Orban Design

Providing the highest quality architectural rendering for Charlottesville and beyond.

Category Software and Tutorials

Fall 2018

It’s time to foray into some new software again. I’ve heard lots of good things about Enscape 3D rendering, and finally decided to give it a try. I’m finding it a joy to use, and for visualizing designs, especially interiors, it does a splendid job. It’s one more tool I can add to my repertory, alongside Blender and V-Ray. The following kitchen interior renovation was modeled in Sketchup and I used Enscape to provide quick, and interactive views of the design.

I also have some new renderings I’m happy to highlight here. Included are an interior rendering for new construction, a chapel exterior, and a urban landscape design proposal.

Venturing into V-Ray for Sketchup 3.4

The release of the new version 3 of V-Ray for Sketchup has taken a bit of effort to incorporate into my workflow. There are many changes in how V-Ray handles materials the net effect of which has made large swathes of my existing models obsolete. On the one hand, the render engine that uses video card rendering has been substantially upgraded, which makes for fast renders. On the other hand, the workflow changes have been most pronounced in this method of rendering. The massing study image above is the first project for which I’ve actually used the latest V-Ray for Sketchup.

The image below is a photo-realistic view of a commercial project that I had rendered previously in a watercolor style.

Conceptual interior renderings of a proposed shared office space in an existing building.

Exterior renderings of a small-footprint development within Lochlyn rendered with Vray for Blender.

How to use the vrimage converter in vray for sketchup

Rendering to a raw image format from Vray for Sketchup can save a lot of hassle for scenes that are highly memory intensive, as well as make it possible to render very high resolution images. Here is a brief tutorial on how to use the vrimg format to render from vray for SU.

Step 1. Select your output options to generate a vrimg file. In the “output” panel, select your image size to render to, then check the “save output” box, and browse to the folder where you will save you raw image file, and type in a name. The name will be highlighted in red if there is no file there yet. That is normal. Select the type “.vrimg” Then check the box “Render to VRImage” and leave the VFB (Vray Frame Buffer) mode as “preview”


Step 2. Select the VFB Channels you want to save. Scroll down and click on the channels in order to highlight the ones that will be used.


Step 3. Render. Then when the render is finished, open the “vrimg to OpenEXR converter” from to “Tools” menu of the vray for SU plugin program folder.


Step 4. With the converter open, click on “Input file” and browse to the vrimg file you just rendered. Check the box for “Channels in separate files”. I typically use the 16-bit exr format, I find I don’t usually need 32-bit files. If the file is really large, you may need to increase the “Buffer size” Haven’t seen any problems with the default so far.


Step 5. Press the “Convert” button. A “Save File” dialogue comes up where you can select an output “.exr” file. Browse to your output folder and type in a file name, then press “Save”. Now you have a set of individual .exr files with the channels you’ve selected saved in your output folder. For batch converting, Just change the “Input file mode” to multiple files and choose your input and output directories.


Shadow Catcher material in the New V-ray for Sketchup 2.0

**New: Added settings dialogue example for Vray for Sketchup 3.0 beta**

One of the materials that’s been sorely lacking in the previous versions of Vray for Sketchup is a “shadow catcher” or matte material that can define a transparent shadow in a scene. This is something very useful when you want to add an environment background under a rendering. The resulting shadows help integrate the model into the scene image very effectively.

It’s pretty simple now to add a “shadow catcher” material with the new Vray 2.0 version. In the vray materials editor, you need to right click on “Scene materials”, select “Add new material” and then select the one at the bottom of the list: “Wrapper Material”.

Here is the properties window for the new material you’ve created, now you’ll want to change the following properties:


Here are the same settings as they should look in Vray 3.0

1. Define and select a base material (over a grass background for example – use a grass material) This material will affect the GI – so you’ll get some color reflection
2. Change the alpha contribution to -1
3. Check all the boxes for Matte, shadows, and affect alpha
4. I reduce the GI amount so there is less color reflected into the scene. If you use a neutral color, you may not need to reduce this value.
5. You can lighten the shadow as needed by changing this “shadow brightness” value.

Now you can apply this newly created vray material to a plane that you’ve made under your scene. Make sure it is applied to the front face of the material. If you are looking at the back face of the plane, the matte material will not render as expected.


In the example rendering below, I’ve placed a background image in the Environment slot using the newly available “Screen” mapping. (Note that you need to save the image as jpg if you want the background to save with the image. Alternately, you can deselect the alpha channel in the VFB channels options and you will be able to save in png format without loss of quality)


Makes for very quick renders, and with the new RT (real time) rendering, setting up renders is a breeze!

March renderings and new software

Yet another busy month at Orban Design! In addition to the regular batch of new renderings, models, and drafting work, I’ve delved into a new software program with which I hope to improve my capabilities. I decided to take the plunge with the open source Blender 3D software. The main impetus is in expanding my ability to generate animations outside of the many limitations I keep running into with Sketchup. I also found that my preferred rendering software – vray – is available as an add-on to Blender, making the transition to doing renderings that much easier. Here is a test scene that I played with, taking a photograph and attempting to model it as true to life as possible.


And on to my current crop of renderings. The first is a concept for a coffee shop. The second is a pair of row houses to be built.