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Create highly realistic 3D architectural drawings with V-Ray, a popular third-party renderer for SketchUp. This course shows how to take a single scene with interior/exterior elements and add lights, move cameras, and enhance objects with translucent and reflective surfaces. Author Brian Bradley explains concepts like irradiance mapping, perspective correction, and fixed rate sampling, while showing how to leverage each of the V-Ray tools and its material and lighting types to achieve specific effects.
When it comes to outputting high-quality renders one of the things we have to recognize is that a lot of the finished quality, a lot of the power and functionality housed in our rendering engine of choice, comes from the materials and maps that are written specifically for that engine. Our final renders would be nowhere near as appealing or convincing if not for the engine- specific materials and maps that they use. V-Ray is of course no exception in this regard. This is why it installs with a number of its own material and map types, designed to help us, quickly and somewhat easily, re-create complex surface properties.
Now as familiarity with the tools available oftentimes opens up options to us, we just want to spend this video familiarizing ourselves with the V-Ray material types available in SketchUp. To look at or indeed to add a new V-Ray material to our scene, we first of all need to open up our V-Ray Material Editor. So let's come up to the V-Ray toolbar and right at the end, you see we have this large M icon. This is for our Material Editor, so let's left-mouse-click to open that up for ourselves. Straightaway in the Materials list, we will get a comprehensive list of all of the materials currently in model.
At this moment in time, we only have three that are available to us, but if we have 10, 15, 25 materials at work in our scene, then they would all be listed in here. Now you will notice that there are no menu items. There are no icons inside of the V-Ray Material Editor that we can use. There is no functionality available in any of those typical fashions, but we get access to lots of controls or commands inside the V-Ray Material Editor by means of right-clicking. So for instance, on a material itself you can see, if we right-click, we get quite a number of commands available to us that are specific to that material itself.
If we right-click on the Scene Materials label, however, you can see we get a number of different commands available. One of these is the Create Material option and if we just hover over that, you see we get a flyout listing all of the available V-Ray materials that we can work with. As we want to just briefly look at each of these material types inside this video, I am just going to go and left-mouse-click to select my Angle Blend material, and then I am just going to come to that material. Good practice always to name our materials so that they have something descriptive in the title, so I am just going to right- click on that new material.
You'll see it's named DefaultMaterial1, but we want to change that and we are going to rename this to Angle Blend, just so that we know which type of material it is. And if we just give that a second or two, you can see that it updates nicely. Now the Angle Blend material is a kind of falloff material that just makes use of Start and Stop Angle parameters--in fact, these Start and Stop Angle parameters here--to just blend between two existing scene materials. If we just come to our material swatches, we can just click on them, and you can see we get a dropdown list housing the available materials in the scene.
So let's put the Blue material in our Material (Mtl) 1 slot. We'll put the Red material in our Material (Mtl) 2 slot. And now, based on these angle settings and based on the setting that we have in this Blend function, we can take a preview, and you can see just what this material does. As you can imagine, we can create some interesting two-tone effects using this material. Now the next material in our Create Material list is the SketchUp two-sided material. Again, we'll create one of those and then go and right-click and rename this material, and we'll call this Sk Up 2 Sided.
And again, just give that a second to update. Now, this particular material is very similar in appearance and functionality to the similarly named V-Ray Two Sided material. Or if we just go back to our materials list, we can see down at the bottom we have a Two Sided material. These two are very, very similar in nature and indeed in functionality. There is something interesting though. If we just select our SketchUp 2 Sided material, and if we just, again, show you that we can place any of our existing scene materials in the slot. So we have the Blue one, we have the Red one, and now we can essentially assign this material to either a polygon face or indeed an object and different sides of that face or object will have a different material applied to them.
The interesting thing about SketchUp Two Sided material, if I just go and delete one of these, is that it can actually be applied with only one material defined. We can leave our second material slot blank if that is what we want to do. This means if we applied this to, say, a wall in a building that we could essentially define our front side as having our Blue material, so the interior would have a blue wall, but the outside would have no material at all, which would essentially make it see-through. The brilliant thing is that any global illumination calculated inside of the environment would still be physically correct.
But if we were to take a render from outside of the building, if we were to look through the wall, we could actually see straight through to the interior to that full global illumination render, which as you can imagine, can come in pretty handy at times. Next on our Create list, again, if we just right-click and come to that, is the V-Ray Standard material. Now the two test materials that we've already got in the scene, our Test Mat 1 and Test Mat 2, are indeed standard materials. And again, we just want to go and right-click and rename this to Standard, let it update, and there we go.
Now Standard material is really the workhorse of V-Ray texturing inside SketchUp. In fact, in other applications such as 3ds Max and Maya, this material is simply called the V-Ray material. This is the material we will be using to create the majority of our surface properties for the remainder of this chapter, so you're going to be seeing quite a bit of the standard material. Next, if we just come back to our list, you can see we have the Toon material. And again, we want to create one of those. Select it, right-click and we can just rename this Toon.
Now this is a very simple material that produces cartoon-style outlines around objects found in our scene. It essentially can be thought of as an inking material. It inks outlines on geometric surfaces. Now, although the Toon material is not intended to be a full NPR--that is non-photorealistic rendering, system, it can be used to create some very nice NPR effects. We can get some nice sketch look or technical drawing looks from it. Indeed, that is something we will demonstrate with the Toon material later in this course.
Now the final material, if we just go and right-click and look at our list, you can see is the Two Sided, or V- Ray Two Sided material. And again, as with all of the other materials, we will just go and rename this so that we know which material we are looking at. As you can see, very similar in nature to our earlier SketchUp material, it does work in much the same way. We can apply two materials, one to the front and one to the back of either a polygon plane or an object in the scene.
One big difference though between the two materials is that this material has to have both definitions filled in; we have to have a material defined for both the front and back options. However, this particular Two Sided material, unlike the SketchUp one, does have a very nice Blend option, so we can use this Color swatch to just blend--use this grayscale value to blend between the front and back colors. In fact, if we switch over to complete white, we would effectively reverse both materials, so the Blue material would become the front material and Red material would become the back one.
Very nice, very handy little trick for blending, creating a nice pseudo-translucency effect as front and back materials blend between one another. And of course, we can use a map and the spin value to create that blend if we want to. Now if you're wondering what this Force One- Sided option is, really this is here to counteract some functionality that is a part of the V-Ray standard material. So if I just go and select our Test Mat 1 material, you see in the Option section, one of its checked parameters, one of the default options, is Double-Sided.
This essentially means any V-Ray standard material applied to a polygon plane will appear on both sides. Of course, oftentimes when you are using a V-Ray Two Sided material, that's not what you want. You want to be able to set each individual material to go in the front and back as you have determined them. So if we set this Force One-Sided option, everything should work just as expected. All in all then, V-Ray in SketchUp offers us a number of options when it comes to creating material types for our renders. Of course, we don't want to forget that there are a whole range of V-Ray procedural map types also available for use within our materials; we access these through material map slots.
And again, if I just go and select one of our test materials, we can show you how you do this. So in the Diffuse slot, we'll click on the map button and you can see in our Texture Editor, we get a number of procedural maps available to us. We can even add bitmap files as textures if we so desire. As we mentioned, over the next few videos, we are going to focus very closely on V-Ray's Standard material and show how it can be used to create a number of different surface types. We'll look particularly at how the component path, that is, the layers that can be added to a Standard material, can combine to create complex and realistic surface materials that will massively enhance the quality of our final rendered output.
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