Sketchup Render Plugins

                SketchUp render plugins are some of the most discussed topics in digital modeling. Because of SketchUp’s intuitive and open design, a number of plugins have been created to help enhance the software and to untap any hidden potential. Render plugins are one of the reasons why SketchUp is used by architects and interior designers so frequently. These may help with creating photorealistic images, introducing a more comprehensive material library, or even employ tools that aren’t available in the basic SketchUp.

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                Below, we’ve listed SketchUp render plugins that help both beginners and professionals alike. We’ve put down as diverse as a selection as possible, taking into account budget, skill level, and computer requirements. Best of luck—and enjoy!

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  1. Thea

Thea is a SketchUp render plugin best used for the effects it provides for material design and effects.

Thea has two versions: one can be downloaded for free, while the complete version can be bought for 495 euros. The renderer has fog and cloud presets, allows Sketchup to run an interactive render via Interactive Region Rendering. This allows designers to easily select and render a desired part of the design while getting automatic response from Sketchup.

Additionally, Thea provides broad material libraries for your different needs. Be it layering, tone-mapping, displacement, or procedural textures. These libraries can be accessed in SketchUp’s Paint Bucket tool and inside the Content Browser. In addition, additional libraries can be downloaded in either SketchUp or Thea format, giving you more options in effectively doing your Sketchup renders.

  1. Twilight Render

Twilight Render is like the training wheels of all SketchUp render plugins. Although it provides a materials library, its resources may not incorporate all textures. However, if you’re getting used to SketchUp and learning to create photorealistic models, Twilight Render is a great place to start learning the ins and outs of materials.

Twilight Render allows you to work on your renders inside the SketchUp app. This gives you zero distorted geometry or lost textures. To highlight how beginner-friendly Twilight Render is, they have a render setting called “Easy”.

It’s often noted as the best free SketchUp render plugin as it already gives so much to users. However, Twilight Render has also upped their game and can now be a useful tool for professional designers via Twilight Render V2 Professional. The latter can be bought for $99.00—an affordable upgrade from your free use!

  1. SU Podium

Although it’s not necessarily free, SU Podium is a useful Sketchup render plugin. It allows users to create beautiful and photorealistic models.

                SU Podium’s library provides realistic materials, sun and sky effects, and artificial lights. One of the pros of using this sketchup plugin is its simple—yet efficient—UI. Rendering your SketchUp models with SU Podium won’t be much of a hassle.

                Some of SU Podium’s features require all of your computer’s processors. This allows one to create high quality images quickly.

                SU Podium has also introduced panorama rendering. They refer to this as Podium Panoramas, which can be viewed in virtual reality (VR) in a spherical environment—perfect for creating that special edge for your model.

  1. VRay

Vray for SketchUp is one of the most popular render plugins in the digital modeling industry. Most profession digital modelers use it for its ability to bring SketchUp to its full potential.

Aside from its wide array of textures to choose from (thanks to their material editor), and their powerful render engine, VRay’s UI is user-friendly. This makes it easier to adapt to the plug-in, allowing users to create photorealistic images faster.


VRay isn’t the cheapest software out there. A package good for a solo designer will set one back around nearly $700. But considering all the tools and resources available at your fingerprints, it’s a very good investment. View more of our picks for top rendering engine for 2022 here.

  1. Brighter 3D

Brighter 3D is one of the most unique SketchUp render plugins in the industry. The software renders noiselessly—a feat as it does a lot of heavy work.

Brighter 3D supports a variety of lighting work and has different modes to choose from. Users have the option to render in an unbiased setting via progressive unbiased mode, giving a previews or complete images quickly. Users can also get the most out of Brighter 3D’s Regular Mode- which guarantees that the renders are created in a very fine scale—leaving them undetectable to the human eye. Brighter 3D also has a materials library containing 100 materials, and doesn’t require a fancy graphics card since they fully utilize CPU power via multitasking and optimization of processors.

                A trial version is available, where users can test out the software for free for seven days. Once that’s over, the full version is available at a one-time payment of $99. Bonus: all future Brighter 3 updates are free.

  1. IRender nXt

IRender nXt claims that it’s the only SketchUp plugin you’ll ever need. Aside from photorealistic image renders and output quality, IRender nXt provides features that help productivity. It integrates into SketchUps UI easily, making it more user-friendly. Time-saving features such as post-render processing and saving of 3D model settings are also available.

The plug-in allows beginners and veterans alike to make the most out of SketchUp. Extensive object libraries gives users a number of material and plant choices. Lighting scenarios are also taken into account.

                IRender nXt gives image previews readily, and even allows users to adjust the rendering time to fit their convenience. To try it out first-hand, a 30 day free trial is available. For those wanting to purchase the complete version, packages start at $499.

  1. Maxwell

Maxwell is a plug-in that caters to nearly every major modeling software—including SketchUp. Installation is easy, and Maxwell seamlessly integrates with SketchUp. This gives users the best of both SketchUp and Maxwell.

With the Maxwell plug-in, users get to experience their interactive preview engine, real camera model, and Maxwell’s Production Engine. Bonus features are access to Maxwell’s intensive materials editor and network tools, Multilight (an exclusive Maxwell feature that allows users to save an image in different lighting conditions with one render),  and Post-Production.

Interested users can try Maxwell by contacting them online. For those interested in getting a full license, packages start at around $620.

  1. LightUp

LightUp is one of the simplest SketchUp render plugins available. The plugin focuses on lighting scenarios. It’s dedication to this area of rendering allows it to create realistic lighting scenarios. This is because LightUp uses object-based rendering, which allows results to be instantly viewed inside the SketchUp Window. Previews and effects are immediately applied to the work at hand, making it a perfect addition to designers.

LightUp also allows fly-through movies (perfect for model presentations), and even has file exports that can be played in web browsers.

If you’re looking for a simple but effective SketchUp render plugin that doesn’t sacrifice speed and quality, LightUp is something that you should try.

Interested users can avail LightUp for free for 30 days. Those interested in purchasing a license can choose between their annual license (priced at $189) or their perpetual license ($349).


Whatever SketchUp render plugin you choose, the only limit you really have is your creativity and skill. Each plugin we’ve mentioned above carries into different needs for different designers—the best SketchUp render plugin may vary from one person to another. So, get to practicing and exploring—who knows what you’ll create.

Have we listed down any of your favorite SketchUp render plugins? Let us know what you think about them, or if you have any favorites that you’d like to come up to our radar! Are you new to 3D Rendering? Check out our list of some of the top 3d rendering tutorial websites available.