Water Simulations? In modelling, NOT IN RENDERING

Hello SU peeps. I have been using SU for several years. I am now needing to simulate water! Now, first off, I do not mean RENDER water. I understand there are several good plugins for rendering water. What I need is to simulate water and how it interacts with the surrounding objects.

i.e. rain hitting a roof and showing the water flow across the surface and collect in valleys, gutters and applicable roofing structures, drip through holes, etc. This action does NOT need to be rendered.

ANY help in this area would be greatly appreciated.

I am working with a forensic architect making animations for him and they have been really cool and successful. However, they are now wanting to show the effects of water intrusion and interaction with improperly constructed buildings. Thus, the water simulation.

I have been using a plugin to create the animations and it works, but honestly, I do not know how to use it to 100% capacity. But, what I have researched is that it is not capable of simulating water. I mean, the water that I need to simulate doesn’t even have to be clear or reflective, just blue and have a fluidity to it and show real-world cause and effect…

Now I don’t need some kinda SUPER expensive simulator that I need to put in friction and runoff coefficients and tolerances and what not, just something that shows waters natural movements…

Thanks in advance for your help guys!

I know that what I’m about to say is not the answer you seek, but it is the best match I know of.

In Skethup you can’t do that nor do I know of any plugin that can.

However it would be very straightforward to export a sketchup model to Blender and use it’s fluid simulator to do what you want.

It’s very powerful, believable and it’s free.

thank you for your reply, my problem is i need to create an animation, typically a very detailed animation and NONE of the animation is rendered.

so, bringing the entire model into blender and then rendering it would probably not work…

man, do i need to start creating a plugin for SU, or talk to some coders about it??

thank you for the info.


And that’s exactly what Blender can do for you.

You can then opt to render it or not. Up to you.

Blender is not a render engine. It’s a multipurpose software for 3d modelling and a lot of other things around computer graphics and geometry, including rendering with several different render engines, but also fluid simulations.

1 Like

Ok great.

I’ll look into that.

Thank you!


Simulating fluid dynamics is not an easy task. I wish you the best of luck!

1 Like

Thank you. I know. I’m going to try blender and see how that works.

Thank you


Maybe a fluid dynamics extension would be right of Anton’s alley. He managed to make nice looking draped cloth. :wink:

Very true. Need to hit him up!!



It sounds like you could achieve what you want by modelling the water in several stages of outflow and using scenes to show them sequentially. You could even animate them if you wanted. All inside of Sketchup.

I think that is the hard part - generating the edges and faces to represent the irregularly-shaped water surface.

I see here two challenges:

  • modeling water

  • realistic water

For the first task, there are no optimal modeling tools in SketchUp since its purpose is sketching and architecture, not organic modeling and physics. We could suggest you SketchUp’s Sandbox Tools default extension or a plethora of workflows involving extensions and external tools to manually model such geometry, but the results will at best come close but somehow look not very right.

For the second, the only “true” water is physically accurate simulation. Learning simulation tools (like Blender’s physics) will take you time.

Why not take existing physically simulated water (the best result you can get) and import it into SketchUp (the simplest workflow)?

  1. Someone must have done this before. Search for bump maps of water and try to judge whether they were done with simulation tools (not procedural images with noise made in e.g. PhotoShop).

  2. Import the bump map as SketchUp geometry using Bitmap to Mesh

I may have misunderstood the requirements. The OP makes it clear that verisimilitude is not required and that he is working with a forensic architect. So I guess the question that needs answering is this: does the OP merely require a rough and ready means of depicting a process (perhaps to illustrate a document that describes the process), or does he require something that actually simulates water flow dynamically? Obviously, the latter is very much more testing and also requires great accuracy in modelling the underlying structure. Get the falls slightly wrong and your conclusions about water flow will also be wrong and Mr Forensic will have egg on face!

What I really would like to accomplish is showing a roof. Then the rain starts, then we pan in to take a closer look at the roof and it’s assemblies, I.e felt paper, sheathing, nails, shingles, flashings … then while the rain is still falling I show it penetrating an improperly constructed roof assembly and show it dripping through gaps, nail holes, areas without proper flashing etc…

I told the gentleman that this is Hollywood type animations and the budget is Dollywood!!

Then I need to show the rain/water flowing properly and in a correctly constructed assembly. So having it hit the shingles, divert from flashing, accumulate in the valleys and make it’s way into the gutters. The water doesn’t need to be rendered doesn’t need to be transparent or reflective, just needs to act how water acts in real life.

Thank you guys for helping me brainstorm this!!


You need a fluid simulator and full 3D animation tools. You need to animate textures, you need imagination and FX. You need a render farm, or a server not a computer.

If this is what you need you need Blender or worse.

If your budget is lousy start downloading Blender ASAP. Better yet hire a blender guru as you’ll have no time to learn.

I have a project; waiting in the wings, to model a comparison of the typical rain-screen assembly, as described in our codes, with pressure equalized rain-screen. Never thought of a “dynamic” water component.

I’m sure the usual extensions will be sufficient for my purposes. A stop-action video composed from Scenes in SketchUp should be sufficient to demonstrate how water enters & exits a building envelope.

For Forensic inspiration: https://fatpencilstudio.com

Yea I’m going to look into blender.



Suggests an animation of some kind. Possible in SU.

This can be done by using water components and a series of scenes.

This sounds like fluid dynamics. Now you’re in trouble.

To accomplish most of this sounds doable if you are reasonably proficient in SU. If you aren’t, you will struggle, and trying to introduce fluid dynamics will make the difficulty exponentially greater. Good luck!

I am pretty good in SU, have been using it for years. I would be interested to hear more about the water components and series of scenes you speak of… please give me an example or a method you would use…



You could model certain elements of the water as components. For example, a water drip, a vertical water flow, a horizontal water flow, etc. Then you have a roof or gutter over which, or onto which, they fall or flow. If you wanted to simulate rain, you would need a lot of drips in lots of different places. Using scenes, you could show the different positions of the drips or of water flow elements. Stringing them together would give an animation.

Obviously, it would take quite a lot of work even to do a simple animation and it wouldn’t look much like the real thing. But my understanding is that you just need to show a process to help illustrate what the architect has already discovered. So it’s a demonstration and not an experiment.