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Help & FAQ

Also See Our Blog Archive & Quick Reference Guide

Frequently Asked Questions:

Visualizer has been designed to perform well on normal laptop computers and of course, desktop computers.

You will need:

  • SketchUp 2013, 2014, or 2015. Visualizer works best with SketchUp 2015.
  • PC users will need 64-bit Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 or newer.
  • Macintosh users will need Mac OS X 10.8 or newer.

Additional Notes:

  • Visualizer will run on almost any computer CPU made since 2008.
  • Visualizer doesn't require any special graphics card support.
  • While Visualizer doesn't require it, it will perform better on computers with more cores and noticeably better on CPUs made since 2011 which support the AVX extensions.

We built both versions side-by-side and they have all the same features although there is one small difference that relates to differences in SketchUp itself, between Windows and Mac:

Multiple SketchUp documents:

  • On Windows: If you switch documents, you need to close Visualizer then restart it on the new window.
  • On Mac: If you switch documents, you just need to click the "Sync" button in Visualizer.

If you see this error, it's because you are trying to install Visualizer on a 32-bit version of Windows. Visualizer only supports 64-bit Windows on a 64-bit computer. More detailed system requirements are listed at the top of this page.

This problem only applies to older, license-driven versions of Visualizer. To avoid all license issues, simply upgrade to the current, 1.3 edition. This should always be your first recourse, since 1.3 has improved features and no licensing issues.

Besides requiring an exact license key match, the email address field for licensing Visualizer is case sensitive, and therefore must match exactly with the email address associated with your license key (i.e., the same one we used to email you your license key).

The easiest approach to avoiding this error, if you really must run an older version of Visualizer, is to simply copy and paste both your email address and license key directly from your license key email message, rather than typing it in.

Visualizer is a new kind of plugin for SketchUp which interacts with SketchUp in new ways that SketchUp's original authors never envisioned. We've been working with Trimble's SketchUp engineers to improve SketchUp's "under the hood" notifications, even as we improve Visualizer.

In a few cases, SketchUp might sometimes not inform Visualizer that a scene change has occured — Visualizer doesn't “know” that a scene change has occurred. This shouldn't happen for most typical usage, but it can happen. When in doubt, press Visualizer's Sync button (spinning arrows) and Visualizer will reload your model so that everything will match perfectly. Often you can refresh and get things back on track more quickly:

Using the “Zoom” tool in an orthographic (parallel) view

While Visualizer always tracks perspective changes and works with parallel views, changes to the size of parallel views may not track. You can solve this by upgrading to SketchUp 2015. Or you can simply pan or make any other camera change to let Visualizer know about the new view settings.

Layer Visibility Changes

Layer visibility works after a sync or when starting Visualizer, but on-the-fly changes to layer visibility will be missed. Press Sync to get layer visibility right again.

Texture Tweaker isn’t changing in Visualizer while tweaking

As soon as you stop tweaking and exit the Tweaker, your changes will appear -- you don’t actually need to hit “Sync” in this case.

Grouped Section Planes Act Oddly

Visualizer only uses a single section plane, and it’s currently ungrouped. Section planes improved a lot “under the hood” in SketchUp 2014 and 2015; we’re sure they’ll continue to improve for future editions.

Multiple SketchUp Windows

Visualizer can only pay attention to one window at a time:

  • On Windows: If you switch documents, you need to close Visualizer then restart it on the new window.
  • On Mac: If you switch documents, you just need to click the "Sync" button in Visualizer.

"Always Face Camera" Components

Components with "Always Face Camera" enabled may not face the camera properly in Visualizer. Press Sync and the component will match correctly with your SketchUp viewport.

Just click the shutter button whenever you like what you see in the Visualizer window -- just like a camera. The image saved will be just like what you see. Take a look at the Quick Reference Guide.

You can change both the prefix and the folder that your images are stored in by clicking the folder settings icon (the little triangle next to the folder icon). See this blog post for more ideas.

A Visualizer photo is "done" when you decide it is and press the shutter button. The picture development timers will also provide useful guides. Visualizer will always continue to evaluate and refine a photo almost forever, and your own eye will tell you what looks good to you.

Besides JPG we support PNG and OpenEXR file formats. When you click on the arrow next to the folder icon, you can change the output file format.

OpenEXR is an image file format which uses floating point numbers to represent color and intensity. This means that each pixel can represent a much more precise gradient between light and dark compared to normal 8-bit image files like JPG. This is similar to RAW files that can be used in a digital camera. This format is mostly intended to be useful for bringing Visualizer images into image compositing packages (e.g., Adobe Photoshop® or Adobe AfterEffects®).

Yes. When you click on the arrow next to the folder icon then, in addition to setting your picture folder location, you will find a check box named "Transparent Background". This is only available with the PNG and OpenEXR file formats. If this is selected it will store an "alpha" channel instead of the default sky background. This allows you to composite your Visualizer photos on top of a web page or other photos you may have, using another imaging application.

At present Visualizer provides 4 preset sizes, which you can easily adjust to your own favorite sizes. The maximum available size is 10,000 x 10,000.

Yes. With the launch of SketchUp 2015, Visualizer now supports SketchUp's two-point perspective view. Please ensure that you are using SketchUp 2015, and Visualizer 1.2+

Visualizer is always refining the picture while you watch — like light in nature, Visualizer's lighting simulates the way light bounces through your scene. Outdoor, directly-lit images generally require fewer bounces and are therefore faster. Enclosed spaces require more bounces to reveal their subtle lighting which takes generally longer, but it will just keep getting smoother as you wait. In addition, you can speed up the process by making the Visualizer window smaller while you setup the shot and then make it larger when you are ready to take your photo.

Yes. By default, the depth of field is infinite (meaning everything is in focus) but if you adjust the focal blur slider to the right, you will see that the depth of field becomes more shallow. When you drag the focus reticle (AF) around on your image, Visualizer will automatically focus on the point you have selected.

By default, focus and exposure are measured off the same spot on screen, but you can double-click the reticle to unlink the two parts of the reticle, allowing exposure and focus to be controlled independently for more creative freedom. Double-click again to rejoin them.

Yes and you can alter Section Planes live in SketchUp, although there are some caveats:

  • You have to be using SketchUp 2014 or 2015.
  • Only one active section plane is supported at a time.
  • Section planes cannot be grouped with other objects in SketchUp.

Yes! Visualizer's on-screen controls are also accessible through SketchUp's "Plugins" menu, making it easy to assign keyboard shortcuts to any menu item. Follow this quick guide. We don't pre-define shortcuts, to avoid colliding with any keyboard shortcuts that you may have set already.

Our goal with Visualizer was to do a great job with the basic built-in material capabilities within SketchUp itself and apply clever enhancements automatically – this is part of the vision of having no settings and one click photos.

With 1.3 we've added more material control than ever, and you can read about the details here.

Visualizer doesn't have support for additional lights and instead gets all light from the sun. SketchUp doesn't have any built-in support for lights and we didn't want to add any additional settings. Our first goal was to make natural daylight look great with no special effort.

To get more light into interiors, try adjusting the shadow density.

Only one Visualizer can be run at a time. However, you can have multiple SketchUp documents open and have Visualizer switch which documents it's showing. On Mac, just switch documents and press Visualizer "sync." For Windows, halt Visualizer, switch documents, and restart the Visualizer window. For more details take a look at the FAQ item above relating to Sync..

Visualizer’s various actions are accessible from Ruby via the plugins menu items, but more general low-level control isn't supported.

We really don't think of Visualizer as a "renderer" in the traditional sense. Its goal is to provide fast and easy high-quality imagrey without the complicated settings, features and material settings that are required in other rendering applications. While these settings are powerful, they also take time to learn and every different product has a different set of overwhelming details. We've been delighted to see how far our users can get with no settings to distract their design process.

Yes. Visualizer behaves like a physical camera in the real world. Thus, it uses the position of the sun to determine whether shadows are being cast on your object(s) and visualizes them accordingly, regardless of the face style used in SketchUp — although we do support both SketchUp's on/off control for ground shadows and color by layer.

Yes, Visualizer currently interprets anything that has opacity less than 100% to be glass-like in behavior. This is intentional to provide an aesthetically pleasing way to visualize transparent objects such as glass or water. The blog has more details on how Visualizer handles glass, water, and object reflections.