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Game Changer: Skatter Could Be the Most Valuable SketchUp Plugin Yet for Architects

The creators of Skatter believe their plugin constitutes a revolution for rendering vegetation.

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

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Architects aspiring to be the next Kengo Kuma or Ma Yansong, rejoice. Your eternal struggle to accurately model green roofs, sky-high forests and vertical parks may soon be over, thanks to a groundbreaking new tool for SketchUp. The creators of Skatter — architect Thomas Hauchecorne and renowned 3D artist Ronen Bekerman — believe their plugin constitutes a revolution for rendering vegetation within Trimble’s popular modeling application, and this new launch trailer provides compelling evidence to support their case.

If Skatter’s movie is an accurate representation of real-time process, the speed and ease of greening scenes is nothing short of remarkable. Realistic blades of grass are “painted” around paths, roads and ponds with a simple sweep of the cursor, while rolling landscapes of luscious vegetation are visualized within seconds, utilizing the plugin’s “Render only” feature to ensure the model file remains lightweight and responsive.

Before and after: Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Farnsworth House receives its lawn.

The tool is also fully parametric, which means that retrospective adjustments to the length, density and placement of each particle system can be made without inducing the excruciating headaches you may have experienced with earlier versions of the software. The creators also promise an extensive content library that will expand over time, giving free access to all manner of vegetation, trees, gravel and carpet textures.

Before and after: Natural finishes can easily be applied at the boundaries between grass and other features.

The “Render only” feature — which sends information directly to render engines — is designed to function with the majority of popular applications, including V-Ray, Corona, Twilight, Indigo and Kerkythea. The plugin also works with other rendering software such as Octane, Maxwell, LightUp and Podium by generating the objects within the model.

Rendering with Skatter by João Q. Lima

While the processing speeds and level of detail shown in the trailer might be difficult for some to believe, some of the first users of the plugin have waxed lyrical about the product and its potential. “While Skatter allows you to optimize time and resources spent on such demanding scenes,” says architect João Q. Lima, “it also offers great control and it’s fun to use, helping you unleash your creativity.”

Rendering with Skatter by Brice Desportes

Skatter is available now by clicking here. To hone your skills on SketchUp, check out our 10 tips and tricks for the application, along with snappy guides to Rhino, Revit and 3D Max.