Maxwell | SketchUp offers the full power of Maxwell, including Maxwell Render, the Network System components, Mxed (the standalone material editor), Multilight Standalone, PyMaxwell, and all without any resolution limitation. Maxwell Studio is not included, as it is sold as a separate product.
From Maxwell Render V4, the plugin for SketchUp does not have two different versions anymore, as happened in V3.
What do I need to know to use the plugin?
The Maxwell for SketchUp plugin has been designed to work in as simple a manner as possible. Wherever appropriate, unnecessary items have been optimized away, leaving what is intended to be a very simple and straightforward, yet complete, interface to Maxwell Render from within SketchUp. After reading this overview, you may wish to continue on to the Quick Start.
The main items used to build Maxwell scenes and render them are these:
1. The Maxwell Menu & Toolbar
The plugin adds a new Maxwell menu to SketchUp's Plugins menu, as well as a new Maxwell toolbar.
The plugin's toolbar looks like this:
Please, notice that the first five buttons except Fire will be greyed out if Maxwell | SketchUp is unlicensed. You can activate the product by going to Extensions menu > Maxwell > Checkout License and activating your license or a demo one.
From left to right, the commands are as follows:
Rendering & Export
Exports the scene to an MXS file and renders it using Maxwell Render.
Export to Studio
Exports the scene to an MXS file and opens it for editing in Maxwell Studio (this button might be greyed out if there's no Studio license available).
Exports the scene to an MXS file and renders it using the Maxwell Network Rendering system.
Opens or closes the Maxwell Fire window.
Exports the model to an MXS file.
Browse for an MXM file
Allows you to browse for an MXM file from the local disk. If Maxwell Render Suite is installed, Maxwell MXED will be used for browsing; select the desired MXM file by double-clicking on it in the browser. Otherwise, a standard file browser dialog will be shown.
Browse the MXM Gallery
Allows you to browse for an MXM file from the Maxwell Render MXM Gallery. If Maxwell Render Suite is installed, Maxwell MXED will be used in MXM Gallery browsing mode. Otherwise, the plugin will attempt to navigate to the online MXM Gallery website in your default browser.
MXM Status Report
Shows a list of all materials and the status of their MXM paths.
Create Area Light
Creates a ready-made square area light of 1m side with an Emitter material type assigned called “Area Light”.
Create HDRI Light
Creates a ready-made square image-based area light of 1m side with an HDRI Emitter material type assigned called “HDRI Light”. It requires an image to be loaded in the HDRI Emitter slot (otherwise, it will work as an area light). HDR, EXR or MXI formats are recommended as they will look better than LDR images as PNG or JPG.
Create Omni Light
Creates a ready-made spherical area light with a diameter of 0.1m with an Emitter material type assigned called “Omni Light”.
Creates a ready-made projector (similar to a film projector) with an Image Projector material type assigned called “Projector Light”. It requires an image to be loaded in the Image File slot of the material (otherwise, the projector gizmo will be visible in the render).
Create IES Light
Creates a ready-made IES-file-based light with an IES Emitter material type assigned called “IES Light”. It requires an IES or LDT file (photometric file) to be loaded in the IES Emitter slot of the material (otherwise, the projector gizmo will be visible in the render).
Scene & Camera
Shows the plugin's Scene Manager window.
Shows the plugin's Object Properties window.
Provides an eye-dropper for selecting the materials of entities in the model.
Set DOF, Z-Clip, or Z-Buffer
Prompts for two points in the scene and once chosen, adjusts either the camera's DOF (Depth of Field), Z-Clip Planes, or Z-Buffer distances.
Set Focal Distance
Prompts for a single point which, once chosen, is used to set the focal distance of the camera.
Shows the plugin's Maxwell Grass window.
Shows the plugin's Maxwell Sea window.
Shows the plugin's Maxwell Volumetric window.
Shows the plugin's Maxwell Scatter window.
Insert MXS Reference
Prompts you to choose a Maxwell MXS file, which will then be inserted into the model as an MXS Reference.
Help & Info
Opens the plugin's PDF manual page in general documentation site.
Opens the plugin's About box, which contains information about the currently installed plugin.
2. The Scene Manager Window
The Maxwell Scene Manager window is the single central point of access to all Maxwell-related scene parameters.
These parameters are divided into four main categories, Materials, Camera, Environment, and Output, each of which is contained in a tab in the Scene Manager. Then, there’s a fifth tab for plugin configuration Options.
3. The Maxwell Fire Window
Maxwell Fire window is used to show the render interactively while moving objects, cameras or changing materials:
By default (see Start Maxwell Fire in Plugin Options) the SketchUp model will automatically be transferred (a.k.a. exported) into Maxwell’s format, and the rendering will be started:
When the rendering is finished, the image may be saved by clicking the Save Image button. However, it is usually the case that Maxwell Fire serves as more of a scene setup tool, with final rendering being done using Maxwell Render itself.
4. The Maxwell Context Menu
In the context (i.e. right-click) menu for SketchUp entities, you will find a Maxwell item:
The commands here allow you to decide how the faces it contains will be separated, and to decide whether or not you would like to override SketchUp's UVs for the entity. Additionally, there are commands for exporting or rendering just the selected entity.
5. Included Assets
All versions of the plugin are provided with a set of assets, which may be found in Maxwell's installation directory. These assets are organized into several sub-directories:
mxm files (inside material database folder)
Contains a rudimentary collection of pre-made .mxm files, along with associated texture files, located in a textures subdirectory. Maxwell MXM files may be used in plugin materials by using the material's MXM Mode.
This folder contains the collection of .ies & .ldt files that ship with Maxwell Render Suite. IES & LDT files may be used in the creation of Maxwell emitter materials, by choosing the IES File material Character.
ior (inside material database folder)
Contains the collection of .ior files that ship with Maxwell Render. IOR files may be used in the creation of Maxwell materials, by choosing the Complex IOR material Character.
Contains various Maxwell .sky files, which may be imported in the Scene Manager's Environment page.
Contains various maps which are designed for use with Maxwell's SimuLens feature.
Contains Maxwell MXS files which are used by the plugin material editor to provide its list of material Preview Scenes.