Discussion with a user of a competitive product

This article is a transcript of a Discussion with a user of a competitive product.

It will highlight some of the differences between the IRender nXt and other products and also serve as a guide on how to get started with IRender nXt.

Interestingly it was not until we had exchanged 2 or 3 emails on how to improve the rendering of the product that we discovered that he was not using IRender nXt but rather, a different product.

The questions and responses for the user are highlighted in blue

Parts of this discussion has also been incorporated into a Tutorial: IRender Tutorial - Rendering an existing model



(This overview was provided by the user after the exchange of several emails.)

I have some questions about the various renders - if you can assist please?</span)

I appreciate any help you can give - but believe that when we are through this, you will have a neat set of tutorials to use for prospective users.</span)

If I may give you some feedback? </span)

I develop step by step tutorials for the catering trade and I think a similar approach would work better for you. What do you think?</span)

I purchased the software because I needed to show clients what their custom designed equipment would look like (I do a whole lot of designing) but I have to say that the swf files force us to be online to view them - this increases bandwidth for you guys as people have to watch them repeatedly and there seems to be no simple, non technical step by step tutorial explaining the features of the program and how to get the best results.</span)

As a result, although I bought the program a few months ago I have seldom used it - I also purchased Podium Animate which I have not used at all! </span)

I REALLY appreciate what you have done, but still have some questions - which I have written in blue:

Model from user

Initial rendering of SKP model sent by user.
original SketchUp model

I am enclosing a sample SketchUp file and its render... for you to see.

You did not save your SKP model after rendering it, so I was not able to see what rendering settings you used.
(IRender nXt saves all the rendering settings in the drawing. We also save them in any JPEG image of the drawing, so you can set your current rendering settings to match those used in a previous rendering.)
Your model was pretty blue:

First IRender nXt rendering

First rendering with IRender nXt using default rendering settings.
This is the basic rendering, without changing anything - (except that I turned the ground plane on to receive some shadow effects), using the default High Dynamic lighting.

Initial changes to Product

Model with face problems corrected and reflective material added.

Face problems

The red panels had a red color on one side. I changed it to the default color, so it would pick up the aluminum.
If you want a surface to have different colors on each side with IRender nXt, you will have to create a surface with thickness and put different colors on the two faces.

Reflective materials

I took all materials with anything metallic in the name and used the material editor so set them as reflective metal

Thin glass

Because the glass canopy was drawn with a single face per piece of glass, (no thickness), I had to use Object Properties to mark it as thin glass. This will cut down on the distortion of objects seen through the glass you see in the image above.

Ground plane

I also noticed that the model was floating above the ground, so I moved it down a little.
I put a reflective floor below the trolley to give the metal panels something to reflect.

Where are the settings

This was my first problem - where does one find the settings you discuss?

The other product's window for setting properties on faces.

When I open Podium - this is the window that opens:

As far as I know - the 'blue' rendering was the result of a basic rendering without changing anything - but your version is different...???

Oops - your rendering may have come from a competitive product.
We support a different product - IRender nXt
The interface in the other product can be pretty simple to use - it only has two settings - but it lacks the power and quality of rendering of IRender nXt.
As we add settings and features, the IRender nXt setup Dialog becomes more complex.
(Some of our "more complex" setup wizards are shown below)

Ground Plane

I have been using SketchUp only for a few months - where are the settings for the 'ground plane' ?

SketchUp Styles Window
The Ground Plane Settings for SketchUp are on the SketchUp Style window. It is actually kind of hard to get to because you have to click the model icon, click edit, and then select the proper tab.
In IRender nXt we placed the SketchUp Sun, Sky and Ground on/off buttons on the Presets window. (See the image in the next question about High Dynamic Lighting)
(We use the SketchUp Sun, Sky and Ground Plane settings. But it is often easier to set them on the IRender nXt Setup Wizard, then to find them in SketchUp.)

High Dynamic Lighting

Lighting Presets in IRender nXt

Is the High Dynamic Lighting a Podium Setting - if so, where do I find it?

When you load IRender nXt and start it, you get a setup icon on the toolbar which loads a tabbed setup dialog.
The lighting presets are on the first tab.
These 4 preset can be very helpful in setting up different types of renderings.
After you select a preset, you can modify most of the individual settings on the dialog below.)

Red Panels

This is strange, because I had no red colour in the original model that I know of...

SketchUp Entity Info Window showing red material on inside of face
The red color was on the inside of the panels which rendered in red.
We are not sure which side of a face to render, so we chose the side which had color.
If you want a surface to have different colors on each side with IRender nXt, you will have to create a surface with thickness and put different colors on the two faces.

Thanks for this, I shall in future draw units with panels - indeed I already do more of my work this way...

Reflective Materials

I selected all materials which had aluminum, metal, etc. in the name of the material and changed them.

Where do I find this setting - the only thing I can find is 'opacity' in the material editor - and when you say anything metallic, do you mean a component and/or material used?

IRender nXt lets you change the reflection for a material by name, so you do not have to do it face by face and you no not have to enter into materials to make them reflective. (In the other product, reflection is assigned to individual objects, not by material name)
You can choose preset default material types, and then adjust the individual controls.

IRender nXt Material Selection and Placement Wizard
IRender nXt Material Wizard to use reflective or metal defaults

Object Properties

Because the glass canopy was drawn with a single face per piece of glass, (no thickness), I had to use Object Properties to mark it as thin glass. This will cut down on the distortion of objects seen through the glass you see in the image above.

The 'Object Properties' is this a feature in Podium - ?

When you right click on a material, you can load the object properties dialog in IRender nXt
Light and Object Properties. Can be set for a face, surface, group or component.
Here I set the "thin" property for the entire component by right clicking on the component.

Thick glass rendered with Caustic Transparency effect.
Also, for thick glass, you can make thick glass (two faces for panes, all faces for other objects)in SketchUp and get some realistic effects.

Floating Model

I also noticed that the model was floating above the ground, so I moved it down a little.

THANKS! I often work without putting a floor in until afterwards - switching on the 'ground plane' would help... how do I do that?

THIS IS BEGINNING TO LOOK GREAT! More like the reason I purchased your program...

I don't think you have purchased IRender nXt yet - see the discount I am offering you at the end of this email.

Edge Lines

Model with edge lines added
For this next image, I turned on edge rendering because much of the details (e.g. door fronts) is lost without edge display.
Because SketchUp displays edges by default, we often draw detail with edges, where modelers using other programs would have to have changes in the geometry to represent the edges. (Note: as far as I am aware, IRender nXt is the only add-on render for SketchUp which processes edges)

'Edge rendering' - where do I find all these settings? When I open the Podium settings window the only choices I get are:

The other product's settings dialog.

Edge Settings are on the Special Tab of the IRender nXt Setup Wizard.
Edge Settings in IRender nXt


This is fantastic - much better and now I can see what features I need to improve in the original model.

Nothing else - I am thinking that we are using different software! ;-)

I'm afraid so. But this has been a fun email to respond to.
Would you be too embarrassed if I posted this response to the IRender nXt Forum?
I will be glad to leave off your name. But some people may figure it out after they see the tutorial we are going to make together.

Rendering Quality and Speed

What settings did you use - regarding quality and speed?

I AM using a Toshiba Satellite A205 DUAL CORE processor with 2 gigs of RAM and the rendering takes a half hour - is this about right? I ask for a quality render with smooth finish...

IRender nXt renders in passes. The longer you let it render, the better the image gets.
The images I created took about 2 minutes for just 10 passes. After you like the rendering, you can make the size bigger (any size you like), and let it render for more passes.
IRender nXt does take advantage of your Dual Processor and render twice as fast.

Next Steps

A next step would be to add additional lighting, backgrounds, etc. to highlight the model.
I really would like to work with you on this and put it into the setting where it shall be used - if you have the time to use this as an example on your web site?
I shall create the setting and forward the model to you and perhaps you can guide me through the process? Each render I post on my blog will carry a credit for your product?
Also, I wasn't sure how reflective the trolley should be. You can raise or lower the reflection on materials as needed.
A slightly lower reflection would have been more accurate, however, where are all these settings?
I have attached a copy of the model with these changes.

This is the rendered image I got from the altered model you sent me - all I did was open the file, go to the podium plugin and ask it to render. I did not adjust any settings:

SketchUp model re-rendered in the other product.

This took 44 minutes and 26 seconds to render... so you can see why I AM glad you wrote a follow up email to see if I was getting results from the software... Unfortunately I get nothing near the results you get :-(...

SketchUp model re-rendered in the other product.

This is the same model Rendered in IRender.
Notice it took less than 2 minutes to render.

(Shadows and lighting effects would improve if we let it render longer.)

Can you assist?

If you are ready to give up on the other product, then we will offer you a discount in IRender nXt.


As a result, although I bought the program a few months ago I have seldom used it - I also purchased Podium Animate which I have not used at all! </span)

One final note, when you purchase IRender nXt, Animation is included.
Here is a sample IRender nXt animation embedded into a web page:
Let it load for a minute or two before the movie starts.
It starts playing faster on the Vimeo site.
(We still need to learn more about how to publish movies)

Follow up

Well what can I say! - the nagging feeling was right - we are using different programs!!!!

I did download a version of IRender, however as I was looking for a quick and light solution I bought Podium first!

Now, as I AM very busy, when I received your enquiry I associated it to the program I was using!!!

YES - use the tutorial - but include my comments and keep them intact - the information will become useful for many people in time to come - on many different levels.

I have just unzipped IRender and shall install it and give it a try and would like to complete this tutorial and put the trolley in a suitable setting.

Yes, I know, you are smiling already!

Will send you my first render of the trolley in IRender so you can check my progress.

Hmmm funny how the sellers of the other render software did not follow up on their product and I actually purchased theirs! Makes one think...

I AM looking forward to using IRender and NO, I will not be embarrassed, that is too egotistical for me - and as a student and teacher of Applied Meta-Physics I AM not afraid to admit that I learn every moment of every day.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and expertise with me.

ONLY good can come from this experience.

See also