Render software for use with Sketchup

I started a thread about recently using Blender with Sketchup (Blender as render engine for SU models - #19 by JustinTSE). My conclusion was that it is probably not the best tool for the job. “The job” in this case being something that works well with SU, that is affordable, not too hard to learn, and doesn’t require high end hardware or massive processing times.

I ended up with some conclusions most easily shown by a table:

I admit the final column is not scientific as you would need an extended test of each to know. If anyone thinks they do know and would order my list differently, I’d be interested to hear. In my list 1 is easiest.

My conclusions so far are these:

  • Twilight may be too basic to be worth a lot of learning.

  • Twinmotion may be too high end in terms of learning and hardware.

  • Thea is the most expensive for occasional use as it has an annual subscription.

  • That leaves Podium and Indigo RT. Indigo is cheapest but Podium may be easier to use.

Would anyone who has more experience of actually using any of this software may like to challenge my findings?


  • I strongly disagree with your 5 given to twinmotion for learning. it is very intuitive.
  • you are talking about processing time but there’s no column for it. It is indeed a very important criteria
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Paul, that’s exactly the sort of discussion I was hoping to encourage. So if you wouldn’t put Twinmotion at 5, how would you order the list?

Re processing time, I was correlating hardware requirements with that. I figured that the higher the hardware requirements, the longer something would take to process on a like for like basis. Maybe that’s wrong though?

I think Twilight is very good, and has a worthwhile depth of capabilities. You can also pay for a Pro license and more features. I use Thea as well, and I think it’s been more productive for me, but I wouldn’t dis Twilight or their nice online support.

Processing time would be hard to break down in this list. For example, on my mac TM is just a toy because as soon as I turn up the quality, it barely functions. A little better machine and it’d be great, I’m sure.

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I have never used the other renderers in the list, so I wouldn’t rate it 1 since perhaps some are really easy to use too, but definitely no more than 2 on a scale of 5 !

I believe it is a wrong way of thinking !
For example twinmotion will take max 1 min to make a full HD render, even with a very cheap computer.
It does require a good hardware to be in good quality preview, but that is another matter !

I was slightly put off Twilight by the sample renderings of outdoor scenes on their website. They looked a lot like those on the Kerkythea website, ie. not a lot better than what you can do in SU itself. Maybe it’s not a surprise that they both use the same render engine. But hey, it’s one of the free options so it costs nothing to try!

You’re encouraging me to give it a go!

I couldn’t work out to what extent it is integrated with Sketchup or whether it is a complete standalone. I like the idea of being able to work in SU with an inbuilt extension, which happens with Podium (and maybe the others that claim SU integration).

It is a stand-alone, but there is a direct link plug in, that will update any modifications you make in your model. Maybe not as smoothly as podium or vray…

TwinMotion seemed pretty easy compared to others to get going in and the real time response is very helpful. It then takes more learning to get get to quality renders, but it doesn’t seem to be the most difficult “5”.

In terms of ease of use I would say Twinmotion is as easy as you can get.

Thea varies: if you want to hit the button and render like in your initial description (in the other thread) it’s easier than Twinmotion. If you want to reach photo quality you need to learn oh so much. When you do, you can fake reality. You can do that with Vray and Indigo too.

I can’t compare Thea with Indigo as I never tried Indigo. Thea is easier to grasp than Vray. Indigo should be too as both Thea and Indigo are Unbiased renderers: they don’t need render settings to be tinkered and light will be calculated as in real life. Vray has one of it’s engines working like that but it’s lower quality than Thea’s in my honest opinion.

I have just watched some of @JustinTSE’s very good videos from a couple of years ago about getting up and running with Twinmotion. I can see that it has a pretty intuitive interface.

Being super-critical, I would say that the end result often looks a bit like a gamescape (no doubt because that is what a lot of people would use it for). However, when I look for images that others have produced, some are much better than that. I’m guessing that they have either spent a lot longer tweaking things than Justin had time to do for demo purposes, or that the latest version of the software is that much better. Maybe both?

Here’s a question around the fact that it is standalone software. Let’s say you rendered an interior scene. Then you decide you want to change some furniture. Easy enough to change the original SU file, but would you have to start back from scratch with the render? I could imagine that you might be able to save all your render settings and Twinmotion objects in such cases that you simply re-apply when you bring in a slightly altered SU model. Or is that expecting too much?

Exactly. If you see other videos and examples, it takes another step up to get professional images. But the first results you get are the game type image, and real time rendering.

I found updating and adding things from Sketchup is pretty easy. It is a little different from something with a plugin where when you open SketchUp and start the plugin, you are essentially where you left off. With some plugins adding to the model is seamless with running a new render, with all the same settings you had before, sometimes saved scene by scene.

Simon, I use twinmotion and Vray. Twinmotion is my go-to app for getting relatively quick visuals up together, it is super simple to work with but you do need to develop methods to deal with its shortcomings. It’s just the nature of the beast, every Renderer tends to have its own ‘look’ I have gotten some pretty good results over the last 8 months or so.
If you would like to see examples you can see my private (ish) art station page, it’s exclusively sketchup, twinmotion and the odd bit of Vray and sketchFX.

rdA ArtStation/

You can go into each project to see more examples.

Let me know if you have any specific q’s about workflow etc.


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Excellent work Rob!

Thank-you sir.

Have you thought about give VRay a try? my almost 5 years old i7 Dell Desktop was able to handle the rendering previews quite alright, for final renders I usually leave it render over night.

Very nice!

I have thought about it, yes, not least because it seems to be the top of the range as far as final product is concerned. I had the impression that it was less easy than some to get to grips with for a newbie and that it was pretty expensive. But it’s reassuring to know that it can do previews quite quickly.

Thanks alot