3d Modeling: SketchUp Pro 8
Base Rendering: Kerkythea 2008
Post Processing: Photoshop CS5
This rendering method can help you achieve perspectives that do not look generic and typical. Plus, after a while, you can already establish your own trademark, you can even make your renderings recognizable as your own. But this is also very experimental. I had my own share of hits and misses with this method- some turned out great, others not so. With practice though, I have improved my time, adopted my own style and developed some techniques.
I have only started using this method January of 2012 – during my thesis days. It was a self-study on online tutorials, really. I picked up different techniques from different sites but the major sites I would like to commend and pay my gratitude to belongs to Alex Hogrefe and Vyonyx. Images from Labtop Rendering were of great help too!
Vyonyx has a tutorial that shows how to produce an architectural rendering from basic shapes (or from almost complete nothing). I picked up from it a lot of techniques with photo overlaying and uses of brushes. The site also has people and tree cutouts free for download. If you want to stick to this method, those cut-outs are definite must-haves.
Alex Hogrefe, on the other hand, is.. a genius. (You have a fan girl right here.) I am using most of his techniques and almost his complete process, too. For this tutorial, I won’t be able to show you videos as I am only going to use as sample a perspective I’ve created months back for thesis – my first perspective using this method. I will just discuss the process of my post- processing in Photoshop using the layers I have created. This tutorial assumes that you have basic knowledge in Photoshop. If you don’t, I will be linking videos of Alex Hogrefe which can explain everything step by step.
I used SketchUp for almost all my 3d modeling. For a while during thesis production, I found 3d Max too complicated and time consuming so I resorted to using the simplest program. I would only be needing the base, anyway.
With the scene saved, I exported the model to Kerkythea (can be downloaded here).
Opening it to Kerkythea, I adjusted only the glass material which I changed into the program’s default thin glass. To do that, click on the chosen material, it will be highlighted on the left side where all the materials present in the model are, right click > apply material and choose thin glass. Afterwards you can already hit the render button. I always go for the biggest resolution.
I don’t adjust much only because I have not learned quite yet the other settings. You can explore on this more so you’ll have less to edit on Photoshop.
For a video tutorial on how to the use of this program, go here.
The rendered image is now opened in Photoshop. Looking at the layers tab, I have in there groups – MATERIALS, PEOPLE and EFFECTS. Basically these three are the main components of this tutorial. Grouping them together is helpful in avoiding confusion as we will be creating lots of layers!Let’s begin with the MATERIALS group. I started with the floor. I chose a material from my collection of JPEGs in my computer (it is advisable to have one) and distorted it to follow the shape of the floor, taking into consideration the vanishing point. You would want to make it look real so the proportioning of the material is very important. You can get images from google or other websites that offer free downloadable texture images. You can also crop out from your own photographs of buildings or interiors.
To distort an image, select its layer, Ctrl+T (shortcut for Edit>Free Transform) > Right click > Distort, then drag the points to transform it to the desired shape. Afterwards, trim the parts to be trimmed if necessary.
After being satisfied, change the blending option of the layer to Overlay. Adjust the opacity according to your preference. I used 100% for this.
Then I chose a material for my ceiling and applied the same technique. However, my blending option for this layer is Normal with 100% opacity. Now compare this next photo with the previous. No significant change is noticeable but if you’ll look closely, a reflection of the ceiling is subtly added to the floor. I am big on reflections, I think they make the space look expensive.
To apply this, duplicate the ceiling layer, Ctrl+T>Flip Vertical, and position it on the floor – where you think the reflection should be. I set it to Overlay and lower the opacity to 21%.Because I think the floor color is too dull and dark, I created a new layer, then using the brush tool with low opacity I brushed an orange color on the floor and set it to Overlay with opacity of 92%.
You can do the same to any part if you wish to change the color of the material a bit. The strength of this color overlay will depend on the opacity of the brush tool and layer.Satisfied with my floor and ceiling, I proceeded with the glass walls – basically same technique with Normal Blending Option and opacity of 41%. Usually glass materials should be set to low opacity.Walls and columns were then given texture. Blending option is Overlay with 100% opacity.Of course, I applied reflections too. I erased (with eraser tool of low opacity) the part of the reflection farthest from the object to make it more real and seamless. Because, by the way, this is a Fashion Institution, I added fashion elements like the images below. I think they made the rendering more detailed and interesting. They were reflected on the floor too!Completing the material overlays, I added shadows. I used the brush tool (with really low opacity) and brushed black color on places I think should be darker. And we’re done with the MATERIALS layer.
Now we have to put entourage. Adding people to the scene is one of my most favorite touches. I hardly do perspectives nowadays without people. In here, the importance of having people cut-outs comes in. I said you can download some at Vyonyx but there are other sites that offer these cut-outs as well. However, when I need a particular entourage (for example Filipino not Caucasian or, in this case, fashion models), I usually download from Google and crop it myself. It is laborious, yes, but sometimes it has to be done.
I think this video can best discuss how to add people to your scene. There are different techniques like adding reflections and shadows or motion blur for moving objects.It wasn’t so hard, was it?
Now we are almost done. Actually, this rendering can stand on its own right here but these final touches are really important for me. But then again, it’s all about preferences still.
I have always been inspired by Labtop Renderings because of their dreamy approach on their images, as if the world is a heavenly and beautiful place. I discovered it can be achieve using some brush strokes and color overlays.
Compare the next set of photos closely. The changes may not be so obvious but these subtle effects can really, really make the difference.
I want light to come in from the glass walls. Using the brush tool in Soft Light mode, I brushed some white light on the area of the glass, then set it to Overlay. The opacity depends on you again but I used 100%. If it comes out too strong, lower it.
I added a subtle Vignette effect using black brush around the corners of the photo and set it to 50% opacity.Finally I did some color overlays which you can read more about here. Basically, it is just brushing a color of your choice over the photo (in a new layer, of course). In here I chose orange because I wanted a warmer tint. I set it to Overlay and adjusted the opacity to 21%.I also added a little mint to complement the color of the glass. The colors to be used are not fixed, this part requires experimentation too. And the final, final step is a technique again from Alex Hogrefe. This adds drama to the photo. The saved JPEG of the existing rendering is copied on the topmost layer. Desaturate it, apply Gaussian Blur (Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur) and Overlay. Adjust the opacity of the layer depending on your taste.
This video discusses more the last few steps I showed.
Here’s the final rendered image after an extensive Photoshop post processing.
There you go, hope you find this useful!
GET MORE INSPIRED AND WATCH THIS VIDEO: Vyonyx | Quicksilver Exposed
A friend showed it to me about a year ago and it has become an inspiration ever since. 🙂
View my Photoshop Tutorial for an exterior night perspective HERE.