Best rendering attributes


Hi @AlexB,

This poll is rather unscientific in that voters will only record the rendering extension they are familiar with and will not offer any comparison so it becomes a “beauty pageant”.

Would it be possible to identify those features that are desirable in rendering software and set up a radio button type survey that calls out the different software having those features for users to indicate their preferences that way?

Hopefully, to further enlighten those who may be interested, here is a link that lists many rendering packages, a number of which are free:

Coincidentally, Podium was not mentioned in this listing.

What are some great rendering extensions for SketchUp?
Help with selecting the correct rendering programme

external render/raytracers are not very relevant in this context because most people wanna use a plugin/extension useable directly from inside SU.


That is a great idea! What list of features should I include?

Cheers @jvleearchitects


Well consider these, just to name a few…

Stand Alone software or lntegrated into SU as a Plugin?
Quality of rendered output?
Any less desirable features such as embedded product logo, watermark, etc. showing on the rendering?
Estimated maximum time to complete a rendering of specific size?
Degree of photorealism in output? (not sure how this would be measured though.)
Compatibility with SU System Requirements?
Ease of installation and ease of operation?
Ability to “tweak” render during or after processing?
Availability/accessibility of technical support?

It would be important to develop a method of comparison for how well each rendering package addresses the following:

Shading – how the color and brightness of a surface varies with lighting;
Texture-Mapping – a method of applying detail to surfaces;
Bump-Mapping – a method of simulating small-scale bumpiness on surfaces;
Fogging/Participating Medium – how light dims when passing through non-clear atmosphere or air;
Shadows – the effect of obstructing light;
Soft Shadows – varying darkness caused by partially obscured light sources;
Reflection – mirror-like or highly glossy reflection;
Transparency (optics), Transparency (graphic) or Opacity – sharp transmission of light through solid objects;
Translucency – highly scattered transmission of light through solid objects;
Refraction – bending of light associated with transparency;
Diffraction – bending, spreading and interference of light passing by an object or aperture that disrupts the ray;
Indirect Illumination – surfaces illuminated by light reflected off other surfaces, rather than directly from a light source (also known as global illumination);
Caustics (a form of indirect illumination) – reflection of light off a shiny object, or focusing of light through a transparent object, to produce bright highlights on another object;
Depth of Field – objects appear blurry or out of focus when too far in front of or behind the object in focus;
Motion Blur – objects appear blurry due to high-speed motion, or the motion of the camera;
Non-Photorealistic Rendering – rendering of scenes in an artistic style, intended to look like a painting or drawing.

I’m sure that other criteria may exist, but a list such as this could serve as a discernible “jump-off” point.

btw, I just experimented with LuxRender – free/open source – ( and was pleased with the result. Here is the image showing only a portion of a structure currently being developed.


I think the biggest ‘gotcha’ with ‘renderers’ are System Requirements…

many require higher specs than SU…

many don’t run on a mac or 32 bit widows…

Compatibility with SU System Requirements should be flagged…



I edited the features list above to include this as one of the anticipated requirements.

thanks @john_drivenupthewall for that reminder!


external applications only if there is a SU plugin to communicate/export natively with/to them, which is more purposeful and already enough to evaluate +imho+


further important attributes:

  • biased/unbiased renderer
  • rendering on CPU/GPU
  • real-time rendering


I’d argue that distributed rendering is a key feature as well.


not for the most of us :wink:


a list of most common ones:


Hey all - does someone want to take a stab at creating a poll?

Click here for more poll resources and insights on the meta forum.


The most important aspect of being able later do a comparison with the data, is to receive data that is totally objective.

This means you must ask the poll takers specific objective questions, perhaps even only allowing them to choose from a bullet list of objective answers.

If you allow freeform answers, you most likely to get subjective / emotional answers, that boil down to political pie charts.
ie, 60% of users love rendering inside SketchUp, whilst 40% hate it, and would rather render in an stand alone application.

That kind of emotional data really doesn’t help someone new to rendering choose a renderer.

Example. Do not ask a user if they “like” or “need” a certain kind of feature. (That will get a subjective answer.) Instead ask them specifically how often they use that kind of feature. (With choices like: “Every time I render”, “Most times I render”, “Occasionally when I render”, “Seldom when I render”, “Never”, etc.)

The idea is to get data on what people really, truly need and use for features and settings.
Which often turns out to be different than what they think (or think they remember) they like or love about their renderer (emotion again.) Added to that, is the sneaky marketing that tugs on people’s “heart strings” and convinces them to become emotionally attached to products.

… my 2 cents worth.

(…and if you click the little heart icon below this post, It’ll be a subjective thing you do.)


One thing missing from all of the above is “ease of use”/“intuitive settings”… of course once you know how things work, then they become easy - but what’s the learning curve?

SU has really easy and intuitive tools & settings - it’s (fairly) obvious what things do and how to change settings.
I have worked with many render packages that produce fabulous images in the correct hands, but the array of tools, options, sliders, buttons and things to tweak is so vast and presented in such a way that it’s easy to get lost.


Actually this was included in the list that I originally posted as one of the primary features that should be included in a comparative evaluation of rendering software packages.

           "Ease of installation and ease of operation?"

It does not hurt to emphasize this criterion again.


Didn’t see “illumination sources” on the list, so I’ll add it. Factors might include variety of source types, i.e. point sources, diffuse sources, beam spread, “self glow” (TVs, monitors), color temperature, intensity (wattage, lumens); simplicity of placing and adjusting sources; ability to assign sources to different channels; ability to use IES photometrics…