Will I need any plugin to make this in Sketchup?

Hi all, its my first post so big hello to all of You :))

Here is my question.

I am a craft maker, I make metal tiles

Its quite time consuming and expensive to make all these so it would be nice if I could make them in my laptop :wink:

I am using another program for vector graphic to design dies embossing tool for these metal tiles.
So let’s say I will have vectors ready. Now I will need to extrude shape, add a colors, lights, texture so it would look like real.

I presume its possible in Sketchup ? will I need any plugins ?

Many thanks for help


Hello and welcome to the Community. :slight_smile:

That’s some beautiful stuff there. I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely easy to make that in SketchUp but neither is it too difficult. Nonetheless, it’s certainly possible. The question is, what is your desired final product - a render, technical drawing, 3D print-ready file or something else? The way the end result is going to be used defines the 3D modelling process.

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final product from sketchup would be a picture, can be jpg file. so it would look like a real product , no need to worry about sizes etc.

all other technical stuff like vectors for my embossing tool, I make in my other software using vectors.

Alright. A photo-realistic image implies 3D visualization aka rendering. SketchUp doesn’t have an in-built renderer unforutnately, so we use plugins for that. There are hundreds of them and some of the best ones on the market are:

  • V-Ray, whose newest 3.4 version for SketchUp is currently in beta testing, to be released sometime in January 2017
  • Podium which is a great alternative, and I’ve recently been told that the newest 3.0 version will include a Live Material Preview which has been missing from the start
  • Indigo Renderer

If you follow this link, you will find a long list of rendering engines that are supported by SketchUp.

Personally, I’ve tested most of them to see if one is better than the other but in the end I still silently come back to V-Ray because it produces the best desirable result and is considered a market-standard.

Kerkythea is another one and it’s free, but it has a learning curve. Nonetheless, if you’ve mastered it, you can achieve great results. Have a look at @DaveR’s wonderful gallery for a proof.

Cheers. :slight_smile:

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so v ray is the answer. gosh…its expensive 750 dollars…

other guys that I asked they recommend me rinho

Yes, if you choose it and focus on mastering it, it will never disappoint you. Do keep in mind though, that it’s not the cheapest renderer out there.

Ah, the never-ending battle between SketchUp and Rhino. My best friend from uni used Rhino through our academic years and we’ve always been boasting whose program is better. (If you’re interested I and SketchUp won almost always. ;))

  • Rhino is good for jewelry design and I’ll admit, SketchUp does drag behind at that point, mainly because SketchUp doesn’t have true circles (they’re composed of softened segments that are welded together seamlessly), while Rhino has. So, it essentially comes down to what exactly you have on your mind to build.

  • But on the other hand, SketchUp is MUCH faster when it comes to core 3D modelling process. What takes Rhino minutes to do, SketchUp can do in seconds.

  • Rhino has a steeper learning curve compared to SketchUp and for a beginner its terminology might take longer to get used to, while SketchUp was made with the tagline “3D for Everyone” in mind.

(I hope my friend never finds out about this reply otherwise we’ll start debating and arguing again, haha).

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I think if you can get your line work imported into SU ( from illustrator or similar or try to draw it in SU, but not as easy), you can then extrude it to give it dimension and use Fredo’s round corner tool to soften it. (See attached).
Beyond that there will be great debate as to which renderer to use!! I’m sure you will see these debates elsewhere on the forum. You would have to choose one that is affordable and that has the capabilities to do your specific task. All of the renderers have their own learning curve too, so you’d have to bear that in mind. All of those renderers will have galleries so you can see if the output will serve your purposes for the price.

To get the kinds of texture on the tiles per your example you will need to get a renderer that has layer or the ability to mix textures. Or you could create that texture elsewhere (photoshop) and map it onto the geometry.

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so sketchup doesnt have that tool to soften the edges, you need to use what you call a Frodo to soften the edges?

as for the texture I can import my own photos to use it , right ?

what did you use for that example ?

I must say… I am getting excited when I imagine I can make my craft so easly …in my laptoptop …and nobody will know that :stuck_out_tongue:

one more question,

Is version 2014 good for use ? I am asking becouse I can purchase of my friend vray for version sketchup 2014 , and just wondering if it make sense…will I need sketchup pro ? ( if I need vray )

There is a soften tool in sketchup, but I dont think it will help with this particular task.
Fredo’s tools are a free plugin for most versions of SU (you can donate to him).

You can use your own textures, but to get a realistic look the texture would have to be unique to the line work if you want it to match, or you will apply textures to individual faces but it wont look cohesive.

2014 is OK, there isn’t much in the later versions that will inhibit what you are doing here.

I’m using Thea as the renderer, I had used v-ray previously, but switched for simplicity. V-ray is certainly an amazing renderer but it requires a lot more input to get results, these are just issues you have to weigh for your own investment of time.

Attached is a crude representation of what I meant by mapping a single texture over the image. The image on the right is a texture that scales to your design and the left is it pasted onto the SU model.

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SketchUp depends a lot on plugins if you want to do extensive workflow. I know it might sound a bit weird at first - a professional software, that needs plugins to function, but it’s actually very helpful. By keeping SketchUp relatively feature-free, it’s not crammed with tools, settings and options like 3DS Max, so it’s easier to navigate your way around and the program itself is relatively lightweight. That doesn’t mean that plugins make wonders (in some cases they do). Plugins just make your work easier.

We have the Extension Warehouse which hosts 100s of plugins, whatever you need and SketchUcation as well, which is an alternative sister-website to the Extension Warehouse.

Regarding which version to choose, I wouldn’t advise to start from 2014 as it’s (almost) 3 years old. The latest version is 2017 which was released in November, 2016 but it seems to produce too many issues. I’d go for 2016. It has a couple of tiny bugs but it’s mostly great.

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so maybe if I dont need to make games and very detailed complicated visualisation, I should go for thea rather than vray


check out the above thread for discussions on rendering options, getting in the middle of this is tricky. Best to look through them all, look at their galleries, see the price tag and decide. Some have trial periods which will let you explore. Also useful to look at any tutorials for themas you can see someone else navigating through their complexities or simplicities.

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thank you guys for help :slight_smile: ! ! !

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Quick and crude, but this is a render without any raised geometry in the sketchup model, it is a flat tile with just the texture applied with another version of the texture used as a bump map to give it a fake sense of embossing.

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Twilight Render Hobby (free)

Rhino is NURBS surface modeling whereas SketchUp is a facetted polygonal modeler, comparing this doesn’t make much sense because if exact NURBS surfaces are required SU is out.


have a look at Moment of Inspiration for a more artistic nurbs modeller…

it plays well with SU if you need both…


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bummer, i had replied to another topic:


what is that nurbs that you telling me about ?

as for vectors, I can draw them no problem in my other softaware.

If you like to advice me more, please keep in mind my first post and check the photo of what exactly I need to create. Just to let you know as I know that there are milions of possibilities and many ways to make one thing…all I need to make is a visualisation of metal tiles. That all…so the surface would look metallic ( I can import real photos of the surface and patinas…)

As I say I excited about that idea just to make it on computrer, instead of time and material consuming process that I do at the moment. And I will be able to make so many designs …just to show my customers a=so they have a choice. Also in the future I would like to design and make metal planters and sketchup will be helpful as well…
thank you for help so far.

I hope my laptop lenovo t500 will be ok for sketchup…6 GB RAM, 500 GB memory, 256 MB graphic card, win 7

short video shows the principle of nurbs objects.

Going back to your original post, I think you can achieve what you need with SU and one of the many rendering programs. While NURBS modeling can give you much more accurate control of your surface, your work is almost flat and probably will not benefit much from nurbs? If you wanted a hybrid program that has a lot of sketchup function as well as nurbs, you might be better off with “FormZ”(http://www.formz.com/products/products.html). There is a free version or you could try the trial of FormZ junior (formally Bonzai). It has renderer that can be paid for separately, but you can always export the model and render in a standalone renderer. It also has integration with Thea render as a plugin too.

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6GB RAM is great but that’s only half of the job. What is your processor power and what brand is your graphics card - NVIDIA or AMD?

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