Registered: 1165246934 Posts: 10,921
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I've been modelling in 3d for over 25 years. Yup, I'm getting quite old now, chances are I've been modelling in 3d since before some of you were born!
I've used lots and lots of different 3d applications including Max, Maya, Lightwave, Rhino, Bonzai3D, Carrara, Sketchup, Poser, Daz3d, Shade and lots of others including some obscure ones like Wings3d and Metasequoia. I've also used a number of different CAD applications including Autocad, Vectorworks, Microstation, Bricscad, Freecad and others. I currently use Archicad with SketchUp and Podium and I'm playing with Twinmotion in the office. I've been using Sketchup since version 2, so I consider myself pretty competent with it. The main tips I can share for more efficient use of SketchUp are: 1. Turn off shadows, turn off profiles, jagged lines and extensions. Just simple thin lines. Makes a noticeable difference. By far the fastest display mode is wireframe. If you are struggling to navigate a high polygon model, switching to wireframe display can suddenly make it usable again. 2. Organise your model properly. Make sure you have everything like plants, cars, furniture etc on their own layers. This way, you can save views and turn off the stuff you don't need to see. if you have a detailed model with both interior and exterior furniture, turn off what you don't need at any particular time. Save your scenes with the layers configured, so everything you need is visible at render time, but only when you need it. 3. Create working displays of your model. SketchUp scenes can store (or not store) details relating to shadow, layers, cameras, styles and sections. This means you can save working views with a particular style and layer settings, and have them independent of the camera location. You can have a wireframe working view configured without a camera stored to allow you to orbit your model, and when you have the right camera view, you can switch to a user-friendly view settings. It can be significantly faster. 4. Maximise your use of groups and components. Understand the differences between these, and exploit them. This really can't be emphasized enough. Any element which is part of an assembly which is duplicated in a model, which is something which could be an object which is manufactured and/or sold in bulk should be a component. Collections of components which may differ in how they are assembled may be grouped. For example if you have a restaurant with tables and chairs, and cutlery, plates, glasses, flowers etc. each of those things will be a component, but they may be arranged in different ways. For example all tables in a restaurant will not be aligned perfectly identically and precisely. However having each table as 'loose' objects takes a while to edit. You can use groups to make this easier. Another benefit of components is that you can start with a really simple placeholder component and gradually refine it and add detail. If you have downloaded one of the really complicated and crappy high poly components from 3DW, you can simplify them to keep the polygon count low. With lots of duplicates, this can make a huge difference. If you use components, you can very quickly model them with proxy geometry on a separate layer. Proxy geometry is generally very simplified placeholder geometry, like boxes or lines to represent the basic form of a component. It's better to model proxy objects without faces. The point about these is that they allow you to understand where you have placed things like trees, shrubs etc without the full display overhead. Using components and layers requires particular care. One approach is to model all base geometry on Layer 0, and only use layers for the groups your geometry is on. This minimises the likelihood of modelling with geometry on the wrong layer, and finding objects suddenly missing because they have nested components (components inside components) on the wrong layers. Alternatively you can create multiple layers for everything, and assign your faces to them directly. I prefer the first option because it's more predictable. 4. Make use of plugins. One I find essential is Selection Toys by Thomas Thomassen (Thomthom). This allows you to convert all duplicate copies of groups to components, and to select all instances of a component. It's difficult to understate how useful this is when working with large or complex models. Right-clicking and selecting all instances of a component means you don't have to navigate around your model to find them all. If you have a complex model, this can be slooow. If when you start modelling, you don't formally create components every time, and just work from groups, Selection Toys makes these into component instances. Layers Panel is another really cool plugin. It's a bit old, and it can be unstable (although not problematically so, it can just be a bit irritating) but it allows you to work with layers and set some so that they render, but aren't currently displayed. You can work in your model with high poly layers turned off, but they are displayed when you render even though they are not visible in the SketchUp scene. I also regularly use Roundcorner, Weld, Tubealongpath, Solid Inspector and Cleanup2. Edit in Place is a godsend for me, as is Nudge in Podium Extras. Periodically I install different plugins for different tasks. One of the fantastic things about SketchUp is that if you have a complex set of requirements, there is most likely a plugin to make it it much easier. 5. Actively manage your polygon count. If you know you are going to be working on a large or complex model, don't populate it with lots of high poly components. When you model, don't add polygons and detail you aren't likely to see. With curved surfaces, don't use too many faces. For cables and wires I tend to use a square or a pentagon shape, with smoothed geometry. If you tend to use the default 12 faces for a circle, every curved object you model might have a polygon count which is potentially 300% higher. If you use the roundcorner plugin, use a single face chamfer for small rounded edges, and smooth them. Even for larger radiuses, you can probably get away with a 3 segment rounding. It's also much easier to texture. Don't add more components than you need. Even professional visualisers manage their polygon count. It can make the difference between a scene that renders quickly or painfully slowly. 6. Keep your artificial light sources to a minimum. If you need lights, you need lights, but if you can't see actual fittings, if they are outside the current direct line of sight, you can add large low power LEMs to simulate bounced light in a room. Generally faking lighting isn't the best solution because it takes a lot of practice to get right and so many people over-illuminate their scenes. This creates unrealistic renders. It's far more efficient to use Podium Image editor's Curves tool to adjust lighting than to add more lights in the model. More lights and increased lighting levels always increase render time. 7. Learn when to break the rules. All the above rules can be broken perfectly effectively under the right circumstances. The main thing is to think what you want to do and how to do it, and to plan. Remember that you probably spend maybe 10% of your modelling time making elements, and probably the other 90% modifying them. Modelling to make modification easier will save you a lot of time. This means take a little time to set up your model up first. Customise the basic Sketchup template, or create your own, so that things like scenes, layers, styles etc are set up as you want them at the outset. I hope some of you find these helpful - happy modelling __________________
That which does not kill us makes us stronger -Friedrich Nietzsche
Registered: 1472926894 Posts: 14
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Wow, thanks for the lengthy response! I basically did step one in between my first and second post. I've been using SketchUp since the first Mac version was introduced with version 3, I think, in 2002. I've even been teaching it to high school students for 6 years now. I'm well versed at making things and buildings in particular, but plants, landscapes and rendering I don't have much experience with yet.
This particular project is not my design, but rather SU modeling and rendering for hire for another architect working from their 2D dwg drawings. I managed some basics here with a sky dome, and backgrounds to reflect in the glass. Admittedly, the building isn't fully detailed, but the landscape in particular is pretty lame, so this is more or less work in progress. I'd like to get a lot better than this, so feedback and suggestions are appreciated.