Tag Archives: 3D modeling software

3D renderings from an architect?

IS IT REASONABLE TO EXPECT AN ARCHITECT TO PROVIDE COMPUTER RENDERINGS OF REMODEL IDEAS?

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Recently, I received an inquiry from a reader asking whether it was reasonable to expect architects to provide computer renderings of remodel ideas. My short answer is… yes and no.

Let’s walk through this important question from the perspectives of everyone involved.

The Client

When you’re the client, you are handing over large quantities of your money and time to an individual to perform a professional service for you: design a living space that fits your budget, your lifestyle, and your tastes. Let’s stop for a moment. Notice how the word “you” or “your” was used seven times in the preceding sentence. That’s because YOU are the single most important individual in this project. You are the paying customer.

A reputable architect will pride him or herself on meeting your needs. In order to best understand your vision, a good architect appreciates as much client input as possible. The more precise you can be in describing your lifestyle, tastes, and budget, the better an architect can design a space that meets your needs.

Once your architect develops a design for you, it’s up to them to make sure you thoroughly understand that vision. If you don’t, you must say so. Not everyone has spatial visualization skills and the ability to see a vision from a blueprint or CAD drawing. If a 3D rendering will help you better understand exactly what you can expect for your enormous investment, then it is absolutely reasonable to expect an architect to help you secure a 3D computer rendering of the remodel ideas.  If they don’t provide this service themselves, they should at least be able to point you to someone who can provide it.

It is also reasonable to expect architects to work with 3D renderings that you obtain from a third party if they do not provide the rendering as a part of their own service.

The Architect

To make sure I clearly understood the architects’ perspective on this issue, I asked for opinions in an architecture-related group on LinkedIn that I’m a member of. Answers were fairly polarized, and seemed to depend on whether the architect was using a 3D type of software like Chief Architect to create their plans versus using more traditional 2D CAD or hand-drawn plans.

One architect said, “With software that works in 3D, the 3D views are not a large cost to me. I am able to create most 3D visuals with the click of a button. These are not idealized renderings. They are enough to get the ideas across when 2D can’t. I can and do raise my base fee. I market this as my advanced approach to doing business. And since it is included, I am not as quickly seen by clients as ‘nickel and diming’ them for every little thing (their words, not mine).”

Another designer commented, “I include 3D renderings in all my plans. I don’t see why you can’t. It tells the whole story of the project and basically it is already there for the most part. So why not include them!? As far as prints [blueprints and line elevations], I usually give 2-3 sets with my price and more at their expense.”

Others were open-minded about working with 3D renderings but didn’t feel any responsibility to provide them. This is an honest and fair position, as it is not yet standard practice for architects to use software that creates 3D renderings, so to provide them for clients means an additional cost in time, money, and scope for the architect. The legal interpretation of today’s reasonable ‘Standard of Care’ for architects does not require the use of 3D.

However, 3D technology will continue to have an effect on the architectural industry’s definition of a reasonable ‘standard of care’ for architects when working with clients. As more clients request 3D renderings and gravitate to those architects who do provide them, I believe that there will eventually be a paradigm shift in standard accepted practices. Remember, at one point blueprints and CAD drawings were not considered standard practice, but today all architects factor these into their general rates.  However, it is probably NOT reasonable at this point to expect to receive 3D renderings at no additional cost, since the architect or designer incurs extra costs for creating them.

The 3D Renderer

3D renderings are excellent tools for communicating ideas, as well as a smart project cost containment strategy for both clients and architects. Until the accepted paradigm makes providing 3D renderings a standard architectural practice, clients will often need to take the initiative to ask for them. If you don’t see it spelled out in your contract, the safest bet is to assume it is NOT part of the package the architect is offering.

But if your architect doesn’t do 3D, that doesn’t mean you need to go without renderings! Ask your architect if he or she would consider contracting these out, or ask for recommendations so you can find and work directly with a specialized 3D rendering service provider yourself.  A good 3D renderer should be able to create a 3D model and high-quality renderings from the standard plans or blueprints prepared by any architect.

If the price your architect quotes you for providing 3D renderings seems prohibitively high, even for such a valuable service, you are certainly free to shop around for a better price.  Just remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for.”  As with so many things, the cheapest price isn’t usually the best choice.

blindfold-guyIn my experience, many clients swear that their investment in obtaining 3D renderings is the best money they spent on the whole project, in terms of time and money saved and headaches averted. I’ve never heard anyone say,

“3D renderings? Oh, no thanks—I prefer to be completely surprised when I’m spending thousands of dollars!”

IN SUMMARY

Remember, a good architect will want to create a positive experience with you. Don’t hesitate to ask about 3D renderings. Your architect will appreciate you being up front with your concerns so that he or she can address them before you move too deeply into a project. This clear communication is a recipe for peace-of-mind and a successful outcome for everyone.


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“Residential Design Using Chief Architect X5”

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


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What’s new in Chief Architect X5

By CastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

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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.

http://www.chiefarchitect.com/products/whats-new-x5.html

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.


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3D Home Visualization

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:

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“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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Another inspiration (#6)

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:
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Inspiring 3D renderings by Ramon Zancanaro

Here’s another entry in my “Inspirations” series — and wow, this one is really inspiring, especially to those of us who do 3D renderings of interiors and are always looking for realistic draperies, bedclothes, and the like.

Inspirational 3D rendering by Ramon Zancanaro

Inspirational 3D rendering by Ramon Zancanaro

This is one of a series of renderings done by 3D artist Ramon Zancanaro as a “cloth study” (see more on Ronan Bekerman’s blog).  The cloth was created using a modeling software called “Marvelous Designer” — an app for clothing designers, but obviously put to beautiful architectural use here (perhaps this would be called an off-label use?).

The face count on these cloth models must be astronomical (although I believe Ramon uses some modification to reduce the poly count).  My understanding is that he plans to do a “Making of…” video explaining his process, to be posted on Ronan’s blog.  That promises to be very enlightening, and I will include a link to it once it has been posted.

UPDATE 9/16/2012:  At last, here is the promised “how-to” from Ramon explaining how he used Marvelous Designer for the cloth modeling in this scene!  www.ronenbekerman.com/3d-cloth-modeling-with-marvelous-designer/

 

Here’s another fantastic example of Ramon’s 3D rendering work for you to enjoy.  Look at the cutwork on that tablecloth — fantastic!

Another inspirational 3D rendering by Ramon Zancanaro

I’m truly so impressed and inspired by skill and talent like this — I hope you are too.


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“Learning Chief Architect X4 Step by Step”

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

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Start the New Year off right:  Learn something!

Today I’m featuring a guest post by Chief Architect software user and author Terry Munson.  Terry’s latest book for Chief Architect, “Learning Chief Architect X4 Step by Step,” has recently been published and is available at www.chiefapprentice.com/Downloads.html.


Terry says:

Learning Chief Architect X4 Step by StepMy first book, Learning Chief Architect Step by Step, was based on Chief Architect X3. I then decided to write a new book focusing on the more recent version, X4 [released in July 2011], so that all the new features and enhancements could be included. So I now have two books for CA out, all in one year!  And I’ve almost finished a third book, Becoming a Chief Architect X4 Expert Step by Step, which I hope to publish by March 2012.

My intent with these books was to provide myself with readily available reference material on how to use the different tools and functions of Chief Architect software.  I kept forgetting how to do certain processes and was always spending time searching for answers in Chief’s help materials.  I’m a draftsman, not a writer, but as I got more and more into writing the book, I realized that others might appreciate something like this as well, which gave me even more incentive to keep writing.

The book is a step-by-step tutorial that takes the user from setting up defaults and templates to actually designing a house from start to finish. The user will draw a floor plan for a 2-story house, add cabinets, fixtures, appliances, stairs, roof, dormers, floor and ceiling platforms, foundation, site plan, terrain features, and whatever else is necessary for a complete home design. The book takes the user from setting up construction documents to presenting the model in 3D. They work with materials, trim and moldings, etc. It is a complete and comprehensive book for beginning and intermediate level users.

Material for the book came from various sources, such as Architectural Design Presentations (by Donald A. Totter), Working with Chief Architect (by Star Training Institute), CA’s reference manual and training videos, as well as from my own experience with using the software for the past 7 years.

After a frustrating search for a publisher, I decided to self-publish the book through Gorham Printing. The books are very high quality print (black and white), with a very secure binding — good quality work.

The softcover book comes with a CD that contains a PDF of the book (in full color), and includes the files needed for the exercises.  Both books are also available in e-book format. One nice thing about the e-book is that I was able to price it much lower than the softcover book.

When the first book became available, I got a rush of orders and was pretty excited. I got nothing but positive feedback for the book. Then Chief Architect’s academic dealer, Debbie Gray of Gray Technologies, called me.  She sounded even more excited than I was about the book. She told me that it was just what the academic market — high school and college teachers — needed to teach CA to their home design and drafting classes.  Because of her efforts, my book is now used in home design classes throughout the U.S. She also got me hooked up with CA’s authorized academic dealers, who are marketing the book.

I created a website, www.chiefapprentice.com, to help market the books, and plan to add an affiliate program as another method of marketing.  This is a very selective market, so it’s important to get the word out that these books are available.  If you have questions about the book, you can contact me directly at (253) 852-4022 or terrymunson2@msn.com.


Thanks, Terry. If you’re a Chief Architect user or student, I strongly encourage you to visit Terry’s website, www.chiefapprentice.com, to buy his book, and please spread the word to any other Chief users you know. If you’re already familiar with Terry’s books, please leave a review here in the Comments to assist others who are searching for help with learning Chief Architect.


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Time-lapse video demo of 3D architectural modeling

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:
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An example of 3D architectural modeling “in action”

Today I’m sharing a cool video made by one of my “virtual colleagues,” Rod Kervin of Kervin Home Design in Courtenay, British Columbia.  Rod shared his video on Chieftalk, the Chief Architect user forum, and I thought it might be interesting to an even broader audience.

In the video, created using Debut Video capture software, you can watch Rod model an entire house in only 12 minutes — instead of the 82 minutes it actually took (and Rod is a very seasoned Chief user).  It’s a great opportunity to watch the process of designing a home using Chief Architect, whether you’re considering purchasing the software or simply curious about the design process.

Rod had this to say about the value of the video for him personally:

One thing that this time lapse does is reveal to me where I am taking a lot of time to get a simple thing done. The roof is one example, where I drew the roof over the back patio several times before getting it right….  This is also one of my favorite designs to play with. I am trying my best to keep to simple form in my designs, and this is an example of that effort.

Doug Park, Principal Software Architect at Chief Architect, also found Rod’s video valuable, and shared this comment on Chieftalk:

I found this to be interesting to watch as it helps me to understand how someone works. I could see this as a tool to show us how you work so that we can learn how to better design the program and perhaps how to improve our training…  This particular type of video is fast enough that I can see in minutes what would otherwise take hours.

Thanks, Rod, for giving us all a useful glimpse into the process of 3D architectural modeling by sharing your cool time-lapse video.


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My virtual water cooler — Chieftalk, the Chief Architect user forum

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:
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In praise of Chieftalk

When you run a solo shop and spend most of your day working alone in a home office, the work may be stimulating but the workday can get a bit lonely.  Although my husband will talk my ear off about pickleball and baseball, he has absolutely no interest in discussing the uses and relative merits of slabs vs. soffits vs. polylines.  In fact, I’d be stunned if I found out that he even knew what those terms meant (in relation to 3D modeling, anyhow)!

But luckily, when I was just starting out in this business some years ago, I found a wonderful resource provided by the Chief Architect company for users of its software:  the ChiefTalk users forum.  There is also a similar resource for users of CA’s consumer-level “Home Designer” products, called HomeTalk.  I actually started out on HomeTalk when I was still using Home Designer Pro, and “graduated” to ChiefTalk a few months later when I upgraded to the professional level software.

I’ve visited a lot of user forums over the years, and I’ve never found any that are both useful and friendly to the degree that ChiefTalk and HomeTalk are.  I learned quickly that some core users are apparently ALWAYS online, willing to answer questions about how to use the software or to help solve problems (which are almost always attributable to user error, of course). These folks rarely get impatient, no matter how many times a question may have been asked before.  Although they might respond with “Have you tried searching the archives?” or “What version of the software are you using?” or “We can help you better if you attach an image or plan,” once a new user understands the forum etiquette and protocol, they are always generous with their time and expertise.

what the heck happened? image - my first question on the Chieftalk forum

Image from one of my first “What the heck happened here?” posts on Chieftalk

As my skill level grew, I stopped asking so many questions and found I was able to start giving back by providing occasional answers and advice in my area of expertise, rendering and raytracing.  By then, the ChiefTalk regulars felt like friends — people I looked forward to interacting with on a regular basis.  We joke around and get silly sometimes, occasionally have heated arguments and discussions, but ultimately get along just fine most of the time.  There is actually a separate sub-forum called “Chatroom” on ChiefTalk (and another one called “Way Off Topic,” accessible via secret password only) for discussions outside the typical software Q&A realm.  We’ve shared important life events like weddings and new babies with each other through pictures.  Some of us have ventured off in different directions, learning together and sharing our successes and failures in constructive ways.

So Lew, Allen, David, Louis, Kay, Bryce, Wendy, Pat, Jintu, Jonathan, Chris, Scott, Pam, and all the rest — even though I’ve never actually met any of you IRL, after all these years you definitely feel like my friends and colleagues.  I’m indebted to each one of you for generously sharing not only your knowledge and expertise, but other important parts of who you are.

I encourage everyone to check out ChiefTalk, if you’re a Chief Architect user — or whatever user forum seems most appropriate for your interests — and work hard to create your own group of  “virtual water cooler” buddies.


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What’s new in Chief Architect X4

Posted by , CastleView 3D:

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Chief Architect SoftwareMy favorite 3D architectural modeling software, Chief Architect, will soon release a new version of the program, version X4.

Watch this video to get a summary of new features expected in X4:

http://www.chiefarchitect.com/scripts/flash/whats-new-x4.html

No release date has been announced yet, but rumor has it that it will be sometime this summer.

UPDATE:  Chief X4 was released in July 2011.


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3D Rendering with Chief Architect

Posted by , CastleView 3D | Like CastleView 3D on Facebook

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Today I’m featuring a guest post from a 3D colleague, Patricia Abood, Owner and Chief Artist at 3D-Diva.  Pat is a talented 3D artist who creates renders exclusively for users of Chief Architect software.  The images below are examples of her work.


Did you know that many photographs you see in a magazine or on a website aren’t really a photograph? How can you tell? Sometimes you can’t. It’s called 3D rendering.

3D Rendering by Patricia Abood of a room designed by Chad Cardin


3D renderings are computer-generated pictures taken from models or “meshes” built within a modeling software [like Chief Architect]. Lines and curves are drawn to form a geometry so when the computer calculates all the angles, it creates an object that you can visually walk around, look at from behind, above, and so on. While the computer works hard making the calculations necessary to create a 3D object, the 3D rendering artist also works hard to make sure the computer understands what he or she wants it to do — and that’s called creativity.

I’ve actually had emails sent to me asking if I could “plug this diagram into a rendering program and make it look like 3D.”  I try to hold my laughter inside, but sometimes I laugh out loud.  I politely email back telling them that it doesn’t work that way, and that I have to actually draw their diagram in one program and then have another program generate the 3D image so that it will look like a photograph. Since I’m speaking to them via cyberspace, I unfortunately don’t get to see their look of confusion.

So what’s the big deal about 3D, you say? What if I told you that you could visually see the room you’re thinking about redecorating before you even start stripping that 1980’s wallpaper? Maybe your husband wants the spare room for his man-cave, and his idea of decorating is an old recliner in the middle of the room with the flat screen TV as the focal point, a compact refrigerator for drinks, and a leftover cabinet from your last remodel hanging on the wall to store his chips.

You, on the other hand, would like to be able to keep the door open to the man-cave when you have visitors. You have some great decorating ideas but can’t seem to get your point across. Let him see your design in 3D…. brilliant idea!

Men seem to be a little less picky when it comes to decorating and usually let the women do as they please, but there comes a time when too much foo-foo can take the wind out of any manly sail. Collaborating with one another with 3D images can merge two ideas into one that both can agree upon.

Of course I’m exaggerating, but even with the best design intentions, without 3D renderings you will never know what your idea will look like until the project is finished.

Architects, designers, and draftsmen are all climbing on board with 3Ds, showing off their work with realistic images — but not just any 3D image. A professional who spends hours, days, and weeks creating a floor plan wants a photorealistic image that is an appropriate reflection of their own talents. It’s like the parsley on the potatoes — presentation! Presentation, as well as how a professional markets their designs, is just as important as the design itself.

When I receive a floor plan from an architect, designer, or draftsman that was created in Chief Architect, I know how important it is for them to have a 3D rendering that reflects the hours they put into the design. The professionals give only their best to their clients, and a 3D rendering is a wonderful tool to display the best of their creation.

So the next time you see a photograph in a magazine and wonder if it’s real or not, it just may be a 3D render.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your images, Pat!


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