TurboSketch Studio Review

TurboSketch Studio is a plug-in for Google SketchUp (download from here), and it includes the free version of the program in the box. It works with both the free and the Pro versions of this powerful 3D program, which is typically used for architectural renderings that ship with rather minimal lighting and surfacing effects.

That’s where TurboSketch Studio enters the picture. Applying a realistic-looking brick surface, for example, transforms a stark 2D model into a subtle, lifelike environment. TurboSketch textures and lighting also add a dimension of realism to SketchUp models.

With TurboSketch lighting effects, you can use any object as a light source – for instance, you can transform a street light in a drawing into an actual light source that affects other objects in the picture. TurboSketch’s package of lighting effects and surfaces is useful for more than just architectural renderings, but that’s its main appeal.

Managing performance
There’s a downside to TurboSketch’s photorealistic renderings – they significantly slow down the operation of both versions of SketchUp. Because TurboSketch Studio uses ray tracing (and other related processor-intensive techniques) to calculate complex inter-relationships between light and surfaces, there’s a noticeable drain on system resources; as a result, effects are not applied in real time.

You can manage these performance challenges by adjusting the level of detail rendering in several ways. The efficient way to work in TurboSketch is to apply effects only to large objects first. Once you have chosen surfaces and lighting, take a coffee break and let TurboSketch apply the effects to every object in your model. When you apply full photorealistic rendering to objects as small as a pen, you can wait as long as 40 minutes for the effects to render, depending on your hardware.

Another dimension to managing processing time is choosing how much detail to use when applying lighting effects. For example, if you apply a mirror-like surface to a large wall of windows in a building, light reflecting from those windows will then bounce off other surfaces, and reflect in turn on additional surfaces. Applying optimal lighting effects isn’t practical in real-time, so TurboSketch allows you to reduce lighting accuracy while you experiment.

OUR VERDICT

Before purchasing a photorealistic plug-in such as TurboSketch Studio, play with SketchUp to see if the basic rendering options that come with the program are sufficient for you. If you require more high-powered lighting and surface effects to use in presentations, TurboSketch provides them ably – but slowly.

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