Monday, July 28, 2008

Free Sketchup rendering system

For anyone else that is using Sketchup and wants to have a more advanced rendering system for free, I've started using su2pov. You'll need the su2pov file from here and the Pov-Ray file from here. The combination works with the free version of Sketchup, no need to buy the pro version. I've tried several of the other renderers; IRender, Podium, VRay, and Kerkythea. The first 3 are only for pro and are not free. Kerkythea is free, but it is somewhat advanced for the rookie. It does do very good renders, though. I'd also recommend Indigo as a renderer,it's a step up in complexity from su2pov, but the quality is better too. su2pov isn't the best quality system, but it is simple and relatively easy. You can put lights in a building, sunlight through a window... Lots of possibilities to get that nice-looking picture of your project.

The top render is from su2pov (only took a minute); the second render is from indigo (took over an hour, you can see that the foil is "shiny", and a few other goodies); and the third is Kerkythea, which took about a half hour and did a nice job too, but it takes more work to get realistic textures.

EDIT: After playing with su2pov or a bit, the right-click menus are no longer working. I can't assign or change material characteristics. I've tried reinstalling the plugin, tried different models, but it just doesn't want to work. It may just be a peculiarity of my system, but I can't say that su2pov would be a good choice to download if this is a recurring problem.



    Not perfect, but kinda like what I want to do...

  2. That's a neat design; a combination manor and castle. You say not perfect, is this your creation?

  3. Hah! No, I'm an engineer, not an architect.

    I like the general layout, but the courtyard is too small to maneuver my F250 around in....

    I'm also rather partial to round towers.

  4. Ditto on the round towers, but as you can see from the models I've made I've tried to mix it up a little. Some facets of the building look good, others I just don't care for.

    It looks like it was modeled in sketchup with a little too much fog effect. I'm curious as to where the plans came from, I'd like to find some decent free planning software to do a good plan, I've tried Punch! and the rest of the standard home planning software, IMO they do terrible castles.

  5. Back when I was doing the GC thing, I used Chief Architect ( ) to handle all the scratch pad work with clients as well as anything that didn't need an engineers stamp to proceed with. That is an amazing piece of software for anyone who is looking to embark on owner building - it allows you to create your own "wall" sections (as done here) and use them during the design process (thickness, materials, etc...). It also is able to handle all the stuff that most your home packages can not (structural elements, split levels, timber frames, truss designs, foundation and mechanical plans...).

    While the full version might be a bit much for someone still in the "dream castle" stage it looks as though they are now working with BHG in order to push a home version of their full package ( ). I haven't used that though, but the companies work is great from the other software that I have used from them.

  6. Hi Joe, thanks for stopping by and sharing the information about Chief Architect.

    I actually do have the demo version of the software and have tried my best to create some of the castle in it. Unfortunately, like all of the other programs I've tried, C.A. does not like conical roofs, and I had exceptional difficulty making a roof that was also a deck. It could also very likely be my lack of skill and experience with the program...

    At any rate, I'm pretty sure I'll be employing the services of an architect to create a set of owner-builder plans and go from there. I don't have all the knowledge to create proper structure, so whatever I might design in C.A. would likely have to be re-done by an architect anyway. My time, at this point I think, will be better spent researching materials and creating as close complete and to scale a design as I can to make the architect's job easier and keep costs down.


    I clicked it together in about a minute - so don't expect too much. But it handles conical roofs fairly well. Roof decks and similiar features (balconies and what not) are laid out in a different way - either with special wall properties which identify them (even if they are an invisible wall) or with more complicated methods of cutting holes in the roof plane...but I digress.

    In terms of the design itself, after building a couple dozen houses - I have found that the design is by far the most important aspect. Once you have a design you want to build - you need to find a competent structural engineer in the area you are building (helps to avoid issues with a building inspector not being familiar with a specific material or method). With the various engineered materials there is very little that can not be built.

    Unless you want to get pretty exotic - an engineer can even be done away with in many rural areas though the East and Left coasts generally require a stamp for all construction due to hurricanes and earth quakes.

    If you would like a hand getting a handle on CA - let me know. I am a bit rusty right now, but once I look at it for a second it comes back - and design software will save you a significant amount of time versus 3D software.