Northern Alberta Institute of Technology - Case Study

Teaching Design and Rendering with SketchUp and IRender nXt

For this case study we’re featuring Doug Holliday from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton, Canada, and his students’ renderings. NAIT specializes in hands-on, technology-based education that equips graduates with the skills and knowledge wanted by employers.

NAIT’s campus is impressive. The Feltham Centre is one of the largest buildings (51,600 square metres / 555,000 square feet) on the main campus where approximately 5,000 full-time students study daily. The Centre is gold certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) rating system; the first building at NAIT to achieve that certification.

NAIT building.jpg
The Feltham Centre, NAIT Main Campus

Hello Doug, tell us a little about you and the classes in which IRender nXt is used
I’ve been an instructor at NAIT for 18 years. My background is in sign design and manufacturing, and I’ve been teaching in the Architectural Technology and Interior Design Technology programs for 10 years. I teach software to the students. IRender nXt is used in our presentation software course which focuses on creating 3D models of buildings using SketchUp.

When did you start using SketchUp and IRender?  Why did you choose IRender?
SketchUp started being taught in the Architectural Technology and Interior Design Technology programs in 2008. I started using SketchUp around 2010 and IRender in 2011. In 2010 students were starting to experiment with different photorealistic rendering options for use with SketchUp. Instructors in the program researched a variety of options to include in the curriculum. IRender was chosen due to its low price point and ease of use to create great renderings.

For how long does the part of the course covering rendering last?
We spend around 12 hours over 3 weeks teaching IRender in the presentation software course. Then students continue to use it in their design classes to render their design concepts.

Please describe what aspects of rendering you cover in your course.  What features do you spend most time having students master? 
We cover everything from setting up an appropriate viewpoint right through to the final rendering. Emphasis is placed on lighting, light channels and the nXt material editor, such as using a preset reflection, adding bump, glow, and translucency to materials.

Which features in the software do you/the students find especially useful/enjoy using the most?
Lighting has one of the greatest impacts on the success of a rendering, therefore the use of Light Channels is very important. The ability to adjust the light levels for the different channels in real time makes adjusting a rendering easy. The students appreciate the material presets.

Please give us some background on the project you set the students for which you’re providing renderings.
These renderings are from several second semester students. We introduce them to SketchUp by having them create a residential building model from a set of construction documents that they created in their first semester. We then have them use that model to create both an exterior and an interior rendering. The students are required to add and edit the materials in the model for rendering.  
The exterior rendering focuses on using the sun path to create shade and shadow, as well creating depth by placing objects in the background, midground, and foreground. 

Exterior 1.jpg

Exterior 2.jpg

Exterior 3.jpg

Exterior 4.jpg

The interior rendering is of the kitchen and focuses on proper lighting to create highlight and shadows for more realism and depth.

Interior 1.jpg

Interior 2.jpg

Interior 3.jpg

Interior 4.jpg

Interior 5.jpg

Thanks, Doug!  It’s great to see how the students are applying lighting, materials, and various other touches to their designs using IRender. It’s also very interesting to see all of the different design ideas.  Thanks for sharing.

For more information on IRender nXt SketchUp extension
Download a 30-day free trial
Order IRender nXt:
Order Now button.png

Would you like us to profile one of your projects?

Whether you’re a rendering novice or a master, it’s always interesting to see what you’re rendering with any of our renderers (IRender nXt, ArielVision, nXtRender, AccuRender)! Email Render Plus Support Email and we’ll contact you.