Category Archives: Posts By Me

Rehabbing an old house – virtually!


CastleView 3D recently completed a very interesting project.  A remodeler in Illinois contacted me on behalf of his client, a non-profit organization.  The organization was interested in rehabbing an old, run-down house.  They wanted 3D renderings showing the house as it might look AFTER the rehab was finished, to share with their stakeholders and members.

All I was given to work from was two not-especially-clear photos of the current property, which they had affectionately dubbed “Big Blue” — no floor plan, dimensions, or roof plan.  My task was to try to recreate Big Blue as accurately as possible from these two photos, adding foundation landscaping, raised garden beds in the side yard, and some kids on bikes playing outside.  In other words, I needed to make a derelict house look safe and inviting.

Photograph of Big Blue house from front

Photograph of Big Blue from front

Photograph of Big Blue house from side

Photograph of Big Blue from side

It’s obvious from these photos that the house has “good bones” and was once a grand home, but is in desperate need of both cosmetic and structural rehab work.

Here’s the virtual transformation (click image to see full-size):

3D Rendering of Big Blue house from front

3D Rendering of Big Blue from front

3D Rendering of Big Blue house from side

3D Rendering of Big Blue from side

I found out a bit more about the non-profit organization and their plans for Big Blue after the virtual rehab project was complete:

  • The organization is called Beacon Place, and is based in Waukegan, Illinois.  Beacon Place was started by a group of volunteers who had worked in that part of Waukegan for years running a food pantry, among other programs. Last October they decided to move some programs that were piloted at the pantry into a new and larger facility.
  • Once rehabbed, the house will be used by people from the surrounding community, in particular — but not limited to — the children.  There will be a technology room for use by children after school and for their parents; once a child spends enough time learning about the computer, they will be given one to take home (how cool is that?).  Volunteers will help them sign up with Comcast for the $10/month fee that they qualify for due to their income status.  
    There will be a teaching kitchen, gardens for the children, and a summer lunch and backpack program. They plan to listen to the community and provide them with space for ideas they bring to the table.
  • The location of Big Blue is perfect for what the group wants to do. The east side of the house is open space  owned by the park district.  Beyond this open space is a park and beyond that is Lake Michigan.
  • The organization will be relying extensively on volunteers and community members to rehab Big Blue.  It is currently uninhabitable since there is no electricity or water (the pipes have all been stolen).  Please contact them if you live in the area and can help out with this worthwhile project, or would like to support it with a donation.
  • Visit Beacon Place’s website for more information about their programs.

This is the kind of project that is a pleasure to complete.  In some ways, it reminded me of the “roof with a view” project I did a couple of years back, where I added a virtual second story and deck to help sell a home with a fantastic view of San Francisco Bay — but, inconveniently, you had to stand on the roof to see it.  Both projects involved recreating existing buildings from photos rather than from blueprints or plans.  And both involved showing the potential of a house beyond its current state or condition.

I love what I do, and I never get tired of saying how passionate I am about the power of 3D modeling and rendering to help people visualize the future and watch their dreams take shape!


“Residential Design Using Chief Architect X5”

 Posted by Kathleen MooreCastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

New Chief Architect X5 training book

I just received word from author Terry Munson that his newest Chief Architect book, “Residential Design Using Chief Architect X5,” is now available.  Here’s Terry’s description of the book:

image of chief architect X5 book cover

This much-awaited book is finally available. Why did it take so long? Because it has been rewritten and revamped.  

At the request of readers, the book now includes a comprehensive index. A new Quick Start chapter has been added, which quickly shows the power of Chief Architect X5 while the reader creates a vacation cabin plan. A Workbook is included where you can practice and enhance the skills taught throughout the book. All the new features added to version X5 are highlighted throughout the book.

The biggest feature, however, is the beautiful and modern 2-story with basement residence that the reader will design/draw from start to finish throughout the book. Anyone would be proud to own such a home. You will see how easy it is to make your dream a possibility using Chief Architect X5’s 3D home design software.  

Coverage Includes: 

  • Finding your way around the Chief Architect X5 interface
  • Managing your drawing projects
  • Creating the building shell
  • Developing and working with stairs, roofs, decks, and cabinets
  • Adding a stepped foundation and applying a monolithic slab to the garage
  • Adding electrical and lighting
  • Creating a site plan and developing the terrain
  • Creating working drawings
  • Creating color renderings for design presentations
  • Exploring your model in real time using walkthroughs and orbiting tools
  • Learn how to effectively use layers, layer sets, annotation sets, and text styles
  • Developing schedules
  • Dimensioning and text
  • Learn the new functions added to X5, including roof ridge caps, progressive ray tracing, running dimensions, walkthrough path, auto NKBA elevation dimensions, and much more

The book, which includes a DVD containing a color PDF of the entire book (great for searching on your computer), the Workbook, and all of the necessary working files, sells for $49.95.

If you’ve seen any of Terry’s previous books (this is his FIFTH!), you know how clear, detailed, and easy to follow his writing style is.  Even a seasoned Chief Architect user like me learned many new and helpful things from Terry’s  X4 book — I keep it next to my desk as a handy reference.



One home plan, two styles

By Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook


graphic demonstration of a home plan’s flexibility

CastleView 3D recently completed a fun and interesting project.  I was contacted by Alex Schenkar of Schenkar Construction, a design/build firm in the Seattle area.  Alex was preparing for an upcoming home show and wanted some renderings to show off his new home plan. He sent me the plans for a lovely mid-size home designed in a traditional Craftsman style.  His goal was to show people how his firm could customize the basic plan to suit their style preferences.

Alex requested an exterior rendering of the Craftsman style home, but he also asked me to change up the roof lines and finish materials to create another version of the exterior that was more modern or contemporary in style.  He emailed a couple of photos as examples of the style he was looking for, and specified that he wanted the roof to be either flat or no greater than 1/12 or 2/12 pitch (versus the 8/12 pitch on the original plan).  Other than that, he invited me to use my own judgment and creativity.

Below is a comparison of the two very different looks created from Alex’s home plan.

Two 3D renderings of a house, one Craftsman and one Modern, modeled from the same home plan

Two different looks from the same home plan
(click image to see full-size details)

When Alex saw these exterior renderings, he told me that I had “hit it out of the park” and decided he also wanted to showcase two versions of the kitchen and master bathroom in this house.  So, following some basic specifications from Alex about materials to be used, I created Craftsman versions of the kitchen and bath using warm colors and traditional Craftsman details, while making the Contemporary versions cool and sleek, with European-style cabinets and a minimalist color scheme.

3D renderings of two different interior styles applied to the same kitchen and bath layout

Two different interior styles applied to the same kitchen and bath layout
(click image to see details)

I really commend this builder’s creative idea about how to highlight his firm’s flexibility and ability to customize their work to suit a homeowner’s tastes and preferences.  I hope these renderings help draw a lot of traffic to their booth at the home show!

Which of these two styles, Craftsman vs. Contemporary, do you find more appealing?

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Living vicariously

By Kathleen MooreCastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

one fringe benefit of a career in 3D rendering

Lately, the short winter days have me missing the long twilight hours of summer. So I put together this 3D rendering of a patio and reflecting pool at dusk to remind myself how great it feels to sit out on the deck with friends on a summer evening, drinking wine, talking, and laughing as the light slowly disappears from the sky.

CastleView 3D rendering of a waterlily pond at dusk

[click to view full-size image]

And it started me thinking about one of the reasons that my work in architectural modeling and rendering is so rewarding:  I get to live vicariously.  When I create a 3D model of your new home or remodeled space, I get to know it very intimately.  I live in it during the time I spend creating it.  I explore all its nooks and crannies.  In some ways, I may know your home better than you ever will.  So many details about a home that the homeowner never thinks about, I have to think about in order to make it look convincingly realistic.

And when I’m working, I also get the vicarious thrill of watching someone’s dreams take shape.  It’s really very exciting when something that previously only existed inside a client’s mind — or perhaps as a 2D blueprint, if they’ve gotten that far — suddenly comes to life in full color on the screen, looking almost as real as a photograph.  It’s magical.

I may be blessed with a particularly vivid imagination, but when I’m adding new granite countertops to a 3D rendering of someone’s kitchen remodel, for example, I can almost feel the glassy smoothness and rounded edges as the image develops on the screen.  I find myself trying to picture the lives that will unfold in that space.

Same with the rendering of the summer evening on the patio above:  I can imagine myself sitting on the warm flagstones, dangling my bare feet in the cool water, smelling the slight tang of chlorine and citronella in the air, feeling the breeze lifting my hair, and hearing the cries of the birds as they head for their nighttime roosts in the surrounding trees.  Perhaps creating something in such fine visual detail necessarily engages the other senses as well?

Because of this vicarious existence, I know that when I finally walk through the doors of the Clubhouse at The Reserve (the rendering project I posted about the other day) and see it for the first time, I’ll have an eerie sense of recognition and deja vu.

Because I’ve already spent many, many hours there.


Interior renderings of a private clubhouse – Part II

BKathleen MooreCastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

The Reserve on the Erie Canal, Brighton, NY

This is the second in a series of two posts sharing the interior renderings done by CastleView 3D of the Clubhouse at The Reserve, a new residential community being built by Anthony J. Costello & Son near the Erie Canal in Brighton, New York. You can read Part I here.

Part I showed renderings of the spaces on the main floor of the Clubhouse, and today’s post will share the spaces on the ground floor as well as some views of the balcony and pool area.

Interior renderings – ground Floor

After descending the spiral staircase from the main foyer down to the lower level, off to your left will be a lounge area with pool table.  At the end of the hall is the Wine Cellar.  Each Reserve resident will have a private wine locker, and the space can be used for wine tasting events or private parties.

[click each image to see full-size interior rendering]

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the private Wine Cellar in The Reserve Clubhouse

Next door to the Wine Cellar is a 30-seat Movie Theater, which can be used by residents for watching movies, sporting events, or other televised shows.

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Movie Theater in The Reserve Clubhouse

Movie Theater, The Reserve Clubhouse, Brighton, NY

At the opposite end of the ground floor hallway are the Fitness Center and its related amenities.  The equipment room and connected Yoga/Pilates Studio are supported by a fully-staffed fitness team for instruction and personal training.

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Fitness Center equipment room in The Reserve Clubhouse

Fitness Center equipment room, The Reserve Clubhouse, Brighton, NY

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Yoga/Pilates Studio in The Reserve Clubhouse

Yoga/Pilates Studio, The Reserve Clubhouse, Brighton, NY

Across the hall from the Fitness Studio is the Spa, containing a hot tub, sauna, steam bath, and massage studio.  The Men’s and Women’s Locker Rooms are located adjacent to the Spa.

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Spa  in The Reserve Clubhouse

Spa, The Reserve Clubhouse, Brighton, NY

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Men's Locker Room  in The Reserve Clubhouse

Men’s Locker Room, The Reserve Clubhouse, Brighton, NY

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Women's Locker Room  in The Reserve Clubhouse

Women’s Locker Room, The Reserve Clubhouse, Brighton, NY

The Fitness and Spa areas have large windows looking out onto the Pool and Outdoor Recreation Areas.  CastleView 3D did a series of renderings of these spaces; however, due to some later design changes, the client ended up not using these images for their marketing.  However, I’m sharing them here (even though they’re not really “interior renderings”) to give a more complete picture of the great outdoor spaces, including a pool, hot tub, waterfall, outdoor kitchen with pizza oven, gas firepits, and multiple seating areas, including the Grand Balcony overlooking the pool and the Erie Canal from the main floor of the Clubhouse.

CastleView 3D rendering of the view of the pool area from the Grand Balcony of The Reserve Clubhouse

View of the pool area from the Grand Balcony of The Reserve Clubhouse

CastleView 3D rendering of the view of the pool area from the East Walkway at The Reserve Clubhouse

View of the pool area from the East Walkway at The Reserve Clubhouse

CastleView 3D rendering of the pool area looking toward the Grand Balcony at The Reserve Clubhouse

View toward the Grand Balcony at The Reserve Clubhouse

CastleView 3D rendering of the view of the pool at The Reserve Clubhouse

Pool close-up, The Reserve Clubhouse

For a great overview of the entire development (including some of these interior Clubhouse views), watch this wonderful flyover animation created by Gary Jacobs.

The Reserve on the Erie Canal is an ambitious project that has been in the planning and approval stages for 7 years, so it is exciting to see it finally underway.  All the planning has really paid off in terms of attention to every detail.  I was honored to work with this very talented team of architects and designers.

Technical notes on this project:  The Clubhouse interiors were modeled by CastleView 3D in Chief Architect X5 from the architect’s plans.  The exterior models were created by the landscape architect in Sketchup.  All exterior and interior renderings were completed using Thea Render.


Does The Reserve sound like a place you’d like to live?  They’re now accepting lot and loft reservations! Call (585) 272-6500 for more information.


Interior renderings of a private clubhouse – Part I

By Kathleen MooreCastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

The Reserve on the Erie Canal, Brighton, NY

The Reserve is a new 327-home residential community being built by Anthony J. Costello & Son alongside the historic Erie Canal, just south of where I live in Brighton, New York. The development will include loft condominiums, townhomes, patio homes, traditional brownstones, and custom-built estate homes.  It will also feature a private Clubhouse, built directly beside the canal, which will be available to all residents and will serve as the social hub of the community.  CastleView 3D was engaged to create photorealistic interior renderings of a variety of spaces in the Clubhouse.

In our meetings, Mr. Costello was very clear that the renderings of the Clubhouse spaces should be absolutely authentic in order to show potential residents exactly what they could expect, so I worked closely with the development’s interior designer and with Costello management to ensure that all furnishings, finishes, and decor were depicted exactly as specified in the plans.

This was one of the biggest, most challenging, and most rewarding projects I worked on in 2012, and I’d like to share some of the renderings I did for it. Because there are quite a few images, I’m going to break this into two separate posts.  Today ‘s post will show the spaces on the main floor of the Clubhouse, and tomorrow we’ll go down to the ground floor and pool area.

Interior renderings – Main Floor

The main entrance to the Clubhouse opens from a porte cochere on Reserve View Blvd onto a Grand Entry Foyer.  At the other end of the hallway is a balcony (not shown in this rendering) which overlooks the pool and the historic Erie Canal.

[click each image to see full-size interior rendering]
CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Grand Entry Foyer, The Reserve, Brighton, NY

Grand Entry Foyer, The Reserve, Brighton, NY

On the right is a comfortable seating area, and on the left is the Concierge Desk.  The Board Room can be glimpsed down the small hall next to the Concierge Desk.

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Concierge Desk  in The Reserve Clubhouse

Concierge Desk, The Reserve Clubhouse

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Board Room in The Reserve Clubhouse

Board Room, The Reserve Clubhouse

Further down the entry hall on the left is the Harvard Room, a comfortable lounge with overstuffed chairs, game tables, and a library, and across the hall, the Dining Room, which seats 80 with overflow seating for an additional 40 people.  Both of these rooms also open onto the balcony.

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Harvard Room in The Reserve Clubhouse

Harvard Room, The Reserve Clubhouse

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Dining Room in The Reserve Clubhouse

Dining Room, The Reserve Clubhouse

Finally, adjacent to the Dining Room is the Gourmet Kitchen, which will be used for catering as well as for gourmet cooking classes.

CastleView 3D interior rendering of the Gourmet Kitchen in The Reserve Clubhouse

Gourmet Kitchen, The Reserve Clubhouse

The main floor will also house the sales and administrative offices for the development.

A grand staircase with a water feature descends from the center of the foyer down to the lower level.  I’ll share renderings of those spaces in my next post.


6 Things I’ve Learned About Myself in My Life as a Solopreneur

By Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

This week marks the one year point in my new life as a 3D rendering solopreneur.

In September 2011, I made the leap from a secure job in higher ed administration into full-time “solopreneur” employment in my own CAD architectural rendering business.  I’m happy to report that, one year out, things are going even better than I hoped they would be at this point.

3d rendering of CastleView 3D's World Headquarters

CastleView 3D World Headquarters

The past year has been a crash course in how to run a business — marketing, advertising, PR, finance, SEO, legal issues, customer service, questions about growth and scalability.  You can read more about some of those issues here.

But it has also been a learning experience on a more personal level.  Here are 6 things that I’ve learned about myself and my work habits over the past year:

  1. Time has become seamless, and somewhat meaningless.  There is no “work/play” distinction, no “workday/weekend,” no TGIF, no particular specialness about holidays.  I often have no clue what time it is, or what day of the week — and that’s OK.
  2. Without the structure of a normal work day, it’s hard to know when to stop working.  This is perhaps the most surprising thing I’ve learned.  My fear was that I’d become a total slacker without some kind of external structure propping me up.  But exactly the opposite has happened — I frequently find myself still working at 4 or 5 am, simply because I lose track of time.  I love what I do so much that I don’t want to stop.
  3. Shoes are a thing of the past.  Slippers, flipflops, or barefoot, depending on the season.
  4. I don’t work in my pajamas.  But sometimes I sleep in my work clothes.
  5. I will never again wear the majority of the “professional attire” items in my closet.  It’s pointless to have more than a couple of professional outfits when I do most of my work virtually.  But I’m finding it hard to part with my beautiful clothes and shoes.  This will  have to be a very gradual “letting go” process, perhaps requiring an intervention at some point.
  6. photo of an elf owl -- This solopreneur is definitely a nightowl.

    In case I had any doubts…

    When you work according to your own circadian rhythms, rather than fitting yourself into some corporate structure, you find out once and for all whether you’re an early bird or a night owl.

One not-so-surprising thing I’ve learned as a solopreneur:  Setting my own schedule, being my own boss, and running my business the way I think it should be run is absolutely WONDERFUL!

So, all you solopreneurs out there, what surprising things have you learned about yourself by stepping outside the corporate structure?

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3D Camp in Houston, Texas, 9.29.12

 Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:

Haven’t you always wanted to go to 3D camp?

logo image for 3D Camp Houston

Here’s a great opportunity for anyone interested in 3D technology:  the upcoming 3D Camp in Houston, Texas on September 29th.  The event includes a variety of speakers and even an art show.  In addition to the interesting information sessions, this conference is a great opportunity to network with like-minded folks, share ideas, and explore opportunities.  Offered at the University of Houston, the registration fee of only $15 includes breakfast and lunch.

Topics on the agenda are wide-ranging:

  • Design Visualization: The Process of Visualization + Digital Design in Architecture
  • Building Information Modeling (BIM) for Healthcare Architecture
  • A Cast of Thousands – Expanding your creative reach with Poser and Daz Studio
  • 3D Art – Fabric to Frankenstein
  • Bridging the Gap Between the Traditional and Digital Sculpture Studio
  • Digital Sculpting and Anatomy
  • Hollywood 3D Props
  • iPhone Game Development
  • Basic Character Rigging
  • Introduction to 3D Photography
  • Medical Illustration and Animation

It sounds like you can learn a lot at this camp, as well as meeting interesting, like-minded folks and making some great connections in the field.

3D Camp Houston - Design Visualization imageI encourage you to encourage anyone you know in the Houston area who’s interested in graphic design, animation, architecture, engineering, or the arts to attend this cool event, because 3D is definitely where the fields of design and architecture are headed. The conference registration link is here.

Doesn’t 3D Camp sound  like fun?  Wish I could attend, but alas, it’s over 1500 miles away.  If you go, or if you attended the previous event in 2009, please leave a comment and let us know what you got out of it.

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What’s new in Chief Architect X5

By CastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook


new version of chief architect x5 to be released soon

image of Chief Architect X5 software product coverChief Architect has just posted a video peek at the new features that will be available in the upcoming X5 Premier version, which they expect to release in Fall 2012.

Some of the new or improved features in Chief Architect X5 include:

  • shadow boards and ridge caps (finally!)
  • greater customization of railings
  • auto corner boards and quoins
  • new auto dimension tools and options
  • plan display of door and window casings
  • complex cabinet door configurations
  • automatic catalog  updates
  • PDF file import
  • callout labels for cameras
  • progressive raytracing and better control of raytrace settings
  • improved walkthrough tools, including keyframes.

The upgrade to X5 is automatic for anyone with Chief Architect’s SSA support package.

Chief Architect has been my modeling software of choice for the past 5 years, and this looks like a nice set of improvements and new features.  

UPDATE 8/15/2012:  X5 Beta was released to current SSA subscribers today.  check your digital locker if you’re a Chief Architect subscriber.


3D Home Visualization

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:


“Visualize Your Home Improvement Project in 3D”

photo of audience wearing 3D glasses - "The amazing miracle of 3D home visualization!"This is the title of a seminar on 3D home visualization that I’ll be giving this weekend at the Rochester Home Builders Association 2012 Home & Garden Show.

I’m truly excited to be giving a seminar at the show.  I feel that homeowners are just beginning to glimpse the value that 3D home visualization can bring to their home improvement projects, so I appreciate the chance to share even more information with them about the potential of this technology — in addition to chatting with interested folks who stop by the CastleView 3D booth, of course.

Basic topics I’ll cover in my talk include:

  • What 3D technology is — and what it isn’t
  • Some current uses of 3D technology for home building, remodeling, renovation, and redecorating
  • Specific examples from projects I’ve worked on with my clients, with lots of before-and-after images
  • A real-time demonstration of how 3D home visualization works, using Chief Architect X4 software
  • An overview of currently available options for using 3D visualization technology, from using simple DIY software packages (such as Chief Architect’s Home Designer Essentials) to working with specialty firms like CastleView 3D

I’m really looking forward to sharing my passion for 3D visualization with people at the seminar, as well as answering their questions and hearing about their home improvement projects.

When I wrote about last year’s show, I said:

Next year I plan to be an exhibitor myself, so I’ll be able to talk with people directly and get them excited about the benefits of “seeing it before you build it” with 3D visualization!

And here I am!

This promises to be a great show — in addition to all the seminars, exhibits, and garden displays, there will be culinary demonstrations (looking at this list makes my mouth water!), plus wine tastings from a variety of Finger Lakes wineries.  Can’t beat that!

Show info:

  • Saturday 3/24, 10 am – 7 pm
  • Sunday 3/25, 10 am – 5 pm
  • Rochester Riverside Convention Center
  • Admission is $8 (but save $2 with this coupon)
  • CastleView 3D will be exhibiting in Booth #815

If you’re in the Rochester, New York, area this weekend, I hope to see you at my seminar (1:30 pm on both Saturday and Sunday), or stop by the CastleView 3D booth #815 to say hi.

UPDATE:  If you weren’t able to make it to the Home Show and would like to know more about 3D home visualization, leave me a note in the Comments section below, or contact me through the CastleView 3D website.

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