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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.
As we've already seen, rather than giving us a bewildering array of parameters and controls that need to be tweaked and then re-tweaked in order to achieve a desired quality level in our renders, Twilight simply gives us a wide range of rendering presets designed to fit most rendering situations. This means setting a desired quality level for our renders is as easy as a mouse click. Now of course we have already looked at our presets with regard to the global illumination methods used in them, but we do have to keep in mind that these presets control every aspect of the rendering process.
When it comes to setting up the final quality for our rendered images, these presets really are it. So let's revisit them, but this time with a view to how they work in terms of controlling not just GI quality, but the overall quality of our final renders, including the all-important anti-aliasing phase of that process. To examine our presets, we do of course need to be inside Twilight's Render dialog. Now many of these preset sets, or groups if we want to call them, are arranged in a very easy and very easy-to- understand manner, when it comes to the quality settings involved.
If we just open up the Easy, Animation, Photon Map, Path Tracing sections, you can see that they all progress from lowest to highest quality as we travel down the list. Now, do also keep in mind that this generally means that the list runs from fastest to slowest renders also. The naming conventions used in these sets, as you can see, make it very, very easy to understand what is going on. Quick, Low, Medium, Medium+, High, they all really are nice and descriptive to show what we are going to get from that particular preset, or what we can expect from that particular preset.
You will have noticed that may of our preset options have a Plus next to the descriptive name. This really designates an intermediate step. So Easy 03 Low+ is an intermediate quality step between 0 to Low and 0 for Medium. The Plus symbol really servers as a nice little suffix. That just means we don't have to have another descriptive name in between Low and Medium. Let's just, for a minute or two, focus on the Animation group of presets. There is a little bit of information that you need regarding this particular list.
In here you can see our first four options range from Preview to High. Now these options used Photon Mapping and Final Gather for their global illumination engine. This means we have the ability to render our animations using Photo Mapping and Final Gather in a number of quality steps, ranging, as we say, from Preview up to High. The next four options, however, I will use unbiased rendering methods. Now again, they range in terms of quality, so 04 and 05 are designed for, first of all, interior animation and will give you 100 passes per frame. And 05 is designed for Exterior Daytime Animation, and again, will give us 100 passes per frame before that frame is counted as finished and the next frame will begin to render.
Then we jump up in terms of Quality. Again we have Exterior Daytime and Interior Animation settings, this time giving those 500 passes each. And of course this means that our final two options will take quite a long while to render per frame, but the end result we get should be very, very nice. Now, if it is that you want to have a large number of quality steps available to you, then you could do no better than to go to the Advanced > Alternative_AA, or anti-aliasing section. Now, if we have a look in here, you can see that we have a number of grouped options available to us. We have a Low group, a Medium group, and a High group.
Now this description is referring to the global illumination quality inside of this preset, and all of these presets use Photons and Final Gather for their GI system. As you can see, at the top end of the scale in this group of presets, we have Ultra High quality settings, and we can come all the way down to essentially what is just a Preliminary or test render option. Now of course, we can work with any of the Twilight Preset groups that we want to. They are all perfectly admissible for using in our day-to-day rendering operations. But for ease of use, and just to make things simple on ourselves, for most general rendering situations, we can stick inside of the Easy Preset group.
As we have again already mentioned, 01 to 07 all use Photon Mapping and Final Gather, and again range from a preliminary setting all the way up the High+, in terms of final image quality that we will get. And we also have 08 to 11 all using progressive unbiased rendering methods. Now, of course whenever we are rendering with any of the progressive options in Twilight, quality simply becomes a function of the amount of time that we allow our image to render for. The longer we leave it rendering, the more rays will be used to compute our pixel color values, and more rays will naturally equate to a higher-quality end result.
And of course we can stop our progressive renders at any time, save them out, and use them as they are. It definitely has to be said that when it comes to setting up the quality for our final render output in Twilight, things just couldn't be simpler. All we do is pick a preset that will give us the desired or required quality level, hit Render, and away Twilight will go. Of course, the problem with many render artists, if indeed you would count it a problem, is that they really do like to have control of their render.
The ability to fine-tune the render engine so that it gives them just what they need oftentimes is viewed as an art form in and of itself, and is something that they take pride in. Now, whilst Twilight is not specifically designed around such a tweakable workflow, there is still a way to access the engine's core options and tweak things up as much as we like. This in fact is just what we will do in our next video.
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