It's all in the timing, or so the saying goes.
That adage goes double wherever technology is concerned. As soon as one product is released, it seems, a newer version of it is just around the corner.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Daniel Tal, author of the recent Rendering in SketchUp, warns readers that at some point after the book is published, newer versions of the software would become available. He was more right than maybe even he would have thought, since the book was only published in March and a new version of SketchUp itself (the free version is now called SketchUp Make) came out in late May, a mere two months after Rendering was published..
Fortunately for readers, Rendering was written with that in mind, and the new versions of SketchUp aren't a radical departure from the immediate prior version, with some functionality added to the Pro version.. As a result of Tal's intent to make the book relevant for as long as it can be, the book has some strong fundamentals. In other words, while the book does include details such as software-specific commands (which could change over time), it is also heavy on principles, which are more likely to stay the same even as technology advances. His previous book, Google SketchUp for Site Design, published in 2007, remains a solid introduction to SketchUp itself for landscape architects and planners, even though several newer versions of the software have been released since it was published.
The text, as the title indicates, is more about rendering in SketchUp... However, the actual rendering is done with external software. The reason for that is the titular program doesn't have any photorealistic rendering tools native within it; renderers using the software rely on one or more integrated renderign programs (IRPs) that work in tandem with SketchUp to produce the desired images. In short, SketchUp produces the base model and external programs render it.The book explicates a universal (multi-platform) process that can be used with a variety of IRPs, including Shaderlight, SU Podium, and Twilight Render.
The book follows a logical, step-by-step trajectory, reflecting Tal's classroom experience teaching SketchUp techniques. It's also heavily illustrated, filled with images both rendered and unrendered, as well as side by side comparisons of the same image rendered using different settings or software. Each caption contains information on which software was used to produce the image, so that the reader can be sure which program produced which results.
As in his first book, Tal brings an eye for detail to the book. Each step is covered in detail, and external references are included where appropriate, such as directing the reader to online sources for surface texture.
Tal's prose, too, has improved since his first book. That text had the occasionally awkward turns of phrases, and the author himself stated his primary talent wasn't writing and that he relied on others for assistance. This time around, however, the writing flows well throughout, possibly indicating Tal's maturity as a writer.
Overall, the book is unique in that it covers a subject seldom covered elsewhere in book form. For the beginner looking to jump into SketchUp rendering or the advanced user looking to expand his knowledge of rendering techniques, Rendering in Google SketchUp offers a wealth of techniques.