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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
Are we utilising proxies? This keeps geometry within SketchUp to a minimum, whilst preserving the level of quality that you need when rendering.
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!
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 ArchilimeHQ, 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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…
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).
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.
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).
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 SketchUpand 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!)
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 Laubwerkwhich ran through the process from start to finish… more on this collaboration later…
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.
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…
We can adjust the density of these red lines by modifying the appropriate parameter within the distribution section of the Skatter interface
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!
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.
After hitting the big, red Regenerate button at the top, this will then confirm the Skatter setup for us.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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 hereand 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.
Have you ever wondered how to create a photomontage, completely from scratch?
Going from this…
… to this
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.
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…
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.
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.
Now for the fun part… let’s get modeling using SketchUp!
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!)
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…
Within SKP, we then head up to View and then choose Field of View…
Here we type in our FOV value in mm, followed by enter – note how the camera within SKP changes.
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.
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!
Step 3: The CGI
We now have a SketchUp model which is aligned to our photograph – let’s prepare our CGI using V-Ray…
Modelling from CAD within SketchUp – where do I start?
If you are modelling within SketchUp, you will need to know how to import and align CAD drawings. Whether your own or somebody else’s; well-aligned CAD drawings are the literal foundations upon which you build your SketchUp models.
Let us explore how to align CAD in the most efficient way possible. To clarify; the plan is for us to import CAD before tracing over it to create our 3D model. Let’s get started!
When initially importing a CAD file (in .dwg format), it normally enters the SketchUp workspace as a completely flat group.
Something else that you will notice is that all of the CAD layers are visible as tags within SketchUp. We don’t need all of these so we can compress these tags down into one which we’ll rename CAD. I would now recommend creating a tag to be used for the massing of our 3D model.
We also need to ensure that each floor plan and elevation is grouped separately.
Now that we have organised our drawing, let’s begin positioning the plans and elevations. Take the ground floor and move it over to the origin as shown (also remember to align right angles on the plan with the red and green axis as you can see here)
The next step is to align the elevations around the ground floor plan. Pay special attention to things like window and door openings, because we use these features to resolve whether or not we need to flip our elevations.
We can now stand up our elevations by using the rotate tool. A tip from us is to use the direction buttons on your keyboard once the rotate tool is active, as this will better enable you to lock the orientation of your rotation!
Now simply place your first-floor plan over the top of your ground floor plan and lift up to the correct height as shown on the elevations. Repeat this step for each additional floor.
And hey presto you have now successfully aligned your CAD drawings!
Dome lights: how do I use them to create a night time CGI?
You may not know it yet, but a dome light is the answer to creating ever-more realistic lighting setups within your CGIs…
Let’s break it down…
In a day-time scene, we have direct sunlight to illuminate our scenes. Direct light also scatters through the atmosphere and illuminates our environment.
V-Ray considers both direct and indirect illumination as two separate light sources.
To create a night-time scene, we require a technique to remove direct sunlight, whilst being able to create a night-time environment.
To do this, we use something called a Dome Light
A Dome light is a type of V-Ray light that surrounds our entire model, forcing light inwards. Images can be loaded into these light sources, which enables the user to simulate real-world environments by using panoramic HDR images.
I like to think of a Dome Light as a giant snow globe – with our model in the centre. We can choose what the sky looks like by swapping in different panoramic images.
Now that we know what dome lights are; what does this mean for you?
Select the highlighted tool to add a Dome light into your scene. Putting this into practice is straightforward. Pick out the Dome light tool from your V-Ray toolbar…
Load in your HDRI…
Hit render! Don’t forget to rotate your dome light to adjust the position of the sun
Over the years we have come across many different sources for dome lights…
We would like to recommend just two…
For variety, we highly recommend taking a look at Poliigon. Besides offering free assets; they operate a simple, subscription-type service where, depending on your package, you obtain different amounts of credits every month to spend on HDRIs, textures or models
If you are looking for top-quality HDRIs, look no further than Peter Guthrie’s shop – PG Skies. This in-depth collection of ultra high-quality HDRIs contains skies for all occasions. The handy preview renders show each of these in action, to make picking out your favourite that much easier!
We have no affiliation with these guys – but we rely heavily on their models. Without a doubt; they are the place to go for high-quality SketchUp models of furniture, lighting, and accessories.
For over 10 years, they have worked with premium brands to provide photorealistic 3D models of their products – so that SketchUpand V-Rayusers like us can download and import these into our scenes!
All models are (or can be) made available in SketchUp format, and all textures are correctly applied to each model, meaning it is the closest thing to a plug-and-play technique that exists for our workflow for furnishings
Again, we have no affiliation with this website, however, we have really benefited from the vast 3D collection that they offer.
If models are not available on DesignConnected, we head over to 3DSky, safe in the knowledge that we will find something that we can use.
Rather than the standard SketchUp file-type (.skp) that we are used to; models from 3D Sky tend to be in a different format – a filetype called obj…
In a nutshell, they store the geometry and textural information that makes up a 3D model. Different 3D modelling programs use different file types to save models – however, the .obj file type is the closest thing to an industry-standard in this regard.
To import .obj models, we use an extension called Transmutr. The easy-to-navigate interface allows you to convert these into .skp files – for you to then import into your scenes.
If you are working under a tighter budget, without the capacity to spend much on 3D models – there is no better source than the 3D Warehouse within SketchUp’s interface.
If you own or have owned, SketchUp Pro – there is a very good chance you know about this already.
Use the sliders on the left to control the quality of the models within your search parameters.
Take note… these models are not quality-checked before being uploaded to the warehouse – which means that you can end up with a real mixed bag in terms of quality.
To be safe, we always recommend saving the desired models into their own files, rather than importing straight into your scene – as this protects your master file from any latent errors that may be present within the imported models!