Thea Photo Renderer

By Pete Stoppel (aka Solo)

Thea is a non-biased photo renderer (i.e. you define the lights)

There is a plug-in that you install in SketchUp. Pressing the button will automatically open Thea and send along the model.

This is only a GPU process. Thea is moving to a hybrid model in the future to take advantage of both CPU and GPU (OpenCL).

Gpu vs cpu: Graphics processor vs computer processor


You can define a “displacement texture” which is like a bump map and adjust the values for the amount of displacement.

There are two ways of unbiased rendering
TR1 for interior lighting
TR2 is more accurate lighting

Sun, shadows, and location will export from SketchUp

Interactive render is very powerful and useful.

You’re not manipulating the model. You use textures and displacement to add variance. It’s not creating geometry.

Eric’s airplane (Email Pete for screenshots)
Polygon count is pretty high.

Thea does have an intuitive navigation, not as good as SketchUp, but good.

How are the materials applied?
You can apply the basic texture in SketchUp, then tweak the texture in Thea.

Good renderings require good machines. You want an I7 and you can connect multiple computers together to complete the rendering.

A layer is a coating. Think of it like a shiny varnish.

There’s no UV un-wraping option in Thea.

You don’t have to assign any special attributes to the materials applied in SketchUp.

You can “relight” existing renderings. For example, if you spent 10 minutes rending a scene, you can use relight to tweak any of the existing lights without having to re-render because the math has already been calculated. You can think of it as each light has it’s own layer.
You can change the color of the light on the fly as well.
You can change the brightness

To prep a light in SketchUp, there are light elements that you can place (point light, spot light, etc...) This is similar to SU Podium.

Are there pros and cons between Thea and Maxwell? They seem similar.
Thea is faster than Maxwell.

You don’t export back to SketchUp, but you can bring models in. If you tweak a model, you will have to bring those new elements back it. You can’t update the reference to the SketchUp model.

Material library:
You can click and drag your materials from the drawer and add them to the preview composer.

Can you render separate lighting elements (lights, shadows, specular, etc....)?
Yes. You can do all of those with addition to channels, like Alpha channel.
It’s beneficial to export the alpha channel, so you can have more control over this content, such as adding an outside scene, without having to incorporate into Thea.

Solo is willing to make a tutorial on mapping textures and will post to SCF.

Motion blur is an option as well.

There is a soap bubble texture, very cool.

You can define and adjust the depth of field with camera-like terminology.

There are real simulated lasers with reflection and refraction properties as well as spectrum changes.

Is there a Thea API/SDK?

Yes. Available in Mac, Windows, Linux.

Just under $200 for Thea. Mention “Basecamp” and “Solo” and  you can get the SketchUp plug-in for free.


thearender.com has tutorials

Walking into Thea as a new user, it can be very intimidating. It’s important to become familiar with the language of rendering to be successful with Thea.

You can use the same texture to create all the different level textures that you need (specular maps, bump maps, etc...). You can gray-scale a texture within Texture. You don’t need to create other textures.
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