Sketchup for Art Frame Mockups


Hello, I contacted Sketcup support and they were not able to give a definitive answer and suggested I post my question here.

Original question:

Hello, I am interested in purchasing Sketchup Pro. I am interested in using this software (along with a rendering plugin) to create photorealistic art frame mockups like this: where the frame is a layered smart object photoshop element, yet blends perfectly within the scene with light and shadows. Would I be able to mimic this result with your software and render plugin by being able to add blank frames, and/or layered psd files, etc?

I would greatly appreciate any help and insight in answering my question.


I modeled this with SketchUp Make (free) and rendered it with Twilight V2 (free). I’m a beginner at rendering, but SketchUp can make near-photorealistic renders (with the help of 3rd party plugins from the extension warehouse or around the internet). Some rendering plugins are very expensive, but Twilight Hobby version (free) fits my needs. The art is interchangeable within SketchUp. SketchUp can save your shadow (sun casted shadows) information along with specific camera angles, with “scenes”. Twilight, the rendering extension, can add lights (like light bulb light emissions).


You can export this image from Sketchup and then create a smart image in Photoshop that will allow you to swap in different images to the frame.

The trick is to render the image with just a white canvas and extract the shadow and reflection maps as separate layers. You then remove apply these maps to the image you put in on Photoshop if that makes sense.


I’d agree with Liam, rendering times can get lengthy to achieve clean results (depending on resolution etc), so it would be easier to get a few key renders out of sketchup/renderer and then swap the “art” images out in photoshop. using the above tips with some blending modes. Unless each one needs to be unique.


(EDIT: Quote has been edited since.) No it cannot actually. SketchUp is a modeler. A separate rendering application is needed for photoreal rendering.

Be aware that PSD file format is not a native SketchUp Pro export format. Either a 3rd party PSD exporter plugin would be needed or the rendering application you use would need to export (or natively write) to PSD. (You’ll need to check rendering apps for their export format types.)

Otherwise you could just export (from SketchUp) to PNG image, then open with Photoshop and create layers saving as PSD.


Yes correct, the workflow would be to output multiple PNG files from whatever render software you choose and SketchUp and then manually composite them in Photoshop. To my knowledge you can only create Smart layers from within Photoshop itself.


I render in SketchUp.Twilight is an extension that works from within SketchUp, so you don’t have to open another application. The free extension installs a toolbar & the render button opens up a window within the SketchUp application. SketchUp is also a renderer because it has renderers in the Extension Warehouse.


I can only speak for Thea but if you want to render only and not export to PS then it has a relight function that allows you to alter the lighting post pro. Personally I’ve only tested it as I’m far better and accurate adjusting lighting in Photoshop (subtlety ).


I use Thea and the relight (rather than re-render) can be a time saver for sure. If you don’t have Thea there is Colimo that will do similar relighting/texturing.


You had said, I quote: “SketchUp can make photorealistic renders” … which it cannot.
That statement is misleading. Plain and simple.

Twilight is doing the rendering. It is running in it’s own memory process, despite what it looks like.
It is quite easy to start another application process from within SketchUp’s Ruby, and to make a window act as a child to another application. The toolbar is the only thing that must be running “within SketchUp.”

Whether you call it an application or an extension does not matter. It is still not SketchUp doing the photoreal render. It is not necessary to mislead prospective buyers with “fuzzy” statements. The important thing is, they need to be told that the renderer is separate, from another company and most often costs additional money beyond the initial cost of SketchUp.


I would generally prefer rendering each item, if you have the processing power / time to do it.

There is an easy trick in SketchUp for this which I have used extensively. You import your artworks as a texture, not an image. You apply it to the surface inside the frame where your print would go. I create a card the correct size of the print and about 1/8" thick. For all prints of the same size and frame style, you just edit your texture. Each time you want to change the artwork, just navigating to a new texture image. The texture will then update to the next artwork image with perfect registration (as long as the first one was aligned correctly on the card).
You can change frames easily too, once your frame has been saved as a component, you just right click on it and update it with other frame components (which you would need to create as well).


I edited my post…

Is that better?
I was just trying to help. Sorry if I was misleading. I assumed the OP understood rendering plugins weren’t a part of the SketchUp Pro purchase…

I even said I…


An example of a render (Raylectron) from a SketchUp model using the process I described in my last post.

If you are trying to sell prints, this option is worth considering (especially if you are able to do batch rendering.


It is better, thank you. We’ll drop it. I was mostly concerned with other readers new to SketchUp. (People often tend to take statements out of context, and/or do not read the entire topic thread. Ie, as soon as they see a statement they like or wish to believe, they stop reading and run with it.)


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