Installing SketchUp, Kerkythea and the GIMP


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I am updating this opening comment to include further links and instructions beyond the bare essentials as I progress - so stay tuned...

6 May 2011 - minor link updates.

7 May 2011 - added links to my other comments in this thread for the bone idle amongst us (myself included)

These are my notes from a day's installation process, just in case you want to try out a little rendering from SketchUp - but don't expect too much just yet, even Leonardo took a while to learn how to paint!

It will take you much less time if you follow the notes, and don't try to do clever things as I did, sigh. I also managed to put diesel in my petrol car - what a day!

Modelling installation procedure for Windows (5 May 2011).

The modelling system comprises:

1. Google SketchUp (free as in beer - drawing)

2. Kerkythea (free as in beer - rendering)

3. The GIMP (free as in speech and beer - image manipulation). Though you can use whatever you prefer.

Please note that I have included the version numbers, which of course will change with time. Use the latest version you can find for each program.


(If you don't understand what follows, don't worry - it's not that important)

I have tried to use SketchUp on Linux (Ubuntu Lucid), via Wine. I tried very hard, but there are just too many 'little' problems - won't print anything, won't export images, etc., etc., etc. So I moved to plan B, install Windows in a Virtual machine - I will not install Windows on a real machine, I have been bitten too many times. This works, with a caveat with OpenGL - which could be my video driver, but it's much, much better than it was.

Since I can use Kerkythea using SketchUp output, that goes in Windows too (though it's also available for Linux and the Mac). Doesn't harm to put the GIMP in Windows too (also available for Linux and the Mac), though I use the Linux version.

1. Install Oracle VirtualBox

(This entire step can be skipped if you have or prefer to use a native Windows/Mac platform)

The downloads can be found at http://www.virtualbo.../wiki/Downloads

Download VirtualBox 4.0.6 for your host platform

Download VirtualBox 4.0.6 Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack (required for a USB mouse)

Additional downloads at http://download.virt...rtualbox/4.0.6/ are:

Download VBoxGuestAdditions_4.0.6.iso (required for shared folders)

Download UserManual.pdf - you never know you could end up reading it

a. Install VirtualBox first, then the Extension Pack - double clicking the file does it all.

b. Create a virtual machine for the Windows host. Read the manual to find out how - it's not that difficult.

c. Install Windows in the virtual machine, I used Windows XP Pro SP2 which was the last Windows machine I bought.

d. Mount the iso image and install the additions in the virtual machine with Windows in Safe Mode (press F8 during boot) - this ensures you have OpenGL installed. Unmount it when you're done.

See the User manual for further details (RTFM).

2. Install Google Chrome (in the virtual machine)

(This step can also be skipped if you prefer to use Firefox, or are willing to stick with Internet Explorer)

The download can be found at

Download Google Chrome for your guest Windows platform

a. Install Google Chrome, the version I installed is 11.0.696.60 - double clicking the file does it all.

3. Install Google SketchUp (in your virtual machine)

The download can be found at

Download Google SketchUp for your guest Windows platform

There is no manual in PDF format (that I'm aware of), but there is a guide at:

a. Install Google SketchUp, the version I installed is 8.0.4811 - double clicking does it all.

b. Select the 'Product Design and Woodworking' template at start up (and disable the startup welcome window)

c. Download and install any plugins you may want to use. A list of repositories can be found at

I installed bezier from http://rhin.crai.arc...ins_list_az.php and

Curviloft from http://forums.sketch...pic.php?t=28586 (registration required, don't forget the library)

Neither of these plugins are required for the following steps.

The google user guide explains (concisely) how to install plugins at

Windows users tip: If the plugin is a zip file, you don't need Winzip, just right click on the filename and select Extract all..., or download and install 7-Zip at

4. Install Kerkythea (in your virtual machine)

The download can be found at http://www.kerkythea...unc=select&id=2

The manuals can be found at http://www.kerkythea...unc=select&id=6

The tutorials (with videos on using SU2KT) can be found at http://www.kerkythea...75&id=tutorials

The Wiki can be found at http://www.kerkythea...nwiki&Itemid=75

Download Kerkythea for your guest platform

Download the Getting Started - KT2008 Echo manual at http://www.kerkythea...=fileinfo&id=89 - you might end up reading it.

a. Install Kerkythea, the version I installed is Kerkythea 2008 Echo version 2.0.19 - double clicking the file does it all.

Download and install the SketchUp plugins for Kerkythea in SketchUp:

b. SU2KT from http://www.kerkythea...tartdown&id=112

c. SU2KT Lighting fixtures from http://www.kerkythea...fileinfo&id=113

5. Install the GIMP (in your virtual machine)

The download can be found at

The online manual (and offline HTML pages) can be found at

Download the GIMP for your guest platform.

a. Install the GIMP, the version I installed is 2.6.11 - double clicking the file does it all.

6. Wet run ( in your virtual machine)

a. Open SketchUp, and draw some simple geometric shapes - make sure you have shadows on, and you cover the ground with some material (see attached example file).

b. Create a scene: View -> Animation -> Add Scene (I didn't mean rave and rant).

c. Save the scene: right click on the scene tab and select Update.

d. Save the design: File -> Save, call it test.skp

e. Export the scene to a PNG image: File -> Export -> 2D Graphic..., call it test.png

f. Export the view to Kerkythea: Plugins -> Kerkythea Exporter -> Export Model, call it test.xml, then say yes when asked to 'Open exported model in Kerkythea?' - give the dialog the path and filename of Kerkythea, you won't be asked again. Make sure that nothing is highlighted in the design, otherwise only that will be exported.

g. Open the GIMP, and load the image saved by SketchUp: File -> Open..., then test.png

h. Rescale to 800 pixels in width: Image -> Scale Image..., set Width to 800, press tab - the height is calculated automatically, press Scale.

i. Save the file: File -> Save.

j. Save the file with a different name: File -> Save As... test-gimp.png.

k. Add a lens flare: Filters: Light and Shadow -> Lens Flare...

l. Change the contrast/brightness: Colors -> Brightness/Contrast...

m. Save the file: File -> Save.

n. Open Kerkythea (if not already open), and load the file saved by SU2KT in SketchUp: File -> Open... then choose test.xml

o. Click in the design panel (the big centre panel) and press V to change from wireframe to filled image.

p. Render the image: Render -> Start... then press OK - it'll take a while, grab a coffee now.

q. When done (red X icon is greyed out), go to the Rendered image window: Window -> Rendered Image, and press the Save button, call it test-kerkythea.jpg.

Done. Admire in wonder the images you've produced. (OK, maybe not admire, but at least you've made a start):


Now you're ready to go.

But wait, there's more...

In this same thread, I discuss using the GIMP to produce artistic versions of the exported SU images: http://woodtalkonlin...dpost__p__29586

Also discussed is installing materials in SU and KT: http://woodtalkonlin...dpost__p__29661



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I am updating this comment to include further links and instructions beyond the bare essentials as I progress - so stay tuned...

6 May 2011 - useful link updates, and new artistic effect.

Hey Aaron,




Cool. How do you do that in SketchUp?

John, thank you so much for this links.

You're a star.

Johan :lol::D:)

Thanks, with that encouragement I shall continue...

There are two ways you can go to present a design to a client (or your better half) or even to yourself.

The first is to create a realistic rendering of the model - which is difficult, very difficult. Not impossible for those who have the skills though, see http://www.arroway-t...wood-1/contents

The second is to make something that looks like a hand drawn sketch - which is much, much easier. Personally I think it gives the impression of something malleable, something that can be changed.

Guess which one I'll try first.

There are some fantastic techniques explained in the SketchUp Artists tutorials: http://www.sketchupa...ons/techniques/

They all started with the Dennis technique - it's a bit more than half way down the page. Wow!

But I wanted to try something a little simpler. A washed out version you might say.

First we need to create two snapshots in SketchUp, one for the colours, and one for the lines.

I took the test.skp file and created two additional scenes. Right click on the first scene tab and select Add..., then do it again.

In the first new scene I made a copy of the default style, and unchecked the edges checkbox. This gets rid of the lines.

In the second new scene I chose a Sketchy lines style, which has a white background.

Then I updated the scenes, and saved the file. I also exported two JPEG images of the scenes.

Here they are:

Colours: Lines:

Now open the colours image in the GIMP. Next open the lines file as a layer. File -> Open as Layers... then select the file.

You'll now have two layers in the Layers, Channels, Paths, etc panel.

Switch off the eye symbol for the background (the colours layer), make sure the lines layer is the selected layer (on a black bar) and set the opacity to 15%. This makes the lines and white background semi transparent.

Switch the eye symbol for the background back on, and the colours look washed out, but you can still see the sketchy lines.

Now switch off the eye symbol for the lines layer, and click on the background layer to select it.

Use the erode filter two or three times in succession to smudge the colours. Filters -> Generic -> Erode.

Switch the eye symbol for the lines layer back on and save the file, it's done. Here it is, with the original vanilla SketchUp image to compare it to:

Artistic: Vanilla:

I've also attached the SketchUp file - it's just a test though.

I really must pay more attention to searching forums. Dave Richards uses a great little program to achieve much better results: http://www.ukworksho...hup-t47725.html called FotoSketcher

Which works a treat. I used FotoSketcher to 'watercolour' the colours file, then superimposed the lines file as before:

FotoSketcher colours: Result: Using 'Multiply' mode in GIMP:

As Marc would say, "I liiike it"...



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Guest Screamer

Hi John

My SU models look way much better with this tool. I've just scratch the surface what it is capable of. So far I am very impressed. ( I am a fast learner) B)

And the best thing is that it free. Obviously I there is a learning curve to master, but it does not look that complicated at all.

I want to see want materials I can instal in Kerthythea. I am looking for wood textures.

Have a nice day John


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Hello Johan,

Hi John

My SU models look way much better with this tool. I've just scratch the surface what it is capable of. So far I am very impressed. ( I am a fast learner) B)

And the best thing is that it free. Obviously I there is a learning curve to master, but it does not look that complicated at all.

I want to see want materials I can instal in Kerthythea. I am looking for wood textures.

Have a nice day John


Hmm, you do ask the easiest questions...

There are three things (principally) you need to make a photo realistic rendering:

1. A model (SketchUp)

2. Lighting (SU2KT Lighting is a good start, or you can just use the Sun)

3. Materials - oops.

When you say 'wood textures', that has a rather generic meaning. What is really needed is:

1. A set of excellent photographs of wood species, long grain and end grain. Arroway almost has that: Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3. But even that may not be enough for some. Also there are no end grain photographs.

2. Different finishes, natural, matte, semi gloss, and gloss should be enough (!)

3. All packaged as a Kerkythea materials library - which can be imported into SketchUp if you want, although the file size will balloon astronomically.

Unfortunately, AFAIK, that library doesn't exist. But if you find one let us know, please smile.gif

Meanwhile I have found a few pointers:

The materials repository: http://www.kerkythea...unc=select&id=3 you'll need glass at least.

Patrick's wood materials: http://www.kerkythea...opic.php?t=9768

Darren's wood materials: http://www.kerkythea...=fileinfo&id=54

Then trawl the forums: Materials, Tips & Tricks, and SketchUp (I haven't had time yet, but I'll at least look at the stickies)

There is also a nice tutorial here: http://www.sketchupa...-and-kerkythea/ but no SketchUp file unfortunately.

Always nice to have something to aim for: http://www.ukworksho...hea-t47702.html - no idea how to get there yet though blink.gif

Meanwhile, I'll stick with SketchUp and the GIMP to produce 'artistic' images. It's a lot easier right now...



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I am updating this comment to include further links and instructions beyond the bare essentials as I progress - so stay tuned...

7 May 2011 - added first experiments section.

Adding materials to SketchUp and Kerkythea.

Here again are my notes on installing materials (wood mostly).

SketchUp materials

On Lumberjocks, sawdustroad has published a wood materials library: available here: - I think this is the one most people use.

Download the archive, extract it and then copy the folder into the sketchUp materials folder.

You'll find it in the Materials window under akb-Woodspecies the next time you start SketchUp.

On Google 3D warehouse Cadwerks.Studios has published a set of 6 libraries:

Download all six libraries using your browser by clicking on the 'Download to Google SketchUp 8' link - this is faster than using Files -> 3D Warehouse -> Get Models... within SketchUp

To import the libraries into SketchUp, for each file (but one at a time, please):

1. Double click on the skp file - this will open the file in SketchUp

2. Open the Materials window and go to the In 'Model section' of the drop down selector

3. Click on the Details icon (to the right of the drop down selector)

4. Choose 'Save collection as...'

5. Navigate to the SketchUp Materials folder and create e new folder 'Real Wood' - only once, of course - then click OK

6. Close SketchUp

Wash, rinse, and repeat for each library.

If there is a faster, less repetitive way of doing this, please let me know, 'cause this wasn't fun...

Now you have plenty of wood materials 54 from sawdustroad, and 287 from Cadwerks.Studios

Kerkythea materials

There is a sticky forum thread with a large list of materials: http://www.kerkythea...p?p=57370#57370

Of all of these I downloaded:

New Basic Materials By Patricks for KT2008: http://www.kerkythea...p?p=46191#46191 (both zip files)

Alex's Fantastic Material Packs (Plastics, Translucents, and Metals): http://www.kerkythea...opic.php?t=4801 (all three zip files)

Plexiglas (Plexiglass) materials by Rayman: http://www.kerkythea...p?p=30650#30650 (both zip files)

Solid Polycarbonate and Polycarbonate Panels (PC Panels) by Massimo: http://www.kerkythea...p?p=79854#79854

Sintra's Decorative Metals Library: http://www.kerkythea...opic.php?t=2927

New Wood for KT2008 by Patricks: http://www.kerkythea...p?p=81115#81115

New Woods by Sintra: http://www.kerkythea...opic.php?t=2939

New Fabrics by Sintra: http://www.kerkythea...opic.php?t=5621

HDR Probes as globals for KT: http://www.kerkythea...dr+probes#31634

Light Tents (HDR studio lighting) by Rayman: http://www.kerkythea...p?p=41382#41382 (both zip files)

To install these materials in Kerkythea:

1. Open Kerkythea

2. File -> Install Library...

3. Navigate to where you downloaded the zip files

4. Select all the zip files together, then click OK

However... the file fails to load. It has to be extracted first, then install the file - the original zip file contains a tutorial.

Now you have plenty of materials for Kerkythea.

Obviously the next step will be to find out what to do with all these materials, but Rome wasn't built in a day...

Experiments to create facsimiles of end-grain

I built a simple SketchUp design with two unique planks, 400cm x 50cm x 7.5cm

To attempt to get an 'end-grain' material:

I took the akb-birch material, created a copy, extracted the image, and applied a noise filter:

Filters -> Noise -> RGB Noise...

Correlated noise yes

Independent RGB no

Red, Green, Blue: 0.10

Then I darkened the image a little in the Colors -> Brightness/Contrast filter.

Also took the Gmelina leichardtii, White Beech, Australia (with so many species, it's difficult to find the one you want) and applied the same noise and brightness filters.

To get both materials to look 'reasonable' I had to play around with the scales of both quite a bit.

This is the result, akb-birch on the left, white beech on the right. I'm happy with the birch endgrain, but not with the beech.

Then I transferred the model to Kerkythea, without changing any parameters. The render took 22 minutes, plenty of time for a coffee...

I have attached the SketchUp file, but since it now contains the modified materials it's half a megabyte in size.

Here is Dave Richards' article on creating materials in SketchUp: http://www.finewoodw...g-new-materials



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Guest Screamer

Thanks again John for all this links and info about sketchup. You sure done a lot of research, and I am very happy that you share it with us.


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