Good news, the client had amazingly been able to track down the original 3dsmax file. Bad news, the file was mostly unusable! This designer obviously didn’t care too much about accuracy, optimizations and best practices… probably due to 1) low cost and or 2) no time. As you can see below, box modeling at its best :-(. Look at those parking markings! I quickly came to the conclusion that this project required a comprehensive 3d overhaul.
I quickly came to the conclusion that this project required a comprehensive 3d overhaul.
Using the questionable box modeling as a base, new polygons were created to build the structure (quad modeling). Since the overall building was linear, calculating exact intersections (using x,y,z coordinates) were reasonably straight forward. There was no side and rear elevations, pline site components, box windows or even a roof. The modeling technique used here is a fixed camera where the components that is seen by the camera gets modeled and developed. The only read advantage to using this technique is theoretically rendering performance gains where the processors don’t have to worry about too much meshes. The problem with this technique is obviously when you move the camera, you’ll see everything or (in this case) nothing else.
The main reason why I try to keep my models as tidy as possible is to mitigate inaccurate GI calculations. If you create your models efficiently and clean using quad polygon modeling you will benefit down the road especially when performance is needed. Rendering surprises are usually down to sloppy modelling, bad textures, origin, scale, hidden layers, improperly labeled and named components etc… or just plain laziness! That’s a whole other blog post. Below you’ll see the before and after of the re-modeling process.
Now since the model has some nice quads, it’s time to add some detail. Once of my favorite parts. It’s true, a quick glance and you would never really notice any significant difference. Driving by a large road sign, you would never see the window / door frames, concrete expansions joints, fasteners, lighting fixtures, material transition details etc… Typically clients use these renderings for more than street signage, they are used on the web and sometimes print so IMO it’s important to detail-up your models anyways.
HDRI Lighting, There is Far More Than Meets the Eye
The above image demonstrates a few client options for mood lighting. I find the late afternoon to early evening to be the most effective scenarios. Of course, this all depends on your subject matter and surrounding. For example, more glazing reflects nice sky details especially a dramatic sunset. If your subject is rather boring and boxy, then augmenting the lighting could help persuade the eye into believing it’s a better building than it really is. I also used a low angle Vray Sun set at intensity 0.2. Which HDRI do you prefer?
Preliminary Texturing and Materials
Not much material customizations except the concrete block wall displacement map. Anodized aluminum frames, white painted metal cladding, light grey painted concrete block and navy blue metal flashing canopies.
This project was one of my first to deploy Itoo Software’s Forest Pack Pro. I used the detailed grass selected and found it very realistic looking when compared to Happy Digital’s AutoGrass (still a pretty good grass generator). The grass followed the quad mesh contours nicely, very distributed, random, but the colour was inconsistent depending the sun angle and HDRI used.
Final and Post Production
Once the lighting has been set, the 3d artistry takes over and fine tuning camera angles, landscaping, vehicles takes precedence. Final high resolution renderings are produced with Render ID and Z-Depth Render Elements. Z-Depth pass was not used because of the size of the model as well as it did not add anything to the marketability of the image. Render ID was used to quickly isolate the foreground objects so that adding people was a snap. After merging the layers, the typical colour correction, curves, glow, lens effects and another project out the door.
Next project I’m going to try After Effects to further isolate and control effects. We’ll see how that goes.
Until next time,