"Photorealistic renderer plugin for SketchUp"
Raylectron is a plugin for Google SketchUp which can actually convert 3D models into photorealistic images. It has plenty of features that give you full control over the model, and more importantly the light source. Adjusting the lighting, shadows, reflections, shininess, refraction and other types of environmental factors with the program is easy and the results are spectacular. After transferring your model to Raylectron it works as a standalone application.
Installation is pretty easy to perform and has no difficult steps. It finishes in only a few moments and afterwards it’s ready to be used normally. It has come out clean from our virus scans and isn’t bundled with any additional software. After installing it you can find it under the “View” menu in Sketchup.
The supported operating systems are Windows XP, Vista and 7 (32 and 64-bit versions supported).
Using SketchUp, go to the “View” menu and select “Raylectron Render”. A window will pop-up asking you to choose the objects you want to render, and then the main Raylectron window will open. After loading your model, you can start the program directly instead of opening it through SketchUp every time.
The interface is not very confusing or complex. It has a pane on the left with different options and buttons. In that pane you can start rendering a model, open the lighting configuration window, or you can adjust settings like exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation and gamma. Next to that pane are 4 tabs: Render View, Model View, Environmental Map and Special Effects. In the first tab you can see the rendered model, whilst on the second one is the original model. The Environmental Map tab is mostly used for outdoor scenes, and from the last tab you can change the Depth of Field.
Before rendering your model, there are several settings that you can adjust to produce the best results. Lighting is the most important factor when rendering, therefore you have to be extremely accurate when adjusting it. That’s why Raylectron gives you a handful of settings to configure regarding lighting, all of which are accessible just by clicking on the “Lighting” button on the pane. In the window that opens you can define the light sources (artificial lights, sky, sun (daylight) and Environment (map)) and then choose between Ray tracing, Path tracing and Photon tracing. Ray tracing is the fastest rendering method (and usually the recommended one), Path tracing is better for outdoor scenes, sky or environmental maps, and lastly Photon tracing gives the most stunning results, although it is the slowest option. All of those options can be configured depending on your model.
The “3D Stereo” feature is a way to create 3D renders by following a simple set of instructions and then start working on it.
You can pan, rotate and zoom your model at will, without the need of SketchUp. You can also change camera views, render and network settings.
Since rendering can take a considerably huge amount of time, you can pause the rendering data and then resume it in the future.
There are no cons in this program, since it fulfills its purpose as a plugin. Wonderfully.
V-Ray (paid) is a rendering plugin for 3DS Max, and even though it is more expensive it doesn’t produce better results than Raylectron. YafaRay (free) is an alternate software for rendering 3D models and unlike V-Ray and Raylectron, this one is open-source and available to Windows, Mac and Linux users. But it’s up to the user to decide which one suits him best, therefore a trial of each is recommended.
Getting your models rendered properly can be a challenging task; however Raylectron is an ideal choice, provided that you are a regular SketchUp user. This combination of the two can produce the best possible outcome.
Requirements: Trimble/Google SketchUp, Min. 2GHZ CPU, 4 GB of RAM
What's new in this version: Major upgrade, much faster and compatible with Sketchup 2014.
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