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5 Places to Download Free, Ethnically Diverse Render People

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.

Which Video Games Have the Best Architecture?

With the ability to manipulate every interaction players have in a game, video game designers have boundless opportunity to shape the way players experience space. Because of this, game designers often look to architecture to enhance gameplay and provide inspiration for the appearances of their virtual worlds.

In the video above, Jamin Warren of YouTube show PBS Game/Show calls Halo the “most creative architectural game,” remarking that the brutalist-inspired architecture of the series exerted a strong influence on the way players move through levels and makes the battles in the game more immersive. Warren notes that several members of Halo’s development team had backgrounds in architecture; this observation suggests that the video gaming industry views architectural design as an essential element in its creative endeavors.

Warren makes an interesting point with his remarks on Halo: while people that inhabit virtual buildings cannot experience them physically, video game buildings can still be incredibly innovative and interesting. Which other video games feature innovative architectural approaches? Check out our list of six of the most architectural video games after the break.

via Screenshot from Assassin's Creed: Unity. Image © Flickr CC user Zehta Architecture from the SimCity expansion pack "Cities of Tomorrow". Image © The city of Rapture in Bioshock. Image via

Corporate Dystopia: Liam Young Imagines a World in which Tech Companies Own Our Cities

What if the manufacturers of the phones and social networks we cling to became the rulers of tomorrow’s cities? Imagine a world in which every building in your neighborhood is owned by Samsung, entire regions are occupied by the ghosts of our digital selves, and cities spring up in international waters to house outsourced laborers. These are the worlds imagined by self-described speculative architect, Liam Young in his latest series of animations entitled ”New City.” Read on after the break to see all three animations and learn more about what’s next in the series.

From "The City in the Sea". Image Courtesy of Liam Young From "Keeping up Appearances". Image Courtesy of Liam Young From "Keeping up Appearances". Image Courtesy of Liam Young From "The Edgelands". Image Courtesy of Liam Young

Unreal Visualizations: 3 Pros and 3 Cons of Rendering with a Video Game Engine

In recent years, we've reached a point where visualizations have become all-prevalent in the architectural profession. Whether we like it or not, stylized imagery is seen as a commodity, and ultimately, renderings win competitions and commissions. Architects have become enamored with beautiful renderings because clients understand pictures better than plans, and yet, the tools used to produce these glitzy images are changing faster than our industry can keep up. But with technology constantly evolving, we may face a new wave of visualization techniques, as the same render engines used to produce the tantalizingly realistic visuals in movies and video games are, for the first time, easily within our reach.

The lines across industries are blurring and companies behind the rendering engines for the most popular video games are now marketing their software directly to architects. This year, the original developers of the game Gears of War have made their proprietary rendering software Unreal Engine 4 free to architects, and many other video game render engines are available for less than the cost of those used by architects. Founder Tim Sweeney believes that the world of visualization is changing, telling The Verge "We’re realizing now that Unreal Engine 4 is a common language between all these common fields." Creating a common language between the presently disparate fields of architecture, film, and video games, for example, suggests that the industries themselves may begin to hybridize and learn from one another. For instance, video game developers may look to architects to understand how to construct 3D buildings, while architects may learn from the navigable virtual environment of video games in order to discover new means of representation. Add to this the fact that these software packages are capable of producing lifelike animated walkthroughs and we are left wondering, why is this not an industry standard? Read on after the break for the pros and cons of being an early adopter.

Defining Place: Alternative Urban Futures from The Neighbourhood

3D printing technology is quickly emerging as a technology that could be applied at the scale of the built environment. But could we use 3D printed materials to create engaging urban spaces that are constantly changing? Creative communications agency, The Neighbourhood, has imagined speculative architecture based on 3D printed materials. 

Autodesk Launches New Tool for Digital Preservation

Autodesk and the Smithsonian have paired up to launch x3D Explorer, an educational tool that will allow the Smithsonian to digitally preserve its extensive collection as interactive, 3D models. 

But while this may just sound like a fun way to interact with history, the initiative, backed by industry heavyweight Autodesk, could very soon have practical, revolutionary applications for architecture as well. 

Ask Arup: What Are the Best Ways to Use 3ds Max in Visualizations?

This article originally appeared on Arup Connect as "Ask Arup: Visualization Edition."

For our latest round of Ask ArupArchDaily reader Biserat Yesflgn requested tips for visualization software 3ds Max (formerly known as 3D Studio Max). We spoke to New York-based Arup visualization specialist Anthony Cortez to find out how he uses the program, what skills prospective visualization artists need, and how the field is evolving.

ProFORMA: From webcam to 3D

Qi Pan, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, has developed an interesting technique to model objects using a webcam.