Tag Archives: renderings

Real, or 3D?

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I’m not 100% certain, but I believe this fascinating yacht design, from South Korean designer Hyun-Seok Kim, is all 3d modeling and rendering, not photographs.

Click the photo to see a series of wonderful images of the interior and exterior, published in the web magazine Yanko Design.  What do you think?

I’m not typically a yacht sort of person, but I think I could be comfortable spending an extended stay on this one.


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“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” – or $1,000 in Your Pocket

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Today I’m featuring a guest post by fellow Chief Architect user Chris Brown.  Chris is a Design/Build General Contractor with his own company, Stone Castle Homes, in Republic, Missouri (contact Chris at chrisdbrown@att.net).  His post today is directed mainly at builders and home designers who aren’t currently using 3D renderings in their work with clients.


I find that dealing with most builders on the subject of 3D renderings (especially raytracing) is like trying to teach an old dog new tricks. Builders don’t want to do it because they don’t want to pay for it. When I design a custom home for a builder, the builder just doesn’t know how to talk to his client about the benefits of the 3D renderings, and therefore it almost never gets done. But when the builder allows me to talk directly to the clients and show them examples, the clients always want it.

Seeing examples always changes a client’s mind, even if they’re not enthusiastic about the idea to start.  When I show them samples from my previous projects, instantly, it’s “Yeah, we’ll pay for that!”  They appreciate the value immediately of being able to see the finished product before the ground is even dug.

In the olden days, plans were hand-drawn, just line drawings; even when CAD came along, they were still just line drawings for a long time.  This leaves a lot to the imagination.  But nowadays, 3D renderings provide the wow! factor – it gives clients the opportunity to actually SEE what their finished home will look like.  Which do you think a client would rather see?  This…….

Custom home floorplan

Floor plan for custom home

Or this………….

3D Rendering of Main Living Area by CastleView3D.com

3D Raytrace of Main Living Area by CastleView 3D

A builder today can make an extra $1,000-5,000 per house by using good 3D renderings.  Renderings allow you to put in all the extras, like crown molding and granite countertops, right from the start, and let the client see how they will look.  Once they’ve seen the top-of-the-line version, then their budget can dictate what to take out, rather than trying to do it the other way around.

It’s taking time, but I finally have some builders coming around on this 3D rendering stuff.  There are some key ways to talk to builders.  You just have to keep at them, and keep explaining the benefits:

  • No change orders
  • Better relationship with client
  • Better communication with client
  • Quicker build
  • More money

Builders can also use the 3D renderings for advertising – a sign on the lawn, brochures, website, etc.

For Chief Architect users, if you don’t learn how to make nice raytraces, you are leaving money on the table. You’ve already done the work, made the 3D model, so why not make a little more money while providing a great service to your clients?

Clients can even seek out a 3D designer first, before they meet with a builder, who can help them work out their ideas.  Then they can bring the finished pictures to their builder.  This is beneficial to both parties, because builders often don’t ask all the questions they should when trying to determine a bid, about the thousands of details that go into a project.  Renderings give them something more definite to work from.

In addition, with the economy the way it is, clients need to be even more sure they’re getting what they want, and 3D renderings are the most cost-effective way to insure that.  “Seeing is believing,” and being able to see what their finished home will look like will inspire confidence.

When a project is completed, I sometimes ask the client about their 3D images: “Was that worth the money?”  And I’m sure you can guess what their answer is.


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But is it Art?

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There is a very cool grassroots art show in Rochester, NY, called ArtAwake.  It originated in 2007 as a student-driven initiative whose purpose is to strengthen the community (and, presumably, showcase art).  It has become an annual one-day festival of creativity taking over a vacant urban space and transforming it for the occasion.  ArtAwake is organized by a team of students from the University of Rochester‘s Urban Exploring Club, but involves collaboration between many local organizations. For the past three years, ArtAwake has transformed three vacant buildings in Rochester through the participation of hundreds of local artists and musicians.

Alliance Building in downtown Rochester, NY, built in 1926

Next Saturday, April 16, will be the fourth annual ArtAwake event.  ArtAwake 2011 will feature over 150 works by local artists, from paintings to sculptures and architecture to fashion, plus 22 musical artists, catering by Lento (a popular locavore restaurant), and a wine tasting.  This year the festival will take place in the old Alliance Building in downtown Rochester.  Built in 1926, the Alliance Building is a 15-story, 167,000 sq ft neoclassical style high-rise in the heart of what’s somewhat grandiosely called the Central Business District.

Now in general, downtown Rochester is not a particularly happy place these days, but strides are being made — restaurants and clubs are opening, loft conversions are happening, and big plans are being discussed.  And events like ArtAwake are part of what’s driving renewed interest in downtown.

Well, OK, that’s all very interesting, you say, but what does it have to do with 3D design?  The answer is that for the first time this year, I submitted some of my 3D renderings to ArtAwake.  Here is one I submitted which I called “Chopping Tomatoes.”  (Hey, it needed a title!)

Chopping_Tomatoes, A 3D Rendering by CastleView3D.com

3D rendering rejected by ArtAwake

My renderings were not accepted for the show.  And no comment or reason was offered regarding why.  But I was curious (and a tiny bit suspicious), so I pressed for further explanation, and received a very interesting email from the show’s directors:

“CAD renderings are difficult, and we had quite a bit of discussion about how your works might fit into the show.  In the end we felt the viewers would have a hard time understanding them and how they related to the rest of the works. We appreciate and understand the time and effort that goes into a CAD rendering, but unless the images are unusually striking we did not feel the average viewer would take the time to consider the interesting intersection of art as utility and vice versa.”

In my reply, I thanked them for taking the time to explain their decision, and offered the following:

“A great deal of time and artistic talent go into creating photorealistic renderings, in addition to technical skill.  The computer is simply a tool used to generate the final product — it doesn’t create the scene.  I’m sure you must have other examples of computer-generated art in the show — photos that have been photoshopped for example, or digitally manipulated.  And I’m pretty sure you’ve seen examples of advertising art, which is certainly the intersection of art and utility, that people don’t seem to have a problem understanding.  So I have to key in on your phrase ‘unless the images are unusually striking’ as being the deciding factor.  What you’re saying is that my art just didn’t grab you.  Which is OK.  Perhaps next time I’ll try to create images that are more ‘unusually striking.’ “

I offer all of this because I’m still struggling with the question of whether 3D renderings can be considered “art.”  Obviously “Chopping Tomatoes” isn’t the Mona Lisa — I have no delusions about that.  But is it art at all?  Can CAD-modeled pretty pixel pictures be considered art?  Do the kinds of images I create have any rightful place in an art show?  How much more “unusually striking” would this particular image have had to be to engage the average viewer in the same way that a painting or sculpture or photograph would engage them?

Are 3D renderings merely “utilitarian”?  Or was I the victim of “art-ism” — discrimination against the type of art I create merely because it’s different and non-traditional?

I would really love to hear opinions about this so I hope you’ll share your ideas in the Comments.


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Learning 3D modeling by copying the “old masters”

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When I was first learning to do 3D modeling and rendering back in 2007, I decided to try an exercise that many art students are given in their studies:  learning by copying the old masters.  With sketchbooks and pencils in hand, students visit the world’s great art museums to learn about an artist’s technique by trying to duplicate it themselves.

For my learning exercise, I decided that my “old masters” would be architectural and interior designers whose work I admired.  So I gathered a collection of photos from the web, many from Architectural Digest (which is, in my opinion, the best place to see consistently fine examples of both interior and exterior design).  I set myself the task of trying to learn something about their design techniques, as well as mastering my own modeling and rendering software tools, by trying to reproduce the photos as 3D renderings. I feel this approach really taught me a lot, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to improve their 3D skills.

Now that I’ve been at this for almost 4 years, I still occasionally do this exercise, simply because it provides an excellent insight into a designer’s mind to try to understand why they did things the way they did in the building or room I’m studying.

Room designed by Suzanne Lovell

Room designed by interior designer Suzanne Lovell (photo from an article in Sept. 2007 Architectural Digest)

Recently, instead of tackling a new challenge, I decided to revisit one of my old favorite inspirations, a lovely room created by awesomely talented interior designer Suzanne Lovell in her own townhouse in Chicago.  Her home was written up in a 2007 article in AD (which unfortunately is no longer available online).

I liked my original rendering so much that I had been using it for years in my portfolio on the CastleView 3D website, despite the fact that it was a very early example and wasn’t actually produced for a real client.  But because the rendering software I use now (Kerkythea) is much more sophisticated than what I was using in 2007, I wanted to see how much the image could be improved simply by using the new tool.

I didn’t change my original model except to import it into Chief Architect X3 (to enable VRML export), but instead spent time tweaking the lighting and textures in the imported file within Kerkythea.  Below is a comparison of my original image with the most recent one (you’ll need to click to enlarge the images for a decent comparison).  You can see that in the 2007 version, the render engine wasn’t able to produce reflections, or even shadows!

2011 3D Rendering by CastleView3D.com of room designed by Suzanne Lovell

My recent update (April 2011), using the same model but re-rendered in Kerkythea

2007 3D Rendering by CastleView3D.com of room designed by Suzanne Lovell

My original 2007 rendering, modeled and rendered in Home Designer Pro

Of course I’m much happier with the more recent version, although as I look at the final product there are still things I would like to change in my addictive quest for photorealistic perfection.

Perhaps I’ll work on improving some of my original modeling, and post an update later. But in the meantime, this new image is definitely replacing the old one on my website!


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