Rendering Tips

Rendering Tips - These tips will help you build better models and improve your renderings.

Ground Plane Textures

Select any SketchUp or Library material to use as a Ground Plane for Rendering.

Read More: Ground Plane Textures

Sky and Ground Preview

You can quickly preview you SketchUp Model in front of the current environment settings

Preview ground plane.jpg

Read More: Ground Plane Preview

Improve Rendering Speed

The Setup Options dialog includes lots of opportunities to improve rendering speed.


Read More: Rendering Tip - Improve Rendering Speed

Adjustments and Filters


Learn to use these post processing features for SketchUp renderings

Read More: Rendering Tip - Adjustments and Filters

Add to your SketchUp Materials Library


You can download up to 15 new materials for SketchUp daily!

Read More: Rendering Tip - Get More SketchUp Materials

Select IES Patterns for desired lighting effects


Select from 30 standard patterns to get the one which best illuminates your space.

Read More: Rendering Tip - Select IES Patterns

Use IES Lights for more realistic effects


IES Light profiles enhance IRender nXt renderings with light distribution that is more accurate. Read More: Rendering Tip - Light Profiles from IES

Watch the video Introduction to IES Lighting

Try Auto Reflections


Auto Reflections can streamline model making and help you start processing renderings faster. The nice thing about Auto Reflections is that when you turn this option on, it just works! Read More: Rendering Tip - Auto Reflection

Reuse Setup Options (Render Settings)

In this rendering tip we'll show you how to make a new rendering with the same render settings used in a previously completed rendering. It's easy to reuse render settings and even share render settings with other models.

Two models rendered using the same Setup Options

SingleFamily 2Story.jpg

Read More: Rendering Tip - Reuse Render Options

IRender nXt Views

In this rendering tip we'll show you several ways to make renderings with the same camera settings used in a previously completed rendering. We'll share camera settings from one model to render another, and recall camera settings to create renderings for a design meeting with the client.

Two models rendered from the same vantage point:

SingleFamily 2Story.jpg


Read More: Rendering Tip - IRender nXt Views

Renderer Not Responding? A few Tests

We sometimes get reports that the rendering program has crashed, or that the rendering has stopped, both of which are somewhat unlikely. When we receive models that are suspected of this behavior, we have a test that I would like to share.

Read More: Rendering Tip - Renderer (Not Responding)

Batch Rendering Option

This guide will help you use Batch Rendering to improve your project workflow. Learn how to use Batch Rendering to process multiple renderings sequentially, and while you're away from the office!

Here's How: Rendering Tip - Batch Render

Test Your Lighting Design

An easy way to test your design for lighting is to set Color Rendering Mode to Clay


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Biased or Unbiased? Why Choose When You Can Have Both!

Biased renderings by IRender nXt are high quality and fast.
The following image was produced by the biased rendering engine.


Unbiased renderings by IRender nXt resolve lighting to perfection.
The rendering that follows was produced by the unbiased rendering engine.


Biased rendering methods emphasize efficiency over accuracy. A sample bias is introduced early to achieve a result quickly.

Although the accuracy will not match unbiased methods, presentation quality renderings can be produced in a fraction of the time required by unbiased methods.

Unbiased rendering methods emphasize accuracy over efficiency. The lighting solution calculated is as accurate as possible.

Image quality is improved incrementally through iteration and though early images are noisy, enough passes will eventually produce a solution.

Read more on this topic:

Balance Lighting to Finish Your Renderings

You don't need to stop a rendering that is being processed to change lighting. Use Light Balance to adjust lights, even while your rendering is in process. You'll finish more renderings faster when you use the Light Balance dialog to perfect your rendered scenes.


Read the complete article:

Use SketchUp Layers to Reduce Rendering Times

You can reduce rendering times for your SketchUp models when you use layers to group light fixtures. Turn off the layers for any lights that don't illuminate the scene and you'll be rewarded with renderings that are completed significantly faster.

3 Buildings, 27 rooms, 8 lights

A simple model that emphasizes the direct relationship between the quantity of light fixtures and required rendering time. The above rendering with most lighting layers turned off was completed in less than half the time of a rendering of the same model with all of the layers displayed. Read More

Use reflective surfaces for a more realistic image

Interior image with reflective surfaces
SketchUp model rendered with IRender nXt

When making your first renderings you will probably think of adding mirrors and lights, but you may ignore the value of adding reflective properties to other surfaces.

One of the best things that you can do to improve a rendering is to focus on the details. It’s the details that can increase realism of a rendering and one detail that many users over look is adding reflection to all the materials in a model that need it. Not only that, but you must also apply the correct kind and the correct intensity of a reflection to a material.

A reflective floor can make the difference between a flat image and a realistic look image. The same is true of metal, wood, plastic and other surfaces.

Items to make reflective:

  • Wood or tile floor
  • Table top
  • Door knobs and handles

other accessories.

Spending time on these details can make the difference between a boring, flat image and an engaging, realistic one.

Use Section Planes for interior renderings

Interior Image with Section Plane
SketchUp model rendered with IRender nXt

When rendering the inside of a room it is sometimes a challenge to place the camera properly.

If your renderer supports section planes, you can create realistic renderings of the room itself with a camera position outside of the room.

Here are a few options you could choose from in order to solve this problem:

  • Place the camera entirely in the room, and use a wide camera angle.
  • Place the camera outside the room and hide one wall in SketchUp.
  • Place the camera outside the room and use a section plane to remove a wall.

Read more

Use HDRi Skies to improve exterior renderings

Camper rendered with HDRi sky using IRender nXt.

HDRi skies are a great way to improve any scene you are rendering. It is a quick and accurate way to give the user a high quality background image and illuminate the scene using the HDRi light intensity and colors.

One of the benefits of HDRi skies is the fact that the background image is in the shape of a dome, providing a full 360 degree background. This means that no matter what angle you are viewing your model from, there will always be a high quality background image. This also makes them valuable for scenes which contain reflection - reflective surfaces like this Camper, or windows.

And the separate lighting channel contained in the HDRi image provides better shadows and illumination than just the sun, or plain sky. This lighting information allows some parts of the sky to illuminate the scene more than other parts even though they have the save RGB (red, blue, and green) values and look identical.

Use HDRi Skies for:

  • Background Skies
  • Background Trees and Foliage
  • Showing objects in existing Interiors
  • Realistic Lighting Effects

Use 2 Pt Perspective for elevation changes

Due to the type of default perspective that SketchUp use, sometimes buildings can become distorted. Using two point perspective can correct these types of distortions.

When looking up or down at vertical surfaces, normal perspective will distort the vertical lines and cause them to be non-vertical.

SketchUp image in normal perspective. Vertical lines angle out.
SketchUp image in 2 Pt Perspective. Vertical lines are vertical.

Two point perspective, sometimes called ‘2D’ in SketchUp, will keep the vertical lines of your model parallel to each other.

If your rendering software supports 2 pt perspective, use it for better renderings when ever you are looking up or down on models with vertical lines.

Use the Light Balancer for quick lighting adjustments

Balanced lighting using the Light Balancer.

Light Balancer isolates the effect of light sources on the final rendering, so that:

  • Balance illumination in scene without adjusting individual lights.
  • Create dusk and nighttime scene by quickly lowering the intensity of sun and sky.
  • Get results faster without having to re-render the scene.
  • Read more

Use special Water Effects

SketchUp model rendered with IRender nXt

if your renderer has special procedural bump effects they can be used to make realistic water which will reflect buildings, sky and other background objects realistically.

  • Distorted reflections to represent water ripples.
  • More Realistic highlights from reflection of light.
  • Realistic transparency caused by ripples and reflection of light.

Use Self Glow for glowing objects

Self glow applied to television screen. Rendering made with IRender nXt

Self Glow illuminates a surface as if it had light shining on it, without actually making it a light.

  • Balance illumination in scene without adding additional lights.
  • More realistic signs, monitors and projection devices.
  • Faster rendering times.

Rendering possibilities

  • If your renderer supports Self Glow - making an object appear brighter without shining lights on it - use it
  • If your renderer support image or texture illumination - treating an image or textured material as a light source - then you can use that but it may slow down the rendering process.
  • If your renderer supports "Invisible" lights - objects which illuminate the scene, but do not appear in the scene - then you may be able to achieve the desired effect by placing invisible lights in front of the object.
  • If your renderer supports translucent objects - which are illuminated by lights behind them, but still appear opaque - you can place a light behind the screen to illuminate the screen and make the screen translucent.

Use Edge lines for better detail

Kitchen rendering with edge lines.
SketchUp model rendered with IRender nXt

SketchUp users are used to using edge lines for detail, but many Photorealistic renderers do not render edge lines.

If your renderer does not use edge lines, you can add them by saving a hidden-line image of the SketchUp model, and then merging it with the rendering in "multiply mode".

If your renderer does support edge lines, then you will have the added advantage that the edge lines will appear in reflections, as well as the rendering.

Use images and textures for faster rendering

Fractal Tree created with RpTreeMaker

(Not completed yet)
SketchUp, and most renderers, do an excellent job rendering images and texture materials.

For background objects, and other objects for which 3D detail is not important, use images instead.

There is a free plugin for SketchUp - RpTreeMaker - which can be used to create tree images which can speed up your rendering time.

Use Panoramic Views to reveal entire model

SketchUp model by Boothy rendered as a Panorama with IRender nXt and viewed in a web page. You can spin, zoom, look up and look down on the entire scene.

When trying to show an entire project to a client, you often use several rendered images, or an animated movie. Another option which works well for some models, is to create an interactive, 360 degree panoramic view. This can then be turned into a movie, or embedded with a view in a web page.

A Panoramic image is created by rotating the camera while rendering to create a full 360 x 360 degree image. It works best with large interiors, or with exteriors which have a central point which let you view the full model.

To create Panoramic Views, check the Make Panoramic View check box on the Render Setup Tab dialog.

You can view the flash movie made from the Panoramic image here: View Panoramic Image in Viewer