The native SketchUp material editor supports only a texture and a transparency value – not necessarily sufficient to create visually stunning images such as the ones our users usually achieve .
This is why we came up with our very own material editor specifically for SketchUp, to make sure all of our users can enjoy powerful tools such as Bump- and Reflectivity maps.
In addition to this Knowledgebase Article, you can also have a look at this best-practices blog post by Dan Stine.
Using some detailed Bump- and Reflectivity maps in SketchUp
To open the Enscape material editor, either go to Extensions -> Enscape -> Enscape Materials, or click the Enscape Materials Button in the Enscape Toolbar:
Enscape Material Editor in SketchUp
This is the interface that will pop up, here showing a project with a number of materials already created, and also showing the material search facility.
In your case, the window may look slightly different – the reason is that the Enscape material editor will always display the material that is currently selected in SketchUp – as long as the material is used in your model.
This way, you can easily choose any material to adjust in Enscape by simply selecting it using the Sample Paint () tool in SketchUp. The Enscape material editor will switch to any selected material immediately.
The “Generic” material type is suited for any materials that aren’t supposed to be rendered as grass blades, water surface, or have translucency applied.
This is the default material type and can be used for the majority of all possible materials.
The Generic Material Interface
The Albedo area controls the basic color of the surface you’re designing. You can either select a color, or choose a texture by clicking the [+] symbol. If choosing a texture, you’ll also receive a “Tint Color” menu, allowing you to easily change the color of the texture used. Control the amount of influence on your texture using the “Image Fade” slider. Of course, Enscape will use any UV information (texture placement) it gets from SketchUp.
The Albedo area with no texture applied
Albedo area with texture applied
Albedo Texture on Sphere
The Self Illumination setting, when enabled, tells Enscape to literally handle your material as if glowing, and emitting actual light. You can choose a brightness between 1 and 100000 candela per square meter (cd/m²), as well as the color of the light.
Self Illumination area
Checker texture applied to Self Illumination Color
The Transparency area lets you control the opacity of your model, or, in other words, the amount of light that can travel through the surface, allowing you to see what’s behind it.
The Transparency area
Transition from transparent sphere to one with transparency texture applied
The Bump option in the Enscape Material Editor allows you to utilize so called Bump or Normal maps in order to simulate bumps, wrinkles and dents and the lighting of these.
Bump maps can be any black and white 2D images. They tell Enscape to interpret a surface as protruding (bright parts of the texture) or recessed (dark parts of the texture).
Normal map are a type of Bump map that require an image with RGB values. These RGB components correspond to the X, Y, and Z coordinates, respectively.
This is incredibly valuable for realism in your images and this can not be overstated enough!
Bump maps can make for incredible surface detail and noise, without actually affecting or adding more geometry. You can use this feature for noise on concrete surfaces, wood, tiling, or even full reliefs! This can go a long way in convincing the viewer that they are looking at a realistic picture.
Textures that are available online, either paid for or free, will generally include a Normal and Bump or Height map included with the basic Color texture.
Applying a Bump map
Applying a Normal map
As powerful as this feature is, it’s very easy to setup. Just select an image file using the – button. A Bump map doesn’t even have to be black & white, as Enscape will take care of that for you.
Normal Maps must have an RGB value in them.
You can switch between using a Bump or Normal map via the Type drop down option.
Select the Intensity (Bum) or Amount (Normal) of the effect, using the respectively named slider. Negative values for Bump Maps. will invert the effect, causing dark areas to stick out and bright areas to be pushed in.
The Bump Map Settings options
If there’s already an Albedo texture applied to your material, you can just click “Use Albedo“. Enscape will then assign the color texture to the bump value. This offers a uniquely streamlined way to set up existing projects for Enscape: If you want to apply a bump effect to, e.g. an existing wood material, simply select the material in SketchUp using the tool. Click “Use Albedo” in the Bump area (and, if desired, in the Reflections area as well), select the right intensity with the “Amount” slider – Done!
This area is all about the microscopic roughness of your material, determining how much of the environment you’ll see reflected in its surface.
The Reflection settings area
Sphere with checker texture applied as a Roughness Map
The Grass type material, as seen in the material editor, looks almost the same as the Generic type. While it’s lacking the Transparency part, it instead features a Grass Settings area. Apart from the Albedo area, which you can use to color your grass (also using a texture), the Bump– and Reflections parts are only useful if you plan to toggle the Grass Rendering setting on and off (this can be found in the Enscape settings -> “Advanced” tab).
'Grass' selected as material type
Changing the grass height
Randomizing the grass blades
Wind Settings in the Visual Settings window
The Carpet material acts in the same way as the Grass Material, in that it can be applied to a horizontal surface only, and the Height and Height Variation are controlled in the Enscape Material Editor.
Carpet material applied in SketchUp using an underlying texture file in the Albedo slot.
The Height and Height Variation Settings title is amended with Carpet when Carpet is selected as the Type in the Material Editor.
Carpet selected as the Type in the Enscape Material Editor
Carpet Material Settings in the Material Editor
Here are the available settings for Water in the Enscape Material Editor.
Setting the Water Type for a material will tell Enscape to treat any surface it’s applied to as physical water, including waves & caustics.
Separate faces and materials have been used in this image
Control the water movement. Change the speed and the direction your water is flowing to simulate e.g. a river.
This can be set using the global Wind Settings to be found in the Visual Setting-> Atmosphere tab, the same as for the Grass material. These global settings can be overridden for Water however, and this override is available in the Material Editor when Water is selected as material Type.
Override Wind Settings option
Fine tune the look of your waves, whether it’s the overall scale to match the proportions of your model, or just the height to control whether your water looks rather wild or calm.
The Wave Settings sliders
Height: The Height slider controls the height – or intensity – of waves in water materials.
Size: The Size slider controls the overall scale of your water. This way you can adjust the water behavior for various project sizes, close ups etc.
No caustics to 100% caustics visibility
When selecting “Foliage” as material type, the Enscape Material Editor interface will look identical to when selecting “Generic” as type.
The difference this material type will cause is only visible on single-face objects. Please make sure the object you apply this material to doesn’t have any depth, and also that the material is applied to both sides of the face.
If these conditions are met, Enscape will apply Translucency to objects this material type is applied to. This means that, if the Sun (yes, this doesn’t work combined with artificial lighting) is located behind said surface, it will be illuminated on both sides. This is common in nature for example with leaves, which is why this is the most common use case for this type of material.
You can apply a material to two sides of the same face
Regular material on the left, Foliage material on the right
When selecting “Clearcoat” as material type, the Enscape Material Editor interface removes the transparency option altogether.
The Clearcoat material imitates the type of paint that you find on car bodies. So, essentially the Clearcoat is a transparent resin material, and the color is defined via the Albedo option in the Material Editor window.
This material, therefore, is shiny and reflective by default, although you do have the option to dial back the reflective properties, as well as add a bump map.
Clearcoat material with Enscape orange selected as the base color.
All texture slots used & their texture buttons above the settings
By clicking any of the texture symbols at the top of the material editor, or any of the blue and underlined image file names next to “Texture”, you’ll enter the actual texture editor interface.
Here you can
The Texture Editor interface is the same for any texture type. It’s meant to allow for simple image editing operations without having to leave the material editor.
The Texture Editor
Before introducing the Material Editor, Enscape would let you decide material properties using keywords you simply had to include in the material name. This framework is still included in the Enscape feature set, and can be used freely alongside the material editor for greater comfort.
These are the keywords to include in the SketchUp Material name to tell Enscape how to display it more realistically.
Keywords and their effects
|Water, Ocean, River||Draws the material as a water surface.|
|Vegetation, Foliage, Leaf||Adds translucency to thin surfaces (single face).|
|Emissive||Emissive material based on the material color.|
|Grass, Tall Grass, Short Grass, Wild Grass||Realistic grass material based on the underlying surface color.|
|Long Carpet, Short Carpet||Carpet like material, either long or short, that take on the underlying color or texture file.|
Keywords and their effects
Those keywords change the material parameters without changing their color. The color is still defined by the SketchUp texture. The SketchUp default roughness is 1.0.
|Steel, Copper, Metal, Aluminium||0,3||Metal|
|Carpaint, Polished, Acryl||0,02||–|
Have a look how at useful tips & tricks regarding this topic.