7 Things You Should Know For Sketchup and Lumion to Work – Should you be rendering your SketchUp models with Lumion? Lumion is a powerful rendering program that’s rapidly gaining popularity with architects both for its ease of use and the speed with which it can produce beautiful renderings and animations. But if you’re considering jumping right in to Lumion, be careful. There are a few fundamental things you need to know about how SketchUp and Lumion work together that if you miss, will cause you to burn a ton of hours hours struggling only to fall short of achieving the results you’re looking for.
And in this article, I’ll cover the key things you need to know about how SketchUp and Lumion work together to set yourself up for success with your renderings. Lumion’s powerful visualization tools are used by thousands of architects and design professionals like you who are looking to take their SketchUp renderings and animations to the next level. Out of the box, Lumion comes with an extensive library of objects that you can quickly place in your model, and that will render beautifully. It also makes adding realistic textures like grass and water a breeze.
And what’s more, these elements aren’t just static objects in your model. With Lumion, you can breathe new life into your animations with everything from subtle water movement, to moving cars and people, and even weather conditions.
It’s pretty amazing. But before you dive right in, remember: Like any SketchUp-related tool, there are a number of critical steps that, if you don’t get right in SketchUp first, can lead to a ton of wasted time and frustration later. And because Lumion is a standalone application that you import your SketchUp model into, there are some key things you should know about how the two programs work together, that will set you up for success.
7 Things You Should Know For Sketchup and Lumion to Work
So if you’re thinking about trying Lumion, or if you’ve already taken the plunge but you’re not sure you’re doing things the right way, pay attention to these seven key things you need to know about how SketchUp and Lumion work together before you set out to render your SketchUp models with Lumion. Now we’re gonna cover a lot of ground in this article, so I’ve also gone ahead and put some notes together for you, to help you remember everything.
Stick around to the end of the article and I’ll let you know how you can get a copy of them. And one last thing to note: Lumion is currently only for PCs, and it’s also pretty memory intensive, so just make sure your system can handle running it before committing to purchasing it.
Okay, ready to learn the seven key things you need to know about how SketchUp and Lumion work together? Let’s start with
1. Use the Lumion LiveSync Extension.
Lumion is a standalone application. That means that in order to render your SketchUp model, you need to import it into Lumion.
You can do that manually, but a better way to bring your SketchUp model into Lumion is to use the Lumion LiveSync Extension in SketchUp, which acts as a bridge between SketchUp and Lumion.
Here’s how it works. First, you install the LiveSync Extension in SketchUp. Next, you launch Lumion and start a new project from a template. Then in SketchUp, you start LiveSync and your SketchUp model is imported into the Lumion project. With LiveSync running, anything you do in SketchUp happens in Lumion too, whether it be navigation, design changes, or changing an object’s visibility using tags.
This can be super helpful related to some of the other tips I’m about to cover. But a quick heads-up: It feels better to use LiveSync on a second monitor, or if you only have one screen, it’s nice if it is big enough to split the SketchUp and Lumion applications side by side, at least while you’re working iteratively between the applications. Alright, now that you understand how you’ll get your SketchUp model into Lumion, you’ll want to know this next tip.
2. Create Some Terrain in SketchUp.
Lumion has some incredible tools for building terrain around your imported SketchUp model.
But these tools don’t infer precise points in your SketchUp model, so if you’re concerned with accurately detailing existing site conditions, such as how the landscape butts up against your building, then I recommend you model the terrain immediately around the building in SketchUp before importing it into Lumion. Then, in Lumion, it’s easy to use the terrain tools to blend your Lumion terrain into the edges of your SketchUp terrain. Just remember when you bring your model into Lumion, you’ll need to set the Y value so that the SketchUp terrain around your model makes sense relative to the Lumion ground plane. Alright, let’s move on to our next tip.
3. Use SketchUp Scenes to set up Lumion Cameras.
Once you import your SketchUp model into Lumion, your first job is to set up a Lumion Camera.
That way, you know what’s gonna be in the frame of your final rendering, and can concentrate your efforts in Lumion on only the things that matter. But when you’re new to Lumion, this will be more difficult than it sounds. That’s because navigation works differently in Lumion than it does in SketchUp. And while I recommend you take the time to learn how to navigate well in Lumion, there is a way to use scenes in SketchUp to help you set up cameras in Lumion. Here’s how: First, frame your shot in SketchUp.
Make sure to set your Field Of View. You can use millimeters for focal length, 35 millimeters is a great starting point. Then save a scene. Next use LiveSync to send your SketchUp model to Lumion. With LiveSync running, click on the Scene tab in SketchUp and your Lumion camera will follow along.
Because SketchUp scenes don’t import into Lumion, you’ll need to go into photo mode and then type in the same focal length you used in SketchUp.
Then use store camera to save the view in Lumion. Also, once you have your camera set up in Lumion, consider stopping the camera synchronization in the LiveSync toolbar in SketchUp. That way you’re free to make design changes in SketchUp while continuing to preview how they’ll affect the shot in Lumion. Okay, we’re ready to move on to our next tip.
4. Know When to Use Lumion’s Object Library.
One of the killer features of Lumion is that it comes pre-bundled with a content library of over 5,000 render-ready objects, including trees, plants, cars, people, products, furnishings and more. But when you’re working in SketchUp, you have access to the 3D warehouse which has millions of objects. And while most aren’t at the quality level you’ll find in Lumion’s library, if you know how to search well, you’ll find tens of thousands of high quality options you can add to your SketchUp model.
As you can see, there is a decision to make in SketchUp long before you start a project in Lumion.
Do you add objects in SketchUp, or wait and do it in Lumion? Here’s a general rule of thumb: If you need something very specific in your design, such as an exact appliance model, piece of furniture, or fixture, you’ll wanna add that in SketchUp, either by finding it on the 3D warehouse or modeling it yourself. Otherwise, you should take advantage of Lumion’s object library. Lumion’s objects are render-ready, which means their details and materials are already set up to render nicely. When you use an object from SketchUp, you have to take extra time to edit the materials in Lumion.
Lumion’s objects are also optimized to render quickly, and you can use a bunch without worrying about slowing your computer down.
With SketchUp objects, on the other hand, you need to worry about polygon counts and slowing down your model. Finally, if you’re planning to create an animation in Lumion, many of the objects are programmed to be easily animated. For example, with a few clicks you can have people or cars moving around your scene. Plus many objects have pre-programmed ambient animation, such as leaves on trees.
There’s no option to program these types of behaviors into objects from SketchUp. Now all of these things being said, adding nearly everything in Lumion later comes with one major drawback. Often, you’ll have projects where you’ll need to show objects in SketchUp, while you’re designing in your model or presenting to a client. But you know you’ll be able to get a better rendering faster in Lumion if you use their object library instead. Fortunately, the next tip will show you that there’s something you can do in SketchUp first to solve this problem.
5. Use Tags in SketchUp to Replace Objects in Lumion.
When you import your SketchUp model into Lumion, it comes in as one big block. That means you aren’t able to delete individual objects you placed in SketchUp to make room to replace them with Lumion objects. However, you can plan ahead in SketchUp and assign a strategic set of tags to your objects. Then use LiveSync to send your model to Lumion.
Back in SketchUp, you can toggle the visibility of your tags on and off, and you’ll see that the corresponding objects turn on and off in your Lumion project. This allows you to maintain your objects for when you need them in SketchUp, and use Lumion objects in your Lumion renderings.
Now one thing you’ll notice when you employ this strategy is that you’ll be able to place Lumion objects approximately in the same place as your SketchUp objects. But there are plenty of situations where you need to place things more precisely. That’s where the next tip comes into play.
6. Take Advantage of Lumion Nodes.
When you know you need to place objects at precise locations in Lumion, you should know about Lumion’s Place Item on Nodes feature.
It allows you to place proxy components in SketchUp first, and then replace those proxies in Lumion with a better option from Lumion’s object library. Say there’s an important tree on your site. In this case, in SketchUp, you would create a proxy component, basically a simplified representation of the tree, and place it accurately in your model.
Then you save a copy of the SketchUp file with only the tree in it. In Lumion, you can import that file into the same project where you’ve previously loaded the SketchUp model. Be sure to set the XYZ coordinates to match those of the SketchUp model you imported already.
Then use Place Item on Nodes to select a tree out of Lumion’s object library as a replacement for the SketchUp tree. Of course, we’ve been talking about a single tree.
But this feature really shines when you need to replace multiple instances of a SketchUp component with a Lumion object. Now that you have an idea about how nodes work in Lumion, here are a couple of things to make sure you get right in SketchUp first. To start with, your SketchUp proxy component can be as simple or complex as you like. It mainly depends on what you need to be able to see in SketchUp. If it’s purely for replacing in Lumion, make it really basic.
But if you need it to look reasonable in SketchUp, it’s okay if the proxy has more detail.
Also, and most importantly, when you create your component in SketchUp, you need to be really intentional about the exact point where you place your component’s axis as that will be where the node is set in Lumion. For the tree example, you might have a 2D Face Me component as a proxy in SketchUp. You’d probably be best off setting your component axes for that tree at the midpoint of the base of the trunk.
As you can see, nodes are great for placing visual objects, but they’re also incredibly powerful for placing Lumion lights.
After you import your SketchUp model into Lumion the first time, and you get to the point where you’re ready to add Lumion lights, you’ll quickly realize that it can be quite a chore to manually place each one precisely where you need it. But if you use the same Place Item on Node technique, taking advantage of inferencing in SketchUp, you can place all your Lumion lights swiftly and accurately, and save yourself a ton of time and frustration. Your future self will definitely thank you.
A quick word of warning: when you use this technique, your Lumion light will shine in the same direction as the dotted green axis of its proxy, so be sure to keep that in mind.
Alright, let’s move on to the next tip.
7. Set Materials in SketchUp, Edit or Rreplace Them in Lumion.
To get a great rendering, you need to have great looking materials. Fortunately, Lumion comes with an extensive library of render-ready materials that you can use, but you have to start in SketchUp by defining all of your materials first. Then, when you get to Lumion you can choose to edit your materials, or simply swap them for Lumion’s render-ready options.
As you dive into your materials setup, here are a few things to keep in mind. You can’t take a white model into Lumion and expect to swap out materials after it’s been imported. That’s because there’s no equivalent of the paint bucket tool in Lumion. Every material you edit or swap in Lumion needs to correspond to an existing material in SketchUp.
For areas of your model where you’ll need grass, you’ll definitely wanna take advantage of Lumion’s amazing 3D grass feature.
In SketchUp, you can add whatever material you like to the grass areas, then swap it out in Lumion for 3D grass. I recommend adding some 3-dimensional depth to the grass surface in SketchUp to make this effect look more realistic in Lumion.
You should also take advantage of Lumion’s stunning render-ready water. When you make the swap, you may need to adjust the terrain below the water so that everything looks correct. And lastly, be consistent about the exact materials you use in SketchUp.
Later in Lumion, you can save the settings you’ve applied to specific SketchUp materials. Then on future projects, it’ll be easy to reload those same settings. This can be a huge time saver. And that’s it. Congratulations!
You made it through the entire list.
Did you learn something new in this article? Do me a quick favor and tell us which tip you liked the most in the comments below right now.
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