File Management in 3ds Max - Importing a Sketchup Model

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  • Film & VFX
  • Games
  • Design Visualization
  • 2011
  • Media Management
  • Importing and Exporting
  • Importing Assets
  • Workflow
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
6 min

File Management in 3ds Max - Importing a Sketchup Model

In this tutorial, learn how to import Google Sketchup models to render in 3ds Max.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2011
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2011 or higher.


In this movie, we take a look at how to import a Google SketchUp model 
(.skp) into 3ds Max.

First you need a SketchUp model. An excellent resource
is the Google 3D warehouse.

Using an internet browser, navigate to the site.

There you can find various models & collections to choose from.

Let's go into the Ancient Rome collection.

Consider the Pons Aemelius bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Rome.

Download the model, choosing the most up-to-date SketchUp 6 version
onto a location on our local drive.

Notice you are only downloading the SketchUp (.skp) file. Any associated
bitmaps will be unpacked once you import the model into 3ds Max.

In 3ds Max, ensure the Mental Ray Renderer is active.

This is not necessary to import SketchUp files but it will
make the renders nicer.

Using the Import tool, notice that Google SketchUp (*.SKP) is one
of the file types listed as compatible.

Browse to the folder where you stored the SketchUp file and select it,
and click Open. A dialog appears.

Most options are self-explanatory. The most important one is the path
where you want to save the bitmaps that will be unpacked.

A safe location is the same folder that contains the SketchUp file
you're importing.

Another option to consider is the Front/Back material option.

This can be useful if a single face has been mapped differently
in SketchUp from the back than it was from the front.

As you click OK, you are prompted to enable Exposure Control
to compensate for the Daylight System. Answer Yes to that.

The model is imported into 3ds Max and is ready for render.
However, there are still a few things that you can adjust.

As you select the Daylight System, notice it is using a Standard Sunlight/
Skylight combination.

Since you are using Mental Ray, set it to a mr Sun/mr Sky combination.

This prompts you to use a mr Physical Sky background; answer Yes
to that as well.

You can even add a flat surface in this case to simulate water,
but mainly to help with bouncing light.

At this time, you can render the scene and it renders beautifully
without much interaction on your part.

Given the extensive library of SketchUp models, you can easily populate
your 3ds Max scenes with models ranging from buildings to cars and other
props with very little effort.

If you wish to push the envelope a bit, you can always add extra edits
in 3ds Max.

Here, for example, the render could use a little more bumpiness to the
maps. After all, this is an aged stone bridge.

Using the Slate Material Editor, use the Pick Material from Object
to see what kind of material is applied on the model.

The material is a multi-layered Multi/Sub Material, using 14 separate
assignments on the model.

Use the L hotkey to frame all the nodes. You can also use
the Zoom Extents icon in the bottom-right corner.

Some of the sub-materials are using textures (bitmaps)
and some others are not.

Zoom in near the top, and wire the Diffuse channel bitmap in the first
sub-material into the Bump channel.

Notice that this procedure also creates a Bezier Float Controller
to control the Bump amount.

You can repeat this process for every other sub-material based
on a bitmap in the Diffuse channel.

Zoom Extents again to see all the nodes.

At this time, you can control the bump amounts individually for each

However, if you prefer, you can control all the bump amounts
using a single controller.

In that case, add a Bezier Float Controller by dragging it
from the browser on the left.

To replace an existing controller with the new one, you need to drag
the output of the new controller to the input target of the current one.

Using this technique, you can wire a single controller to multiple
existing ones, making it in effect an instanced controller.

Using Zoom Extents again, notice you have now a set of older
controllers that are not in use anymore.

Those can be selected and deleted.

At this point a single controller controls the bump amounts
of all sub-materials.

Try and change it. At 10, you're overdoing it a little.

With a value of 3, the bridge looks aged and worn.

If you compare it with the default value of 0.3, you can see
the difference it makes.
Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • 2011
  • Media Management
  • Importing and Exporting
  • Importing Assets
  • Workflow
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