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How to Create Realistic Textures in V-Ray for SketchUp

Updated: Jun 29, 2023


Texture sample of wooden floor

How to Create Realistic Textures in V-Ray for SketchUp


Have you ever wondered how you can go from this…


flooring boards rendered in V-Ray for sketchup

…to this?


Well, grab a drink and open up V-Ray – we want to show you how to create realistic textures using some common examples to help improve your texturing game within the V-Ray for SketchUp Pro workflow!


Note, if you are looking for materials that are render-ready out-of-the-box, then Chaos Cosmos has hundreds (and counting) for you to choose from.


For those wanting to advance their textures further, take a look at whether our Complete Guide to V-Ray for SketchUp is a good fit for you. It explains how to create realistic materials and wrapping techniques to apply them to your models.


Basic Principles


Textures (see also; materials) are painted onto faces within your 3D modelling software, and these can be flat colours or image-based.


The process within SketchUp to import images to use as textures

In our first example, we are going to begin developing a wood floor texture – and so we need to find an appropriate image to use here.


We recommend Poliigon if you are looking for high-resolution images to use as materials, whilst SketchUp Texture Club is another source with an extensive library.


In this example, we are importing Extreme Texture’s Antique Oak into SketchUp as a Texture, which will allow us to paint this onto a face.


Now is a great time to check the scale – within the Materials panel of the tray in SketchUp; use the global size settings to ensure that our boards are scaled appropriately. To help me do this, I like to draw a guideline that equals the desired width of the board so that I have something to reference.


Sketchup screenshot of an interior scene

Using a guideline for reference, we resize the texture globally using the material panel within the tray as seen above.


Here we can see how important it is for our material to be seamless. There is a vast collection of seamless materials available from the sources mentioned above!

We now have a high-quality, seamless texture applied to our model which is the correct scale.

Why does this not look realistic yet?

rendered flooring in sketchup

Building Blocks


What V-Ray allows us to do is to bounce light around our model and control how our materials interact with it.


Virtual textures can be broken down into three maps

Virtual textures can be broken down into three maps.


As covered on our Complete Guide to V-Ray for SKP; most solid materials can be divided up into three maps; diffuse, reflections and roughness.


The diffuse texture is what we see within our SKP model. This can be considered our ‘base’ texture and defines predominantly what the material looks like without lighting or roughness effects applied.


A diffuse map defines what our texture looks like

A diffuse map defines what our texture looks like. Texture map courtesy of Extreme Textures.


If light bounces off an object and is not absorbed, then one sees a reflection. V-Ray has the ability to control the intensity and glossiness of reflections of materials within the scene by using reflection or specular (see also; spec) maps.


For example, areas on a texture where one would see a glossy finish would show up as white on a spec map, whilst matte areas appear darker.


A specular map dictates where on the material we will see glossy or matte reflections

A specular map dictates where on the material we will see glossy or matte reflections. Texture map courtesy of Extreme Textures


Not all materials are as flat as a mirror; for this, we use a bump or normals map. Areas on a bump map that are darker are shown as depressions on the surface of the material when rendered, whilst the opposite occurs for lighter areas. Be careful with the intensity of bump or normal values – anything above 1 is normally not required (we would use displacement for that - check out our Complete Guide to V-Ray for SKP to find out how it works).


A bump map is used to give the texture some 3D depth

A bump map is used to give the texture some 3D depth. Texture map courtesy of Extreme Textures


Adding Complexity

Hold on… how does glass work?

glass edit in vray for sketchup

Refraction colour dictates how much light ‘refracts’ through a material.


As we can see, the lighter we make the refraction colour, the more ‘glass-like’ our material becomes.


We can deduce that the setting to use that controls the transparent properties of glass is called refraction. Like with the reflection glossiness, we also have the opportunity to create frosted glass by adjusting the refraction glossiness value.


vray material change to glass smoked

Refraction glossiness enables us to define shapes on the other side of the material.

What about fabrics?

Depending on the qualities of the fabric in question, we would advise taking a look through the preset textures within V-Ray…


fabric material creation in vray

Note: preset V-Ray materials now live within the Chaos Cosmos library!


Chaos Cosmos offers plenty of preset fabric textures


Once a similar fabric has been chosen, you can edit the colour and tones of the diffuse, by right-clicking on the bitmap slot within the Diffuse, and wrapping it in a Colour Correction. Here you will be able to modify the hue, saturation, brightness and contrast, to your liking.


material editor vray sketchup

Textures can be re-coloured by wrapping the diffuse in a Colour Correction adjustment.

Fabric textures now benefit from a feature in V-Ray for SketchUp where you can add a translucent or coat layer for extra realism.


black silk material in vray editor

What if my texture seems to emit light?

One can add emissive layers to materials within V-Ray as shown…


Emissive layers can be added to most materials

Emissive layers can be added to most materials


You can also copy your Diffuse into your Emissive bitmap slot…


V-Ray material editor showing emissive material

We recommend copying your diffuse maps (or adding custom maps) into the emissive texture slots for added realism.


interior brick displacement bedroom CGI

Now that you know how to create realistic textures; UV Wrapping is a term we give to the application of a material to multiple faces within our model – much like the wrapping of a gift with wrapping paper.


For all of your advanced materiality needs within V-Ray for SketchUp, check out our full and Complete Guide to V-Ray for SKP.


We hope that you have enjoyed our texturing tips!

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