All posts by Cassius Adams

10 Dundas East (former Toronto Life Square, Pen Equity, 10s, Baldwin & Franklin)

Urban Toronto - urbantoronto.caPosted by MetroMan of

“Cassius, I’d love to see what you could come up with to update the exterior, considering your excellent rendering design abilities.
From the info I’ve heard, we can expect better use of the 25,000 square feet of media wall space, better signage and rides on the roof that should be visible from the square.”

Visit the page

Urban Toronto is an online messageboard and community dedicated to everything Toronto.  I have been a member on the site for about 7 or 8 years now and generally hang out in the “Projects & Construction” section.  The community is made up of over 6,000 active members and is free for anyone to join.

Flowing Blue Waves and Curves

Blue Flowing Waves by Cassius AdamsOver the past weekend I decided that it was time to replace the header images on this website, so I came up with this image.  It was inspired by a combination of Microsoft Window’s splash screen and a lot of the icons and buttons that have been dominating in the web 2.0 world.

Feel free to click on the image and download the larger (4000 x 2754) image if you need to use it for something.  Please give me credit if doing so somehow fits in with whatever you use it for, but don’t feel obligated to do so.

I have decided to turn this post into a tutorial for those that may be starting in graphic design and interested in doing something like it.  The colour combination is really easy to change, making it a very customizable image.  Similar results can be accomplished using vectors but I won’t be doing that this time.

This tutorial assumes you have Photoshop or a similar graphic design application, such as Gimp.  Let’s get started.

Waves 1Step 1 – Making the Waves

To start, open up Photoshop or whatever graphics software you’re using and decide on the size of your image.  I went fairly large (about 4500 x 3500) so that I could easily use portions of the finished image but not have to worry about them being too small if I only decided to use a small section.  You may be restricted by the amount of memory on your computer.  The more memory the better.

On a new empty layer, draw a black wave pattern.  It’s important to make sure that it is fairly random and smooth or your results may not turn out very well.

In the image above, I have compiled 4 example wave patterns.  In your photoshop file, all of the waves patterns will be placed on top or below of each other in the layer set, with filter effects eventually applied.

Waves 2So for example, check out the image to the left.  Each of the 4 waves is a different layer.  You can see that I have set them to have an opacity.  In this case of 25%.  You don’t need to do this yet, but I thought it was important to show an image so that you can more easily follow along.

Now go ahead and make a series of random wave patterns.  If I recall correctly, I made about 20-30 patterns.  When you get tired of making them, simply stretch a few or flip them horizontally and the number of waves you have will quickly increase.  There’s no point in spending countless hours making them all completely unique if you can give the impression of random sizes and heights by doing a few stretches, skews or horizontal flips.

Step 2 – Applying a Fade Effect

You will now probably want to decide on a colour scheme.  In my case I chose a light blue colour.  Use 2 slightly different shades of the same colour for your foreground colour and your background colour.

Colour SampleIn this image, you can see my colour selection with the light blue for foreground and dark blue for background.  Now make all of your wave layers except 1 fully invisible so that they don’t get in your way.  With the remaining wave layer, double-click it so that you can update the Layer Style and enable the Gradient Overlay option.  Choose to use the Foreground to Background option which will be towards the top left.  You’ll want to play with the angle and Scale.  I went with between 20% and 40% for scale, and my angles range from between 125 degrees and 60 degrees depending on the pattern of the wave.  Play around with this until you find something that looks right to you.

Now that you have a fade effect on the layer, you’ll want to define the top edge a bit more.  We can do this by giving it a slight fade effect along the edge going from dark at the top to lighter towards the bottom.  This will trick the eyes into thinking you’re looking at a more rounded surface.  To do this, go back into the Layer Style and click on Bevel and Emboss.  I chose the settings in the following image.

Bevel and EmbossMy values are as follows:

Style: Inner Bevel, Technique: Smooth, Depth: 31%, Direction: Up, Size: 250px, Soften: 16px, Angle: 90 degrees with Use Global Light enabled, Altitude: 1 degree, Anti-aliasing enabled.

Highlight Mode was set to normal with black as the colour and an opacity of 100%.

Shadow Mode was set to Screen (any option will do since it’s invisible) with a black (I know, in the picture to the left it’s white.  It’s invisible and doesn’t matter) and set it to 0% opacity so that it’s invisible.

By adjusting these values ever-so-slightly, you should get a bit of a darkening effect around the edge of the wave.

FadeYou can see the minor difference that it makes in this animated gif.  Look closely because it’s very subtle, but in my opionion very necessary to sell the overall effect of the waves.  You want to have the darker edge.

Your layer should be looking somewhat like this one at this time.

Now do the same procedure that you did with this layer to the remaining wave layers.  Be sure that you only have 1 layer visible at a time or things will get confusing very quickly and you may be tempted to make other types of changes based on the overall image at this point.  It’s best to leave that to the end during touchups.

BackgroundStep 3 – Adding the background

The background is a simply a gradient using similar colours to your waves.  I chose to have it go from darker (well, darker than white) at the top to lighter at the bottom.  Since the bottom half of your waves will be covering up the bottom part of your background in the end anyways, you really don’t have to worry about what the bottom of the background looks like at this point.  So a white background should work  just fine.

Now it’s just a matter of applying filters to the layers and some touchups.

Before & After LayersStep 4 – Adding the Layers and Touchups

First convert the wave layers into flat layers so that the layer effects are applied directly to the layer.  In other words, you’re flattening each layer, but be sure to keep everything above the wave complete opaque.  In the image to the left you can see what I mean.  The “Before” layer is how yours is set up now.  The “After” layer is what you need to convert it into.

Now make the 2 bottom-most wave layers visible.  To the upper wave layer, set the opacity to about 20% and apply a filter.  I mostly stuck with Hard Light, Linear Burn, Color Burn, Pin Light and Multiply.  Then do similar to the bottom wave layer too. This should lighten-up the bottom of the wave so it’s not so dark.

Make the next layer up visible and again apply a filter and set it to about 20% in opacity.  Repeat this until all the layers are visible and you should have something similar to my final product.

I hope this tutorial is enough to help get you started.

7 Labatt Ave Office Building 3D Rendering Tutorial

7 Labatt Avenue Rendering 2In this post I’m going to show you how I created two 3d renderings (see the post) for the 7 Labatt Avenue office building in Toronto.

I was contracted to produce two marketing renderings of the existing building so that the owner of the building could use them on his website and also on the marketing materials there produced.

While I use a 3D program named TrueSpace by Caligari, you can use the same principles as I have in this tutorial to end up with similar results.  I have performed screencaps along the way in order to put together this tutorial.

FloorplanStep 1 – Importing the Floorplans

To start, I was given a copy of the floorplan which I scanned into a digital file and cropped it appropriately.  Then in my 3D program I added it as a texture to a flat 2D plane.  It was important that the dimensions of the 2D plane matched the dimensions of my image.  So for example if the image was 800 x 600, I made sure that my 2D plane was in a 4:3 ratio.  If it were different then the proportions of the building wouldn’t be right.

Step 2 – Modeling the Walls

I then begin cutting out the shape of the building from the 2D plane using boolean subtractions.  Since I scanned my original image, there were a few jagged edges in the floorplan, so I used straight lines during the boolean subtraction process so that the final product didn’t also have jagged walls.

Once I had the basic shape of the building cut out, I began adding some walls using simple cube objects based on where the floorplan showed them.  Since this rendering needed to be done quickly, I wasn’t at all worried about overlapping objects into each other.  You may choose to extrude the cutout instead of using cubes and other shapes.  It’s up to you.

Floorplan 2You’ll notice that the walls in the image above are already textured.  That’s because I prefer to texture things as I go along.  You don’t have to do it that way, it’s just a personal preference.

The flooplan that I was given only contained a single floor.  If you’re following this tutorial with your own floor plans, I definitely recommend that you get a copy of each floor as they can vary by quite a bit from floor to floor.

As an alternative, I simply took pictures of the building and “eyeballed” it for the 2nd and 3rd floors.  Here you can see that I have begun adding a balcony that’s on the 3rd floor of this building.  Since it wasn’t from the floorplan it wasn’t perfect, but it was definitely close enough for the needs of the customer.  You may or may not need to be more accurate, depending on your customer’s request.

Floorplan 3Continue to build your walls based on what the floorplan cutout shows and you’ll start to see your building taking shape.

In this picture, I have added a bit of the rooftop, windows, stairs, and doors.

I also like to add some lighting to my work as I progress so that I can get a decent idea of what I’m modelling actually looks like.  Again, most people don’t do this – it’s a personal preference – but I did it because I was under a tight deadline and I needed to know the texturing and modeling was going to look ok within the timeline.

Step 3 – Finalizing the Model

Building Render 5Continue modeling your building based on the floorplan.  It’s best to do the rooftops last in case you need to render your file to screen and see what’s beneath it.

Making a decent 3D rendering always comes down to the details.  Adding brick textures and bumpmaps brings the wall on the right a long when when viewed in large or in print.  Print is usually 300dpi (dots per inch) whereas your computer screen is most likely 72.  That means if you want something to look good in print like it does on your monitor, you should make the image at least 5 times larger on your screen then what the final print size will be.  So if it’s 4 inches on your screen, make it at least 20 inches on screen for a 4 inch print.  It’s a rule of thumb I have always followed and it’s worked out pretty well for me.

Some of the details that are important are the edges around windows and doors, bumpmapping on textures that need it and every day details that you may not think of, like the flag on the pole and the blue signs above the door.  For my windows, I didn’t want to waste time doing too much modeling so I simply took pictures of the windows from outside, cropped the image and used it as a texture instead of an opaque glass colour.  This effect can be noticed most in the two windows closest to us in the image above, right at the corner.

Step 4 – Lighting and Background

Now that the model is complete, get yourself a background image.  I took images from the top of the building I was rendering to use as a kind of background plate.  You can do similar or not, but adding a photographic image to the surrounding area of the model will help to put it into context.

Have a look at the way the shadows are being cast in your background image and try to match the lighting in your virtual environment so that they mesh better.  It’s not absolutely necessary to do this but it can help the final product.

Add in a virtual camera to your scene and try to match it’s location, direction and agle to what your real camera had when you took the photograph.  This will take some time to make sure they match up.  You also want to make sure your virtual camera is at an appropriate distance from your objects so that your depth of perception etc all match up between the virtual “world” and the real world.

7 Labatt Avenue Rendering 1Step 5 – Composition and Touchups

Render your model to an image and drop it into photoshop as a layer.  Take your background image and put it into the same photoshop file.  Be sure, of course, that the rendered image is the top layer.

Throw in some people to the image, trees, cars, streets and anything else that would normally be in the area of the building.  These will help “sell” the image to the viewer.  To sell it to people on behalf of your client, make the image appear “lively” and “happening” (moreso than I had a chance to do 🙂 ) so that it gives people a nice comfortable feeling when they look at it.  Your client will be happy about.

That’s it!  Of course this tutorial makes it all sound a lot easier than it is.  While this job was a really quick one for me, it still took about a week+ to complete the two renderings.  3D modeling and imagery requires patience.  If you don’t have any you’ll just get fed up and quit.

I’d be curious to see how your results turn out.  Feel free to contact me if you feel like sharing!

Good luck!