Rendering - Getting to the next level


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I'm looking some ideas for taking my chief plans to the next level for marketing. Marketing for our own business and for our builders to pre-sell their spec homes (and pay us more).


For interior renderings I'm more than happy with the PBR capability and I feel I can make any space look really nice.


But on the exterior rendering side, I can get the ray trace to pump out a pretty good product, but it's just not quite there in terms of realism and being in line with the top firms of the world who get countless likes on Instagram.


I'm wondering what you guys use and would recommend, specifically coming from Chief. One of my wish-list items would be fairly seamless export from chief into a render software. What would you recommend? I've looked into Lumion already, but I use a Mac and working with Bootcamp and a windows partition just isn't feasible and has already caused problems and a bit of wasted time.


Attached are a couple samples of what I've done using just chief and some editing in Lightroom. I'm hoping to get to the next level and get to the real 'wow-factor' type renders where you're not quite sure if it's a photo or not.

Thanks a lot, Ryan.

Sample Exterior Chief Render.jpg

Sample Interior PBR render.jpg

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I take my Chief models (MAC) over to Sketchup as 3ds files. The models come over to SKP very cleanly with grouped components and textures intact.

From there I render with either THEA RENDER or my real preference (which I am still learning) INDIGO RENDERER (the quality of the unbiased light is as authentic

as it is extraordinary).


What to watch for in 3ds from Chief is the dreaded vertex limit (55,000 vertices). Most of the time it is not a problem, but if you go over,

then you should put hi-poly items from Chief (like stoves, etc.) on separate layers, then send over a second time.

I also use Sketchup to model things I still do not know how to produce in Chief, bring them over to CA, then back again from within Chief for rendering (the front entrance hood).


Renderers in SKP are really good. Have a look at the ones I have mentioned, along with VRAY, TWILIGHT RENDER, and also SU PODIUM. The Podium people also have a PODIUM BROWSER, hundred of models to propagate a building model. I also port what I need over to CA then back again for rendering.


For modelling, CA is unequaled for fast efficient residential design, of course. Although I have a great deal to learn about fitting entourage into the mix ( presently Laubwerk plants into Thea), the CA models just look really good when rendered in this production pipeline.


Hope this help.

Unit 1 & 20-for Carlsen-2.png

Unit 1 Front Door-smaller.png

Snug Cove dawn.png

Trim details-1 copy-2.png

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Great, that's a lot of good info, thanks David. Seems like Sketchup is a really powerful tool with a couple plugins to help the render. I'll definitely look into that deeper.


Thanks Michael as well, I'll also take a look into Twin Motion.



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Michael is right, Twinmotion, like Lumioin, is intended to make real-time archviz as easy as possible to learn and use. Unfortunately, it is not as good as Lumion in

regards to global illumination, nor does it have HDR capabilities. Maybe these critical items will come in the next version. It would certainly be really good for us MAC users.


Another direction I am looking at is to learn Blender since it is free. MY CA files (as either 3ds or DAE) import equally well. 

However, there would be a very steep learning curve on PBR material preparation, using CYCLES for off-line rendering, etc., but the hook is that real-time rendering is 

coming very soon in 2.8 with EEVEE. I am keen on this, but it will require a major time commitment for me.

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Blender is another good thought. Price tag is very enticing at least, and hey it's worth a look based on the samples they have on the website. Exactly as you said though, looks like a steeper learning curve than Sketchup with plugins, coming from Chief.

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