Sketchup can’t do CHROME?

Being at intermediate level now with Sketchup, and having spent most of February 7th now reading forums, viewing videos, and searching for a clue regarding applying a CHROME texture to items in Sketchup, is it safe to say this can not be done with Sketchup using native capabilities?

SketchUp won’t render specular highlights or that sort of thing is that’s what you mean. If you want to create images with reflections and such you’ll need to use a rendering application. There are a variety of rendering extensions that operate in SketchUp or you can use a stand alone rendering program to do that.

I use Kerkythea which is a stand alone program and it works fine for me. This was modeled in SketchUp and rendered in Kerkythea.


That is correct. SketchUp can … What @DaveR said…

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DaveR, AaronD, thanks for the speedy comebacks. And Aaron, you have some of the best teaching videos out there. Really appreciate your teaching style.

I’ll pursue “rendering extensions”

By the way, is Adobe Photoshop capable of applying a chrome look to items like this? Rendering, if that’s the terminology?

You could certainly create the metallic appearance in Photoshop and that might be more appropriate. Especially if you aren’t looking for incredible realism.

Thanks, Scott! If you are looking into renderers and Adobe, you may check out Adobe Dimension as a solution!


What’s the procedure for that? Create a texture in Photoshop, then import into Sketchup?

No. Export an image from SketchUp and then do your editing in Photoshop. Do a Google Search on Chrome in Photoshop, or Metallic effect in Photoshop. Lots of tutorials out there.

I’d just use Kerkythea or another renderer and let it work it out.

You could create a sort of metallic image in PS to use as a texture in SketchUp but it won’t look like the metal in my example and it won’t reflect any of the surroundings.

Ok Dave, Thanks.

  1. Add random placeholder photo textures to your model
  2. Upload your model to (use the exporter for SketchUp)
    3, Apply your textures in the materials editor

The upload process automatically applies UV maps to the model.

Here’s a model I made in SketchUp:

Here’s the model in SketchFab:

As you can see the metal texture is working well in the live rendered model:

Here’s the UV map that was automatically applied just FYI:

When using the exporter, you’re able to make changes to your model in SketchUp and re-upload it to SketchFab in the same URL/Model. Sometimes you have to redo some of the settings, but if you’re lucky a lot of them will stick, saving a lot of time if you have to do this multiple times.


I’ll investigate it when I return to the surface. Thanks.

PhotoShop does have ray tracing rendering now, working from .obj files, in there 3D workspace.

What is it in particular that makes rendering smooth surfaces such as chrome plating and glass beyond Sketchup’s capability? Why are surfaces like that different from other textures? How do you model a glass top on a coffee table for heck’s sake? Or windows on a building?

Sketchup is a modeling app with a sun (single light source) that can produce basic shadows.
To produce realistic lighting, reflections, refractions etc. that interacts with with textures so that they produce the correct look, the model needs to be placed in a “rendering” application which is a completely different tool. A rendering app uses raytracing, radiosity etc to calculate how light emits from specific sources and how it then bounces and reflects etc etc. Think of SU as the workshop where you build something and a renderer as a studio where you photograph it.


SketchUp models can be coloured and textured with realistic textures (based on texture images) and also transparency for glass.
You can also add backgrounds with skys etc.
Occasionally, some will add a chrome image texture which looks somewhat realistic, but none of this is actual rendering.

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Tried a renderer. It produced an image. Don’t have much use for an image. Would like to see the model in 3D (you know, orbit/pan/zoom) with certain items chromed. Is this not possible?

Simple answer is no. It takes a lot of math which takes a lot of time for the computer to do to compose a photo-realistic image. This is why rendering an image takes time to output even with a fast processor working as hard as it can. A static image can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour to do depending on complexity and video can take overnight or days to render. In general computers are nowhere near fast enough to do photorealistic rendering in real time as you navigate. You could set a fly through path and render that to video. The sketchfab option is one of a few that can do a pretty good job of rendering on the fly, but it’s not perfect and can get pricy

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I would love to see something like this type of real time rendering available natively in sketchup.

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Understood. Thanks for the thorough explanation. So the liquid metal man T1000 from Terminator 2 Judgement Day must have taken unbelievable amounts of processing power to make that happen…

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I agree 100%. I spent SO MUCH time going back and forth between SKetchUp and SketchFab. If SketchUp offered real time rendering like SketchFab it would truly be a single platform for all your 3D needs.

Look at the difference between how these models with the same textures render between SketchUp and SketchFab



I feel like SketchUp is SO CLOSE to having it all, but not seizing the opportunity