Looking very good RE! Been meddling with pure-ISO and visibility lately as well a bit. It's kinda hard with muti-levels, and my way is still to layout the dungeon in a way that I have no (or almost no) overlap between levels (which reduces layout-out possibilities dramatically of course :( ). As for walls and visibility I think you're on the right track. The wireframes of the arches look pretty cool this way. Maybe you can use some glass material to show them with some opacity in sketchup (never worked with glass materials myself though). Getting good shades is also hard using sketchup. Normally you'd have small, multiple lightsources in a dungeon. Currently your shades are very long, maybe you could get the lightsource up higher to increase the effect of a dungeon with ceilings... (I think sketchup does not support multiple lightsources but Im not sure) or maybe post-process shades in PS (would look the best I guess but also would take a lot of time :P ) Also maybe possible to load the model in another 3d-tool and add light sources. Also actual rendering in sketchup is pretty bad so using another finishing tool may be a way (I know architects use sketch-up a lot for mockups and then load this in 'real' modellers to do the rendering)..... well, just my thoughts... cheers!
Djekspek - Thanks a bunch, my man! Your ISO dungeon was a huge inspiration and made me think this was worth trying! I agree that multiple levels can be tricky, but they are also part of the beauty of isometric maps, I think. I considered using slightly transparent materials, but I think when all is said and done, it looks cleaner to have 'cut out' bits, like in your dungeon. I think I might have figured out some tricks for doing post-render shades in PS, too: you can output a separate image with the shadows alone on it, and then apply things like gaussian blur and fill in other areas, set it as a 'multiply' layer. I also just discovered that you can 'paint' an object with a simple transparent .png image as the material and it will be transparent but still cast shadows--A near 'glitch' that will allow for more consistent lighting with roofs that are 'there' but not there. I am still looking into other plugins for adding multiple light sources (and hopefully soft lights): I'll post if I can find a free one.
All in all, I am loving Sketchup. Definitely preferable to graph paper.
agree on the cut-out bits - makes it obvious where there were "supposed" to be a wall :)
A little touchup work in Photoshop could mitigate the worst of the render problems. Specifically, the bit of cylinder protruding through the floor above the spiral staircase and those nasty splotches in the glowing border in the center of the image. Is there a way to improve the antialiasing quality in the SU renderer? If not, you could render at double size, blur, then scale down to fake it.
thats a good idea Midgard, especially the "empty" lines are a little rough :)
If your going to use Blender as a means to render terrain then I would recommend against it because you would normally convert your greyscale height map into a 3d mesh by displacement mapping it over a grid. The grid has to be really really large and with 3D apps not designed for this purpose. If you can get it into Terragen then you would probably get better results.
With sketchup there was supposed to be some additional plugins that you could get to render more interesting effects. We had a guy here called SeerBlue who used to do this and made some great renders for my Thrub region in CWBP - see if you can find the ones about Snapgallows.
If someone can explain how to export a sketchup model and get a free converter into something more standard like OBJ or even 3DS format then that would be interesting for me. It would probably be the key to me trying out sketchup. I have resisted using it so far because I have no way to import it into Blender or anything else. Is the sketchup file format ascii ? cos then it could be easily converted to OBJ which is also ascii.
Redrobes - The Pro (pay) version does export .obj, but the free one does not. However, there seem to be plenty of .obj export plugins available for free.
Midgardsormr - Sketchup does actually have an antialiasing option when you export 2d, but since I haven't actually finished the model, I wasn't worried about quality. The final version (if I ever finish) should look much smoother.
Thanks R.E. I found this one...
Digging, I saw that the free sketchup exports COLLADA and blender does import it so maybe that is a route. RE - maybe you could confirm that works - even if you don't actually render it ?
EDIT: Ahh more info...
"Exporting to Collada DAE files is officially supported in the Pro version. There is a possible workaround from the free version. The workaround is exporting to Google Earth (*.kmz) and then renaming the .kmz to .zip. When you unzip the file the "model" folder contains a DAE file of your model."
so kmz is just zipped COLLADA format ??? If so then that is well cool to know.
EDIT2: Wow I just checked and its true - the zipped file is a KML file which is a COLLADA file so unzip to somehere and rename the extension to a dae file and then it should import into Blender. I will have to try sketchup now and try this out because this would be really useful and makes learning sketchup worthwhile.
Be aware that the latest version of Blender may have some kind of problem with the Collada importer. I wasn't able to get a Sketchup model into Blender 2.5 beta, but I could get it into 2.3 without issue. I didn't try the latest stable release (2.49).
During my experiments, I found that the Sketchup models from Google's data warehouse were enormous in Blender. So if it doesn't appear to work, try dollying your camera way back. Also, Sketchup exports really rotten topology, so if you're planning anything fancy, you'll want to set aside some time to retopologize. I eventually wound up using a plug-in for Maya to import the .skp file, and I had to spend about three hours per model cleaning them up. Still way less than I would have spent trying to model them myself, though, and their relative scale was reasonably accurate.
Just found this....great work RE! I love it.
If you have problems with lighting in Sketchup, perhaps try this: Bryce 5.5 is a free download. If you can export your sketchup model as an .obj file, you can texture and light it Bryce.