At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) today, the US-based tech giant announced the latest slate of performance updates to their software and hardware products. Targeting software developers and other high-end users, the event was highlighted by the announcement of significant upgrades to their computer’s graphics and processing capabilities—or in architect’s terms—the components required to work on projects like creating content within a VR experience or real-time 3D rendering.
The representation of architecture is important in the absence of tangible space. Throughout a lifetime, even the most devoted, well-travelled design enthusiast will experience only a small percentage of architectural works with their own eyes. Consider that we exist in only one era of architectural history, and the percentage reduces even further. Many architectural works go unbuilt, and the buildings we experience in person amount to a grain of sand in a vast desert.
Then we consider the architecture of the future. For buildings not yet built, representation is not a luxury, but a necessity to test, communicate and sell an idea. Fortunately, today’s designers have unprecedented means to depict ideas, with an explosion in technology giving us computer-aided drafting, photo-realistic rendering, and virtual reality. Despite these vast strides, however, the tools of representation are a blend of old and new – from techniques which have existed for centuries, to the technology of our century alone. Below, we give five answers to the question of how architecture should be depicted before it is built.
Italian architect and photographer Francesca Perani decided it was time to address the issue of garbled copyrights and tired stereotypes in architecture cutouts. With her site cutoutmix, she explains that she and her "creative gang" of female designers are, "improving the rendering visualization world with the help and talent of international artists." Right now users can access two of the collections for free, under a creative commons license.
Did you know Pngimg has a large number of free images available for download in .png. The best part? They are perfectly clipped and background-free! The collection is divided into categories that includes trees, people, objects, appliances, sports, clothing, and a host of other strange but perhaps useful animals/things. Just when you needed fresh trees in your renders, Pngimg comes to the rescue.
Adding contextual objects and scale figures can really give life and added value to project visualizations. See the .pngs here here and check out other tools that might be helpful, below.
Murphy’s Law, right? The thing is, since technology moves so fast, chances are you’re using slow and/or outdated hardware to build and render your models. Of course, those software crashes always get you when a client needs to see your work. And yet, when you tell the bosses you need better hardware, or updated software, they often scoff and lecture you about the costs. Perhaps one day they’ll understand the struggle of the production staff, but it seems like for now, not so much. So, good luck at the office today, hopefully, everything will work.
THE ITALIAN TRAINING CENTRE
FOR ARCHITECTURAL VISUALIZATION.
Complementing the many websites that already provide people for renders, PimpMyDrawing is a growing online database of vector drawings of people. The site was started by three recent graduates of architecture school. After realizing the amount of vector drawings that they had produced during their academic career, they decided to share them for free.
In a recent article on Vice (in Dutch) and on his research platform website Failed Architecture, architecture writer Mark Minkjan comments on the phenomenon of architectural renders, arguing that “digital visualizations and hollow sales pitches hide the ugly sides of architecture.” In the article, Minkjan takes MVRDV's proposal for Ravel Plaza in Amsterdam as a “case study” to discuss the misleading quality of the render. This criticism – of renders in general and MVRDV's renders specifically – is a returning point of critique: on ArchDaily in 2013, Tim De Chant begged in an opinion piece “Can We Please Stop Drawing Trees on Top of Skyscrapers?” Though that article did not mention MVRDV in the text, our Peruri88 project in Jakarta was given the dubious distinction of being the article's most prominent image.
We'd like to discuss this common critique. The point of the role of visualizations in our communication is relevant but, even though we fully understand where the criticism comes from, arguments such as these are in our opinion not correct.
In this tutorial, originally published on the Sketchfab blog as "Sketchfab Archvis workflow based on Vray baked textures," Tarek Adhami guides you through the full workflow required to take your 3D Model, render it with Vray and upload to Sketchfab.
It does not matter what software you use to model your objects since what I am going to show you can be applied to other applications that Vray (or any similar rendering plugin) can support. In this example I used 3ds Max and Marvelous Designer for modeling and Vray for lighting and texturing.
As I have touched on in the past many times, context is what transforms an artistic rendering into a photorealistic visual that accurately portrays a building. Seemingly minute details such as the warmth of interior lighting in night renders can actually make a dramatic impact on how the image is received by a potential client or investor. With this in mind, and in a continual attempt to improve the accuracy of renderings while increasing the value they provide to architects, some rendering artists are now taking advantage of readily available Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms – more commonly referred to as drones – to gain a unique vantage point of land slated for development.
In the past capturing aerial photographs of an area could only be achieved from planes or helicopters, both of which come at a hefty price tag, even to rent. Drones equipped with the same capabilities can now be purchased for a fraction of the cost, making aerial photography more attainable. Aside from capturing standard video or images, drones have given rendering artists access to software that allows them to accurately map the topography of an area slated for development, adding a new level of context and accuracy to the rendering.
Until recently, the only options for providing clients and the public with visualizations of what a prospective building would look like were almost exclusively hand drawn renderings, or scale models built by hand. Both of these practices are still in use today, but now there is a much wider range of options with 3D modeling software providing the bulk of renderings, the growing presence of 3D printing, and even video fly-throughs with special effects that rival the latest Hollywood action movie. This 16mm film created by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in 1984, and digitized by illustrator Peter Little, reminded us of what the early days of digital 3D modeling looked like.
The significance of people in architectural rendering is nothing new – the added realism, and addition of narrative elements can make or break whether a render successfully sells its project. With sites like Skalgubbar, architects and architecture students have easier access than ever before to “Render People”: PNG cut-outs of people, ready to be photoshopped into buildings.
In the early years of free, online render-people databases, there was a stark homogeneity to the people represented. As the people providing the crowdsourced images were from predominantly Caucasian, Scandinavian countries, there was a surge of such people appearing in renders in projects across the world. In wake of this, other groups have worked to produce workable databases of diverse, culturally representative render people, giving architects and architecture students the freedom to accurately depict their work in its intended context.
We’ve rounded up 5 different sites that offer free render people of a wide range of ethnicities. See them all after the break.
The Future of Architecture Visualization: An Interview with Morean Digital Realities and Zaha Hadid Architects
Above: The final presentation video for Zaha Hadid Architects' Danjiang Bridge entry, with construction sequences provided by morean digital realities and atmospheric shots provided by Studio MIR
In this age of lightning fast response rate, it is more important than ever for architects to be able to provide clients with a clear idea of what is to be built. Luckily for us, there are firms out there that specialize in aiding that process. Take morean digital realities, for example, a visualization firm that works in conjunction with architects to create renderings and animations that help explain how a project will work. These visualizations can be geared toward clients, competitions or used as material for fundraising. Their recent work includes a video for the Danjiang Bridge Competition, in which morean provided a dramatic construction animation accompanied by atmospheric shots by another visualization company, Studio MIR. Together, these two visualization studios helped Zaha Hadid Architects come away with the project commission.
ArchDaily spoke to three members of the team on that project - Saman Saffarian, a Lead Designer at Zaha Hadid Architects; Karl Humpf, Director of International Bridges at Leonhardt, Andrä und Partner; and Gonzalo Portabella, Architect and Managing Director at morean digital realities - about the role of visualization within architecture and where the field may be headed.
Digital architectural renderings and their hand-drawn counterparts both serve the purpose of allowing clients and investors to envision a building or space well-before ground has even been broken on a project.
But while renderings can provide amazingly accurate depictions of buildings, a rendering done in the wrong style can create unrealistic expectations for the end client, leaving them disappointed with the architect and the builders, creating tension and distrust. For that reason, among others, many people in the architectural profession have condemned the use of renderings, especially digital renderings. However, renderings are simply tools and nothing more; if you ask two separate rendering artists to create a rendering for your project, the results would also depend upon the skill and vision of that person. Today I am going to show you that when used correctly, digital architectural renderings should be an architect’s best friend.
This article is part of ArchDaily Essentials, a series of articles which give you an overview of architecture's most important topics by connecting together some of our best articles from the past. To find out more about ArchDaily Essentials, click here; or discover all of our articles in the series here.
Renderpeople, a company that produces 3D-models of people ready to be rendered in any program, has released two of their models for free, to demonstrate the effectiveness of their product. “Rosy” and “Dennis” are now available through their website, and can be used in any 3D-modeling and rendering software. Unlike other, free sites like SKALGUBBAR and Escalalatina which offer PNG images of people for use with Photoshop, Renderpeople offers detailed, life-like 3D models which can be placed directly into the modeled environments in question.
As an architect you have spent countless hours designing, modifying, and refining what you believe to be the very best possible layout for a building. The numerous projects you have imagined, designed, and then seen as a finished building have given you the ability to visualize it with incredible accuracy. Unfortunately, your clients often lack the ability to visualize a space before it is built.
3D rendering seeks to solve that problem by accurately depicting what a building will look like with photo-realistic quality long before it exists – but there is a huge difference between showing your building and selling the concept of your building. Showing your building does just what the name implies: generally the camera is pulled back and the focus is on the entire building. When you want to sell the concept of a building you want to focus on a very small aspect of the building that is incredibly interesting to look at.
In a world where architects can use computers to produce representations of designs with new levels of accuracy and artistry, software fluency is becoming increasingly necessary. With that in mind, last month we asked our readers to help us develop a comprehensive list of tutorials. After studying the comments and scouring the internet for more sources, we have developed this improved list, which we hope will help you to discover new work techniques and better ways to apply different programs.
Of course, it's unlikely that any list of internet resources will ever be complete, so we're hoping to continually update this list with the web's best learning resources. If there are any tutorials sites we've missed which you found helpful, let us know in the comments!