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Photo-realistic rendering for Google SketchUp

 

Step 1 Model in SketchUp

Step 2 Render with Podium

 

SU Podium V2SketchUp78photo-realistic彩現(渲染)外掛程式,支援WindowsMacSU Podium V2採用先進的彩現(渲染)技術,但堅持針對SketchUp產生照片般逼真渲染效果的初衷,一個簡單而有意義的任務。使用者界面是簡單,不需要先進的渲染技術知識。

SU Podium使用光跡追蹤(ray tracing) 和全局照明(global illumination),產生照片般逼真的圖像。雖然使用者不必知道正在使用什麼技術,不過卻可以迅速地獲得具有實際反射與燈光的高品質圖像,這一點很重要。SU Podium採用CPU之多線程(multi-threading),因此眾多的渲染過程中,將使用所有的雙核/四核/八核處理器(Dual/ Quad/ Eight)。SU Podium V2同時支持64位以及32位操作系統。

 

Summary of Features

Works inside Google SketchUp 7 or 8, Free or Pro, Mac or Windows

Works with SketchUp textures, sky, background colors, shadows, groups and layers

Material properties applied globally to SketchUp textures

Automatic material (magic) properties for SketchUp standard materials - "render right out of the box"

High quality raytracing engine

Advanced Global illumination

Physical sky with depth and turbidity

Bump mapping

'True' reflection - not fake specularity

Refraction with presets

Blurred reflection

Blurred refraction for true translucency

Light emitting materials

Omni lights Sun light Sky Light Spot lights

Caustic reflections

Support for color in translucent material

Unlimited resolution

Multi-processor support

SU Podium Browser Free library comes with hundreds of ready made light fixtures and textures

64 bit support for both Windows and Mac

 

 

Exterior example

Interior example
 

 
B.Apply Material Properties

Reflections, refractions, bump maps, LEM lights and other properties are applied to a specific material globally in the model. You can use standard SketchUp materials as well higher resolution textures from a variety of libraries. There is a library of higher resolution (higher than standard SketchUp textures) textures that is free in the SU Podium Browser.

How it works

Select a SketchUp material or color that you want to apply Podium properties too. You can select the material by selecting the SketchUp face that the material is on or you can select the material directly from the SketchUp Material browser. When you make a selection, the material's name will appear at the top of the Podium Material Property dialog box.

Once a selection is made, apply the various Podium properties to the by using the appropriate slider.

Other SU Podium material properties

Diffuse, Transparency and Reflections are connected to each other. The combined value of the three sliders should equal 100% when applied to a material. The default setting for non-transparent materials is 100% diffuse. However, if you want to see direct reflections, move the Reflection slider to the right. The Diffuse slider will automatically move left. Diffuse is reflection that does not bounce directly back to the camera or light source but reflects at an angle. An example of the difference between Diffuse and direct reflection might be the reflection of a paved road. When it is dry, it has more diffuse reflection. When it is wet, it has more direct reflections. You can not have 100% Reflection (direct) and 100% Diffuse. Otherwise the material will render strangely.

Transparency is the SketchUp transparency/ opacity property conveniently located here.

Refraction is where light waves "bend" when passing through a material with a refractive index. A good example of this is a straw placed at an angle in a glass of water. The water has a refractive index of 1.33. The straw looks bent at the surface of the water. Although there is no such material as air in Podium, if there was it would have a refractive index of 1. Version 2 has a list of preset refractive indexes for certain materials. Check out a good explanation of refraction here - Wikipedia

Both Reflections and Refractions have a blur option. The render speed will slow down if you choose the blur option but the reflections will look very realistic.

Bump Depth slider will allow you to apply bump maps to textures.

The Light slider in the material properties will apply LEM (Light Emitting Material) to the material you have selected. LEM lights are one type of artificial light source in SU Podium V2 and will create lights that emit light in one direction away from the face of the material. LEM lights are easy to create and are quick to render. Light slider is the LEM light slider. Pick a texture and apply the light slider. This will turn that texture into a LEM Light. You can pick a value from 1 to 100. The values must be whole numbers.

High Intensity check box is applied to the LEM Light. When High Intensity is on, single digit power values should be used. Otherwise the LEM light will be extremely bright. In most cases, you will not need the High Intensity option.

Hidden LEM is where the entire LEM material will be hidden in the rendered image. This is a powerful feature that lets you hide the light source but creates an evenly distributed light.

C.Lights
1.Sky Light, Sun Light - Natural Lights

SU Podium V2 has two types of natural lights. Sky and Sun. These are both "exterior" lights but can have great influence on interior renderings if your models have openings to the exterior such as windows and doors.

Sky light is an ambient, exterior and uniform light source being emitted from the "sky". It is analogues to an overcast day where the sunlight is hidden. Sky light is always on. However, if you have interior designs with no openings to the exterior, sky light will be excluded from your rendering. For dark interiors, you will need to apply artificial lighting.

Sky light brightness is controlled by a variety of variables. One is the preset you choose from the Preset list in the Options menu. Another is whether you use SketchUp Sky or Podium's Physical Sky, also selected from the Options menu in the Environment section. If you have selected SketchUp Sky, SketchUp's background colors will control the sky light's brightness. If you have selected Podium's Sky or Physical Sky, SketchUp background colors will be ignored. Rather the time of day will be an important factor in sky light color and brightness.

Sun light is another source of natural light. Sun light is only on when SketchUp Shadows are on. The sun's brightness and exposure are controlled by a number of variables:

  • Presets from the Preset list in the Options menu
  • Sun intensity and exposure sliders
  • Time of day, time of year, location and position relative to North-South-East-West
  • SketchUp Sky or Physical Sky

But don't be intimidated by these variables. Simply try rendering with Shadows on and look at the effect. Then make adjustments.

2. Artificial Lights - LEM, Omni's and spot lights.
a. LEM Light
The Light slider in the material properties menu will apply LEM (Light Emitting Material) to the specific texture you have selected. LEM lights are one type of artificial light source in SU Podium V2 and will create lights that emit light in one direction away from the face of the texture. LEM lights are easy to create and are quick to render. Light slider is the LEM light slider. Pick a texture and apply the light slider. This will turn that texture into a LEM Light. You can pick a value from 1 to 100. The values must be whole numbers.

High Intensity check box is applied to the LEM Light. When High Intensity is on, single digit power values should be used. Otherwise the LEM light will be extremely bright. In most cases, you will not need the High Intensity option.

Hidden LEM is where the entire LEM material will be hidden in the rendered image. This is a powerful feature that lets you hide the light source but creates an evenly distributed light.

b. Omni Lights/ Point lights
Omni light or Point light (name is used interchangeably in this document) is an artificial light source which emits light uniformly in all directions, similar to a light bulb. To insert an omni light or point light, click on the point light icon in the tool bar and drag an omni light into the model. The omni light/ point light is a SketchUp group called a light group. You can see the light group in SketchUp's outliner.
c. Omni light Light power/ color control

d. Soft omni lights option
As a default, omni lights/ point lights have "hard" shadows meaning the edge of the shadow cast by the omni light is hard. There is a soft shadow option that makes the omni lights look more natural. This option is accessed from the Options menu in the Environment tab. There is a significant render speed cost when using this option.

e. Spot Lights
Podium Light System is both a spot light program and also a way to create and place omni lights (point lights). Spot lights are a type of omni light. However, spot lights have an intuitive user interface and always have soft omni lights on. 
f. Render Ready made light fixtures
SU Podium V2 comes with a free plug-in called the SU Podium Browser. This provides hundreds of render ready light fixtures at no additional charge. Using these render ready light fixtures can greatly reduce the time involved in setting up the SketchUp model for lighting. SU Podium Browser provides hundreds of free render ready components and also provides a section of advanced light fixtures and components that requires a small license fee.
D. Options

The Options menu has important settings that allow you to choose presets, resolution size for the rendered image, image file format (JPG/PNG/HDR), transparent, where to save your rendered images and various Environment settings such as Physical Sky vs SketchUp Sky, sun exposure and intensity, caustic, clay and soft omni lights.
1. Presets to simplify your environment settings

There are several presets that have been crafted for certain rendering environments. Presets were created to control hidden variables that effect things like Physical Sky�s turbidity, sun brightness and contrast, ray trace bounces, amount of ambient light, tone mapping variables, anti-aliasing, etc. By using SU Podium's presets, you can quickly set up a rendering environment that is suited best for either exterior or interior scenes.
2. Resolution size and image formats

There is unlimited resolution size for the rendered images. However, the trial version has limited resolution sizes. The choice of resolutions sizes include Fixed sizes or custom sizes. Fixed sizes are 230X150, 640X480, 1024X768, 2048X1536, 3076X2304, 4076X3304, Wide screen resolutions of 852X480, 1600X900, 1920X1080. Custom sizes mean that you can enter any pixel height and width such as 8000 X 5000.

SU Podium V2 gives you the option to choose PNG/JPG/HDR as saved image formats. You can save your images to a folder of your choice if you choose Custom.

3. Transparent
With the PNG format on, Transparent will create rendered images with alpha transparent backgrounds so that you can easily add your own sky background image to rendered .png file in an image editor program. This feature can save you a tremendous amount of time in post-processing.
4. Environment settings

The Environment tab gives you access to several global settings.

a. Default (set in SketchUp) will use SketchUp background color and/or SketchUp Sky settings (set in your SketchUp Style) for the rendered image's background colors.

b. Sky or Physical Sky. Physical Sky is a setting where Podium calculates and displays Sky turbidity (haziness caused by particles suspended in the atmosphere) and depth. Physical Sky will ignore the SketchUp background colors but rather is controlled by the preset variables, time day and year, location. Physical Sky will only be on when SketchUp Shadows are on.

Note: When your SketchUp shadows are on, Sun light is on regardless of what background option has been selected.

c. Sun Intensity and Exposure sliders in Environment settings

Sun intensity and exposure sliders in the Environment settings. Move sliders to the left and the rendered images will have less Sun exposure or intensity. The opposite effect will be true if you move the sliders to the right. Rest will reset the slide values to the original state.

d. Clay is where textures are ignored and the entire model is rendered in the default, front face color of SketchUp - like a clay model.

e. Caustic will apply a caustic effect to transparent materials, globally. Colored light through colored glass is not implemented yet.

f. Soft omni lights is a global setting for omni or point lights. The default setting is for this option to be checked off. However, if you want soft shadows to be applied to omni lights to create a natural lighting effect, turn this on. Soft Omni Lights is discussed in more detail in Section C.

g. Geometry Caching. The SketchUp geometry can be cached to increase rendering speed.

E. SU Podium Browser - Render Ready Light Fixtures, 2D and 3D Plants, Textures and Podium Render ready materials

SU Podium Browser is a growing library of render ready components that can be dragged and dropped into the SketchUp model and then rendered. This plug-in comes with SU Podium installed and provides hundreds of free light fixtures, high resolution textures, 2D face-me plants and trees and household components. SU Podium Browser also has a growing number of advanced components that require a small purchase fee to access.
You can drag-and-drop 3D light fixtures and 2D plants directly into your model, and even drag-and-drop hundreds of textures onto SketchUp faces.
The available free content includes over 300 light fixtures, a large collection of plants and trees, and hundreds of high-resolution textures.
The 3D light fixtures come with SU Podium V2 point lights and are render-ready. The 2D face me plants can be used for Podium renderings as well as for modeling in SketchUp. The high resolution texture library was included to enhance photo-realistic renderings but can be used SketchUp non-photo-realistic models as well.
Paid content categories contain advanced 3D plants, new light fixtures, advanced Podium Materials and more household components. Paid content will be added frequently. You can view the Paid content images in the Browser freely. However, to be able to "click and drop" Paid content into SketchUp and use the content in your renderings, you will need to purchase a Paid content license.

 

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