🚩 Entourage is the collective term for any scene prop that does not play a main role, but is needed to lend credibility and character to the stage. Common as entourage are things like trees, plants, and ground debris. Follow these best practices to make rendering entourage easy to manage, even for large exterior scenes.
⚡ For quality trees, use Laubwerk.
💡 Laubwerk is the best SketchUp extension to control, customize and place trees optimized for rendering with V-Ray. Laubwerk offers a catalogue of more than 5 000 individual tree models. By collecting kits, each with 10 different species times 36 variations, you can expand your local library to cover climates from the cool Nordics to the tropics. In SketchUp’s viewport, Laubwerk assets are lowpoly placeholders. But when rendered in V-Ray, trees display their geometry and materials in complete dendrological glory. Laubwerk works with botanists to certify high asset quality.
🤔 What about bushes and shrubs? Well, if you accept trading in botanical accuracy for visual satisfaction, a little cheat can helpful. Simply position your trees – of any size – to start way below the ground, so that only their top part can be seen, and they appear as bushes. For an example, see the image above.
⚡ To spread large numbers of objects in your render, use an instance scatterer, like Skatter.
💡 Developed by the French studio Lindalë, Skatter complements Laubwerk perfectly. It allows surface-spreading a large number of component instances while controlling their density, boundary falloffs, random scaling and rotation, and more. Typically, Skatter is used to dress terrain with trees, grass, pebbles, and so on. It is especially suitable for rendering. Its Render only feature can entirely bypass SketchUp’s viewport and outliner. Skatter thus makes it possible to swimmingly render hundreds of thousands of component instances in V-Ray, way past a point where SketchUp would have broken down in tears.
⚡ If you need heavy-geometry objects in your render, use proxies.
💡 A 3d modelling program needs to keep books on its model content, complete and current at all times. It is this internal representation that enables the user to edit arbitrary geometry. But it is also what makes the modelling program slow down as the model grows. Renderers, however, typically just need to read and display geometry, and only at rendertime. This makes 3d renderers like V-Ray remain snappy, yet still afford much, much more geometry than 3d editors like SketchUp. The difference is huge – say a factor of 1000 – whatever that means.
Proxies take advantage of this. In SketchUp’s viewport, proxies show as very lightweight placeholders – boxes or simplified geometry indicating position and size. Yet, in V-Ray, they render as fully detailed meshes with full materials. This is possible since the SketchUp proxy contains links to the original assets, and V-Ray picks these up at render time. Laubwerk is a good example of proxies.
⚡ To convert any 3d model into a V-ray-compatible SketchUp proxy, use Lindalë’s Transmutr.
💡 Transmutr is a SketchUp extension plus standalone app that helps automatically convert 3d assets from sources like Quixel Megascans, Sketchfab, Turbosquid, 3d Warehouse and others into V-Ray-ready SketchUp proxies, including material maps used at rendertime. It is perfectly possible to create proxies using just SketchUp and V-Ray. But Transmutr is currently the best solution if you wish to make several proxies, want more control, or convert from external repositories. You can download Transmutr here.
All the extensions mentioned above – Laubwerk, Skatter and Transmutr – are available as trial versions free of cost.
⚡ Combine SketchUp, V-Ray, Laubwerk, Skatter, Transmutr and a few quality 3d model sources for a knock-down toolchain workflow.
💡 The landscape of digital rendering tools has been shifting since its inception. It would be nigh impossible to render Chihuahua Incident Noon above using naked SketchUp and V-Ray. To master rendering, you need to be fearless in learning new tools and combining them into toolchains.🤫 In some sense, 3d rendering is a bag full of dirty cheats and rotten tricks. If that is an offer you can’t refuse, you may go really far. See you next week!