Quick Start

Thea for SketchUp v2.0

1. Installation


Download and execute the Thea for SketchUp installer from the following link:



When installing Thea for SketchUp, set the path of the Thea Data folder to a location where every user has full read/write access. If the path doesn’t have permissions, the plug-in won’t work properly.


Download and execute the Thea for SketchUp installer from the following link:

SketchUp needs to be started at least once before running the installer; otherwise, it won’t appear in the list.

The installer will guide you through the necessary steps. It automatically recognizes previously installed SketchUp versions and offers the corresponding plug-in installation.



NVIDIA Optix™ Denoiser requires and NVIDIA graphics card.



Thea Data is written to the following path:
Home/Library/Application Support/Thea Render

2. Activation

After installing the plug-in, open the License Wizard using SketchUp’s menu:

Extensions > Thea Render > License Form

Click on ‘Register Now’ and complete the form using the unique Serial Number you received to get your license file by email.

To activate Thea, open License Form by following the previous step and this time select ‘I have my license file…’. Load your license file. The status of your license details will be displayed at the top of the license form.



If you don’t activate your license, you will remain in Demo mode with the following limitations:

  • Maximum resolution: 1280×720
  • Watermarks

All other features and functionalities are fully supported.

3. The Interface

Once the plug-in is installed, its name will appear in the Extensions menu. Thea for SketchUp comes with its own Thea toolbar (fig. 1). In any case where the toolbar is not visible, go to:

Extensions > Thea Render > Show Thea for SketchUp toolbar. (fig. 2)

The Thea Toolbar can also be enabled by right-clicking on the top toolbar and select ‘Thea Render’.

Thea Tool Panel

This panel contains has settings for the following features: Model, Camera, Material Editor, Lights and Environment. (fig. 3)

Thea Browser

Thea Browser gives quick access to Thea materials, external models, skies and SketchUp components. The Online Repository allows you to download thousands of materials from Thea Render’s online material database.

Thea Rendering Window

The Thea Rendering Window (fig. 4) is where the final rendering happens and also gives access to the Settings Panel which contains the following options: Display settings, Render settings, Channels, and Animation settings.




All the panels (Thea Tool, Control and Settings panels) can be docked / undocked in the Thea Rendering window allowing further customization of the interface.

4. Start Interactive Rendering

The default installation of the plug-in has the control panel as a floating window.


From the Control Panel, select one of the engines supporting interactive rendering, Presto MC, and Adaptive AMC. Make sure that the button next to the render engine drop down menu is enabled and select ‘in SketchUp Window’.

There are 3 more options to choose from when rendering in Viewport:

in SketchUp with edges, Blended with SketchUp, Multiplied with SketchUp.


There is the option to render interactively right inside Thea Rendering Window. You just need to select the in Thea Window’ option from the Display drop-down and press Start.

5. Render in Production Mode

To start rendering in Production Mode, click on the Thea Rendering Window icon and select a render engine from the Engine drop-down menu.

If you have selected a render engine that also supports interactive rendering like Presto MC, and Adaptive AMC, be sure to disable the interactive rendering button next to the render engines drop down.

The rest of the render engines only work in Production Mode (Unbiased TR1/TR2, Adaptive BSD)

Setting the final resolution

To define the final resolution that will be used in Production Mode go through the following:

  • Open Thea Tools.
  • In Camera Tab use the Resolution section to set the size of the image.

6. Creating and modifying materials

Using SketchUp materials

Thea for SketchUp uses the Native material system to apply materials to the scene. Just start by clicking on the Create Material… button from the Materials Tab, give it a color or texture and apply it to the scene.

Modifying a SketchUp material using the Thea material editor

In order to modify a material using the Thea material editor, you have to open the Thea Tool window by clicking on the Thea Tool icon. Now with the window open, you will notice that the cursor has changed from an Arrow to the Thea Cursor. Clicking on an object that has a material applied to it, the Thea Tool window switches to the Material Tab with the material selected and ready for modifications.

Preset and Editor

Materials in Thea for SketchUp can be edited with the preset or the full material editor. Presets provide an easy and quick way to create materials. The Full material editor allows the creation of complex materials with advanced layering options.

Working with Front & Back Faces

Since SketchUp allows you to paint the Front & the Back face of a surface, use the following as a guide when rendering with Thea:

  • A material has been applied to the back face of a surface.Thea will use the Backface material.
  • A material has been applied to the front face of a surface.Thea will use the Front Face material.
  • Different Materials have been applied to the Front and Back faces of the surface.The Front face material will be used.

There is an option that can be found in Thea Tools > Preferences called “Use back face material when front is absent”.

If a material has only been applied to the back face then with this option disabled, Thea will ignore the back face material and render it with a basic white material.

Have a look at this knowledge base article about Front & Back face materials.

7. Environment and lights

You may control Physical Sky & Image Based Lighting from the Environment Tab located in Thea Rendering Window.



The first two icons in the Environment Tab are for enabling/disabling Sun & Sky. By default, Thea will use the position of SketchUp’s Sun but you can easily override it by enabling the Manual Sun option and unchecking the Use SketchUp Sun Position option.

You can change Thea Sun position by using the Polar Angle and Azimuth but there is also an interactive way to do that by just clicking on the last icon on the row.

A new preview windows will open, showing the current Sun position along with any image that has been loaded in the Image Based Lighting Section (2nd Tab). Click anywhere to place the Sun.


If you want to light your scene with HDR or EXR images, you can do this by switching the 2nd tab. Enable the Illumination channel and load an .hdr or .exr image.

IBL can also be used along with the Sun. Follow these steps:

  • With the image loaded in the Illumination Channel, click on the Sun icon to enable it.
  • Open the Preview widget.
  • Now you can see both the Sun and the IBL image.
  • Click and drag with the left mouse button to rotate the hdr/exr image and align it with the SketchUp sun.


To start adding lights to the scene, do the following:

  • Open the Thea Tool panel.
  • Switch to the Light Tab.
  • Click on one of the four icons at the bottom.

After they have been created, you can always come back and modify their settings. To do that:

  • Open Thea Tool.
    System cursor changes to the Thea Cursor
  • Click on any light to focus on it.
  • Thea Tools now display the Light tab with the light selected.

The following video shows in detail how to use the Light Tool.