DENVER, CO (AIA 2013), June 22, 2013 - SketchUp makes it quite easy to generate models of buildings but, lets face it, its images look rather prosaic. If you need a pretty picture, there are a quite a few products that will take your SketchUp model and generate a photorealistic rendering.
On hand at the AIA convention was product manager James Allen to show me one of these SketchUp renderers. James concedes the overall highest quality of rendering to V-Ray, which is right down the isle. "But its very hard to use," he says. Podium is accessed from a little menu inside SketchUp. It seems to have very few commands -- so there is less to learn.
Who wants to spend time learning? We can't we push a button and generate a picture?
Well, usually because rendering programs are borne from photography, art, maybe physics. They employ jargon foreign to architects. For example, if I want to simply make a black and white picture from a color one, I have to "turn down the color saturation." Huh? Why can't I have a black and white button?
Podium uses an 80% rule as in "most users only need 80% of what high end rendering packages do," adds James. "We give them that." The picture Podium produces may be good enough for most work. The SU Podium output does. look way better than SketchUp's. I can still tell they are CG, whereas with some of the high end renderers results are so good they surpass reality -- cars without dirt and dings, for example.
So maybe you can't see a reflection within a reflection with SU Podium. It costs less than V-Ray., right?
Yes, you can buy Podium for $198 from www.suplugins.com. Podium includes a library of models and materials. "It's like SketchUp 3D warehouse," says James. I ask if Podium allows users to upload model, as SketchUp does, or textures. "It's our stuff, actually," says James. "We make sure it's all up to standards." Some are free but the entire library can be had for an additonal $60.