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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.
The first time we start the SketchUp application after running through the Twilight installation process we don't really have to do too much in order to find Twilight's main control set. This is because on launch we get this handy floating toolbar that gives us access to the vast majority of the controls that we will use when working with the Twilight renderer. If for some reason we close this toolbar down and need to find it again, just go up to the View menu, come to the Toolbars option, and from the flyout menu, come down and choose the Twilight for SketchUp option.
What we want to do for the next few minutes is just look at what the icons found on the Twilight toolbar represent. We can see that our first icon is in the likeness of a power button. Clicking on this will open up Twilight's Render dialog for us. This floating window in itself houses a number of controls and options that are all related to the rendering process. If we just take a look at the icons across the top of the floating window, you can see that they allow us to start, stop, pause, and even save a rendered image.
The large area in the center of this dialog is where we can view our current render in progress. Interestingly, our final icon gives us the ability to export the current SketchUp scene to an XML file that can be read by the Kerkythea rendering system, from which, incidentally, the Twilight Render is derived. The menus in this Render dialog essentially mimic the icon functionality that we have just outlined, but we do get one or two extra options added in there as well. On the right-hand side of our Render dialog we have a number of options that are split out into individual tabs.
The Render tab is where we essentially control the output of our rendered images. We work with Resolution and Quality settings inside of this tab. The Camera tab, naturally enough, allows us to control aspects of Twilight's virtual camera, including focal length and exposure settings. The Advanced tab, as its name suggests, handles a number of advanced Twilight rendering options. Finally, we the Animation tab. In here we're given the ability to control options regarding Animation rendering with Twilight.
And if we just close our Render dialog and come back to our Twilight toolbar, you can see the next two icons allow us to create specific Twilight light types. This would be the Point or Omni light and a Twilight Spot light. Our next icon opens up Twilight's Light Editor for us. This has a nice compact interface that gives us access to the parameters for all of Twilight's unique light sources. Each source has its own tab giving access to the unique features for that particular light type.
Next, we have an icon that allows us to open up Twilight's Material Editor. This, as you can see, is a little unique when compared to material editors in other render engines. We say unique in the sense that it doesn't actually house any materials; instead, we use this Material Editor to pick SketchUp materials from our scene. Then we can apply either a Twilight material template or a Twilight library material. Now the Twilight renderer doesn't have a lot of options associated with it, but the ones that we can work with are accessed through our next icon.
You can see that we can even set up Twilight to work in any one of eight major Languages. And finally, we have a button that enables Twilight's position scene view tool. Essentially, this is a set of Twilight viewport navigation controls. These can work independent of SketchUp's own viewport navigation aides. Well, now that we have had an overview as to how we access Twilight tools and features inside of the SketchUp interface, time to move on to working with those tools in earnest.
In the next chapter, entitled Lighting up the Place, we will begin the learning process by examining the lighting tools that Twilight adds to our SketchUp rendering arsenal.
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