7 Best Sketchup rendering software

by Ivan Jenic
Ivan Jenic
Ivan Jenic
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Passionate about all elements related to Windows and combined with his innate curiosity, Ivan has delved deep into understanding this operating system, with a specialization in drivers and... read more
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  • Rendering software needs to be powerful yet easy to use. It needs to allow you to create what you envisioned but not get in the way. 
  • Take a look at our recommended rendering programs for SketchUp and see which one works best for you. 
  • If you are interested, visit the design software section on our website for similar articles. 
  • Find the perfect tool for your job as a designer, illustrator, graphic artist, and more in our Graphic & Design Hub
render SketchUp software

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SketchUp is an important 3D program used in modeling a wide range of drawing applications. This includes architectural, interior design, landscape architecture this are used to make designs and impressions of idealistic prototypes. It is also used extensively in filming and video games makeup.

However, it is important to use a good rendering software to improve the quality of models created from SketchUp. There are various rendering software plugins that are integrated into SketchUp.

This article highlights six of the best software to render SketchUp available in terms of functionality, features and price.

What are the best software to render SketchUp?

Autodesk 3ds Max

You might recall this software by its former name: 3D Studio Max. A very popular option back in the day, now it continues to be a very strong performer for all your 3D modeling, animation, and rendering needs.

Under the Autodesk umbrella, 3ds Max features Arnold GPU Renderer which allows you to view changes that you make to the scene in real-time.

The good news is that you can import your SketchUp file into 3ds Max even if your scene already has existing content. They will remain intact, and new ones will appear from the .skp file. The SketchUp importer works with files from version 6 up to SketchUp 2015. Are you using a newer version? Save the file to a 2015 file format and it should work.

If you have only used SketchUp before, don’t feel overwhelmed by the huge differences between them. Make no mistake, this software is very powerful and provides you with many tools. It has a bit of a learning curve, but the results are amazing.

Here are the top features of Autodesk 3ds Max:

  • Use it as a command-line tool to process content in bulk
  • Create custom workspaces
  • Display procedural maps made with OSL using Nitrous viewport
  • Use motion paths to manipulate animations
  • Use real-life camera simulated settings, such as aperture, shutter speed, exposure and depth of field
Autodesk 3ds Max

Autodesk 3ds Max

Give 3ds Max a try to import your SketchUp files and take the rendering to the next level using this powerful software.

Free trial

⇒ Read our full AutoDesk 3ds Max review


Allura GPU for SketchUp


best software to render sketchupThe rendering plugin utilizes the power of your system GPU to accelerate renderings and is a GPU based rendering plugin for SketchUp. Allura GPU uses the video GPU to create amazing rendering image with high speed and excellent overall rendering experience

Allura GPU for SketchUp is powered by NVIDIA Iray which gives it all the qualities of an excellent SketchUp renderer. This software uses computing light paths with simple settings that are automatic. It is one of the best software to render SketchUp on the market.

In addition, some its features include indirect illumination, color bleeding, reflections, refractions, soft shadows, blurry reflections, reflective and refractive caustics, and volume scattering; users just need to edit the materials and click render for amazing results.

Download Allura GPU here

Ariel Vision


best software to render sketchupThis software gives a realistic rendering of objects and models inside SketchUp. It creates wonderfully rendered images without using complex settings which is ideal for designers. The plugin is powerful yet maintains a clean and easy user interface.

Ariel Vision has many unique features that include one-click rendering with great results from pre-defined settings, seamless integration with SketchUp full Reflection, and transparency controls for more realistic materials. Direct and indirect lighting using both natural and artificial lights. In addition, it also has beautiful HDRi skies and backgrounds to complete the look of your model.

Furthermore, this software has two wizards which are Material and Light wizard. The Material wizard enables easy apply reflection and transparency directly to SketchUp materials. While the Light wizard enables you to complete interior scenes with custom lamps, ceiling lights and more.

Download Ariel Vision here

IRender nXt

IRender nXt software

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IRender nXt is a powerful plugin that creates photorealistic renderings directly inside Trimble SketchUp. The plugin easily turns designs and models into superior images. This is an ideal tool for architects exhibiting their building plans. This software is ideal to render SketchUp files.

This software is also ideal for landscape designers and set designers needing quality images to showcase their designs by optimizing users’ workflow by saving settings inside the SketchUp model which allows users to post-render updates without beginning over.

IRender nXt is available in both Windows 32 bit and 64 bit. Some of the features include rendering at any resolution and quality. In addition, it packs fine-tuned lighting, transparency in lighting capabilities.

Download IRender nXT here



best software to render sketchupIf you desire a plugin which gives simplicity in rendering with beautiful photo-like result then Raylectron is the right plugin for you. Users can edit how the model should be with various lighting settings, from sun, sky, and other settings. The X-ray vision feature enables you to view interior render without removing the exterior.

You can also monitor the progress while rendering and change the quality of models. Some of the main features include the ability to stop the render, save it, reopen it later, and resume the render. Users can rotate, pan, zoom, and modify the materials and lights right from the Raylectron viewer.

Raylectron also Support HDR maps and can save the rendered image as an HDR, it can also save in jpg, png, and many other formats. Another unique feature is the rendering processes happen outside of SketchUp in order to allow continuous work on the model being rendered.

Download Raylectron here



best software to render sketchupThis software gives a different more realistic rendering for SketchUp with lots of options via various modes and tools which simplifies and keeps your work models. Shaderlight gives a unique blend with uses having the option to choose between progressive rendering and single shot rendering.

The plugin also utilizes advanced lightning features to give your models a clean and quality look. Users can use the default resolution settings or edit this setting to give the right blend of Sharon and concise images which makes it the ideal software for designers, architects, and other landscape designers.

The application plugin is compatible with both Windows 32bit and 64-bit. In addition, Shaderlight Cloud enables you to render on the web at a premium price.

Download Shaderlight

Thea Renderer


best software to render sketchupIf you need a versatile software to render SketchUp files, Thea Renderer is one of the best software around featuring quality state of the art photorealistic engine. This is one of the major renderer software with a unique standalone studio and library of editors for materials texture and color which gives for unique rendering.

The software uses a unique engine technique called biased and unbiased render modes to achieve this quality results. Some of the features of this rendering software include the use of Instancing of External Models (as Proxies), integrated & external Thea material editor, with darkroom with multiple controls, advanced camera settings, and render channels. This allows you to create your models with more detailed three-dimensional results.

Download Thea Render here

This is where our best software to render SketchUp list comes to an end. Make sure to head over to all these program’s official websites in order to be able to analyze more in-depth details on all these tools before making the right decision for your SketchUp works.

This list will answer all your questions related to:

  • Rendering software for SketchUp – You are definitely in the right place. Check out all of the solutions provided.
  • SketchUp rendering programs – All of the software recommended here can be used to render SketchUp files.
  • SketchUp rendering plugin – If you don’t want a standalone option, you can use a plugin. Our solutions include extensions as well.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • By default, you can’t, but there is something you can do: install a rendering extension. Use one of our recommended options.

  • Compare what each rendering software can and cannot do and decide. Check out this article to see the available options.

  • It is great for beginners. Having fewer options and a good interface allows you to focus on the basic things.

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