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Twilight is a very popular and inexpensive third-party renderer for SketchUp. This course shows how to create highly realistic 3D architectural drawings (including interior/exterior elements) with the lights, materials, camera, and render options in Twilight. Author Brian Bradley explains the importance of reflectance in materials, and shows how to manage and save rendering presets, how to correct for perspective, tone, and exposure in the camera, and how to create a variety of material types. The final chapter covers rendering your complete arch-viz scene for a couple types of output, including animation and composites.
On occasion, render artists can be called upon to produce any one of a number of special render types that mimic photographic effects or options that are available by means of specialized camera lenses. Sometimes we may just want to produce such a render for use in one of our own projects. Of course, in Twilight, we don't have the ability to actually swap out lenses for our rendering camera, but we do have the ability to change its behavior. To see what options are available to us, we need to come and open up Twilight's Render dialog.
Once that is opened, we need to come across to the Camera tab, and you can see the first option is this Type of Projection control, and in the dropdown we have four options available. The first option, Planar, is the default in Twilight, and if we come and take a test render, you'll see why that is the case. As you can see, the render we get gives those expected camera behavior. This is because the Planar option renders our image as if it is projected onto a flat plane, and this is the default camera behavior that you'll find in most any 3D application.
The brilliant thing for us of course is that Twilight doesn't limit us to this particular behavior. If we come back to our Projection dropdown, you can see our next option is Cylindrical. With that set, let's again take a render. And of course, the render we get doesn't look particularly impressive inside of Twilight's Render dialog. But what we've just created is a cylindrical panorama. This particular render could be taken into a virtual panoramic program, such as Easypano, and used to create, well, a cylindrical virtual panorama. In fact, our next projection type can be used in a very similar way.
This is the Spherical option, and again, with it chosen, let's take a render. The Spherical Projection type renders a complete 360-degree view of everything in our scene, from of course, the camera's point of view. With this Projection mode operational, our rendering camera is set essentially at the center of a virtual sphere. Then camera rays are sent out, bent around the environment, and so we get, as we can see, a complete 360-degree view. This option again, can be used to create virtual panoramas, this time of course, spherical panoramas. Or we could indeed save out our images as floating-point files, such as OpenEXR or HDR, and then they can be brought back into Twilight for use as both backgrounds or indeed lighting images, using the sky options that we have already examined.
Now up to this point, the Projection options that we have chosen have not made any difference to our SketchUp viewport; in fact with Spherical still chosen, let's dismiss the Render dialog, and you can see our camera is just as we left it. But if we come back and have a look at the very last of our Projection options, Parallel, and then again, if we close the Render dialog, you can see that things are now very different. This particular Projection type is designed to give us a render that will not take any perspective or vanishing point convergence into account; essentially, we get an isomorphic render of the scene.
Now there is a little bit of a gotcha with this particular projection type that we need to be aware of. At this moment in time, if we take a render, we will get exactly what we see in the SketchUp viewport, and as you can see, our building is occupying a very small percentage of our screen area. So the temptation will be to just center things up, zoom in to frame things, and then maybe pan a little more, and then say that that is very nice. And we can indeed go and take a render. As promised, what we see in the SketchUp viewport is exactly what we get in our Twilight render.
However, time to point out the potential danger to us. If we just come back into our Projection type dropdown and if we just switch back to Planar, and then again, dismiss the Render dialog, you can see that we've completely changed our initial camera framing. Now at this moment in time, this is not such a big deal for us because we have a saved scene view, but if we didn't have these camera scene saved and we made alterations while we were in the Parallel Projection mode, then we need to be aware that that will completely change the framing once we switch back to Planar.
If we just go and take a look at our Render once again, you may be wondering why we get this view of our interior scene here. Why do we have this cutaway? Well, remember, our rendering camera is down in this area here. This means these walls are behind our camera's point of view, hence the cutaway. This is why this particular rendering mode is perfect for rendering section, or cutaway, views. If we want to increase the amount of cutaway, all we need to do is move the camera forward in the scene. We do of course need to be careful with our camera's orientation in the scene. As you can tell, this particular cutaway is not particularly straight, so we're not getting what we would think of as a very clean section view.
We do of course also need to note that we don't have any perspective or convergence in our render. This means that this particular Projection mode is extremely good for creating elevation views. Now of course, the options we've examined in our Projection dropdown are not ones that most rendering artists will need to use on a daily basis, but having the ability to change the behavior of our rendering camera can indeed open up lots of artistic and functional options when it comes to outputting our final rendered images.
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