Tag Archives: Architecture

Photorealistic 3D design — in miniature!

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:
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awe-inspiring scale miniatures showcase true photorealistic 3D design

Christmas is coming!  And in honor of the upcoming holiday, I want to share an aspect of 3D design that has made many of my Christmases merry and bright.

I have had a lifelong love of dollhouses and miniatures.  As a very little girl, I got one of those two-story metal dollhouses with plastic furniture, and thought it was the greatest thing in the world.  I used to catch tiny toads, dress them in bits of kleenex, and make them live in the dollhouse.  (They were not amused.)  When I was a bit older, my dad made me a sturdy wooden dollhouse, which I kept for many, many years.  Troll dolls, not toads, lived in that one, and my helpful little brother drew electrical outlets on all its walls with black magic marker.  Grrrr.

But there’s one Christmas that really stands out in my mind.  I was 10 years old, and for months I had been drooling over the seductively lighted display in the Sears store of “Petite Princess Fantasy Furniture,” made by Ideal Toys.

Petite Princess Fantasy Furniture store display(If you’re interested, you can read more about the history and construction of this unique set of 3/4″ scale dollhouse furniture here.)

 

I was hoping with all my might that Santa would bring me a couple of pieces of this beautifully-made furniture.  Maybe the grand piano, and the satin bed, and the brocade sofa?  Well, Santa didn’t disappoint — I got up on Christmas morning to find not just a few pieces but THE ENTIRE SET. Yes, I got every piece pictured in this display, and more! I’m sure you can imagine my total delight. The manufacturers described Petite Princess furniture as “The fulfillment of every girl’s dream,” and it certainly was mine.  Thanks, Santa (and mom and dad) for a breathtaking Christmas morning that’s still vivid after all these years.

I actually still own this furniture, and lately I’ve begun to think about selling it on eBay.  But I’m not sure I could ever bear to part with it.

As I got older, my life went in other directions, and my love of dollhouses and miniatures was put on a back burner, except for an occasional trip through the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The Thorne Rooms are an absolutely awe-inspiring 1″ scale collection documenting in miniature all the major periods and styles of interior design — probably my first brush with true photorealistic 3D design and modeling.

photo of Thorne Room:  "English Dining Room of the Georgian Period, 1770-90" - an example of photorealistic 3D design in miniature!

1″ Scale Thorne Room: “English Dining Room of the Georgian Period, 1770-90”

 

House of Miniatures scale reproduction furniture kitsWhen I was in my mid-30’s, someone who loved me and knew me well gave me a build-your-own-dollhouse kit for Christmas, and my passion bloomed again.  In the intervening years, the field of miniatures had become much more popular, and more sophisticated.  There were magazines like Miniature Collector (I think I still have the original issue, plus many more, of this magazine.  Will probably try to sell those on eBay as well.)  There were regular miniature shows and workshops around the country.  One-inch scale was everywhere.  I discovered the Xacto “House of Miniatures” mail-order kits and built and finished a number of beautiful, 1″ scale wooden reproductions.  (Apparently these kits are now considered “vintage” since the HoM line was discontinued in the mid-1990’s.)

A few years ago I created a 3D symbol of my current dollhouse and included it in this rendering of a little girl’s dream room:

CastleView 3D rendering of a little girl's room with dollhouse

 

Photo of "The Oysterville" 1" scale miniature house created by Pat & Noel Thomas - exceptionally photorealistic 3D design!

“The Oysterville” 1″ scale miniature house created by Pat & Noel Thomas (click to enlarge and see the incredible detail)

Amidst the “mini-mania” of the 1980s and 90s, when everyone and her sister was making and selling miniatures of sometimes dubious quality, there were some real stand-outs, true artisans creating museum caliber miniatures.  And two of the best were Pat and Noel Thomas, masters of the craft of creating photorealism in miniature. Their particular genius was in realistically aging the beautiful miniature architectural masterpieces they created over a span of about 20 years.

Here are just a couple of examples of their work, showing the incredible attention to every detail, from handmade bricks to hand-cut gingerbread trim to the careful “aging” of their structures using all kinds of natural materials.  The image below is the basement of their “Bear River House.”

photo of "Bear River House" basement -- 1" scale miniature by Pat & Noel Thomas

Pat and Noel recently retired from the world of miniatures, but Pat is now sharing stories and photos of their creations over the years in a very entertaining blog called smallhousepress.  I encourage you to check it out for great stories and more examples of their wonderful “photorealistic 3D design.”

This post was fun to write (and turned out a lot longer than I expected).  I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour down my “miniature memory lane.”  Did you ever have a dollhouse?  What kinds of experiences shaped your own passion for architecture and 3D design?


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Recycled architecture

“I need an oil change and two tickets to Macbeth, please”

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:

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I love the trend of “recycled architecture”:  reusing and repurposing existing buildings.  I admire the creative minds that think up new uses for structures originally designed to be something else.  Turning old churches, barns, or industrial lofts into homes and condos, and converting railway stations or homes into restaurants are common examples of this, but there are lots of others.

photo of Pattaya Thai Restaurant, Penfield, NY, an example of recycled architectureFor example, a run-of-the-mill branch bank building in a neighboring suburb has been turned into a Thai restaurant. The first time I visited, it felt a little odd to be eating my Pad Thai near the location of the old bank vault. But the space has been beautifully adapted.

Another great local example of recycled architecture is SPoT Coffee, a popular coffee shop located in a classic Art Deco Chevy dealership. I can remember eyeing that location many years ago and thinking it would make a great bar or dance club — guess I was ahead of my time.photo of Spot Coffee in Rochester, NY, another great example of recycled architecture

photo of the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, now recycled as a museumIn Rochester, NY, where I live, we are blessed with many large, stately 19th- and early 20th-century mansions, remnants of Eastman Kodak‘s heyday, along beautiful East Avenue. Many of these old homes have now been converted into offices for doctors, lawyers, and professional associations, spas, and retreat centers. George Eastman’s home (photo above) is now the International Museum of Photography. Hard to believe that these were all once single-family homes!

Rochester really has some fascinating architecture, and the Monroe County Library has created a website chronicling a number of the adaptive reuse projects in the area which have helped preserve our beautiful and historic structures.

And now we get to the 3D modeling and rendering part of this post….

As a community theater afficionado, one of my favorite recycled architecture examples in the local area is the transformation of a sad, decidedly non-historic little building into a community theater rehearsal and performance space for Blackfriars Theatre.  The building most recently housed a used-car dealership, but looks like it might have started life as a gas station.  Here’s what the building originally looked like (image from Google Maps):

photo of a sad-looking building awaiting a new life as a community theater

In the initial stages of the conversion, I did a 3D model of the building and surrounding spaces for a client who was submitting a bid to do the landscaping for the project.  She proposed converting the corner section of the lot into a shared community space with a bench and plantings, and needed some quick graphics to illustrate her ideas. Rendering of a proposed landscape plan for the new Blackfriars Theater

Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, I don’t believe the developers hired her to do their landscaping.  But since I already had the building modeled, I decided to use it to do a little experimenting with lighting effects in a night rendering in Thea:

Photorealistic 3D Rendering of new Blackfriars Theatre at sunset

Since it’s not attractive, historic, or valuable in any way, this little building is exactly the kind of structure that, in the past, would most likely have been torn down to make room for new construction.  So I applaud the fact that these developers had enough creative vision — and a green enough conscience — to give it a new lease on life instead.

I’d love to hear about more examples of adaptive reuse.  What kinds of creative “recycled architecture” projects have you seen or participated in?


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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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Another inspiration (#5) – an architectural video animation

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:

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Here’s a wonderful architectural video animation recently shared on the 3rd Dimension blog:

$17.9 million is what you can expect to pay for this 30,000 sq ft luxurious private residence in Florida. 3rd Dimension was commissioned to create a number of aerial photomontages and eye level 3D visuals along with an exterior 3D movie of the proposed development. It was an amazing project to work on — credit to the project architects Yates Rainho in Florida for such a fantastic design. The 3D imagery and animation were used for both planning and marketing purposes…. One neat little trick we used for the 3D movie was the animation of the ocean in the aerial photomontages. Panning the still images and having movement within them such as the ocean and cars makes it difficult to tell that they are CGI.

The design is gorgeous, and I have to agree that animation of the surf and pool waterfall adds realism and an even greater degree of visual interest to the images of this breath-taking mansion.  I would have liked to have seen interiors — but perhaps that’s another project entirely (one for CastleView 3D, perhaps!).

I really do get inspired by looking at the beautiful work that others have done, such as this great architectural video animation, and I hope you do, too.  If you see work worth sharing on Life Should Be 3D, be sure to bring it to my attention.


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A different kind of 3D modeling

Posted by Kathleen Moore, CastleView 3D:

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Just something quick and fun today — a LEGO version of an architectural masterpiece!! You can now build your own 3D plastic replica of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, located in Chicago.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in LEGOS

Maybe it’s because I don’t have kids, but I wasn’t aware of the LEGO Architecture Series.  In addition to the new FLW Robie House kit, it includes models of:

They range in price (list price) from $19.99 (Empire State Building, John Hancock Center, Space Needle, and Sears Tower) to $199.99 (Robie House).

Now that I’ve seen these, I want them all!  I wonder if they come with tiny LEGO furnishings?


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A career in 3D — it’s not all glitz and glamour

Posted by , CastleView 3D:

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Skyscraper rendering by Stanley Tang

A career in 3D modeling and rendering — sounds very exciting and cutting-edge, doesn’t it?  Movie premieres of the latest 3D films, gaming conventions, consultations with leading architects on their newest skyscraper or high-end real estate development.  How thrilling!

But trust me, that’s far from reality — at least MY reality.  Although this occupation certainly has its moments of excitement, it’s actually pretty nerdy and requires a high tolerance for sitting at a computer and working by yourself most of the time.

And it doesn’t lend itself to a jet-set lifestyle, either, in terms of time OR  income.  At least in the beginning, you end up doing pretty much any job that knocks on your virtual door, just to be able to make some money.

I was lucky:  early in my rendering career (way back in 2007) I landed a dream job — clients who wanted to pay me a handsome sum to create a complete “as-built” (i.e., an exact detailed model of an existing structure) of a gorgeous multimillion-dollar house they were buying, which they would then use for remodeling and redecorating the home.  And I accepted, because I was too green to realize that it was way beyond my skill level at the time.  Luckily my 3D mentor, Kay Nordby, was willing to help with some of the trickier bits.  I completed the job, the clients were very pleased, and I learned a lot and cemented a lasting virtual friendship.  More on that big job — including further developments — another time.

So far I haven’t done any other project that has been on the same scale as that one, and certainly nothing so grand as a skyscraper.  One recent job was really the antithesis of glamour — a quick rendering of a bunch of self-storage units for a developer, something he could take to the town for permit approval.

Decidedly non-glamorous rendering of self-storage buildings

Decidedly non-glamorous rendering of self-storage buildings

But no matter whether it’s the big cool challenging jobs or the quick moneymakers, I’m happy with my second career in 3D modeling and rendering:

  • It allows me to combine my artistic and technical skills with my love of architecture and interior design.
  • It’s always full of new challenges, new design problems to solve, and new rendering techniques to practice and perfect.
  • It allows me to be my own boss and run my business the way I want to.
  • I can work in my jammies and bunny slippers if I want (not that I would ever do that, of course — I don’t even OWN bunny slippers.  But you get the idea).
  • People pay me to do something I really enjoy and am passionate about.
  • It provides daily opportunities to be helpful to other people by using my skills to translate their 2D ideas and plans into 3D images — and sometimes into gloriously detailed photorealistic 3D images, if that’s appropriate for their needs.

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You can be clairvoyant!

Posted by , CastleView 3D:

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Yes, that’s right!!  You really can see into the future!

And while clairvoyance can have its negative aspects (as in premonitions, omens, creepy “sixth sense” experiences, etc.), the kind of clairvoyance I can offer is definitely a positive experience.

How can I help you see the future?  Through the medium of photorealistic 3D renderings! (of course).

Seeing the future isn’t easy.  You have to begin with at least a vague idea of what you WANT to see in the future — some people might call that a dream.  But starting from just the barest outline, we can work together to turn that outline (also known as a floorplan) into a 3D model with walls, doors, windows, and a roof.  As the vision of the future becomes clearer, we can shade it in, giving it colors and textures, lighting it naturally and/or artificially, even landscaping, furnishing, and decorating it!

Eventually, a clear picture of your architectural future will begin to emerge.  Your dreams will have taken shape, and you’ll be able to see your new or remodeled home as clearly as if you were standing in it — before a single shovelful of dirt has been dug or a single piece of drywall hung.  Now THAT’s practical magic!

I’ve created 3D models of existing homes where I’ve measured and photographed the actual house in order to make an accurate model of it, and it’s always rewarding to feel like I’ve faithfully captured the essence of a house or a room.  I’ve also created many 3D models for architects and builders far removed from my little corner of the world — buildings I will never see and so have no particular connection to or investment in (other than doing a great rendering for my client).

But there’s an entirely different feeling that accompanies creating a 3D version of someone’s dream — AND THEN SEEING IT ACTUALLY BUILT IN REAL LIFE.  It’s sort of eerie — a sense of deja vu — to see something that has existed only in my mind and on my computer become bricks and mortar and sinks and toilets.  It’s hard to describe, but it really does feel like I’ve seen into the future.

I had this experience recently in my own home when we had our 1935-vintage bathroom remodeled. I created detailed 3Ds of what I wanted the finished room to look like — and then got that eerie feeling as I saw my renderings slowly come to life as the remodel progressed.

3D Bathroom Remodel Rendering by CastleView3D.com

3D Render of Planned Bathroom Remodel

Photo of Actual Remodeled Bathroom

Now maybe this shouldn’t come as such a surprise — I did design it, after all, so what did I expect them to build?  But it happens every time with projects like this — I feel that somehow I’ve been able to glimpse the future and capture it in pixels.

Have you ever wished that you could see into the future?  I can help.


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