In 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!