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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.
The first time we start the SketchUp application after running the V-Ray installer process, we don't really have to do to much in order to find V-Ray's main set of controls. 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 V-Ray. Now if for some reason we close this toolbar down and need to find it again, we can just come up to the View menu, come to the toolbars and from the flyout menu, come down and choose the V-Ray for SketchUp option.
What we are going to do over the next few minutes in this video is just examine the options that we get access to by means of the V-Ray toolbar. As you can see, the first icon we get on the toolbox is in the form of a letter M. If we hover over this icon, the tooltip tells us that it'll bring up the V-Ray for SketchUp Material Editor. Now in chapter 5 we will be coming back to the Material Editor and spending quite a bit of time in here, but for now, we just need to know that this is where we edit V-Ray materials in our scenes.
Coming back to the toolbar, we can see that the next icon is in the form of a letter O. This stands for Options Editor. Now this dialog houses the vast majority of the tools and controls that we'll work with when rendering with V-Ray in SketchUp. One very cool feature worth mentioning here is the fact that we can load, save, and reset to default all of the options in this editor. So we can for instance, set up a number of the controls in here for a particular rendering scenario.
Let's say we want fast preview renders. We can set that up and then save the option set to disk and have access to it anytime we need. This means of course we don't have to go through and manually set up the options all over again each time we want to work with fast preview renders. And of course, we can set up as many unique rendering option sets as we need. We can keep them all to hand, ready to load at a moment's notice. Now admittedly, on first inspection, the huge amount of options available inside of this dialog can seem quite overwhelming, especially if we're new to lighting and rendering in a 3D application.
The simple truth is that whilst V-Ray does offer a huge amount of control over the rendering process and can be fine- tuned to the nth degree if we want or need to, still, we can get extremely good results from V-Ray by just working with a handful of the options available in this dialog. Hopefully, this will be demonstrated to you throughout this training course. The next option on our V-Ray toolbar is the R for Render icon, or Start Render icon. Clicking on this will initiate a render of our current SketchUp scene.
Once initialized, our render will appear inside the V-Ray Frame Buffer for window. Now the frame before itself houses a number of features and a number of tools that can come in very handy when working with our V-Ray renders. We have tools along both the top and the bottom of the window. The bottom set being particularly interesting, as many of them allow us to perform instant exposure and/or color corrections to the data stored in the V-Ray frame buffer itself. Next, in our toolbar comes the ubiquitous Help icon in the form of a question mark.
Now this option used to take us to the ASGVIS website. They were the original developers of V-Ray's implementation into SketchUp. Now, however, it simply takes us to a general information page on the Chaos Group website, Chaos Group of course being the creators of the V-Ray render engine. If we do need to access the latest help files, the place to go is www.spot3d.com. This website houses the help files for all versions of the V-Ray plug-in.
Next on the toolbar we come to the FrameBuffer icon, which naturally comes in the form of the letter F. If in our current SketchUp session, we have already performed a render using V-Ray, then clicking on this icon will bring the Frame Buffer window up for us, with the last render showing in it. If we haven't performed a render in our current session, then we get a Warning dialog that says: no Frame Buffer to show; the VFB is not created until a render is started. The next four icons on the toolbar all allow us to create specific V-Ray light types with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Now as each of these will be examined in chapter 2 of our course, we're just going to skip over them for now. Finally, we have icons that allow us to create a couple of unique V-Ray geometry types. These are the V-Ray Sphere, which give us a perfect geometric sphere in the scene, and the V-Ray Plane, which gives as an infinite plane in SketchUp. Now if we prefer to work with menu items as opposed to having toolbars and icons floating around, all of the same functionality can be accessed through the Plugins menu.
All we have to do is come to the V-Ray option, and then using the flyout menu, we can access all of the same tools and features. So, now that we are up to speed regarding how to access the V-Ray feature set inside of SketchUp, it's time to move on to working with those tools in earnest. In the next chapter, entitled Lighting Up the Place, we'll start to look at V-Ray's lighting tools.
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