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VRay Materials for Sketchup

2018-11-25

Sketchup boosts its features with plugins or extensions. A thousand of them can be found in the Extension Warehouse: https://extensions.sketchup.com. From a list of categories, by choosing either “Animation” or “Rendering”, you can find the extension called VRay.
 
As one of the best plugins in Sketchup, VRay can let your ideas become virtually real and acquire the near possible look of your 3D models to your friends, colleagues and -- most especially -- clients. With a proper setup of environment, model details, lights, materials, compositions, and a mix of your artistic skills, you can create a masterpiece of virtual Photography.
 
One of the keys to achieve such look is the use of VRay materials. Setting them up will require your familiarity with the nature of each by studying their properties: diffuse, reflection, refraction, IOR, highlights, glossiness, maps or textures, and more.
 
In the VRay for Sketchup toolbar, the VRay icon leads you to the materials window. You can find your existing materials applied in the model at the bottom -- the “Material List” tab. By right clicking on a selection, you can edit each of them depending on your preference. On the upper portion, the material can be viewed as it can be seen when rendered. This serves as a guide as you go through the settings. Adjacent to the “Material List” is the “Quick Settings” tab, where you can change some properties of your selected material, in which you can initially set it whether “Generic”, “Paint”, “Plastic”, “Metal”, “Glass”, “Liquid”, “Gem”, “Car Paint”, “Emissive”, and “Subsurface Scattering”. The settings differentiate purposely for every material type. For “Paint”, you are able to set the “Diffuse Color”, “Reflection”, “Reflection Glossiness”, “IOR”, “Max Depth”, and “Bump”; while for “Car Paint”, you can adjust the “Base Color”, “Base Glossiness”, “Flake Color”, “Flake Density”, “Flake Scale”, “Flake Size”, “Coat Color”, “Coat Glossiness”, “Coat Strength”, and “Bump”. In an advanced level of setup, you can access a few more options by clicking on the right arrow button which you can find on the right side of the VRay materials window. This allows you to modify some values or to apply a different map or texture -- a customization. In fact, you can save such custom material by right clicking on your selection and choosing “save as”; and you can load it later on by “Import .vrmat file” button at the lower left of the tab.
 
The easiest option (with quality) of applying VRay materials is to use presets. A saved preset of VRay material is in .vrmat file format (old version is in .vismat). When you are able to acquire one, just add the file in the materials folder, which is located in the extensions folder of VRay for Sketchup -- or simply go to C:\Program Files\Chaos Group\V-Ray\V-Ray for SketchUp\extension\materials. You can create your own category by adding a new folder and renaming it. Your new material can now be viewed in the materials window in VRay Sketchup. Just click on the left side arrow of the window, and the folders found in the said location can now be accessed in the program. Drag the material to your “Material List”, and you can now set it up or apply directly to your scene objects. Another option is to import it through the “Import .vrmat file” button -- the same as previously mentioned. Many online sites are now offering downloadable VRay materials (for sale or free). It is up to you to look for them. But with enough knowledge, you can create your own custom materials for your projects.
 
For exceptional high quality ones, Chaos Group offers thousands of presets in VRscans. Each download will provide a .zip file containing a .png file rendered snapshot (as a reference) and a .vrscan file material. Loading it will require you to click the “Add Material” button at the bottom left of the “Material List”, then choosing “vrscan”; then, you need to select the added vrscan material to view its properties at the right portion of the window. At the top right portion, you can click the “open” button to load your downloaded .vrscan material to your scene.
 
Many other setups can be discovered in VRay, especially when it comes to materials. It is up to you to explore the program, research and master its properties through application and experimentation. Just always remember that there is no perfect setup -- but a good one can be achieved.