7 Easy Steps to Rendering Interiors with Vray for SketchUp – Today I’m gonna walk you through the key steps you need to know when you’re setting out to rendering interiors in V-Ray for SketchUp. These steps have helped thousands of professionals gain a clear understanding of what goes into creating stunning, photorealistic renderings and avoid the common pitfalls that cause people to struggle in V-Ray. And in this article, I’ll show you the seven things you need to know before creating your first Rendering Interiors in V-Ray for Sketchup.
Still, there are a ton of challenges when it comes to creating that perfect interior shot and we constantly hear stories, like this one.
I already know how to build in SketchUp, I just am confused on how to do the lighting and set up the V-Ray render settings.
I need help. You was an experienced SketchUp user but when you set out to teach herself V-Ray, you got lost and ended up wasting a ton of time. The thing is, just having a great model, doesn’t mean you’re automatically gonna have a great rendering interiors.
7 Easy Steps to Rendering Interiors with Vray for SketchUp
And I’ve compiled a list of seven key things that will help you steer clear of the issues that cause most people to struggle with their first renderings interiors in V-Ray for SketchUp. But before we dive into that list, a couple things to keep in mind. Every good rendering begins with a render-ready SketchUp model.
Alright, let’s bring back up that list and jump into,
1. Rendering Interiors – Start Wwith Draft Settings.
The secret to setting up great renderings is to make small, iterative adjustments and render after each one to test the results. This means you’ll need to render frequently.
So you wanna use settings that will give you a preview as fast as possible.
Here’s what I recommend. First, smaller images render faster so set the resolution as low as possible where you can still get a sense of the effect of each change you make. Also, there are three rendering modes to choose from, interactive, progressive or bucket rendering, that’s the default mode when you don’t have either interactive or progressive turned on. Each can be useful in different situations but for quick test renders use progressive.
Set the quality to Draft and enable denoise.
This combination will allow you to see results quickly and give you enough quality to see if your changes are working.
Lastly, if you’re using the latest version of V-Ray, you should also go into the camera settings and enable auto exposure and auto white balance and let V-Ray take care of those things for you. Okay, once you’ve dialed in your draft render settings, it’s time for the next step.
2. Rendering Interiors – Use Material Override.
Your first step when rendering interiors a room is to get the lighting right.
During that step, seeing the materials can be distracting. Turn them off using the material override feature. Now, all surfaces will render with the default pale gray color, allowing you to better focus on the lighting. There’s just one problem.
You don’t wanna override materials like the window glass that will allow light to pass through and light the room.
To avoid that, there are two steps to take. First, make sure that you’re using a pre-configured V-Ray material for the glass since it will reflect and refract the light more accurately. If you have a SketchUp glass material, just find it in the V-Ray materials list and select all of the objects in the scene with that material. Then add a V-Ray glass to your in model materials list and apply it to the selection.
This will swap out the SketchUp glass for the V-Ray glass.
Just a quick note. If your glass is modeled with thickness, any glass material will work but if your glass is modeled with a single plane, be sure to use the fake glass material. And now your second step. You need to make sure that the glass isn’t being overriden.
To do that, just find the material’s properties in the fly-out menu and uncheck the option for can be overridden.
Okay, you’ve got everything all set for the next step.
3. Rendering Interiors – Figure Out Your Key Lighting First.
As you know from our Learn How to renderings interiors in SketchUp video, you should think of rendering like you are a photographer taking a photo of a room. Your first step is to set up your key light.
For a daytime Rendering Interiors, let’s talk about your two best options.
You can either use the V-Ray sun or you can use a V-Ray dome light. So, how do you choose between the two? Different rendering situations will call for different solutions but let me compare the options to help you pick the best one for you. Let’s start with V-Ray’s default sun.
This is the easiest to use as you get it for free in every rendering interiors.
If you need highly accurate shadows, this is the way to go since it is driven from your SketchUp model’s geolocation and shadow settings. While this option is the most straightforward to use, there is another option that can often produce better results. You can use a V-Ray dome light to cast more realistic daylight into your scene. The light is more realistic because it is based on an HDR image which is a special kind of image taken in a real world environment that captures all of the lighting and color information in the sky.
So, rather than just shining realistic sunlight into your scene as you can with the V-Ray sun, you’re also accounting for the varied lighting that comes from the clouds and sky in your dome light’s HDR image.
In the latest version of V-Ray, another advantage of the dome light is that it is adaptive. This just means that V-Ray has built-in intelligence that both helps the dome light better cast light through your windows into the interior and speeds up your overall render times. If you decide to go with the dome light, just know that Dome lights have a default HDR associated with them.
But you can also add your own HDR images instead to get different lighting qualities.
I’ve included links to a few sources for HDR images in the notes I’ve put together for you.
Now whether you’ve used the V-Ray sun or you’ve used a dome light as your key light, you’ll probably have harsh shadows or some dark areas of your room. That’s where the next tip comes in.
4. Rendering Interiors – Add Fill Lights Next.
First, think about any natural light that might be entering the space from off-camera and try adding a Rectangle light or two to simulate that light in your scene.
Then for any other shadows you wanna fill-in, remember that the best results often come from placing a fill light at roughly 90 degrees relative to your key light. And if possible, the fill light should be placed on the opposite side of the camera from the key light. Again, as a basic rule of thumb, a rectangle light is best for casting a wider, softer light. Remember that once you add fill lights, you’ll need to balance the intensity of those lights relative to your key light to get the desired result.
And it’s a good idea to adjust the intensity of each light in isolation so you can get a clear sense for what they each add to the scene. Then turn everything back on to see how they work together.
Also, don’t forget to adjust the color of your lights. Real world light is rarely true white, so be sure to subtly adjust the color to better match the type of light you are simulating.
And of course, don’t forget to name the lights as you add them.
That way it’s really easy to find them later when you need to make adjustments. Your future self will thank you.
Thank you Alex from the past for reminding me to name my lights. It made it so much easier to find and adjust them later. Love, your future self.
Okay, so you’ve got your daytime lighting. Now, you’re ready for the next step.
5. Rendering Interiors – Use Realistic Materials.
Up until now, we’ve focused on the direct lighting that comes from the key and fill lights. Now, it’s time for the indirect lighting that comes from the reflection and refraction of light as it interacts with the materials in your model.
Your first step is to disable material override so we can see the colors and materials again. If you rendering interiors now, you’ll have nice lighting but all of your materials will fall flat.
That’s because V-Ray doesn’t yet know how the materials you’ve used should interact with the light. At this point you have two options. The first, and easiest option, replace each material with a comparable one from the V-Ray library.
The upside is that you get all of the material settings preconfigured for you. So, out of the box, a V-Ray material will know how to reflect and refract light realistically.
The downside of course is that you might not be able to find a V-Ray material that matches up closely enough to the one you need to replace. In the case where you really need to keep the specific material you’ve already found, you’ll have a little more work to do to configure that material’s settings so that V-Ray renders it properly. Now there’s a lot more to setting up materials in V-Ray than we have time to cover in this video but here are a few quick tips that should cover common scenarios.
First, almost everything in the real world has at least a little bit of reflectivity so you’ll want to adjust how much reflection the material has by adjusting the reflection color.
100% black equals no reflection, while 100% white is 100% reflective.
Also, you can set how blurry or clear your reflections are via reflection glossiness. For most material types, you can search online for settings for these two parameters that should get you close enough. When you are dealing with things like glass, water or other partially transparent materials, you’ll also need to adjust the refraction color and the refraction IOR values.
Again, you should be able to search online and find something that works for most common materials. Lastly, if your material has a bit of real world texture to it like wood flooring, tile with grout lines, or even fabrics, you can simulate it using a bump map.
This is the kind of feature that’s more than we can cover here but as a quick hack, take a copy of the texture and desaturate it in a program like Photoshop.
Then take the grayscale version and add it as a bitmap to the bump map’s texture slot. When you re-render, you should be able to see that the material has the illusion of more texture.
Now, whether you’re using V-Ray’s pre-configured materials or you’re setting up your own, remember to name the materials as you go and make it easier to find and adjust them later. Okay, we’ve been focused on getting things to look good inside the interior but we can’t forget about the next tip.
6. Rendering Interiors – Mind Your Background.
If you have a window with a view to the outside, you’ll need to think about what to show in the background. There are two options for handling this.
You can model the background in SketchUp. Or you can leave it blank and add an image later in Photoshop.
I prefer the hybrid approach where I add 3D models of the more prominent things that are closer to the camera and then use an image for the far background.
If you do plan to add-in a background later in Photoshop, here are a few tips to set-up your V-Ray rendering interiors. First, if you are using a dome light, it will need to be set to invisible.
Also, you’ll need to uncheck your Background in the environment menu. And lastly, if your background is behind a glass window, you’ll need to find your glass material’s settings.
Then turn on the advanced settings for refraction and set affect channels to color + alpha. Then be sure to render out a PNG which will retain the transparency you need so you can drop in your own background in Photoshop later. But let’s back up just a moment.
Since we’re talking about rendering out a final image, we’re ready for the last tip.
7. Rendering Interiors – Choose Good Render Settings and Make a Few Eeasy Adjustments.
Once everything is looking pretty good, it’s time to create your final rendering interiors. So, you’ll wanna go back and change your draft render settings to higher quality. The ideal settings depend on a few variables but when you’re just getting started, here are a few guidelines that should work great.
First, switch off interactive and progressive to use bucket rendering mode. Then switch your quality to high.
Very high isn’t always necessary as it takes a lot longer and since you’re new to rendering, you may not even notice the difference. And switch on denoise, it will help smooth out some of the graininess that could appear in your final rendering. And of course, set the resolution to a size you want for the final image.
Now, once your rendering is done, in the V-Ray Frame buffer, you can open your corrections control panel and check exposure. Then turn on force color clamping.
Anywhere you see weird colors means that the light is too bright or burned out in the image. To fix those areas, just slide the highlight burn value down until the force color clamping colors go away. If the overall image needs to be darker or brighter, dial the exposure up or down and then rebalance with the highlight burn.
And once it all looks good, click the icon to save your final rendering. And that’s it, congratulations!
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