Tutorials

By Jeff Mottle

The Visualization Insider

Editor's notes

Article brought to you by CGschool
Jeff Mottle — Founder at CGarchitect

The CGschool, presents 26 weeks of insider secrets delving into the world of professional architectural visualization. For more information on CGschool's classes, training videos and books, please visit our website at: The CGschool

Week 1: Creating Site Plans - Part 1 of 3

In this, part one of a three part series, you will learn everything you ever wanted to know about modeling site plans for architectural visualizations. The tutorial contains 25 pages of tips, tricks and routines presented by the crew at CGschool.


Creating Site Plans Part 1 - 2.7 MB PDF
Supplemental Files (MAX, DWG) 2.6 MB ZIP

 

Week 2: Creating Site Plans - Part 2 of 3

In this, part two of a three part series, you will learn everything you ever wanted to know about modeling site plans for architectural visualizations, including: Paver Bandings, Road Lines, Mulch, Water, Parking Stops, Vegetation and more! The tutorial contains 20 pages of tips, tricks and routines presented by the crew at CGschool.

Creating Site Plans Part 2 - 1.2 MB PDF
Supplemental Files (MAX, DWG, JPG, TGA, MOV) 9.1 MB ZIP
 

Week 3: Creating Site Plans - Part 3 of 3

In this, part three of a three part series, you will learn everything you ever wanted to know about modeling site plans for architectural visualizations, including: Applying materials, Lighting, Rendering, Animation and more! The tutorial contains 19 pages of tips, tricks and routines presented by the crew at CGschool.

Creating Site Plans Part 3 - 1.7MB PDF
Supplemental Files - 7.9 MB ZIP (MAX, MAT, DWG, NOV, JPG, TGA)
 

Week 4: Sample Professional Services Agreement

One of the most difficult aspects of running a visualization business is preparing contracts. Without a contract that clearly articulates the visualization process from start to finish for both parties, the simplest of projects can become disastrous and a financial liability. Here is a fully functioning 3D visualization contract that has been attorney approved and used in all 3DAS projects.

PSA - Sample 137 KB DOC
 

Week 5: Rendering with Photoshop Masking

Here's a great technique my good friends at Visarty (www.visarty.com) pointed out for quickly applying multiple colors to a single rendering inside Photoshop. One of the most difficult things to get right in any 3D visualization is the client's choice of colors. Clients often don't know what colors they want to use on their projects and as a result you are often forced into a long ordeal of walking them through the process of color selection. This process can be expensive and time consuming if all you do is continuously send them new updated renderings with their new color selections. Instead, create a single rendering with an alpha channel and use that channel to create a mask in Photoshop. The sample rendering here shows a building with 7 different color schemes, each of which can be viewed and saved individually through the use of the mask applied.

Sample Mask 3.4MB ZIP

 

Week 6: Antialiasing and its Side Effects

In the 3D world, render engines use a process known as SuperSampling to improve the quality of rendered output by decreasing the effect of aliasing. Aliasing is a term to describe imperfections in the rendering process caused by color changes that are too drastic, and that occur over too small an area of screen space to be adequately depicted by the pixels that define that space

Antialiasing and its Side Effects PDF 214 KB
OverheadLow (MOV) 23.5 MB
OverheadHigh (MOV) 36.1 MB

Week 7: Sample Business Plan

A critical document for any starting business or freelancer is a solid business plan. When done correctly and thoroughly, it can become the most important document that your business ever produces and can save an immeasurable time and money in the long run. This is a sample business plan that 3DAS used during its inception.

Sample Business Plan 155 KB DOC

Week 8: Creating Vegetation on a Large Scale - Part 1 of 2

Anyone that has ever tried adding a large number of quality trees or shrubs to a 3D scene knows what a challenge it can be to do so. Though vegetation is usually not the focus of most projects, when created poorly, it can be a great distraction that ruins what would otherwise be a great visualization. This discussion presents a few ways to overcome the daunting challenge of filling a scene with high quality vegetation.

Creating Vegetation on a Large Scale Pt 1 - 598 KB PDF
Scatter 528 KB PDF
Triangles 317 KB ZIP

Week 9: Creating Vegetation on a Large Scale - Part 2 of 2

In Part II, you will learn how to create realistic and efficient shadows for 2D vegetation and ways to implement 3D vegetation effectively without all the undesirable side effects that usually persist with their use.

Creating Vegetation on a Large Scale Pt 2 PDF
2D Tree Animation 53 MB ZIP (Support Files)

Week 10: 3D CAD Brief

Want to get your foot in the door with architectural clients?  One of the things that can help you do so is becoming a certified continuing education provider and helping architects receive their educational credits.  Anyone can create such a course and submit it to their own state for approval, pending the state has such a program. Here is the course that the guys at 3DAS teach, entitled '3D CAD for Architectural Visualizations.

3D CAD Brief 3.78 MB PDF

Week 11: Communicating with 3D Subs

For anyone wanting to take on more or larger projects, hiring sub contractors can be invaluable. Communicating with them long distances can be extremely difficult, especially when done solely by email or when the subs speak another primary language, both of which are usually the case when hiring subs overseas. The importance of clearly articulating your design guidance and any revisions along the design process can not be overemphasized. If you fail to communicate exactly what is needed and how you want work to be done, you will almost certainly not achieve good results when working with subs. Here are two examples (4 pages) of communication between 3DAS and subs during projects that were worked in part outside there office. All the guidance necessary to make the revisions that were required at the time is included in the images and everything is shown pictorially so the chance of misunderstanding is minimal.

Email to Subs 3.9 MB PDF

Week 12: Scene Assembly

In the ideal 3D world, you could build all your scenes without regard to file size, available RAM, CPU speed, rendering times, or any number of things that complicate the design process. However, since most of us have to be aware of our computers’ limitations, we have to manage the way we build objects and assemble our scenes.  This Insider article takes a chapter out of Foundation 3ds Max 8 Architectural Visualization to explain some of the complexities of scene assembly.
Scene Assembly 3.9MB PDF

Week 13: A Little Background Information

Backgrounds are a critical part of just about every type of 3D scene. Although they are a relatively simple element to add to a scene, backgrounds can just as easily be a source of frustration and problems for 3ds Max users. There are two main types of backgrounds – those created with geometry and those created by use of the Environment Map channel. Both have advantages and disadvantages over the other and both can be broken into several subcategories. The following discussion explains each of these categories and subcategories and looks at methods to implement each type of background.

A Little Background Information 3.9MB PDF
Scene Files 38MB MB ZIP

Week 14: Critical V-Ray Settings Part I

To say that VRay is a complicated program would be an understatement!  Ironically enough, however, it has become the most ubiquitous engine in the visualization industry because of, among other things, its simplicity.  Although it contains a large number of settings which should ideally be separated from critical settings and grouped into an advanced section all alone, it is nonetheless a fairly easy program to digest when you know which settings are critical and which can be left for exploration down the road. 

Critical V-Ray Settings Part I - 1.7MB PDF
Scene Files 1.5MB MB ZIP

Week 15: 10 Photoshop Techniques for Visualization

Photoshop offers some great workflow tools to streamline the visualization process for many types of projects and create effects that would otherwise take far longer in 3ds Max.  Here’s a few techniques that might save some time in the course of your next
3D project.

Photoshop Techniques 643KB PDF

Week 16: Animation Project Overview

The intent of this article is to provide insight into a typical animation project from the first meeting with a client, through post production and delivery of the final product.


Animation Overview 541 KB PDF
Scene Files 13.1 MB ZIP

Week 17: An In-Depth Look at Image Sampling

Image sampling is arguably the most important and least understood feature in V-Ray.  If you don’t conduct good image sampling, having extremely high quality settings in other areas of the program (like irradiance maps and the QMC sampler) will do you absolutely no good.  In this article, the crew at 3DAS helps to clear up some misunderstandings about this complex subject.

Image Sampling 758 KB PDF
Scene Files 7.0 MB ZIP (MAX)

Week 18 - Managing system resources

A frustrating reality of working in any 3D program is waiting on the computer to process information. In the ideal 3D world, you could build all your scenes without regard to file size, available RAM, CPU speed, rendering times, or any number of things that complicate the design process. However, since most of us have to be aware of our computers’ limitations, we have to manage the way we build objects and assemble our scenes. In this article, we’re going to take a close look at some tools and procedures that can improve system resource management.

System Resources 758 KB PDF
Support Files 1.4 MB MB ZIP MAX

Week 19 - Helping Clients Select Furniture and Materials for Interiors

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of creating 3D interiors, is dealing with the myriad of problems that arise when helping clients make furniture and materials selections. This article presents some ideas that might make this often painful process a little easier to manage.


Helping Clients Select 1.1MB PDF

Week 20 - A few tips and tricks (Guest article by Visarty)

This week, the visualization firm Visarty, from Lviv, Ukraine writes a guest article showing one small area of how they work.  They chose to write an article describing the way they model interior scenes.  Check this article out to learn how one of the top visualization firms in the world work so fast and efficient.


A Few Tips & Tricks 1.3MB PDF
Support Files 1.4 MB


Week 21 - Creating Furniture (Guest article by Intero Visuals)

Creating quality custom 3D furniture can be a difficult and time-consuming process.  This week we present a guest article written by Alexander Gorbunov from Intero Visuals that will guide you through the complex process of creating high quality 3D furniture.  The tutorial is full of images that show you how to quickly and efficiently create 3D furniture starting from nothing more than a simple image.  Using the tools and methods highlighted here, you can create almost any type of furniture you want.

Creating Furniture 10 MB PDF (62 Pages)
Support Files 4 MB MB ZIP

Week 22 – Preparing AutoCAD linework

The building block of any architectural scene is linework and the vast majority of architectural visualization projects begin with AutoCAD drawings. Knowing how to use the linework in these drawings is a critical factor in fast, efficient work in 3ds Max. This session describes the process of cleaning AutoCAD drawings and preparing linework for importation into 3ds Max and how doing so properly can allow the user to turn linework into 3d models in the shortest amount of time possible. In this article, we’ll see how good preparation of AutoCAD linework allows the Max user to model many complex scene elements in just a few seconds.

Preparing AutoCAD Linework 1.8 MB PDF
Support Files 24 MB MB ZIP

Week 23 - Understanding architectural drawings

Understanding a set of architectural drawings is critical to efficient and accurate work in 3ds Max, and without knowing exactly how drawings are put together and what each component of a drawing indicates, a 3D artist is likely to spend a great deal of time trying to make sense of the madness that can be a set of architectural drawings.

Understanding Architectural Drawings 1.9 MB PDF

Week 24 - Creating Onyx trees - PLAY (84 MB)

LIVE ONLINE SESSION - RECORDING (WMV)
Requires GoToMeeting Codec

This webinar demonstrates the use of the Onxy Storm plugin that runs within 3ds Max, as well as the very powerful line of tree and plant generators that feed this plugin. Here you will learn how to craft vegetation, apply realistic materials and animate your creations to suit your project needs.


Week 25 – An In-Depth Look at the V-Ray Proxy - PLAY (144 MB)

LIVE ONLINE SESSION - RECORDING (WMV)
Requires GoToMeeting Codec

This webinar provides an in-depth look at this incredibly powerful feature that many 3ds Max users would now say they simply couldn’t work without. During the discussion, you will learn the difference between static and dynamic geometry, you will see the best ways to quickly generate and manipulate proxies, you will be shown how to control the memory consumption of proxies, and you will learn how to alter materials placed on a proxy. All objects and are not created equal, and proxies are no exception!

Week 26 - The Many Ways of Building Walls - PLAY (188 MB)

LIVE ONLINE SESSION - RECORDING (WMV)
Requires GoToMeeting Codec

One of the most commonly asked questions between fellow 3D visualization artists is, “How do you create your walls in 3D?” The question is bound to be answered a number of different ways depending on who you ask and their experience level, but the question is so important to so many of us because walls are usually the first part of a building that we create and arguably the most important.

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Thanks!
Awesome resource. Many thanks :)

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26 weeks of insider secrets delving into the world of professional architectural visualization.

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About the author

Jeff Mottle

Founder at CGarchitect

placeCalgary, CA