As architects begin using real-time engines like Unreal Engine (UE4) to visualize their Sketchup (SKP) files, incorporating a 3D optimization software into their pipeline will become more important than ever. Because SKP files are so geometrically complex and real-time engines have file size constraints, the SKP to UE4 workflow requires in-depth optimization. A 3D optimization engine like Meshmatic can have substantial budget savings when optimizing. Meshmatic now supports native SKP files, meaning you can import an SKP file – without worrying about data conversion into Meshmatic.
Let’s go over the Sketchup to UE4 workflow from designing to optimizing with Meshmatic, and finally importing into Unreal Engine.
Export from Sketchup
CAD data can be large and complex, so optimizing before bringing it into real-time environments is necessary. To optimize your Sketchup file with Meshmatic, export your file in SKP format following these steps.
- In Sketchup, select File > Save as > Save, this will open the Save as model dialog box
- Go to the location where you want to save your exported file
- If you’d like, change the file name
- Click Save and your file will appear in the location where you decided to save it
Pre-optimization with Meshmatic
To make sure your entire Sketchup assembly is manageable in Unreal Engine, let’s use Meshmatic to clean up and optimize.
Meshmatic versions 1105 and up support native SKP files, so you can directly import your SKP file into Meshmatic without converting into STEP format.
To import a native SKP file into Meshmatic simply:
- Open Meshmatic and select Import File from the main menu bar
- Select your SKP file and press Import
Now that your native SKP file is in Meshmatic, you can focus on clean up and optimization for optimal performance in Unreal Engine (or other real-time design software).
Duplicate asset clean up
For most architectural design files, optimizing duplicate assets is a great way to start. Meshmatic automatically finds assets that are identical throughout your scene; here are the steps:
- Click on the Duplicate Detector tab (on the lower part of the screen)
- Select your Detection Threshold. The detection threshold lets you specify assets that the software will detect as duplicates, including the minimum number of duplicates, the vertex count, and mesh volume (for more information, see: duplicate detector).
- Select Find Duplicates
- Meshmatic will detect duplicate assets based on your specifications
- If you want to adjust the range of the Duplicate Detection, go back to step 2 and continue accordingly
- Now that duplicate assets are found, you can use the Instantiate All button to reduce file size and complexity
Now that duplicate assets are instanced, you can use Meshmatic’s other tools.
Removing duplicate faces and vertices
Overlapping vertices and faces have negative effects on file size and complexity, and in turn, take a toll on real-time performance. Overlapping vertices and faces aren’t visible in the design, instead of manually searching for overlapping assets, Meshmatic can detect and remove them semi-automatically by using Meshmatic’s “remove duplicate faces” tool and “remove duplicate vertices” tool.
As you optimize, you can review your files’ statistics in Meshmatic’s “Stats” tab (found on the right-hand side of the screen). The statistics tab will automatically update to reflect changes in your file. Once you’re happy with your file size and complexity, you can export as a Uasset for importing into Datasmith.
Alternatively, you can also use Meshmatic’s suggestive optimization tool that automates 3D optimization based on your file and what kind of project it will be used for. For instance, if you want to optimize your Sketchup file for an AR or VR experience, Meshmatic can improve the performance of your file for real-time design and visualization in a game engine, these are the steps:
- After importing your native Sketchup file to Meshmatic, select the Analyze tab on the right side of the screen
- Click on Analyze Model
- The Analysis Configurator window will appear, select Game Engine to optimize your file for a real-time engine
- Meshmatic will display problematic areas in your file
- Select Fix All
Please note that all the actions that Meshmatic performs in Suggestive Optimization are available in the top toolbar as single optimization tools.
Importing into Datasmith
Now that you’re ready to import into Datasmith, export your newly optimized file from Meshmatic as a Uasset. In Meshmatic’s top toolbar, select “Export to Unreal,” this will export a Uasset file so you can import it directly into Unreal Studio.
SKP to UE4 Workflow, Final thoughts
3D optimization is a complex and time-consuming process. Meshmatic’s tools can help automate major parts of 3D conversion and clean up, helping 3D teams save time and reduce errors.
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