Kitchen Design Plugin for Sketchup, Sketchup training.

Rendering with Sketchup

Sketchup has Style & Speed
By Eric Schimelpfenig, AKBD of SketchThis.Net

In today's world of text messaging, tweets, and high speed internet, we all want things faster.  This, for the most part is great.  Who doesn't want to send their 140 character or less message around the world in less then a second?  I don't want to put something in the mail, I want it there now!  This guy may disagree, however...

The advent of all this technology and instant gratification has been overall great in the kitchen design industry.  It can be a double edged sword though. Customers expect things to be in 3-D, they expect them fast, and they expect them to be impressive.

Old software like 2020, Autocad, and others are all capable of renderings.  Some of these programs could create some quite nice renderings.  The problem with most of these software packages is that the rendering aspect is such a departure from how the rest of the program is used.  AutoCad and even 2020's rendering package is difficult to master.  I find that most people that master the design aspect of these programs are hesitant to really go the extra mile to learn the rendering portion.  I don't blame them though. It's time consuming, and for the time invested and the amount gained, it's usually not worth it.  Black and white pictures, with a little white out and pencil can save you time and frustration as opposed to rendering with these programs.

I liken it to this:  I am perfectly capable of painting a room, or a "color by numbers" painting.  I cannot, however, paint a picture to save my life.  I am sure Bob Ross and I have the same motor skills, but he can paint wonderful "Happy little trees" like no one else.

Since we live in a fast food, fiber optic, twitter world of instant gratification, we naturally need something that is quick, better, and faster then the traditional, draw then "render and wait" software's that we are used to.

This is where Sketchup really comes comes in handy.  Sketchup's renderings are really, really good.  And best of all, you don't have to wait for them!  You can apply the materials as you are modeling and the materials stay on the model as you are drawing.  In other words, you are working with a fully interactive render! No waiting for a render, its all there, live.  Want to walk your customers through their new kitchen with color and texture?  You can, right in front of their eyes!

Check out this video on Sketchup Styles:

Sketchup School video on Styles

Not only does Sketchup have "Style" in this video, so does the host, Mike!

The other upside to Sketchup is that you can easily add a little artistic touch to your drawings using Sketchup's preloaded styles.  You can have color, and lines that look like they were hand drawn.

There are some differences between what Sketchup renders, and what a real rendering software does.  Real rendering software's are capable of creating photo realistic renders of anything.  If you are good enough, and have enough computing power, you can create images that look so real no one can tell the difference.  With Sketchup, you won't get realistic lighting effects.  However, I don't think most people designing kitchens should use photo realism to sell their designs.

First of all, as we discussed earlier, it takes way to long, and its something extra that you have to learn.  Next, the closer you get to photo realism, the more accurate you have to be.  If you do a photo real render with wood and granite textures and you sell that photo as a "Photo real" render, your customers are going to expect it to look that way when you install it.  If you show your customers a photo real rendering, I don't care how many times that you tell them its going to change in real life, they will walk away with that picture in their head expect it to look exactly that way. 

If you look at the sample Sketchup renderings below, you will see what a "general" rendering is like.  This kitchen was to have light maple cabinets, and blue manufactured granite countertops with stainless appliances.  Is it a photo real render? No, but it's a pretty good representation of what it will look like.  It literally took me only minutes to place those textures on the drawing.  A customer with that rendering printed out and some real samples in hand will feel very confident about their choices. (An no one needs to know it only took you ten extra minutes to draw the color in!)

In my experience, 95% of the time Sketchup renders are more then plenty.  For the 5% left over, there is some great rendering software, including some photo realistic rendering plugins for Sketchup.  Me, I will stick to my good old Sketchup renderings!

This is a kitchen rendered in the default Sketchup style.

With just a couple of clicks I added these "Sketchy Edges"

This is a rendering with no edges

This one looks hand drawn!

This one is a photo realistic render, and probably took a lot of time to create.  Very impressive, but worth it, you decide.