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Making Of 'Unbuilt House'

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Date Added: 12th March 2014
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Csaba Bánáti takes us through the main processes behind the creation of his arch-viz image: Unbuilt House

Hi everyone! First of all I would like to thank 3dtotal for this great opportunity to share my working process! Secondly, I couldn't make this picture without the encouragement and patience my colleagues at ZOA have provided. So, onwards...


András Onodi at ZOA Architects designed this building, which was originally located on the shore of the Lake Balaton, Hungary. A few weeks after the planning phase, it turned out this wouldn't be realized because of other circumstances, but we really liked this project so I got the task of making a picture of it to put in our portfolio. All in all, I had approximately 5 workdays to complete it.

Because of the background story, it was obvious that I should make a melancholic picture (I also prefer these kinds of pictures). I thought winter in a summer paradise was a good starting point so I set up some contrasting pairs, for instance: forest and beach (which was not sensible in this case); crows and people; coldness and warmth; darkness and brightness. I know everybody does this, it's just that I like to think that if I can figure out a few guidelines it will help me to stay on track later. It does not mean that I can't refine the concept later; as a matter of fact, I evolve my story during the process almost every time.

I'd never made any snowy picture before so I was very excited! The other novelty in my workflow was to minimize the use of 3ds Max. I always do a ton of stuff in post but this time I really wanted to spend just a few hours on modeling and texturing, with a few minutes to render. This could be done because I only wanted just one good image. During the process I found it very hard to not work on details in 3ds Max so I decided to make pre-renders and do 'sketches' in Photoshop from the very beginning. This way I saw which parts needed more details in 3ds Max and which were simpler in Photoshop. It's not a big thing but it makes your workflow very, very effective.

I always use a linear workflow. The model was made earlier during the designing stage with simple box modeling techniques. Keeping in mind that almost everything is going to be made in Photoshop, I only made tweaks where it was absolutely necessary and inserted some props (like an armchair, firewood and so on).

To start modeling the snow, I made some simple boxes where I thought the snow would pile up ? mostly in the corners and at the edges of the terrace. I then applied a few noise modifiers in different scales.

The first step, after setting up the base model, was modeling the snow

Fire and logs

The fire is 2 simple planes with a picture from cgtextures (slightly modified in Photoshop). One is aligned perpendicularly to the Z-axis of the camera and the other is parallel to the edge of the fireplace. It doesn't have to be very precise ? it just adds dimension to the flat fire.

For the logs, I used a photo reference from cgtextures again. I put it on a plane and drew a spline around it. Then I extruded it and put a little chamfer on the edges. I used a different photo for the bark part.

Creating the fire and logs using planes and splines

continued on next page >

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Amir on Thu, 31 July 2014 10:23am
so good. I have a Question : How do you used the image of humans. What did you use for the trees?
Lubov on Mon, 31 March 2014 8:38am
Good! I like
Yigerm on Sat, 15 March 2014 5:50pm
it is good
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