Before any work begins, some time is spent studying and speaking to the client to establish expectations and parameters.
Before any work begins, some time is spent studying and speaking to the client to establish expectations and parameters. Once the expectations are agreed, work can now proceed to rough modeling.
From experience the AutoCAD dwgs are never truly aligned between elevations, floor plans, roof plan etc… I don’t know why draftspersons don’t spend the extra time simply lining up their 2d drawings? In this particular case, the drawings were fairly close.
The first step in my modeling process would be starting to remove unnecessary content and layers. I usually unfreeze and un-hide all layers to see what I’m up against. I typically delete labels, hatching, hidden content etc… purge blocks and entire dwgs and re-save as another file (keeping the original client version just in case). Then I trace polylines on the floor plans on a new “3d” layer in a “3d” group. Since floor plans are typically the most developed drawings in the entire drawing set, they take priority over the basic form (even over the elevations). Elevations are rotated and aligned around the first floor plan. The second floor plan is aligned with the first floor plan nearby. Elevations are then rotated 90 degrees upwards aligned by the first floor level mark or final grade. Exterior wall surfaces are extruded using old school solid modeling techniques. Holes are punched through the exterior walls using the elevations as reference points. Interior walls are followed by the roof using the same technique as before. The roof specifically is modeled using the roof pitch angles . Since these drawings did not include a roof plan, I simply used the pitch ratios located in the elevations. After the main modeling is completed, details are added such as window and door openings, sill, roof eaves-troughs and even plines for the landscaping. I try to get as much of the architectural rough modeling completed in AutoCAD Architecture instead of 3dsmax because it’s more accurate and faithful to the original specifications.
Importing into 3dsmax
The dwg file is imported into 3dsmax. Be sure to double check your scale (in this case imperial decimal).
Now we convert the mesh to poly, weld all vertices and begin model cleanup. 3dsmax does a sloppy job at importing AutoCAD dwgs but it’s much better than in the old days. The resulting 3dsmax model still requires attention and most importantly “quadrification” (minimizing triangle polygons). Everyone knows a nice and clean model goes a long way even though the client never sees this stage. The model is split up / detached into separate layers and elements such as “3d-foundation”, “3d-wall-ext”, “3d-wall-int” etc… Again, properly labeled layers and polygons will go a long way especially when your model becomes more complicated as the 3d process moves on.
I use Box Primitives, Poly edit, Insert and Extrude to create basic windows and doors. I didn’t use 3dsmax’s built-in tools to do this because the windows and doors were too customized. Spending time on your doors and windows are totally worth it as it instantly adds realism detail to the flat wall surfaces. I also add small chamfers to corners such as sills, stair nosings, columns and edges.
Environment and landscaping
Thanks to some vray tutorials, I’ve been using the exact same environment rig for years (minor tweaks of course). This particular rig eliminates the horizon line between the sky and land surface plane. Vray proxy high resolution trees (each one 100 MB) are then scattered around the perimeter of the model. Using camera angles and lens setting, the tree positions are tweaked for visual impact. The grass is generated by Happy Digital’s Autograss. I use Autograss and Forest Pack Pro depending on what level of detail I desire. Textures are added and applied to surfaces using basic UVW Box Mapping but meticulously aligned at the corners for realism.
Final stages and post production
Not much post production needed for this project only curve adjustments and a few Z-Depth lens effects.
You can view the final renderings here.Final Rendering Gallery