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Rendering software for Sketchup

These are some of the most powerful, intuitive rendering programs that work seamlessly with Google SketchUp.

Google SketchUp is quickly becoming the most widely-used
3D modeling tool in the architecture and design industries, and it’s easy to
see why. SketchUp offers a user-friendly toolset that is easy for designers to
pick up and use to help them with their work. It is the quickest way to
understand how a project is coming together in glorious three dimensions and
helps cut down on spending valuable time wrestling with other, more cumbersome

And to the delight of architects around the globe, the
ability to integrate rendering software with SketchUp’s design tools elevate it
to an all-in-one presentation powerhouse that lets them produce mind-blowing
renderings and visualizations completely in house.

However, there are a lot of renderers to choose from, and
they aren’t all created equally. This list aims to outline the best rendering
plugins and integrated software that work with SketchUp, and which ones might
be perfect for you depending on the kind of design work you’re doing.

This is the best rendering software for Google SketchUp.


vRay has been at the top of the rendering software
mountain since 3D visualization became a thing. It is powerful, ubiquitous, and
comes with a massive support community that will help new users get their feet
wet without too steep a learning curve. vRay makes a plugin for SketchUp that
integrates seamlessly, ensuring you never have to leave the program to set your
scenes, apply materials, and tweak lighting conditions on the fly.

SU Podium

Podium is a favorite among architects and architectural
designers because it has a user interface that reflects the streamlined and
efficient inputs of SketchUp itself. It might not have the most well-known
brand name attached to it, but make no mistake: SU Podium is capable of producing
renderings and visualizations that are just as impressive as some of the giants
in the industry. Podium has a great support community, and easy-to-find
tutorials that help new users get quickly up to speed with how to best utilize
the program’s potential.


Another household name, and another reason why SketchUp
has become such a capable presentation tool. Maxwell has been around for almost
as long as vRay, and has managed to keep up with the best rendering software
available because of the dedication to excellence demonstrated by its
developers. They knew they had something special when SketchUp gained
popularity, so they jumped on-board with a plugin that was geared specifically
towards making it a better renderer. The result is a power couple that is hard
to best in the design and visualization world.

Indigo Renderer

While Indigo Renderer is a bit of a lesser known quantity
among some of the more popular engines on this list, it certainly shouldn’t be
disregarded as inferior. In fact, Indigo is fully capable of producing
photorealistic renderings that stand tall against the other giants on this
list. One of Indigo’s coolest features is its physics-based lighting modulator
that produces some of the most believable conditions for interior and exterior
lighting. Pair this with a fast rendering algorithm and seamless SketchUp
integration, and you have yourself a viable up and comer in the 3D
visualization industry.


LumenRT is great for designers and landscape architects
who rely heavily on terrain and landscape manipulation for their work. It’s
toolset slots in nicely with SketchUp’s, and even has a few topography
modifiers that help shine light on one of SketchUp’s most glaring blind spots.
In addition to all that, LumenRT is a renderer fully capable of producing
images and animations that help explain why your designs are worth celebrating.
And while they are still working on a plugin for SketchUp, your 3D models can
be easily imported into Lumen for modifications and manipulations.


Visualizer might not be the most high-end renderer
available for SketchUp, but it is certainly the most user-friendly. You can see
your models come to life in real lighting and materiality conditions as you
design, making SketchUp an instantly better design tool right out of the box.
The visualizations it produces aren’t print quality, but it is a great entry
point for people looking for something easy, free, and fast to get start honing
their rendering chops. There is no risk involved in giving Visualizer a try,
and the rewards could be a better end product for you and your clients.

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