Train Pavilion Interior Study

Train Pavilion Interior Study

  I have been experimenting with some interior illustrations and wanted to post a breakdown of this image.  Determining the view for this shot has been difficult because there is so much going on in the design, and I wanted to find a view that properly captured many of the design elements. Ultimately, I will probably need to create several interior shots to tell the full story, but this one seemed to do the job of expressing the layering of the elements.   The breakdown of the image is like most of the others that I post. I started with a Sketchup model and created some textures for the metal and wood materials.   Sketchup model with textures off   Sketchup model with textures on   Base rendering directly out of V-Ray   Final image after Photoshop post processing     There are several things that I was juggling in my head when I was deciding on the view. The design contains several layers of structure and sun shading devices. I wanted the view to express these elements and show how these layered on top of one another. This meant shifting the view around quite a bit to avoid certain walls covering up other walls,  or letting steel structures block views of the context. The materials themselves also help express the layering by using dark and light tones along with cool and warm tones. Finally, a hint of atmospheric haze was added to give a better sense of depth and further enhance the layering effect.         I also knew that I wanted to play up the contrast...
VA Tumblr Visitor Gallery Inspiration

VA Tumblr Visitor Gallery Inspiration

  There has been some beautiful work showing up in the Visualizing Architecture Tumblr gallery lately. Below are some of my favorites. I had trouble narrowing down the selections to just these few, however, these images all have some similar characteristics: 1. They all execute textures beautifully.  It is something that I bring up over and over again on this site, and in my opinion is a quality that has been diluted in architecture illustrations as computers get integrated more and more into the architectural workflow.  I grew up hand drafting and painting and didn’t get into digital illustration until midway through college. I, therefore, gravitate towards images with great texture and that have more of a human touch. The images posted below start to hover on that line between computer generated and hand drafted. None of the textures look tiled or copied and they don’t overpower the image. 2. These images are very well composed. Some have very formal and symmetrical layouts while others generate great eye movement around the page through shadow and light. In some cases, the sky and landscape occupy much of the image with the architecture inhabiting a smaller supporting role in the composition. 3. The lighting and atmosphere are all under control and set poetic tones. The skies have just the right amount of hierarchy enhancing the mood but not taking over the image. The different elements in the images such as the architecture, landscape, and context all feel like they belong together in the same scene instead of independent elements pieced together from different sources.     Стародубов Георгий / Archicad18, Photoshop     Artem Lazarev/ 3ds Max, Photoshop     Simon Oudiette/ Horoma Studio/ Vertical Urban farm...
Floor Plan Study

Floor Plan Study

  This week, I have begun piecing together the floor plans of the Train Pavilion Project. When it comes to visualizing floor plans, I have always leaned towards a simple representation. Maybe it is because I have spent so many years working in offices where the construction drawings are plastered with call-outs, dimensions, and notes, but I like my plans to read more on the diagrammatic side.  This means simple poched walls and minimal details such as furniture so that the reading of the spatial relationships is hierarchically strong. I have posted several floor plan illustrations over the years on this site and they all have a similar style. The walls are filled in solid and are usually the darkest or lightest elements on the page depending on the background. I also like to give a slight change in tone of the background color to differentiate between the extents of the floor plan from the surrounding site. Finally, I add a slight shadow to give some depth and help define wall vs glass. It is a simple set of moves that lead to clear, easy to read plans. Below are some floor plan layouts from my Portfolio Vol. 3       I also like to combine section cuts with the floor plans when setting up portfolio spreads. It is an easy opportunity to relate the two types of illustrations to one another. If you do a little thinking before hand about layout, the sections and floor plans can start to engage one another and actually increase the readability of each. In the case of the train pavilion layout, I placed the transverse section cuts along the floor plan in the corresponding...
Train Pavilion Diagrams

Train Pavilion Diagrams

I have been playing around with some diagrams for the recent train pavilion design. The architecture diagrams that I create on this site have ranged quite a bit over the years. Lately, I have been gravitating towards a minimal approach for these types of illustrations. For this series, I experimented with creating a dialect between plan views and corresponding perspectives.  I used a simple color palette to help relate and orient the viewer within the diagrams.           All these diagrams were created using a Sketchup model rendered as a clay model in V-Ray. I then used that clay model as a base in Photoshop to apply color. To see some more diagrams that I have done in the past, I have added some links below which go into more depth on the workflow that I use:   1. Boston Greenway Diagrams 2. Boston Wharf Diagrams 3. Cranbrook Site Analysis Diagrams 4. Thesis Diagrams  ...
6 Tips for a Perfect Sky

6 Tips for a Perfect Sky

I can’t believe that I have not written a post about skies yet on this blog. In most cases, a sky can make or break an architecture illustration. It’s also something that I see a lot of people overlook or only spend a few minutes on in their renderings. The thing is, a good sky sets the entire mood of an image. Because of this, it’s my first priority as soon as I get into Photoshop. I spend quite a bit of time combing through images online to find the perfect one for my scene. With the different images below, you will see how much the mood and tone shift from just changing out the sky. I have put together some ideas to think about when looking for that perfect sky. It should be noted that these are guidelines. There are many of different scenarios and situations in architecture visualization in which these tips may not apply. However, I have found that to be rare and I follow these ideas in almost every image that I create.     1. Avoid Oversaturated Color     Oversaturation is an issue I see often. Many of the sky images that I find online have this problem because the sky has been enhanced or amplified to be more dramatic and catch viewers attention. However, too much color saturation in the sky will overpower the colors in the architecture and ground plane ruining the hierarchy of the illustration. To fix this, I go into “Image>Adjustments>Hue Saturation” and I move the “Saturation” slider to the left to remove some of the color.     2. Avoid Awkward or Unnatural Colors  ...
V-Ray Settings Overview

V-Ray Settings Overview

A lot of you have been asking for V-Ray settings and so I am going to spend a little time going over the settings that I used to create the base rendering of the main street perspective in the previous post. I have been using V-Ray for over a year now and I am in no way paid by V-Ray or affiliated with the company. I simply tried out a lot of different programs and found V-Ray was the best at meeting a lot of my needs. The most important of these were simplicity and flexibility. Right out of the box, V-Ray generates nice renderings. You will notice that I don’t vear too far from the default settings, but instead use settings that will provide the best ratio of fast rendering times and good outputs. Another very important point that I want to make is that I am not trying to produce the perfect V-Ray rendering each time. I am simply trying to get close to what I want and then refine the lighting and colors in Photoshop. This way of thinking maintains my sanity and minimizes the amount of test renderings and setting adjustments that need to be made. Render settings are obviously a big topic to cover and there are many different rendering situations like interior shots, dusk shots, and daytime shots that require different setups. To keep things manageable, this first post will be an overview of the basic concepts that I use for setting up a daytime rendering scene. Things like material setup, AO passes, dusk and interior shot setup will come later. Before getting into the settings, there are a...
Back to Business: Main Street Perspective

Back to Business: Main Street Perspective

It’s been a while, but I am finally back. I have spent the last several months traveling, giving workshops, settling into a new home, and spending time with family. Needless to say, priorities shifted as they often do and this website unfortunately had to be put on hold. However, I am ready to get back into things and am excited about what is to come. To start things off, I have continued development on the train museum design and wanted to generate an image that will allow me to study the new design within the main street context. As the design continues to evolve, I can re-insert new renderings into this Photoshop file to better visualize and understand the contextual relationships. Below is a quick breakdown of the illustration.     1. Base Renderings   Base Rendering out of V-Ray Clay Model Rendering out of V-Ray used to amp up highlights and shadows by setting the blend mode to “Overlay”.  Also allows me to add shadows to Photoshopped textures. Ambient Occlusion Pass out of V-Ray. This pass allows me to increase detail in the base rendering by setting the layer blend mode to “Multiply”. The base rendering after compiling all of the passes together. What I am looking for are nice highlights and shadows while still maintaining the detail in the really dark and light areas of the image.     2. Context   I used online imagery from certain street view maps to fill in the missing context. It would have taken me way too long to model all of this detail up so I opted to carefully stitch in this information....
Inspiration

Inspiration

I don’t talk a lot about what inspires me but I have been traveling around the country lately giving some workshops and lectures and that question seems to come up a lot. The fact of the matter is that there is no one place that I go to get inspiration and a lot of the time I come across ideas when I least expect it. However, there are a few places that have had a profound impact on shaping my work and what I talk about on this site. I’m not the type of person that revisits websites over and over again but the links below are the exception.     1. The Third and the Seventh   I post this video every few years just in the off chance that my website has new visitors that have never seen it before. Everything in this video is cg which is not obvious at first. I have always looked to Alex Roman’s video for ideas on composition, lighting, and atmosphere which he handles masterfully. It is one of the few videos that I never get bored of and can watch over and over again. His video has become such a presence in the architectural community that he has created a book around the film which can be found at http://thirdseventh-book.com/.     2. Designspiration   A friend of mine pointed me to this site a few years back and it has become a great source of inspiration for ideas on layout, composition, text, and graphic design in general. The site is formatted the way I like things, an unending amount of images Tumblr style that allows you to quickly scan...
Exploded Axon Part 2

Exploded Axon Part 2

  As you have probably noticed, I have not been posting as often as I normally do. Things have been very busy lately, in a good way. Unfortunately, this means that I have not been able to invest as much time as I would have liked to this website. Instead of not posting anything, I have been putting my workflows to the test generating images from start to finish in 3 to 5 hours. Last post was a collage and this week I went with an exploded axon. This is similar in style and workflow to this exploded axon that I did a few years back. Creating images in such a short time frame requires fast decision making that I think leads to interesting results. Sure there are some things I would change if I had more time but this is also an exercise in knowing when to stop which is also an important part of visualization that I don’t always get right. Things should be calming down in a few weeks in which I hope to get back into my normal routine of posting more often and consistently. Below is a very quick breakdown of the exploded axon.   1. Clay Model Rendering I started things off as I normally do with a quick clay model rendering out of V-Ray. Because there are no materials, rendering only takes about 20 minutes even at a high resolution.   2. Overlay Line Work An easy way to add more interest to images is to introduce line work and guidelines from Sketchup. This helps to clarify the geometry and shows the relationships between the moving parts.   3. Background...
No-Render Quick Collage

No-Render Quick Collage

I was in need of some purely right brain thinking so I decided to skip modeling and V-Ray altogether and see what I could turn out with a half baked Sketchup model and some Photoshop. This meant generating a collage style illustration. These types of illustrations are great for speed but also for informal presentations where broad ideas and atmosphere are the focus and less about the details. Post processing is typically much looser and maintaining proper perspective is unnecessary. Instead, compositions are more playful and there are almost no rules. For this image, I saw it as a way to flesh out some ideas that I had about landscape and building materials. I didn’t have time to refine the 3d model so a collage allowed me to quickly throw some ideas around and see what worked. You will notice that in the end, very little of the original Sketchup model base image was still showing.   1. Base Image   The model was looking pretty rough but in this case, it doesn’t matter. I am more or less going to use this image as a guide for laying down other textures and materials in Photoshop.     2. Background   Here, I threw in a quick background which I didn’t bother cutting out. I also extracted the steel structure of the Sketchup base image and placed it on its own layer. Since it wasn’t rendered, I darkened the Steel to give it an abstract look.     3. Textures   I scoured the internet looking for textures and placed them in a folder so that I could grab them...
New Project: Train Pavillion

New Project: Train Pavillion

The last few weeks have been spent designing a new project that will allow me to experiment with some new rendering styles that I have in mind. The past few projects were located in a dense urban setting so I am switching things up and going rural. I decided on an idea that I have been thinking about for a while and the located in a town I grew up in. Deshler is a small village with a population of 1,800 people and sits directly on the intersection two major railways. People from around the country visit the town to watch trains and take in the history of the area. This new design will be centered on the main street and serve as a way to directly connect the local restaurants and shops with the train viewing activities nearby. The pavilion program will include a hotel, museum, cafe, and several viewing platforms and bridges which will create unique perspectives for observing train traffic. In terms of illustrations, I will be focusing more on landscape and interiors since I haven’t had a chance to get to either in the past few urban projects. For now, I have attached some simple clay model illustrations of the concept design. All images were rendered in V-Ray using a simple grey material override. Nothing too fancy. I’m excited to continue developing this design and revisit a town I have not been back to in a long time. Stay tuned.            ...
Culture Center Spreads

Culture Center Spreads

It has now been several months of working on this latest project from which lots of imagery has been created. I’m ready to start compiling all of this information into portfolio spreads similar to what I did for the wharf project. Anyone that reads this blog knows that I love designing portfolio spreads and presentation boards. I like seeing all of the parts of an architectural project come together and the complexity information get organized into a single story. For this latest set of spreads, I followed suit with the wharf project and combined several styles of visualization in a single project. I prefer this approach of using different styles because it keeps things interesting and better engages the viewer.  I also like to switch up the layout typology from spread to spread such as going from a full bleed illustration into a vertically based layout that then transitions into a horizontally based layout, etc. It can get difficult creating good flow from one spread to another with so much change in style so I use subtle moves to “connect” the pages. In this case, the same teal color was used in varying amounts to relate the pages as well as the same font style and size. It’s this dance between keeping the viewer engaged while not confusing them that generates a good portfolio design in my opinion.       I typically like to start a project off with a brutally simple layout and large text signifying the start of a new project within the portfolio. One of my biggest pet peeves is looking through someone’s portfolio and not knowing where a project ends and another one begins.       I also think it...
Winter Special #4

Winter Special #4

For this winter special #4, it was all about the lighting and atmosphere. Going into this, I knew the illustration was going to be heavily post processed so I spent little time preparing the 3d model and just kicked out a quick V-ray base rendering with no lights.  This has been my most ambitious winter scene yet as compared to the last three seen here because of the detail and view angle. The transformation from the base rendering to the final illustration was extreme, which is outlined below.     1. Base Rendering   The base rendering was pretty brutal. However, I was just looking for a rendering with soft shadows and some basic texture information.     2. Clay Rendering   To get the image closer to a winter scene, I desaturated the colors and added a clay rendering to the ground plane. This scene will have snow on the ground so using a clay rendering acts as a good base to Photoshop snowy textures on top of. A clay rendering is the same as a typical rendering except that all materials in the scene are replaced by a simple matte gray texture. I have a tutorial explaining how to create a clay rendering using Kerkythea, seen HERE.     3. Texturing the Ground Plane     As discussed in my last post, it’s all about the textures and that is what I focused on for this step. I combed through the internet looking for textures of tire tracks, foot prints in snow, and snow covered plants. I then slowly layered them on top of the clay rendered ground plane. Because they are black and white snow...
Some Thoughts on Texture

Some Thoughts on Texture

A thought that is often running through my head when working on architectural illustrations is how can I bring more of a human touch to the image. The answer is almost always through texturing in Photoshop. I have spent the last week illustrating an aerial perspective for my latest personal project. For this particular work, I wanted to hit almost every surface of the image with a strong texture to see what would happen. There were many areas that I would normally skip over in other illustrations but didn’t in this one. The result is an image with imperfections that shows age.     Base Rendering       Texturing in the 3D environment is important but it can be difficult to avoid “tiling” of textures. Often, my base renderings come out looking flat and “perfect” meaning the texture has no flaws. This is because there is only so much I can do with bump maps and texture attributes. At a certain point, time spent texturing in the 3D environment could be done much faster in Photoshop. After producing so many illustrations over the years, I am starting to get a sense of what that threshold is and when I need to get out of 3D and into 2D post processing. In many cases, I need both a good texture in the 3D model combined with a good texture in Photoshop to get the right look.     Texture Zones     For this illustration, there were four areas that I focused on: the roofs of the surrounding context, the textures of my design, the streets, and the sidewalks/landscape. All four of these...
Day to Night: All Photoshop

Day to Night: All Photoshop

  One of the very first tutorials I created for this site described a workflow that generated a night scene only using Photoshop. That tutorial used a very simple base image exported right out of Sketchup. The workflow is easy to implement and is especially useful if you are not comfortable setting up night scenes and lighting in an external render engine such as Kerkythea or V-Ray. However, that same workflow is equally useful with more complex and developed scenes and this latest post is my attempt prove it. As I was working on the previous post, I realized the daytime scene could easily be shifted into a night scene to generate a more compelling image. Everybody likes a good night illustration but they also tend to be the most intimidating. The steps below will walk through how I took the fully rendered daytime scene from the previous post and turned it into a night scene using a easy Photoshop workflow.     1. Turn Off Layers in the Original Illustration   The first step is to get rid of some layers in the original daytime scene that don’t belong in the night scene. These layers include the HDR effects, warm color overlays, and fog. I also turned off the cars and people layers.     2. Remove Sharp Shadows   Probably one of the more difficult steps is editing out all of the sharp shadows created from the sun. In most situations, I used the “Clone Stamp Tool” to edit these out. The tree shadows were on their own layer so I could simply turn those off. This is an important step because leaving these sharp shadows in...
Photoshop Layer Management

Photoshop Layer Management

  Architecture visualization is notorious for producing complex and messy PSD files. Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make a big difference and in my opinion, layer management is one of those little things that many people don’t put enough emphasis on. Properly managing your layers in Photoshop can lead to better efficiency, a more editable file, and in many cases better looking illustrations. Over the years, I have moved toward a system of building up Photoshop files. This system may not be perfect for everyone but has streamlined my workflow and has lead to cleaner looking illustrations. The problem with PSD files is that they can quickly get out of hand. Many of my Photoshop files that I work on easily exceed several hundred layers. Being careless about naming files or not properly grouping them may save a little time in the beginning. However, once you are several hours into Photoshop, the time wasted trying to find the right layers or make changes far exceeds the time saved at the beginning. Not only that, the image itself will start to get messy and unrefined since it becomes difficult to mask layers and control lighting. I put together an illustration that takes into account a lot of the different types of groups that I typically use in my PSD files. Obviously, the specific groups change from illustration to illustration depending on the type of image, but for the most part, the overall structure remains consistent. One other note, I am in no way saying this is the “right” way to organize PSD files. I am sure there are other ways and even...
Boston Greenway Museum: Building Diagrams

Boston Greenway Museum: Building Diagrams

As the 3d model progresses, I find myself spending a lot of time defining and organizing the way different elements are grouped in the model. I posted a video a while back showing a time lapse of the construction of one of my models. I rarely use layers but instead rely on grouping to organize my models. This allows me to quickly move large sections out of the way to get to tight areas or focus on specific elements. Organizing the model into groups also saves a lot of time when it comes to illustrations. For example, exploded axons and x-ray illustrations are pretty easy images to create when the model is set up properly. In the case of this model, as I was organizing the elements to help me gain control of all of the geometry, I realized that there was a diagram here. The way the model was grouped was also a way of explaining the project design. Each model I build is organized in different ways depending on the use, material, complexity, etc. In this case, the use is a museum/educational space. I therefore separated the model into the plinth, vertical circulation, public space and circulation, program, curtain wall/glass, and structure which wasn’t used in the diagram.         For diagrams like these, I rarely use textures in the model. I am trying to convey a specific set of ideas which materials can sometime confuse or dilute. In the illustrations above, I rendered everything as a clay model, which can easily be done with material overrides. For V-ray, this option is found in the “Global switches” tab and then checking...
New Model Underway

New Model Underway

These past two weeks have been crazy and if any of you follow my Facebook page, you know what I am talking about.  However, with all of the change, I figured it would also be a good time to start a new project as well. The wharf design was a fun project to conceptualize but I am starting to crave full-on architecture. I have started a new project/sketchup model that will be the focus of the next several posts. This model will be used to study interior visualization, something I haven’t covered much on this site, as well as the other typical exterior views, plans, sections, and aerials. I may also jump into some abstract and diagramatic illustrations. Below are some images of the new design. The model is still in its early stages with several iterations to come. I am recycling some of the surrounding context massing of the wharf model for the context of this new design. The site is only a few blocks from the boston long wharf over a parking lot next to the green way. This seemed like an ideal place to test out a few ideas that I couldn’t do with the wharf project. This location will set me up for several environmental conditions since one side of the building faces a dense urban fabric and the other side faces a park. Overall, this new model will be very flexible when it comes to visualization possibilities.             I hope to get some new tutorials going soon. There are a lot of areas of the arch viz that I haven’t covered that I...
Welcome to the New Site

Welcome to the New Site

I have not significantly changed the design of my site or its functionality since its inception, so the time has come to switch things up. The first thing I did was move from Squarespace to WordPress. Squarespace was a great platform but WordPress offers a huge amount of flexibility and customization that Squarespace can’t match. I had never used WordPress before so this meant pouring through every tutorial I could find and researching the best way to build this site. The first thing you may notice about the new site is how information is organized, something the old site failed at miserably. The home page acts as a summary of the site providing the latest posts along with previews of other pages. The tutorial pages lists out all of the links at the top for quick referencing but also provides a visual search below. Much of what I do is visual, so I wanted images to be front and center, something the old site did poorly. Large sliders are placed throughout the site and blog posts are wider to accommodate larger images. A responsive site was high on my priority list.  This is not only good for mobile viewing, but it allows me to take advantage of a lot more screen real estate when viewing the site on a large desktop screen. Probably the biggest change is the site name. This was one of the hardest things for me to do but also the most important. My name is difficult to pronounce and is not very memorable. My site has grown exponentially over the years and it has been largely by word of mouth. I’m hoping...
KROB 2014

KROB 2014

The 40th Annual Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition is now accepting your submissions. This is one of my favorite competitions because of the wide range of styles and techniques that win each year. It is open to students and professionals and can be either a physical submission, digital illustration, or hybrid media.  I was lucky enough to be one of three jurors last year and was blown away by the art that I saw. I came away from the experience with a lot of inspiration and motivation to keep experimenting. This year’s competition includes a stellar list of jurors including Frank Ching (I own two of his books as do probably most architecture students and professionals), Thomas Sériès who is the founder of Labtop, and Clifford Welch who is the owner of Welch Architecture. The submission deadline is October 27th, 2014 5pm CST. Winners will be announced Thursday, November 20th, 2014 6pm CST. Below are some of the winners from last year. Be sure to also visit the KRob website and thumb through the past winners. There is some real beautiful work and inspiration hidden away in the archives. Good Luck!       Castaneda Eduardo, AIAS UT Arlington- President UT Arlington Best in Category – Student Digital/Mixed       Chris Cornelius  Studio:Indigenous Best in Category – Professional Digital/Mixed       Samara Hayes Abedian School of Architecture, Bond University Best in Category – Student Hand         Dustin Wheat University of Texas – Arlington Best in Category – Professional Hand         Changyeob Lee Royal College of Art Juror Citation       Gary Schuberth,...