05/01/2016No Comments

Inspiration – Best small spaces of 2015

I've always had a thing for small spaces and buildings. For others large open spaces are brilliant, and I agree to a degree, but I think small scale architecture is really a work of art. I love the idea that no space is spared, and each area has been very cleverly designed and thought though in order to maximise the space.

small spaces outbuilding garden house room diyCosy home-made outbuilding.

So when this feature on Dwell popped-up, I thought it was worth a mention....

Most Popular Homes of 2015: Small Spaces

The article features apartments, outbuildings and floating homes, however my favourite has to be the home inside a grain silo!

house grain silo small spaces homeYou wouldn't expect a home here!

The house features all the things you'd expect in a home, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living areas, but the really amazing part is just how brilliant it looks, and actually how spacious it appears to be!

house grain silo small spaces home kitchen livingroom livingFantastic custom walnut and black metal kitchen and stairs!

The 190 square foot space apparently all custom made, with the Eames Wire Chairs being the only non-custom items, very impressive! The contrast between the wood and black metal work is also very nice, and it's a real credit to the owner in their boldness and design to use these dark colours without making the space feel small and claustrophobic.

house grain silo small spaces home garden outside landscapeThe beautiful landscape garden.

Overall the building is incredible in almost every sense, and the attention to detail is fantastic! It really is a unique use of a very unusual building, and perhaps we as a society and culture should embrace these structures more. The individuality in this building is what makes it what it is, so don't try to copy it, instead be inspired!

So that's a little bit of inspiration for the start of 2016! To read more about the converted grain silo home, check out the Dwell article. I'll be sure to blog more about these incredible small buildings and architecture in 2016!

Dean

 

19/10/20154 Comments

Udemy 3ds Max & Vray Arch Vis course coupon for FREE access

The guys over at Udemy have given me 50 free coupons to allow my lucky followers to receive this course for free!

https://www.udemy.com/intro-to-architectural-visualization-using-3ds-max-and-v-ray_zillus/#/

The course is aimed at beginners, but as always there might be some tips and tricks even the seasoned pro's might have missed.

AD15_Blog_Udemy_Course

To receive the coupon, all you need to do is subscribe to the ard Digital newsletter, and in the comments section of the sign-up form type "free course", and I will then email the coupon code to the lucky first 50 subscribers!

Dean

11/06/2015No Comments

May Design 2015 – Personal Highlight – Randonneur Chair

Last month I visited May Design by the London Docklands, and what a cracking exhibition it was. I had never been before, and although I had read the website and see the previews, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. True to its website, there was a mix of furniture, interiors, kitchen, bathroom, fabrics, and much more.

I found so much inspiration from all areas of the exhibition, and met many people, but one piece which really stood out for me was the Randonneur Chair.

randonneur-chair-1

I stumbled across this fantastic retro cycle inspired rocking chair in the new designers area, surrounded by other great new pieces I must say. The chair is unlike any rocking chair I have seen, and perhaps with my recent interest in cycling (I ditched the car for a cycle over a year ago to commute), I was drawn to this chair like a magpie to something shiny! Saying that though, it isn't that shiny, it's much softer, and inviting. The mixture of fabrics, wood and metal (Reynolds 631 tubing, as used on cycles) compliment each other brilliantly, it really is a thing of beauty!

randonneur_chair-1

The curved handle bars are the most obvious reference to the bicycle, as are the bottle holders, however once you examine the form you'll see more similarities with the bicycle. The front "leg" of the chair, and the two connecting bars are directly inspired from the cycles front frame and forks. Also the leather bag on the rear of the seat could easily be a retro style saddle bag.

randonneur-chair-2-1

The attention to detail on this chair is amazing, and really has to been seen to fully appreciate the craftsmanship in creating a chair like this. Sadly I didn't get the chance to sit in the chair, but perhaps, as with many great chairs, you could sit in it, but it's far better to stand and simply view the chair as a work of art.

Please head over to www.twomakers.co.uk to know more about this chair, and the two guys behind it!

 

I'm off for a ride,

Dean

16/01/2014No Comments

Inspiration: Small spaces

I think I've always be inspired by small, clever design. I've never been the type of person who thinks bigger is better, I drive a small car, live in a small house, and of course live in the UK, where space is always at a premium.

I find small spaces very inspiring, and this inspiration literally comes in all shapes and sizes. Recently I have found myself being fascinated by incredibly clever and beautiful design that utilises very small spaces. I love the constraints of small spaces, and the challenges they give. Living in a small house perhaps give me a personal connection, and a need to learn and be excited by how others have developed small spaces.

Designing for large spaces where space plentiful is still a great challenge, but when a small space needs to be functional as well as look good, then it becomes very tricky, but very interesting. I love these small spaces and the thought and design that been put into them, from the hidden storage, to the flexible living spaces. Every inch is treasured, and none is wasted.

 

900x600x130811_084143_je_3056-jpg-pagespeed-ic_-wlwfbpvyxr

www.hankboughtabus.com is something I stumbled across a few months ago, and was immediately in awe of. From the outside it looks like a classic America school bus, but when viewing the inside you can the incredible transformation of spaced achieved by Hank. The converted bus is used as a mobile home and a base for a road trip.

 

900x600x130803_181715_je_2731-jpg-pagespeed-ic_-nssh2ehs4z-662x441

Instead of Hank designing a huge building for his final year project, he instead set about creating a design that he could create, build and actually make use of.

One of the reasons I love this space, is the unexpected. From outside you would never expect to see what lies behind the windows. The external metal shell of the bus is still complete, but the inside is where the transformation to modern, warm and homely design happens.  The simple and straight forward design gives a very functional, rather than a design classic feel, however in using simple, but beautiful materials, the design has it's own unique beauty. I personally love the curved ceiling, the way the arch disappears behind the horizontal panel is fantastic, and I love that there are no visible fixings holding the ceiling in place. Perhaps for some, it will be a step too far towards the function over form, but for me it strikes a good balance, and perhaps you can see where a limited budget has left its mark, but in saying that, if Hank had been more elaborate and intricate, then I'm sure a lot of the buses charm would be lost.

The other part of the design I also love is how Hank has made the layout as flexible as possible. The beds, seats and other furniture are all easily manoeuvrable so the spaces can be re-jigged to suit individual needs, and can also be easily transformed for different functions too.

 

Another source of inspiration for me is "George Clark's Amazing Spaces" TV show.

Again, like Hank's bus, the spaces shown in this TV show are small, in some cases much smaller than the bus, but equally they are beautiful small spaces. The projects range from beach huts to modular pre-fab buildings, like the one shown below.

case-study-720x480

Throughout the series, many different projects are explored, but the project which connects each TV show is George Clarke's caravan. The series documents the conversion of a tired and dated 1979 static holiday caravan into a desirable, modern holiday home for a family of 5!

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The caravan features some very clever design, such as the way the outside wall of the caravan folds down to create an external decked area, but perhaps the most inspiring use of space in my opinion comes from the way the the sleeping space has been designed. In a space barely large enough for a double bed, a total of 4 beds (1 double, 3 singles) have been squeezed and manipulated into the tiny space. To see how this is possible, you should check out Episode 6 on 4OD.

When working with CG projects, it's very easy to lose all sense of scale. The digital worlds in which I work can be infinitely large, which can literally means any thing is possible. Sometimes it's good to take a step back and give yourself some constraints, and by doing so it means you think more intelligently about the space or design, and you often find this makes projects more interesting and beautiful. This is especially true with interior visualisations, sometimes the easiest option is to create a room so large we can literally fit anything in we want, but this just doesn't happen in the real world, and views of the image or animation will notice this and won't connect with the images. Instead, using a realistic scaled room, beautifully designed and well planned, will engage and draw viewers in.

I could be talking nonsense, but that's my theory anyway!

Dean

12/01/2013No Comments

Using photographic references is the key in CG!

It's no great secret that the key to creating beautiful images and animations lies with using great reference material. References come in all forms; drawings, sketches, videos, but the one area which is always very important is photography.

We all need direction, and it's often little use just relying on our own perception of something, or even using our memories. We are by nature, biased, and our memories can be hazy at best, and as such can't really be relied upon. So how can we be sure that what we are creating is correct if we only use our brain? Well to put it simply, we can't! This isn't to say that it's wrong to use your head and imagination, sometimes accuracy isn't important and we can create beautiful things without directly using reference materials at all.

However, as with many visualisations, including architecture and product based projects, accuracy is very important, and without accuracy often we find ourselves questioning each other as to what exactly is "right". One person's right might be another person's wrong, and all this leads to confusion, compromise and often wasting time. So this is where references are important.

Photographic references can be used for just about every part of a visualisation project, from how something should look in, to how a visualisation feels, is lit and graded. CAD drawings and sketches are great for accuracy, but sometimes can be very clinical, or perhaps missing the finer details, so using photographic references along side other material will generally result in a much nicer and more accurate finish.

When lighting, grading and trying to achieve a certain "feel" to a visualisation, photo references are still just as important. Traditional photography can be very straight-laced, or very creative and experimental. These varying styles used in traditional photography filter down to the CG industries and artists, and using these photo references for all styles of visualisations is important, not only for the creative, moody visualisations, but also the typical day-time shots too. Again it's all about seeing the finer details, as well as the whole picture, and not relying on memories and experiences to direct us.

I would say however, that photographic references are probably most important when it comes to working with other professions. Using references through-out a job can give clear direction to both clients and professionals. Both sides know what to expect and what to aim for. More often than not, the desired out-come will be achieved quicker and to a much better standard.

So what really prompted me to write this post? Well I initially thought I would share some references I recently found useful, and also possibly go through the best places to start looking for them for future projects, but then I thought that just showing others what I've found isn't overly useful, unless you understand where I'm coming from, and you might think I'm a bit strange posting links to random photos!

I came across this set of photo references of metal cladding when looking for references for an architectural project. These images are absolutely perfect for reference images, and well worth bookmarking, but why? When I'm looking for references, I want to see how the thing looks close-up, far away, in context, in different lighting situations, variations, and pretty much anything else that gives me a better understanding on how to recreate things in 3D. The resolution of the photographs isn't always that important, if you are using a reference for lighting or mood, then low resolution images are fine, but if you want to see every detail of something, then obviously the higher the resolution the better.

ad_blog_using_references_02

Flickr is great for reference images, the content is great, and often the photographs are of high resolution. Also Flickr supports the Creative Commons licencing, and user can choose to opt in if the wish, allowing their images to be used in commercial projects if the licence allows. Flickr is usually the first place I look and often does the trick.

Googling for photographs can also bring nice results, although it is very hit and miss, and often the images are of low resolution as these images are usually from webpages where they have been re-sized. Also anything gathered from Google will generally be under copyright, so you wont be able to use the images other than to look at.

Various other blogs exist that are useful for references. Just Google search for a blog, and one will surely come up, but here are a few I check regularly. Architecture Paste Book is almost like a digest of other blogs and websites, and provides you with a mix of subjects and styles. Although it isn't too useful if you have something specific you need to find, it can be great if you are looking for inspiration or new ideas. Design Boom is a mixed genre blog which I find inspiring to view. It can often lead you astray with interesting articles and fascinating designs, but that's half the fun with this blog, you are never sure what it'll take you too! Finally in this short list is Architonic. It nicely describes it's self as "The Independent Resource For Architecture And Design", and like Design Boom has a mixture of architecture and design, but Archit0nic is more structured and designed to be an aid to professionals, making it easy to search by manufacturer, designer, material to name a few.

I hope that gives an insight into why I think using photographic references in CG is so important, some of the on-line reference I find useful, and just a general overview too. This post has focused on what the web can bring to using photographic references, mainly because the web is so easy to use and will often give brilliant results, but don't also forget to surround your self with books and magazines and also pick up your camera and taking some pictures yourself!

Deano!

18/07/20123 Comments

Effect ID Changer Script for Vray

Hello again!

I have been working on a new script for some time now, and it's finally ready to be shared!

The script is called Effect ID Changer, and like my other scripts, it does exactly what it says on the tin!

First, you'll need to download the script from here.

Before installing the script, open the script in notepad or similar, and read the notes / disclaimer / credits at the top of the script. If you are unsure about using this script, or unsure as to it's effect, please do not use it. Also, always test this script on none important and none production work before including it into your workflow. Sorry to be pessimistic, I just have to cover my own arse sometimes!!

Anyway, to install the script in 3Ds Max by going to MAXScript, Run Script. Once you have done that, assign it to your UI. I personally prefer to add it to my tool bar for quick access.

effect_id_script_001

If you then open the script, you will see the interface -

effect_id_script_002

You will see there are 30 mask buttons, well 31 if you include the reset button, and two buttons at the bottom, which I will explain in a bit.

Firstly, let me explain what this script does. In Vray 2.2 (possibly earlier versions too), in the vray

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materials, options, there is a tick box called "Override material effect ID" and the Effect ID value is greyed out. By ticking this box, and changing the ID number, you can generate masks at render time by adding the MultiMatteElement to your render elements passes.

effect_id_script_003

This script automates this process, and makes the task very quick and very efficient. It might sound a little complex, but bare with me! This script removes the need to have a wire colour pass, or the need to generate mask after the rendering is complete, thus saving quite a chunk of time, and we all know how unreliable the wire colour pass can be. Also the wire colour pass will only give you a selection of an object, not the material. For example a car has many materials, and if the car is one collapsed mesh, the wire colour pass will only allow you to select the car as a whole, where as with this script you can give the glass, paint work, tyres, etc all different masks, even for collapsed meshes!

The key thing to remember when using this script is is that it works on a material level, not a object level. If you have two different objects with the same material, they will appear on the same mask. This is my preferred way of working, as it makes sense to adjust the materials rather than the objects. You can have more than 1 material on a mask, for example you might have the grass and roof tiles on the same mask, as you know the grass and roof tiles will never overlap (OK maybe on aerial shots!), but you get the idea, right?

OK so that's the principles behind the script, but how does it work? Simple, select the object that has a material that you wish to mask, and click on the mask slot / button that you would like to use. The script will find the vray material, even if it's inside multi sub, blend, two sided, etc and change it's ID.

The only slight downside to this is that if you have a multi sub material, such as a car, when you click for example on mask 10, all the vray materials inside the multi sub material will change to ID 10. Sadly the only way to control this is to manually edit the vray materials inside the multi sub material to a different ID.

And now for the really good part. I bet some of you are wondering how on earth you keep track of the masks you have just assigned. Well this script has a little trick up it's sleeve. If you right click on a mask button, you can edit the text!

effect_id_script_004

This script also saves the button text when you close the script window, and saves the data to a .ini file inside your 3Ds Max temp folder. On my PC it's saved to c:\Users\Dean\AppData\Local\Autodesk\3dsMaxDesign\2012 - 64bit\enu\temp\ so as long as you installed 3Ds Max to the default location, the file should be stored here.

Knowing where this file is saved could be very important, if you change PCs just copy and paste this file and the script will read it. Also, if you are in a studio, and you want everyone to be using the same ID numbers for the same masks, you can drop this .ini file onto each users PC.

So now to the bottom two buttons. The Select Unassigned button simply selects objects that have materials applied to them that haven't had any mask ID assigned to them. It's just a pretty quick way to see what has and hasn't been assigned a mask.

The + Render Elements button is the last part of this script, and this adds the correct render elements to your Render Elements tab in you render settings dialogue. Click this button once (clicking more than once will only add duplicates and is very pointless), and the script automatically creates 10 new render passes, and configures them to that when you render you image (or animation) the correct passes are rendered.

effect_id_script_005

Each MultiMatteElement will contain 3 mask. MME1 contains mask 1,2,3, and when rendered mask 1 will appear as red, mask 2 as green, and mask 3 as blue. This is repeated through the other MultiMatteElements, thus having 30 masks in total.

So all that's left to do now is to render your scene and open it up the RGB and MultiMatteElements in Photoshop. The easier way to extract each map from the MultiMatteElement is to hide the channels you don't need, and simple select all , and copy.

effect_id_script_006

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Then paste the mask into your RGB file. You can then use this pass as a mask for any post-processing adjustments or masking.

effect_id_script_008

As you can see here I used the mask as a Layer Mask to badly adjust the grass! You would then repeat the process for any mask.

I think that's just about covered everything, and if there's anything I've missed, or if you experience any bugs please let me know. Also it would be great if you do use it, and it works OK, please let me know which version of Max and Vray you are using.

 

Deano.

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