SketchUp is a free 3D modeling program which can be use to design 3D models of buildings, a new piece of furniture for your home, exhibit booth, stage, part or other objects. When you design a model in SketchUp, it appears in a simple drawing – which can show shadows colors and material textures, but does not process reflections, lighting from lights or the sun, etc.
SketchUp was released in 2000 as a general 2D and 3D modeling software. It was then acquired by Google in 2006. It was renamed Google SketchUp and had a free and Pro (paid) version. Trimble Inc purchased SketchUp from Google in 2012. It continues to grow and be used by millions around the world.
Rendered SketchUp model showing lights and reflections.
Bakery La Sfornata 02 (Bari) Italy by Robert Emanuel Fisher Rendered with IRender nXt
To see your model as a high-resolution photo-realistic image, you will need to render it. to render from SketchUp you’ll need to download and install a rendering plugin.
Check out our list of SketchUp Rendering Plugins
Any of these will help you create great SketchUp Renderings.
How to do it render in SketchUp
For exterior scenes, you will get good renderings because of the software shadows and lighting of the renderer and the natural reflection of glass and other transparent objects. In the image below, the water in the pool was marked as reflective and given a bump effect.
Cafe by Edgar Lopez Rendered with IRender nXt
For interior scenes you need to do a little more work, adding lights, and more reflective materials.
Dining Room by Jeremias Daniel Ceballos Tejeda rendered with IRender nXt
A rendering plug-in can really improve the images of your SketchUp models.
(Images on this page were rendered using IRender nXt. For more images, visit the IRender nXt Gallery)
To see your model as a high-resolution photo-realistic image, you will need to render it. To render from SketchUp you’ll need to download and install a rendering plugin.
See the Plugins Page for information on some rendering plugins which you can use to render your SketchUp model.