Have we run a clean-up to make sure we do not have multiple faces within complex imported models? We recommend using CleanUp³ for its ease-of-use!
  3. Are we working with our SketchUp edges turned off? By turning off our edges in the SketchUp ‘view’ tab, we can immediately smooth out any orbital lag that we may encounter.

Remember, orbital lag is GPU (graphics card) based and loading or processing lag is CPU based (the main processer, or brain of your PC)!

Check the points above before investing your hard-earned cash on a new GPU.

SketchUp really does not need much GPU power. At Archilime HQ, we rarely need to troubleshoot V-Ray for SketchUp errors when it comes to GPUs – we all use Nvidia GeForce 1060s (which are relatively middle-of-the-range when it comes to power) with absolutely no graphic issues whatsoever.

During our Access into V-Ray for SKP courses at the Archilime Academy, we practice key techniques to troubleshoot V-Ray for SketchUp errors of your own, so that you can have the confidence to fix your own problems when they arise!

My SketchUp file size seems too big in comparison to my scene, why could this be?

Everything that we put into a SketchUp file impacts the file size; whether that be models, proxies, HDRI’s, or textures maps.

Sometimes if we are struggling with file size this will directly affect the RAM usage for SketchUp and will naturally put the program under strain during the render stages.

It is unlikely for a Sketchup file to crash due to RAM limitations because Sketchup will automatically control its usage.

RAM crashes will not usually occur until the file is starting to render so it is worth keeping an eye on the filesizes of the textures that you are using (use JPEGs where possible and try not to exceed 10-15Mb in filesize).

If you do not keep an eye on this, and you start to use PNG’s or TIFF file types (which are generally many times larger files than JPEGs), you can very quickly see your render load-up times increase, which is when RAM bottlenecking can occur and crash your renders.

My loading times are taking forever, why?

 

When we set out to troubleshoot V-Ray for SketchUp errors, there are different types of loading issues that we can identify before we then go through the process of elimination. These types of loading scenarios use the CPU.

For SketchUp processing, we have the dreaded ‘wheel of death’ where the mouse cursor circulates and forces Sketchup to temporarily freeze.

This usually occurs when SketchUp has to work extra hard to complete a function – this often happens when using plugins such as Skatter, Profile Builder, Roundcorner etc, or computing a native modeling technique like a copy & paste. Check out some of our favourite plugins here.

We also have V-Ray loading times which would occur on the load up of the VFB (V-Ray Frame Buffer) or the LC (Light Cache) stage of the initial render.

Then, we have the actual rendering process whereby the buckets (threads) process the image through progressive rendering or bucket rendering.

Troubleshoot V-Ray for SketchUp errors | The number of buckets relates to the number of cores within the CPU

All of these load styles for SketchUp and V-Ray are slightly different from one another as they use the cores/threads of the CPU differently. One thing to pay attention to is the clock speed (GHz) of both your base clock-speed and turbo clock-speed for processing and rendering.

SketchUp is a CPU-based modeling package that benefits from single-core performance so the number of cores is almost irrelevant for SketchUp use only. The key thing to pay attention to is the turbo clock speed and the CPU architecture because the only time turbo clock speeds are put to use is when a single core is being operated – like processing Skatter.

The newer the architecture of the CPU (generally speaking with Intel) the better the core performance will be. For more info on CPU benchmarks, take a look at V-Ray’s standalone service where you can see how your own hardware ranks in comparison with others.

If we turn to V-Ray rendering, all the cores available to the CPU will be used and split and will naturally run at the base speed, this is called Hyper-threading.

What is hyperthreading?

Hyper-threading is a process by which a CPU divides up its physical cores into virtual cores. When rendering, these are treated as physical cores by the operating system and all of those virtual cores (buckets or threads) will then be used – so the more cores, the better!

Troubleshoot V-Ray for SketchUp errors | Hyperthreading allows for twice the number of buckets, which means quicker renderings

You can manually ‘overclock’ your CPU for the best results, but this process can be complicated and needs to be done by someone with the right skills, if done incorrectly instability issues and crashes may occur.

This balances out the higher clock speed over all the cores as opposed to the turbo only focusing on one or two cores depending on the CPU type.

If your loading times are becoming an issue, I’d recommend looking into a more suitable CPU for your desired purpose but remember, depending on what CPU you chose you may need different components to run it, especially if you are looking at threadrippers! They are hungry for power!

Before I troubleshoot V-Ray for SketchUp errors; how do I check RAM usage?

There are two ways to do this which will depend on whether you are utilising the V-Ray Swarm with configured nodes linked to your network as a local render farm or If you are using a single desktop.

If the latter, you can simply press ‘CTRL, ALT + DELETE’ and then go to the task manager.

On the task manager, you can find one of the top tabs called ‘performance’ which is where you can monitor your usage for all your hardware if you think you are getting RAM issues, this is the first place to start looking to see how that RAM is being delegated and if you are finding your RAM is bottoming out, try closing all your other programs as a short term fix.

Your task manager contains your running performance of your machine

If you are running nodes through the swarm, you can check the nodes’ RAM usage from the V-Ray UI.

The V-Ray Swarm interface is accessible by a web browser which then gives you access to all the machines visible on the local network and includes options for configuring and controlling the V-Ray Swarm node machines.

You can get into the V-Ray Swarm web interface by opening a web browser window and typing the following address: http://localhost:24267 where 24267 is the default port number used by V-Ray Swarm for communication.

Use the V-Ray swarm UI to check up on the machines within your network
Bonus points for imaginative names for your PCs – we Archilimes are big fans of Marvel!

Remember though, your nodes will be bottlenecked by the amount of RAM your localhost (your desktop PC) has. For example, if your nodes have 64Gb RAM and your local host has 32Gb RAM, then the nodes will be capped at 32Gb not then utilising the power of the full render farm.

If usually your RAM is capable of rendering your scenes, but a particular scene is causing issues, try changing your render type from bucket rendering to progressive, this then handles the RAM in a different way and dumps each pass once it is done.

Bucket rendering is more efficient and faster however progressive rendering gives you immediate results at poor quality and then computes ‘passes’ naturally being able to deal with RAM differently.

Progressive rendering could be much slower to achieve your desired noise limit though, so it’s up to you to test it!

What questions must we ask before building a new machine or upgrading a PC component?

This has got to be the most asked question we receive from our delegates, which requires another question:

What do you need your machine to do?

Before we think about building or buying a new machine we must understand what we need it for in the present and in the future (maybe you have contemplated producing animation in Lumion or Unreal Engine but currently only use Sketchup & V-Ray).

Different programs use different pieces of hardware more efficiently than others so it’s important for us to understand what requirements certain programs have and how those programs operate with that piece of hardware.

The first step is to identify and refine your workflow so that it is as optimised as possible. If we are running into freezes or crashes whilst still looking to then spend money upgrading hardware, we likely need to reassess how we are working before purchasing any new equipment.

Think about how much programs use GPU and CPU and then start to build a list of parts that suit that.

To know how to troubleshoot V-Ray for SketchUp errors, you need to know what each PC part does…

CPU

V-Ray Next CPU rendering is the ‘normal’ version of rendering. V-Ray uses the CPU to calculate light ray traces as they bounce around your scene. It scales very well with both clock speed and core count, so we recommend that you invest in a powerful CPU with a high base GHz speed and multiple cores.

Video Cards (GPU)

For V-Ray Interactive the video card selection is the biggest single factor in rendering speed/performance. If you own an Nvidia GPU, you can use the Nvidia Denoiser (see Denoising section for more details).

RAM

The exact amount of RAM you need is going to depend on how ‘heavy’ your projects are with difficult to render elements such as vegetation, glass materials, etc. We recommend that you opt for 32-64Gb RAM to be on the safe side. For reference, we use 64Gb and manage to operate efficiently.

Hard Drives

Whilst more expensive than their HDD counterparts; we recommend using an SSD for the primary drive that hosts SKP & V-Ray as the high speed of SSDs allows your system to boot, launch applications, and load files many times faster than any traditional hard drive (HDD).

 


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What are SketchUp Plugins?

If you are here searching for SketchUp plugins, then you already appreciate how easy-to-use and versatile SketchUp can be when 3D modelling. Using the basic toolsets that SketchUp provides, it is possible to build detailed and complex 3D models for many different industries.

SketchUp plugins are tools that have been developed by members of the SketchUp community to add additional features or improve on the functionality of the native SketchUp toolset(s).

The Extension Warehouse allows you to browse the thousands of plugins that are available to install – with most of these being free-of-charge.

SketchUp Plugins, The Extension Warehouse is a great source for plugins.
The Extension Warehouse within SketchUp is a great source for plugins.

 

Why use SketchUp Plugins?

Depending on the desired outcome, there is a strong possibility that there is a plugin out there which can complete a certain task for you quicker and more accurately than modelling something manually.

As a team of highly driven creatives, we are always looking for that ‘next big thing’, that improves the quality of our work and saves us time doing it.

This list is the product of an accumulation of over 30+ combined years across the team as professional SketchUp & V-Ray users, so take it from us – these plugins are bone-fide game-changers, and the work that we produce today is testament to these incredible SketchUp plugins.

SketchUp Plugins, V-Ray offers us the ability to render our 3D models
One of our most-used SketchUp plugins; V-Ray offers us the ability to render our 3D models.

 


Artisan Logo

 

SketchUp Plugin #1: Artisan

When you think topography, you should think Artisan.

A far cry from the typical rectilinear forms for which SketchUp is most well-known; this SketchUp plugin allows users to create and edit organic, free-form models such as terrain, furniture, fabrics and much more.

You can sculpt, smooth, flatten, inflate or pinch your quadmesh geometry to mould it into any forms that you could imagine!

When modelling the terrain on each of our projects, we usually begin by importing the contour lines into SketchUp as a CAD drawing, and then using TopoShaper to create a quadmesh to allow us to create the existing topography.

We then use Artisan to edit the newly-created topography quadmesh by flattening, sculpting and smoothing areas to conform with the desired form of the surrounding landscape.

SketchUp Plugins, Artisan is our go-to tool to mould terrain.
Artisan is our go-to tool to mould terrain.

Is there a free trial available?

Yes. Artisan offers a 15 day free trial.

How much does it cost?

A single, permanent license at the time of writing costs $29.00

 


 

 

SketchUp Plugins, Profile Builder is one of our favourite parametric modelling extensions

SketchUp Plugin #2: Profile Builder

Profile builder is one of several SketchUp plugins that brings parametric modelling into the world of SketchUp.

Parametric modelling enables you to build and design using a series of rules and constraints, allowing you to automate repetitive occurrences of specific components within your scene.

SketchUp Plugins, Profile Builder allows you to create assemblies and add these to multiple locations within your model at a click of a button.

Create assemblies using Profile Builder and add these to multiple locations within your model at a click of a button.

Let’s look at a simple fence, for example.

This fence is made up of several components – vertical posts, panels, horizontal beams, etc.

SketchUp Plugins, Profile builder smart path select

Once you create or load a parametric assembly using Profile Builder, you have the ability to add these very easily all over your model.

We use this specifically when modelling fences, pathways, rainwater pipes and much, much more. What we love about this is that you can save out your assemblies for later use – or simply download one of the many assemblies from their library. The possibilities are endless!

SketchUp Plugins, Profile Builder can be used to create recurring models throughout your scene.
The cornice detailing and panelling within this room was created using Profile Builder.

This amazing SketchUp plugin has saved us countless hours over the years, and they also have an incredibly informative official training course available to view on YouTube for free – what’s not to love!

If you would rather learn how to use this SketchUp plugin (or others listed here) from a person, take a look at our bespoke Top-Up courses. In a 1-1 setting, these allow us to really focus on how to use plugins that are directly relevant to you.

Is there a free trial available?

Yes. A trial for Profile Builder 3 lasts for 30 days

How much does it cost?

A single commercial license at the time of writing costs $79.00

 


 

 

Laubwerk provide 3D vegetation

 

SketchUp Plugin #3: Laubwerk

Laubwerk offers an expansive library of SketchUp & V-Ray-ready 3D vegetation models where the worlds of botany and 3D modelling overlap.

How to create realistic vegetation using SketchUp - Laubwerk Library Browser

Using their intuitive Plant Library Browser, simply select the desired species, and then chose where to place it within the scene.

Each plant comes with 3x shape variations, with each of these then having 3x age variations – totalling 9x different models of the same species of trees.

Download your free plant kit from Laubwerk here

You also have the freedom to adjust the leaf density of each plant, and our favourite feature – to change the season!

Laubwerk’s plant kits are the most versatile tool in our vegetation arsenal, and we look forward to seeing what they achieve over the next few years as they expand their offering!

SketchUp Plugins, vegetation can boost the quality of your CGIs immeasurably

We have relied on the quality of Laubwerk’s plant kits for years, and it was our absolute pleasure to host them as guest speakers on our webinar in June of 2021 where we looked at how to create realistic vegetation. We wrote a blog about the collaboration here – take a look if you are looking to improve the quality of your vegetation work!

Is there a free trial available?

Yes. Laubwerk offer a free plant kit with no time limit.

How much does it cost?

Laubwerk’s vegetation models come in ‘plant kits’ which are installed and loaded into your Laubwerk Library within SketchUp. For info on their pricing, head over to their store!

 


Skatter is used to automatically distribute objects within the scene

SketchUp Plugin #4: Skatter

Whenever we add vegetation to our models, there is one SketchUp plugin that we turn to… Skatter.

Skatter - Randomly rotate your objects

Besides offering a library of high-quality vegetation and landscaping assets, Skatter allows you to create parametric assemblies that control and refine the distribution of your vegetation models in any number of ways.

How to create realistic vegetation using SketchUp - Skatter - Clipping areas are used to show where vegetation will appear

It is our pleasure to welcome Thomas Hauchecorne, the founder of Skatter, with us on our upcoming webinar where we talk about how we create exterior landscapes here at Archilime. Join us for an advanced demonstration of this incredible plugin on Thursday 7th October at 14:30 (UK Time) – sign up here.

Is there a free trial available?

Yes. A trial for Skatter lasts for 15 days

How much does it cost?

A single commercial license costs at the time of writing $99.00 + VAT(Tax)

 


V-Ray logo

SketchUp Plugin #5: V-Ray

V-Ray completes this list as arguably the most influential plugin that we use on a daily basis.

Over the years, V-Ray has been a constant for those of us at Archilime and also those of you in the wider visualisation community.

Available as a plugin for SketchUp, 3DS Max, Rhino and many more – V-Ray is the gold-standard rendering plugin on the market.

Every still CGI ever produced by Archilime over the years was made using V-Ray for SketchUp.

An example of high quality textures

Our Access into V-Ray for SketchUp courses are perfect for those artists that are experienced within SketchUp, but want to begin creating CGIs.

Is there a free trial available?

Yes. A trial for V-Ray for SketchUp lasts for 30 days

How much does it cost?

A single commercial license at the time of writing costs £45 +VAT(Tax) per month, or £270 +VAT(Tax) per year

 


 

Next steps

Now that you have our recommendations – go out there and get your hands on those free trials!

Do you have any questions? What plugins do you feel should be on this list? Want to show us how you use any of these plugins?

Check out our contact page for more info on how to get in touch – we would love to hear from you!

Unfortunately we do not have the time to list out every amazing plugin that we use here at Archilime, but join our mailing list for more in-depth technical content, where we will be featuring more plugins in the future!


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Improve your V-Ray Textures using these 5 top tips!

We are often asked for guidance on how to improve the quality of V-Ray textures, so we want to give you our 5x top tips which will supercharge your workflow and boost the realism of your work!


1. Never leave the reflection colour as black

Reflections are visible in almost every material – there are very few exceptions to this in the world around us.

Improve V-Ray textures | Reflections are present on every surface.

Consequently, as CGI artists, we need to represent this within our work and ensure that our materials are always programmed to reflect light.

Improve V-Ray textures | We must program our materials to reflect light

As you can see, when we have our reflection colour set to black, we do not see any reflections…

Improve V-Ray textures | Reflection colour of black gives us no reflections whatsoever

Whereas when we set our reflection colour to white, we see really intense reflections.

Improve V-Ray textures | Reflection colour of white gives us intense reflections

Note the difference between reflection intensity and reflection glossiness

There is a difference between reflection colour and reflection glossiness - note the difference here

We cover this on our Access into V-Ray for SketchUp courses, held at the end of every month over Zoom!

Key takeaway to improve your V-Ray textures: always change the reflection colour from black

Improve V-Ray textures | Never leave reflection colours as black

 


2. Pay attention to repeating textures

There are few aspects to life as inconvenient as repeating (or tiled) textures…

Improve V-Rat Textures | Tiled textures are lacking in realism

An great material could be ruined if it repeats itself too often, and you can see visible repetitions within your work

Improve V-Ray Textures | High quality materials can be created in V-Ray, but we must address how these are applied (or wrapped) onto geometry within our model

It is fair to deduce that we must take measures to prevent this from happening… there are a few things that we can do.

Try and use the largest scale images possible for your materials. Think large-scale!

Improve V-Ray textures | Always look for large scale textures where possible

This fundamentally reduces the number of times that a material must repeat itself on a given surface.

We can also use something called Stochastic Tiling

Improve V-Ray textures | Adding stochastic tiling is done as follows

Using this technique, V-Ray automatically randomises the positioning of your materials – reducing the tiling effect!

Key takeaway to improve your V-Ray textures: use large-scale maps & add stochastic tiling

Improve V-Ray textures | Recording made by Archilime Academy showing the effects of Stochastic Tiling within the V-Ray 5 for SketchUp

 


3. How to fix glass errors

Does your glass sometimes show up as black, or just generally looks strange?

Improve V-Ray textures | Black glass is fixed within V-Ray for SketchUp by ensuring that the faces are facing the front

You’re not alone!

You may have glass applied to back faces – V-Ray hates this! Turn on the monochrome face style to check

Graphic of glass applied to back faces - checking with View, Face Style, Monochrome

V-Ray requires 2x faces of glass, with front (or white) faces facing outwards.

Improve V-Ray textures | A gif made by Archilime Academy showing the correct setup for glass
We also recommend using one of the preset glass materials – they work great!

If you follow these rules for glass, you will never have any more issues with glass!

Key takeaway to improve your V-Ray textures: glass in V-Ray requires 2x faces, with front faces facing out. Check this using the monochrome face style

Improve V-Ray Textures | It is crucial that we ensure that we address incorrect glass materials

 


4. Add specular or gloss maps into the reflection glossiness texture slot

Do your textures look uniform and flat?

Flat reflections are a result of adding a value in the reflection glossiness

Have you ever seen one of these maps before?

Create Realistic Textures | A specular map dictates where on the material we will see glossy or matte reflections
A specular map dictates where on the material we will see glossy or matte reflections.

Add them into your reflection glossiness slots to create varying levels of gloss across your material.

Using maps, we can create variances in reflection across the material

If required, you can wrap these gloss maps in a colour correction to enable to adjust this further

Colour corrections can be added to any type of map to change the appearance of a material

We can see the comparison between a material with & without a map inside the reflection glossiness slot.

The difference between using a gloss map and not using one

Check out more on how to do this on our blog on how to create realistic textures!

Key takeaway to improve your V-Ray textures: using maps to control your materials’ glossiness makes them more realistic

Improve V-Ray Textures | An advanced V-Ray material
An advanced V-Ray material

 


5. Add imperfections to your textures

Nothing is ever perfectly smooth…

Surface imperfections are often what tells us that a material is photorealistic

Not even seemingly ‘flat’ surfaces…

No surface is ever truly flat in the real world

Motes of dust, minute scratches or greasy fingerprints – top-level CGI artists look at add these details to our finishes.

Improve the Lighting in your CGI - An interior CGI of The Priory in Tetbury

It is possible to add black and white alpha masks into the reflection glossiness and/or bump slots.

Scratches are seen everywhere in the real world - as much as we hate it!

Wrap these in a colour correction, and tweak the brightness and contrast of these maps to achieve the desired results.

Scratches can be added to surfaces by adding alpha maps into the bump sections of the asset editor

Key takeaway to improve your V-Ray textures: use alpha masks to simulate surface imperfections.

Improve V-Ray Textures | The use of alpha masks to break the uniformity on flat surfaces is crucial for realism

 


Want more tips like this?

Join our mailing list for professional, technical content like this as well as offers on courses, updates about upcoming webinars and prize giveaways!

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Create Realistic Vegetation using SketchUp

What good is the intricate Architectural modelling or realistic textures when the quality of the vegetation completely lets down the CGI… we’ve all been there. Read on to find out how to create realistic vegetation using SketchUp and V-Ray workflows.

Throughout our years in the ArchViz industry, this is a common question asked by CGI artists all over the world.

How do I create realistic vegetation using SketchUp?

We must consider what we can do differently to improve both the quality of the 3D vegetation models and also how they are distributed within our scene.

The best way to do this would be to go through the process step-by-step, and show you first-hand how we ‘vegetate’ our scenes!

Initially we must plan out our landscaping. We could do this by using landscaping PDFs or simple annotations (very simple in my case!)

How to create realistic vegetation using SketchUp - draw out a plan ahead of time

A preference is to then begin resolving larger pieces of vegetation first, moving down to smaller planting with each step.

We held a webinar recently with the guys at Laubwerk which ran through the process from start to finish… more on this collaboration later…


 

Trees

First and foremost, let’s talk about sources. For us, there are two sources which account for most of our realistic vegetation models, the first is provided by our friends at Laubwerk.

 

Laubwerk provide 3D vegetation

Laubwerk

Based in Berlin, Germany; Laubwerk offers an expansive library of render-ready 3D vegetation models where the worlds of botany and 3D modelling overlap.

Using the Plant Library Browser, simply select the desired species, and then chose where to place it within the scene!

How to create realistic vegetation using SketchUp - Laubwerk Library Browser

When in our SKP file, we notice the characteristic green blob – this tells us that this is a render proxy.

Proxies are better to add to our scenes because they contain less geometry than the full model, which keeps our files optimised and generally more operable.

How to create realistic vegetation using SketchUp - Laubwerk vegetation imports as a Proxy

At Archilime, we have used Laubwerk plants to create realistic vegetation using SketchUp for several years, and for some key reasons:

How to create realistic vegetation using SketchUp - we can create variations of tree species using the Plant Attribute Editor

  • Each plant has multiple variations. This helps us to reduce the ‘copy-paste’ effect that is visible in some CGIs.
  • We often asked by our clients to add specific young or older variants of a specific plant/tree into our scene. The Laubwerk plant attribute editor allows us to do this.
  • Need to change your scene from summer to autumn? Using the season attribute within the Laubwerk interface, this is straightforward and painless!

Download your free Plant Kit from the team at Laubwerk here!

Download your free plant kit from Laubwerk here


Chaos Cosmos

Another source which we use on a daily basis is Chaos Cosmos which is a powerful new feature of V-Ray 5 for SketchUp.

How to create realistic vegetation using SketchUp - Chaos Cosmos also offers a vegetation library

Simply use the filters and select the vegetation tag to view a large selection of V-Ray-ready plant models provided by creators such as VizparkMaxtree and DesignConnected.

As we are adding larger plants first, we can select the Tree filter to show us the list of available trees that we can add into our scene.

Chaos Cosmos vegetation library using the filter: Tree

Select a species that you like, and hit the Download button. This will save the file onto your PC, and once this has done so, you can then import this directly into your scene.

Like with the Laubwerk plants, Cosmos plants are also imported as proxies to keep the scenes lighter.

An image showing how proxies look within a SketchUp model alongside their CGI counterpart


 

Bushes & Hedges

Now that we have placed our larger plants into the scene, we can do a similar thing for our hedging & bushes.

I’m looking to add some nice box hedges into the planters here, so I’ll use one from the Chaos Cosmos…

Hedges from Chaos Cosmos are very high quality

After downloading and then importing this into the scene, I can then go about filling the desired planters with this 3D model of vegetation.

Hedges from Chaos Cosmos are very high quality

This process works great when working with larger plants, however when I want to place smaller variants of a bush en-masse, placing each one manually is not time efficient…

Introducing Skatter…

Skatter is used to automatically distribute objects within the scene

 

The first step is to add the Host grouped surfaces which will have the plants scattered onto them.

After adding all of our hosts, we can see how they have been added to the list, and some strange red lines appear in the chosen areas…

Skatter - add the hosts where our plants will sit

We can adjust the density of these red lines by modifying the appropriate parameter within the distribution section of the Skatter interface

Skatter - adjust the density here

These red lines are going to be swapped out for the bushes, by adding the bushes as my Scattered objects. In doing so, we then see the red lines change to red boxes, which now represent our bushes!

Skatter - Scattered objects are swapped-in here

As we can see, these are still in a grid pattern as the boxes are aligned to the axis…

To remedy this, we head down into the Random Transformation section and turn on the Rotate option.

Skatter - Randomly rotate your objects

After hitting the big, red Regenerate button at the top, this will then confirm the Skatter setup for us.

Skatter - Confirm the skatter group by hitting the regenerate button

A great thing about Skatter, is that we have the option to edit pre-existing setups, and we can do so by right clicking on the new Skatter group, and go to Edit Skatter Group.

It is possible to adjust where the vegetation has been scattered – we do this by adding a Clipping area as shown.

Skatter - Clipping areas are used to show where vegetation will appear

We then paint onto our model where we would like the scattered plants to appear by adding a paint area, and unticking use surface boundaries as include area.

As we paint our model, with Live Preview turned on we can see how our plants appear where we have painted… a very satisfying process!

This is useful when working to specific views – we can very easily control where we need to see vegetation in accordance with the chosen camera angles within our scene.


 

For grass lawns, we use two different approaches…

Girl in a grassy field made using V-Ray Fur

V-Ray Fur

At the drafting stage, we recommend using V-Ray Fur.

This is a feature which comes with V-Ray 5 for SKP, and allows you to grow strands of fur from grouped surfaces.

We have lots of control over the density, length, thickness, taper and bend of this grass, so it is perfect for the early stages of a project.

A great feature of V-Ray Fur is that each strand takes on the material of the image painted onto the grouped surface – a technique which allow us to simulate mown grass effects.

Grass is easy with V-Ray Fur - simply adjust the attributes and run an interactive render to test!
Grass is easy with V-Ray Fur – simply adjust the attributes and run an interactive render to test!

Skatter grass

For the final image stage, we recommend using Skatter grass for a realistic result.

Let’s now open up the Skatter Library, and pick one of the cut grass options.

Skatter grass is very high quality

We are asked whether we want to import the full geometry or the proxies – we will opt for the latter to keep our SKP file lighter and more optimised!

Once we hit the Load button, the same Skatter window that we saw previously pops up.

As you would expect, this is the point where we would select the lawn areas as our grouped surface which we want to be the base for our grass. Once done, we then hit the Regenerate button!

Skatter grass can be added to any grouped host within SketchUp

We can adjust the Distribution settings in exactly the same way as before to make the patches of grass appear clumped closer together or more sparsely distributed.

Again, we want to ‘paint on’ where our grass will appear by using the Clipping Areas section of the Skatter window, as this enables us to remove excess plants that are not visible!


 

Finishing Touches

I highly recommend going away and looking through the Laubwerk, Chaos Cosmos and Skatter libraries to find other objects which we can skatter within our scene…

I’ve added some more planting from Laubwerk alongside some boulders and daisies from the Skatter library.

Hey presto – here is our finished scene!

The final image from the Vegetaiton webinar with Archilime Academy and Laubwerk


 

What’s next?

We offer one-to-one training over Zoom which teaches the concepts discussed here. These bespoke 4-hour sessions are heavily tailored to you to really ensure that you are challenged and learning appropriate coaching points.

For those of you that want to step up your rendering skills, take a look at our Access into V-Ray for SketchUp courses. This 3-day course, which runs from 09:00 to 14:00 (UK time) at the end of each month, covers the basics of material generation, how to light your scenes and covers render management skills.

On our most recent webinar, which covered all-things vegetation, we gave you the opportunity to use our scene and show us your skills! Feel free to download the SketchUp scene here and tag us and Laubwerk in your social media posts once finished!

As I said; we love hosting webinars and our next free one is on the topic of materiality and is scheduled for Thursday 5th August – sign-up here.


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How to create a photomontage…

Have you ever wondered how to create a photomontage, completely from scratch?

Going from this…

Create a photomontage | Original photograph to house our montage

… to this

Create a photomontage | Our final photomontage with a CGI superimposed over a photograph

Well – we’ve got you covered. Here’s how it is done.

Firstly, what is a photomontage?

A photomontage is a mix of two different media. A computer generated image (CGI) is overlaid onto a photograph to show a new design superimposed into its existing surroundings.

Stitch a CGI onto a photograph to market property or win planning permission

Whilst traditional CGI allows us to model the surrounding environment; photomontages offer us the opportunity to view the real-life surroundings as captured through the lens of a camera, which is often required when trying to win planning permission.

What is the recipe for a successful photomontage?

In it’s purest sense, we can break down how to create a photomontage into four fundamental steps…

Create a photomontage is made by combining a photograph, sketchup model, CGI using v-ray, stitching them together in Photoshop


Step 1: The photograph.

The photograph that we are to use for the photomontage can be considered as our ‘base’. All subsequent work depends on the initial photograph that we would like to stitch our CGI onto.

High quality photographs make for high quality photomontages

As a result, we need to ensure that it ticks all of the boxes before we progress…

  • The industry standard for photographing Architectural forms dictates that all of the verticals must look vertical within the image – ensure that the camera is not tilted up or down!
  • Consider the lighting conditions, as this is something that we will aim to copy within our CGI. Clear blue skies or a flat, overcast day – the choice is completely up to you.
  • The resolution of the photograph is important. We want the highest quality possible – we like our photographs to be 5000 pixels along their longest edge.

In terms of the composition, we need to remember that we will be overlaying a CGI on top of our photograph, which means that we need to ensure that we leave space within the frame to do so!

To maximise the quality of our final product, ensure that we can save out our photographs in RAW format.


Step 2: The SketchUp model.

Create a photomontage | It is important to model as accurately as possible to ensure that the model overlays perfectly over the photograph

Now for the fun part… let’s get modeling using SketchUp!

We must now model the proposed design – we run over the basics of how to do this on our Access into SKP course, and we cover more advanced modelling techniques on our bespoke Top-Up courses or 3-Month Development Programs.

Once we have ourselves a detailed model, we need to roughly match the SketchUp camera angle to that of the photograph.

This is the perfect time to think ahead to our CGI and try to match the resolution to our photograph (remember to ensure that safe frame is ticked!)

Create a photomontage | We must adjust the resolution within V-Ray to match the photograph

A key part of this process is ensuring that we match the Field of View (FOV) – this is akin to ensuring that we make sure that we use the same lens within SketchUp that we did for the photograph in real life.

Within the metadata of our photo, it often tells us the focal length of the lens that captured the shot…

Using the metadata, we can determine the focal length of the lens used to take the photograph

Within SKP, we then head up to View and then choose Field of View…

Within SketchUp, we can adjust the field of view, by going to camera and then highlighting Field of View

Here we type in our FOV value in mm, followed by enter – note how the camera within SKP changes.

Focal length sketchup model

The next step is to reposition the camera to match the photo. We do this by adding our photo as a watermark within the Styles panel of the tray as shown.

Using Styles within SketchUp it is possible to add a watermark image overlaid over our SketchUp model

This image overlay acts as a guide as we adjust the camera so that our model sits perfectly within the photo! Hit ‘Add Scene’ to save this angle!

Using Styles within SketchUp it is possible to add a watermark image overlaid over our SketchUp model


Step 3: The CGI

We now have a SketchUp model which is aligned to our photograph – let’s prepare our CGI using V-Ray

The first step is to develop our materials within V-Ray so that they look realistic. If you are new to this, check out our blog on creating realistic textures.

How virtual textures are broken down within V-Ray for SketchUp

Matching the lighting in the CGI to the photograph is important, so we need to ask ourselves the question…

Are we going to use the V-Ray Sun or opt for a Dome light?

Our recommendation would be to use the V-Ray sun if your photo was taken on a sunny day.

Whilst interactive rendering, we can move the position of the sun manually as shown below to match the shadows seen in the photograph.

 

Adjust the sun position using V-Ray 5's Asset Editor for SketchUp

This technique allows for a great degree of control, enabling you to truly match the lighting conditions as you see fit!

If your photograph was taken on a day with no direct sunlight – we recommend using a dome light.

Typical examples of this would be for cloudy days, photos taken at dawn, dusk or even at night.

Check out our blog on dome lights which explains how we go about adding these into our scene.

A preview of a 3D scene, lit using a Dome Light. The HDRI image used is from PG-Skies.

Pay attention to try and find an HDRI that matches the lighting conditions in your photograph!

Final render

Before pushing the button on the final render, ensure that we tweak our exposure to roughly match that of the photograph (we can refine this later).

We must match the exposures between the CGI and the photograph

For more info on how to improve the quality of your lighting within your CGIs, check out our blog on the topic here.


Step 4: Marrying the CGI with the photograph

Now that we have the raw materials, let’s bring these into our image editing software – we highly recommend Adobe Photoshop.

Overlay the CGI on top of the photograph.

Add a vector mask, and begin removing sections of the CGI which we do not need

Masking within Adobe Photoshop is a crucial step when creating photomontages

It is possible to use other render elements to help with this masking process – we coach artists on this topic on our tailored Top-Up courses.

At this stage, we also look to match the tones of the materials within our CGI to those seen in the photograph.


Et voila!

Our final photomontage with a CGI superimposed over a photograph

We hope that you have enjoyed reading about our process to create the perfect photomontage, from start to finish!

Keep an eye out for next month’s blog on how to scatter realistic vegetation in our scenes!

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Brought to you by the Archilime Academy

 


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How do I create realistic textures?

Have you ever wondered how you can go from this…

Create Realistic Textures | A screenshot from SketchUp of a simple texture

…to this?

Create Realistic Textures | An advanced V-Ray material

Well, grab a brew and open up V-Ray – we want to show you how to create realistic textures using some common examples to help improve your texturing game within the V-Ray for SketchUp Pro workflow!

Basic Principles

Textures (see also; materials) are painted onto faces within your 3D modelling software, and these can be flat colours or image-based.

The process within SketchUp to import images to use as textures
The process within SketchUp to import images to use as textures

In our first example, we are going to begin developing a wood floor texture – and so we need to find an appropriate image to use here.

We recommend Poliigon or Extreme Textures if you are looking for high-resolution images to use as materials, whilst SketchUp Texture Club is another source with an extensive library.

In this example, we are importing Extreme Texture’s Antique Oak into SketchUp as a Texture, which will allow us to paint this onto a face.

The process within SketchUp to import images to use as textures
How to import images to use as textures within SketchUp

Now is a great time to check the scale – within the Materials panel of the tray; use the global size settings to ensure that our boards are scaled appropriately. To help me do this, I like to draw a guideline that equals the desired width of the board, so that I have something to reference.

Create Realistic Textures | Within SketchUp, we resize the texture globally using the material panel within the tray.
Using a guide line for reference, we resize the texture globally using the material panel within the tray.

Here we can see how important it is for our material to be seamless. There is a vast collection of seamless materials available from the sources mentioned above!

We now have a high-quality, seamless texture applied to our model which is the correct scale.

Why does this not look realistic yet?

Create Realistic Textures | A SketchUp texture

Building Blocks

Light.

What V-Ray allows us to do is to bounce light around our model and control how our materials interact with it.

Create Realistic Textures | How virtual textures are broken down within V-Ray for SketchUp
Virtual textures can be broken down into three maps.

As covered on our Access into V-Ray for SketchUp courses; most solid materials can be divided up into three mapsdiffuse, reflections and roughness.

The diffuse texture is what we see within our SKP model. This can be considered our ‘base’ texture and defines predominantly what the material looks like without lighting or roughness effects applied.

A diffuse map is often considered our base texture.
A diffuse map defines what our texture looks like. Texture map courtesy of Extreme Textures

If light bounces off an object and is not absorbed, then one sees a reflection. V-Ray has the ability to control the intensity and glossiness of reflections of materials within the scene by using reflection or specular (see also; spec) maps. For example, areas on a texture where one would see a glossy finish would show up as white on a spec map, whilst matt areas appear darker.

A specular map dictates where on the material we will see glossy or matte reflections
A specular map dictates where on the material we will see glossy or matte reflections. Texture map courtesy of Extreme Textures

Not all materials are as flat as a mirror; for this, we use a bump or normals map. Areas on a bump map that are darker are shown as depressions on the surface of the material when rendered, whilst the opposite occurs for lighter areas. Be careful with the intensity of bump or normal values – anything above 1 is normally not required.

A map that is used to simulate 3D depth to the texture.
A bump map is used to give the texture some 3D depth. Texture map courtesy of Extreme Textures
Adding Complexity

Hold on… how does glass work?

Refraction colour dictates how much light 'refracts' through a material.
Refraction colour dictates how much light ‘refracts’ through a material.

As we can see, the lighter we make the refraction colour, the more ‘glass-like’ our material becomes.

We can deduce that the setting to use that controls the transparent properties of glass is called refraction. Like with the reflection glossiness, we also have the opportunity to create frosted glass by adjusting the refraction glossiness value!

Refraction glossiness enables us to define shapes on the other side of the material.
Refraction glossiness enables us to define shapes on the other side of the material.

What about fabrics?

Depending on the qualities of the fabric in question, we would advise taking a look through the preset textures within V-Ray…

V-Ray offers plenty of preset fabric textures
V-Ray offers plenty of preset fabric textures

Once a similar fabric has been chosen, you can edit the colour and tones of the diffuse, by right-clicking on the bitmap slot within the Diffuse, and wrapping it in a Colour Correction. Here you will be able to modify the hue, saturation, brightness and contrast, to your liking.

Adjusting the colour of materials within V-Ray for SketchUp
Textures can be re-coloured by wrapping the diffuse in a Colour Correction adjustment.

Fabric textures now benefit from a new feature in V-Ray 5 for SketchUp where you can add a translucent layer for extra realism.

V-Ray 5 for SketchUp now offers the opportunity to add a coat to materials for added realism.
V-Ray 5 for SketchUp now offers the opportunity to add a coat to materials for added realism.

What if my texture seems to emit light?

One can add emissive layers to all materials within V-Ray as shown…

Emissive layers can be added to most materials.
Emissive layers can be added to most materials

You can also copy your Diffuse into your Emissive bitmap slot…

Diffuse maps can be added into the emissive texture slots
Diffuse maps can be added into the emissive texture slots

We cover how to create more realistic textures on our one-to-one, bespoke Development programs and Top-Up courses.

An example of high quality textures

Now that you know how to create realistic textures; Wrapping is a term we give to the application of a material to multiple faces within our model – much like the wrapping of a present with wrapping paper. We cover this in great detail on our Access into V-Ray for SketchUp courses.

We hope that you have enjoyed our texturing tips!

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