This new v5 release applies only to the CPU version. The GPU version remains at v4.99
v5 looks and work identically to v4 so there is nothing new to learn as far as the interface goes. However, for those who are new to Raylectron, here is a brief explanation on how it works...
After installing Raylectron, a new toolbar will appear in Sketchup. The very first icon in the toolbar is the CPU render which is most likely the one you'll be using. The second icon is the GPU render, mostly used with simple models like prototypes for example, a table, sunglasses etc. The CPU version can take on any size models.
One you click on the CPU or GPU icon, it will export your model to a Raylectron file (.ROF) to a folder of your choice. Once exported, it will automatically run Raylectron and load your model with the default rendering settings. At this point, you no longer need Sketchup open. You can also run Raylectron from the Desktop shortcut and load the ROF file without the need to use Sketchup.
Once your model is loaded in Raylectron, you can start setting up your rendering and material preferences. You can save these changes to a CFG file (which is a text file, the ROF file will not be modified) which will be automatically loaded when you load the model again.
Your model will be displayed in Performance mode so you may zoom, pan, rotate and orbit the model in the same way you do in Sketchup. Uncheck the Performance checkbox to start the rendering process. You can click the Stop icon at any time, it will first terminate the current frame before it stop. Clicking stop again will force to stop immediately. You can click the Play icon to start the render again.
It is best to be in Performance mode when making changes so you don't have to wait to see the changes, makes it faster when adjusting. With the Material Editor open, simply right click on the model to edit the material used at the click point or select from the material list directly.
All of the settings using a slider bar are simple to use. Double clicking reset its value to default. Right click allow you to manually enter a value. Hold down click and drag right will increase the value while dragging left will decrease the value.
When your mouse pointer is over a setting, it will bring up a short description of what it does (known as hints) and that can be turned on/off from the menu bar Options.
The geo-location map in v5 is hidden by default as it is rarely used and takes on too much space. Click on the Time Zone label to unhide/hide it.
ok, back to what's new in v5. Beside the new features listed below, the rendering engine had many improvements and bugs were fixed.
1. Sky: The sky is totally new, looks real and the sun is visible, not just the glow as in prior versions.
2. Clouds: We've added Clouds that you can turn on/off and set cloud coverage, density and looks.
3. Stars: You can turn on/off stars too, have less/more bright ones and dim ones, change the look.
4. Moon: The sun can be converted to a moon, our real moon that is. Turning off the Sky will automatically change the Sun to a Moon.
5. Sun and Moon scaling: You can scale the sun or the moon up to 20x bigger. Very nice when rendering a spacecraft near the moon for example.
6. Ground Texturing: In prior versions, the ground was a single color and was the lowest point of your model for proper shadows. In v5, it is still like this, however, if you turn on Ground Texturing, the ground will be at 0 altitude so if part of your model is below the ground plane, it will be clipped. Texturing of the ground is to infinity, so you don't need to create your own ground in Sketchup be mean of a huge rectangle in order to apply a material and still never reach the horizon. You can skip that and texture the ground right from Raylectron and it will be textured to infinity. By using the Sea Waves texture provided in the "Convert this material" option, you can change the ground to look like the open sea. Very cool looking.
7. No Ground: In v5, you can now remove the ground altogether. No shadows will be produced on it and the sky (stars too) will be all around your model as if it was floating in empty space.
8. Birds: Yes, we had to include birds with the new sky. You can have up to 500 of them and all adjustable, set the range of how far and near you want them, how many of them, the altitude range and looks.
All of these new features have been added to the "Illumination" and "Sun & Sky" menus. Here are screen shots showing the additions marked in yellow, following is a video demonstrating these new features...
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