7 Best Free Rendering Software for SketchUp in 2022

If you want to get photo-realistic renderings and animations, you should incorporate the best free rendering software for SketchUp into your workflow. Such programs cater to the needs of architects and designers and allow them to visualize their projects.

These free plug-ins for SketchUp will show you what makes this modeling program a new benchmark for creating high-quality 3D rendering projects.

Top 7 Free Rendering Software for SketchUp

  1. V-Ray - Real-time rendering
  2. SU Podium - Great for beginners
  3. Keyshot - With volumetric features
  4. Artlantis - Full HD 3D animations
  5. Render Octane - Best price
  6. Thea Render - With interactive render mode
  7. Twilight Render - Deep material editor

When selecting the programs, I considered their UI and whether they allow adjusting brightness, contrast and using color filters. The best program should also allow you to create such objects as staircases, walls, doors and other building components. Also, I took into account how powerful your computer should be to run these programs.

1. V-Ray - Our Choice

Real-time rendering
  • Has global illumination
  • With great lighting effects
  • Supports other 3D design software
  • Fast rendering
  • None

Verdict: V-Ray has the ability to combine vector drawing with a 3D image and simply drag and drop your layout into place. It can be used on both Macs and PCs. And this free rendering software has been proven for saving you a ton of time compared to rendering your layout from scratch, especially if you are a beginner. You can also add lighting effects, depth of field, particles, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff.

With the V-Ray plugin for SketchUp I can draw and edit in layers and have my entire layout refreshed for the click of a mouse. It's a fantastic tool to help me draw and create all kinds of great drawings, and give them a quality look. If you want to get started with sketching out designs and logos, I highly recommend using V-Ray.

v-ray free rendering software for sketchup interface

2. SU Podium

Great for beginners
  • Accurate raytracing and global illumination
  • Allows to tweak brightness and contrast
  • HDR image-based lighting support
  • Multi-threading
  • Limited free trial version

Verdict: The SU Podium is a plugin for SketchUp and other free architectural design software. It allows any user to create virtual tables in their computer, including complex shapes like oval and polygon. This unique feature of this SketchUp plugin allows the user to manipulate shapes within the constraints of their drawing space. It also allows the user to save and share their work with other users through the internet, email or social media platforms.

It consumes much less memory space and bandwidth and also allows the drawing of complex objects to take time only when required. In addition to saving time, the plugin also allows you to create many copies of a single picture.

su podium free rendering software for sketchup interface

3. Keyshot

With volumetric features
  • Supports over 30 3D file formats
  • It utilizes only CPU power
  • Over 750 preset materials
  • Simple viewer
  • Quite expensive

Verdict: Keyshot allows you to change shapes and deform them with a few simple clicks and mouse movements, and also gives you the ability to lay out complex 3D objects with the click of a button. If you are new to designing and rendering with computer programs such as Keyshot, you will find that the free version is quite basic.

You will also get to practice with the many tools that are included in this free animation software, such as the Lasso tool and the Magic Eraser tool.

keyshot free rendering software for sketchup interface

4. Artlantis

Full HD 3D animations
  • Easy and fluid rendering
  • Supports high resolution
  • IFC import
  • Integrates LUTs
  • Watermark in trial version

Verdict: This powerful software allows users to create professional-looking drawings from virtually any image. The Artlantis plugin for SketchUp not only converts the picture, but also the dimensions, material used, and any other variables that are set in the program. With an easy to use interface, it's quick and easy to convert almost any file type into a printable image. This software also includes a drawing interface similar to Adobe Photoshop.

You can edit images in your free drawing software of choice, then upload them to the SketchUp server and start rendering your artwork. No more complicated layers or masks because everything is preserved in a.BMP file.

artlantis free rendering software for sketchup interface

5. Render Octane

Best price
  • Cheap solution
  • GPU-based
  • Simple configuration
  • Real-time tonemapping
  • Limited in materials and mappings

Verdict: Render Octane uses the most up to date methods of ray tracing and shading. This means there are no pre-capping, no coloring, no mipping or red eye, and no overdrawing. It has an incredible amount of detail. What makes this version so great is that it has been designed for both Mac and Windows.

This software can export both your artwork as a PDF and also the mesh that you put together. You also get some of the most sought after tools in this version like the UV map tool which allows you to be able to map colors. The map tool is great for outlining and creating details on your sketches. Another fantastic feature is the airbrush feature which lets you paint strokes onto the image you are drawing without having to use any brushes.

render octane free rendering software for sketchup interface

6. Thea Render

With interactive render mode
  • Advanced material editor
  • Back face material support
  • Real-time rendering
  • Complicated interface

Verdict: Thea Render allows users to both draw and edit any type of sketch. Users can import their own drawings or choose from a wide variety of pre-designed ones. By using the included grid tool, you can create complex geometric figures and design elements such as doors, furniture, and staircases. Features include a large variety of tools, including the ability to change shapes, add text, change color, and blend things together.

With this program, you can easily add lighting effects and reflections to your sketches. By using the included lamp effects tool, you can add highlights to your car's body or create the look of metallic paint. You can add windows, antennae, wheels, or wings by using the lamp effects tools. You can even add fog, smoke, rain, and other visual effects to your car in different patterns and layers.

thea render free rendering software for sketchup interface

7. Twilight Render

Deep material editor
  • Multiple render methods
  • Easy-to-adjust templates
  • Same colors and texture
  • With Ray and Path Tracing
  • Lack of advanced features

Verdict: The Twilight Render plugin is easy to use for both beginners and experienced artists. It takes a few seconds to install, after which you will be able to draw anything. There are many different settings, which allow you to change various aspects of the drawing process. It also comes with a number of tutorials, which should help you get started right away.

twilight render free rendering software for sketchup interface
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