3D Architectural Modeling and Animation

3D Architectural Modeling and Animation

3D modeling and animation gets me excited. There are few things I enjoy more than churning out a really cool 3D render. I like to think it’s the artist in me, but it probably has more to do with nerding out on the computer than exercising my inner Picasso.

One of the best areas to work in 3D is in architectural modeling and animation. It’s hard work, and requires a lot of forethought, planning, and knowledge about artsy things like composition and mood lighting. The artsy stuff is especially hard to process, since all these artsy things have to be translated within the 3D software into mathematical values like fresnel values and ray-tracing before you can understand and hence manipulate them effectively.

Recently I have been watching a lot of tutorials for achieving photorealistic renders, and there are a couple things I consider to be essential to achieving a great render:

1. Depth of Field Perhaps a bit obvious, but nonetheless crucial enough to deserve mentioning. Without some measurable depth of field included in your scene, you would be extraordinarily hard – pressed to achieve photorealism. On the flip side, when used correctly, it will instantly bring a render to life.

2. Detail in the Shadows This could also be labeled “working towards detailed contrast.” The life of a render lies just as much, in my opinion, in good shadows as it does in good lighting. I have seen a good many incredible renders where most of the scene looks photorealistic, but a portion of it will look too flat, or too washed out, and it kills the illusion.

3. Light Flares This is actually not necessarily essential; more of just personal preference, and of course in some scenes it won’t work, but again, I have seen so many renders where the lighting is “correct,” so it should look real, but it just seems to lack life. In my experience I have found that adding blown out lighting, or flares, to a portion of the scene can help to draw your eyes in and sell the illusion.

4. Reflections Not just for obvious things like mirrors and metal, but for everything. Physically speaking, everything on earth reflects some amount of light, even if that amount is very small. No need to go crazy with this, but keeping it in mind, especially for things that you wouldn’t think reflect light like cloth, dust and very porous materials, will really lend a hand to selling the photo illusion.

As complex (and mathematically challenging :)) as this work can be, when all is said and done, this is work that I feel I can be really proud of. And it’s something I really love to do. I feel very blessed to be able to do it professionally.

By: John