As I continue to develop my Mountain Lodge Project, there are a couple of areas that I am using visualization to study the design a little more closely. One of the key moments is a bridge that connects the tower to the mountain side. I had envisioned this space to be an intimate and contemplative place. Picking the viewpoint was difficult because I am trying to narrate several ideas such as the procession from the clean and minimal architecture to the wild mountain side. The bridge landscape needed to strike a balance somewhere between the two to soften this transition.
For an image like this, light ended up being the primary driver to manage hierarchy and eye movement. Below is a little breakdown of how I used light to place the focal point exactly where I wanted it to be.
1. Model and Base Rendering
Above, a screenshot of the Sketchup model. The model itself is simple and much of my time went into building some textures.
Above, the V-Ray base rendering shows the dappled light effect obtained by adding some simple, light low poly trees. I knew I would be replacing these out with Photoshop trees, I was only concerned about getting the shadows to read properly.
When setting up the sun location, I was focused on drawing attention to the bridge. 1- Therefore, I placed the back of the building in shadow, 2- left a portion of the bridge directly in the sun, 3- and then slowly fading the bridge back to dark using the tree shadows.
2. Inserting some Context
Next I added in some context. I stitched in some mountains and followed that with trees flanking both sides of the bridge.
The context trees are crucial to this image because they provide the frame that help draw attention back to the bridge. 1-The trees themselves were darkened considerably so that the bridge and background mountains remained the only objects in direct light. 2- I also used the trees as a way to create some strong diagonals in the composition to help naturally draw the eye back to the bridge in the center of the image.
I am showing the image with all of the vegetation in place, but no toning done to the individual layers. I wanted to show just how much some of the colors, contrast, and levels were adjusted from the original tree and shrub textures. More than anything, it shows how flat an image can be if time is not spent thinking about light and shadow in vegetation.
Above is the exact same image, but now with the vegetation fully toned. Some of the trees moved to almost pure black, with just a little detail. Little things like adding small highlights along the edge of the green wall give the vegetation dimension, but also add to the cozy feeling of the early morning bridge experience.
4. Simple, Subtle Final Effects
Finally, I added just a few small effects at the end. I amped up some of the highlights on the bridge and vegetation, and added a touch of glare to the right side of the image. I also lightened the top of the tower and increased the saturation to avoid the architecture feeling too heavy and uninviting. The best thing about the image is it helped me make quite a few decisions regarding the direction of the design and some of the materials that I wanted use. Most notably, I ended up using Corten Steel for much of the project which brings in a ton of warmth and also works well with all of the green tones of the surrounding landscape.