Adding Depth To Your Renderings

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Many times the small details can become washed out and lost when creating a rendering. This tutorial deals with creating an image in Sketchup to be used as a detailed texture in SoftPlan renderings.

Let's look at this example. On the left is a detailed model rendered in SoftPlan. Because the shadows have soft edges most of the detail is not very visible.

On the right is a simplified model but with a detailed texture applied. Notice that the shadows are sharp and they bring out more of the finer details.

Before I continue I want to give credit to Kessee and Associates for creating the original detail that this model was based on. It comes from the front entry of the Queens Row project. A pdf version of the file is available on the SoftPlan site at http://softplan.com/pdf/Queens Row.pdf Check it out. The detail work is awesome.

I extracted the details from the pdf file using Acrobat Illustrator and then saved as a DWG. The DWG was imported into Sketchup and with a little Sketchup magic I converted the 2D DWG file into a 3D model.

In Sketchup I enabled shadows and adjusted the settings to get the depth the way I wanted it. Then I set the view to look straight on to the face of the model, set the camera to Parallel Projection, and exported as a 2D Graphic. In Sketchup Pro you can export at a higher resolution than you can with the free version so I cranked the resolution up really high in order to get a really crisp image. Then in Photoshop I cropped the image and made the background transparent and saved as a PNG file.



Once I had the image saved I saved a copy of the Sketchup model and used it as a guide to create a very simplified version. This simplified version just has flat faces that were pushed and pulled to add a little depth for some added shadows when rendered in SoftPlan.

I grouped all of the forward facing faces together into a Group and all of the remaining faces into another Group. I then painted each group with different image based Materials.

I measured the width and height of the model and set the Material that was used on the forward facing group to the same size as the model. The texture size is critical when working with native Sketchup models in SoftPlan. The Scale option in SoftView does not work for Sketchup models. For a more detailed explanation of how and why I did this see the tutorial Using Sketchup Models in SoftPlan. That tutorial should fill in the details where I'm being a bit brief in this tutorial. Since I used a color based texture for the sides I didn't need to make any size adjustments to that Material. As discussed in the Using Sketchup Models in SoftPlan tutorial I gave each Material a name. These names became the the Layers that SoftPlan used to assign Materials for rendering.

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So now we have our image of the detailed model and a simplified version of the model. Convert the simplified Sketchup model into a SoftPlan Symbol, following the method discussed in the Using Sketchup Models in SoftPlan tutorial. Use the detailed image created earlier as the Material for the face of the symbol and use a closely matching color for the sides.

And there you have it. Using images for details in your renderings can often provide better results and also helps to speed things up when there are many details included in the design.

Using images as details has been around in SoftPlan for a long time. If you look through the 3D-->Textures-->Bitmaps-->Openings folder you will find lots of premade opening textures that can be applied to openings to give them more detail.

Bill is the owner and maintainer of SoftPlanTuts.com

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