Physically Accurate Renderer for under $100


I find the exploration realtime render to be OK to see that the composition and changes you make in real-time are having --or MIGHT have-- the effect you are after, and try out view angles. Sometimes a fast preset is just as good. It never looks as good as your final render, and it doesn’t use the same view and resolution (since it is just responding to the view you have in SketchUp), so it doesn’t guarantee the render will be what you want.

Personally I am “OK” with Twilight speed and use different presets. They’ve added a denoise plugin that looks like it will get you renderings faster–but that would push it over $100.

So it sounds like the question is upgrade Twilight or find a faster renderer that has results as good as Twilight.


I think I will probably go with Twilight since they have a discount now for $59, and I will also keep the free version of Indigo 4 since 1000px x 700px would be sufficient in many cases.


My advice would be unreal as well. It can be real if you spend enough time on the materials and add the correct IES data for the lights (look for ‘Unreal Paris’ on YouTube - already 4 years old I think. There will be newer and better examples I guess).

As an architect, photo realism isn’t what my clients value from Unreal though. The main reasons for using Unreal almost every day in my process are:

  • The ability to walk around in your designs really helps. Just for evaluating the spaces, line of sight etc etc its already a great tool.
  • Communicating your design to clients using Unreal makes it very easy for them to get a good idea of the design. Not all clients are good at reading 2d drawings so 3d/vr really helps clients to make a decision.
  • Even basic materials and IES lights already give a nice atmosphere that clients will value.
  • Adding a VR headset to your equipment makes the above even more wonderful.
  • If you still have time left, you can spend lots time trying to get to photo real quality. You will probably pay for that time yourself because my clients tend to not want to pay for that. Maybe in the multi million dollar luxury villa price range its different.


Thanks. After a bit of research it seems that the best way to get Sketchup models to Unreal is by using the Datasmith plugin but it says that this supports Sketchup Pro 2017/2018, and it doesn’t say anything about Make 2017.

Is this because Make 2017 isn’t supported, or because Make 2017 is not an official product anymore?


I have Pro so can’t say. On the official page you can ready all down below: ‘The Datasmith exporter plugin currently only works with SketchUp Pro. It does not support SketchUp Free, or the discontinued SketchUp Make.’


@maxB Can I ask how exactly do you share the Unreal project with your clients? Do they need to download the Unreal engine onto their computer or is there a way to navigate through the 3D model using a web browser or phone app apart from a VR headset?


I have several methods for sharing:

  • I record a walk through while wearing a VR headset at my office, post the video on youtube (hidden) and send them the url.
  • I bake the project into an EXE and ask them to download it from my server so they can install the ‘game’ on their own computer and do a walk through (using wasd keys + mouse).
  • For larger projects, I supply my client with an OculusGO. Every time I do a big update on the project, I update the project on the Oculus server and their OculusGO is automatically updated.

In short: the clients don’t receive the source files but only the presentation. No installing of the UnrealEngineEditor on their computer is needed.


@maxB Thank you for that very detailed response. It helps me a great deal as I always struggle to know the best way to share the end result of the many hours of work. I have used Sketchup Viewer before but it limits you to a max file size, sometimes takes a long time to load a big model and navigating inside an Architectural model can be difficult. I will have to look into whats involved in the baking an Unreal project into a exe file / game. Thanks again.