Thea Rendering Software


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I'm wanting to export my projects to a better program for more realistic renders, I'm researching different software and am going to try out (for free) the Thea Render. It asks me what i would like to download either "Thea for Sketch up" or "Thea for Rhino". I don't know which on to download sense I don't have licenses with either of those programs. I have used Sketch up before but didn't think it was worth buying so I'm wondering, do I need to buy a third software in order to use Thea? I've read of chief users using Thea rendering so i know its compatible but do they import their chief model into another software before exporting to Thea? If anyone has any suggestions for other Rendering Programs, I'm open. Also i know Lumion is really well but I don't want to spend thousands of dollars. The Lumion option that's $1,499.00 does not seem worth it. I am looking to enhance my photos (specifically exterior) for Real Estate purposes. I have done chief renders and watched all the training videos, I want to up my game. Here's some chief renders I've done 


clyde ig edited.jpg


thumbnail (10).jpg

38 passes.jpg


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If you are on a Mac, best would be to purchase a Sketchup subscription and then learn any number of quality 

renderers----V-ray, Thea, of course, but less expensive ones like Twilight Render and SU Podium. The output of all of these is really good.

I currently use Indigo Renderer in Sketchup for my Chief files as to my mind it gives me the best possible light--the most authentic sky and sun

model I have been able to find out of the box (example attached).


On a PC  you have more options, particularly if you have a fast Nvidia graphic card. If I were on a PC I would look at D5.


For either Mac or PC, a really good little program is Simlab Composer. It is perfectly suited to RE marketing. What is also really attractive about 

this program is that it is able to use HDRI's to light a scene (unlike say, Twinmotion), and you can use one of its many plugin translators to bring Chief 

directly into the program without going through Sketchup---which has its own learning curve to consider.


Artlantis is an old well respected program. You can take a Chief file into the program with either DAE or 3ds.


Birch - front entrance.png

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On 2/14/2021 at 1:39 AM, VirtualDesign said:

I'm wanting to export my projects to a better program for more realistic renders


To start with I would just like to first say that your design work is definitely deserving of improved presentation, those renderings are just not doing justice to your work.


Like many CA users you are now faced with the predicament of deciding the best course of action. Do you spend more time and effort trying to improve your CA output or do you spend time and effort plus potentially additional cost to adopt a third party rendering engine and if so, which one do you choose. First you will need to establish the degree of realism required. This requires a bit of thought, it's important to identify what your business model/client base requires which is different than just a personal desire. For myself I personally would like to generate the most spectacular photo realistic renderings however, from a business/client perspective this is not a requirement as clients only need renderings as an aid to help them visualize their project, my fees are justified on designing a functional space that is visually pleasing and within their available budget. As time is money I need to ensure the balance between designing and rendering is correct. As you are likely aware, clients expect fast turnaround and become frustrated if it takes too long for change requests to be processed. On a typical kitchen design I will have 4-6 camera views, all which will need to be updated every time we make a change; even if the change only takes 1 minute to do in the plan all the camera views need to be updated.


If to you the above makes sense then we can deduce that just looking at gallery samples of differing renderers does not really fully answer the question. Also, when viewing those sample renderings you need to keep in mind that they are most likely created by highly skilled professionals and therefore are not necessarily representative of what a novice could produce. They also rarely indicate the creation time or what other programs were involved in the workflow process. Their tutorial videos can be helpful, but again these are most often highly choregraphed so it always looks easy and quick. On the other hand you have Chiefs sample render gallery, but this is in my opinion misleading as they tend to be very conservative, CA can produce much better renders than they show so you are not really seeing the full potential like you do in other renderers. For myself I always go into their forums and check out what their users are posting, often they will mention the creation time and workflow and you will often gain some sense as to their level of professionalism.


Another important consideration relates to workflow. As you are aware, with Chief there is no direct integrated way to link your model directly to another renderer. You must always export your model first and then import it into the other renderer. On the surface this seems like no big deal just export, import and render: however, it's most likely going to be far more complex as those renderers will not recognize the CA lighting and many of the imbedded CA materials/textures will likely need to be replaced. Keep this in mind especially if you intend to provide high end renderings at the beginning of your design process as this will likely need to be done each and every time a change to the base CA model is made. As a note to this, there are some renderers that will maintain a live link to the exported CA model file, this means that your model in the renderer will reflect your CA changes while maintaining your prior changes/alterations made in the renderer.


It can be a somewhat daunting decision, especially when you start accessing all of the pro's and con's, and especially for an experienced Chief user where you can quickly put together complex designs but are now struggling to present it as best as possible.


I can't close without including a bit of a plug for Chief. As mentioned earlier, Chief does not properly demonstrate the full potential of it's rendering capabilities. As an example I downloaded the Chic Cottage sample plan, opened their exterior camera and ran a Ray Trace, default Outdoor High Quality.


Ray Trace after 5 minutes, 10 passes.



Above scene. Just adjusted the Image Properties available in the Ray Trace Window, time 15 seconds.



Above scene. Saved image, opened in a photo editor, adjusted saturation, shadows & highlights, 2 minutes.



I realize this is not at the level of a dedicated renderer, but keep in mind this was completed within 7 minutes and no material or lighting alterations were made, everything just default. Only made a few simple image property adjustments.


Hope this helps.

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I fully agree with using Chief to render quick images for individual clients, but the original request was to produce renderings for 

RE marketing purposes. For this specific focus, It would not cost a great deal to get a dedicated renderer for CA's quality geometry.

The effort would be in learning the programs.

Chic Cottage 4 min.png

Chic Cottage 5 min.png

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