3ds Max Design Architectural Visualization: For Intermediate Users


Architectural Visualization is the practice of creating realistic renderings of planned buildings and architectural sites. This book speaks to a specific type of user of the 3ds Max software—those using the software in order to create life-like models of proposed architectural projects. These users are an estimated 40% of the total 3ds Max audience, or about 200,000 users. This title is a comprehensive guide to improve the skills and efficiency of intermediate users to an advanced level through teaching time- ...

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3ds Max Design Architectural Visualization: For Intermediate Users

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Architectural Visualization is the practice of creating realistic renderings of planned buildings and architectural sites. This book speaks to a specific type of user of the 3ds Max software—those using the software in order to create life-like models of proposed architectural projects. These users are an estimated 40% of the total 3ds Max audience, or about 200,000 users. This title is a comprehensive guide to improve the skills and efficiency of intermediate users to an advanced level through teaching time- saving techniques and practical applications. This title is brought to us from 3DATS, the premiere training company for architectural visualization. The book is clearly presented to instruct readers on all the relevant topics, including how to read, clean, and prepare architectural drawings for use in 3ds Max, how to build efficient 2D and 3D sites, as well as the structures placed on them, how to manage an animation project from start to finish, and the essentials of the mental ray render engine.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"For starters, this book is one of the best books on architectural visualization. And if you use 3ds max, there is little reason not to order it. Even if you have real experience. It is complete, well written and well structured."Stefan Boeykens (Amazon reviewer)
"This book and the title that precedes this, '3ds Max 2008 Architectural Visualization-Beginner to Intermediate' are the only two books you'll ever need to master 3ds Max! No need to look elsewhere. You have stumbled upon the most concise, clearly written and easy to understand book on this subject. It also covers the very important business practices of Arch Viz. Many thanks to the author(s) and experts who composed this book."—Susan Moses (Amazon reviewer)
"If you are trying to learn 3ds Max, there is no better collection of books available on the market. Brian has managed to assemble the best in the business with easy to follow COLOR instructions. Thank You for all of your efforts! I have been waiting for someone to write books exactly like this for years!" —Shane Johnson (Amazon reviewer)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780240821078
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 10/27/2011
  • Pages: 560
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian L. Smith has worked since 1997 as a CAD manager and animation specialist in architectural, engineering, and landscaping firms. Since 2001, he has led his own company specializing in the production of architectural animations and renderings in 3ds max. He is the cofounder of 3DAS and CGschool, where he teaches. Brian is also an active-duty member of the armed forces.

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Read an Excerpt

3ds Max Design Architectural Visualization

By Brian L. Smith

Focal Press

Copyright © 2012 Brian L. Smith
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-240-82120-7

Chapter One

Understanding Architectural Drawings

The foundation of any 3D visualization is the linework found in its architectural drawings. Just like a contractor needs drawings to erect a building, a 3D artist needs drawings to create a visualization. Understanding a set of architectural drawings is critical to efficient and accurate work in 3ds Max, and without knowing exactly how drawings are put together and what each component of a drawing indicates, a 3D artist is likely to spend a great deal of time trying to make sense of the madness that can be a set of architectural drawings.

Today, nearly all building projects use CAD to create architectural drawings, and more specifically, AutoCAD. However, many visualization projects begin long before the final construction drawings are generated. Construction drawings are the final set of drawings submitted to a city or county building department and supplied to contractors who intend to bid on the project. These 'final' drawings often lead to addendums and on-site adjustments, but construction drawings will always have a certain acceptable level of quality and engineering. The same cannot be said for the drawings those of us in the 3D world are often forced to work with. Since our work often begins at the design development stage or before final construction drawings are generated, we often face the challenge of working with incomplete drawings containing numerous errors or conflicting data. Whatever the case may be, architectural drawings can be difficult for many 3ds Max users to grasp, especially for those who haven't had the benefit of working as an architect, engineer, or draftsman.

I decided to make the first few chapters in this book a discussion on architectural drawings and AutoCAD because many intermediate level users in 3ds Max do not have a solid background in architecture or a fundamental level of knowledge of AutoCAD, yet both of these areas are so critical to our work. Not being able to create a roof plan, interpret a door schedule, or how to recognize the difference between a block and an xref in AutoCAD are just a few examples of the countless difficulties many talented 3ds Max users face when working in the visualization industry. Many students find learning 3ds Max quite simple compared to the difficulties of learning the fundamentals of architecture, and of course, many talented 3ds Max users from other industries have migrated to the visualization industry in recent years. There is very little documentation to guide users in their progression, and so these chapters are an attempt to help 3ds Max users understand the very important stage of working with architectural drawings. As mentioned in the introduction, much of what is discussed about the architectural industry in this book can be applied to the building industry as a whole, including other sectors such as civil engineering, structural engineering, and landscape architecture.

The Architectural Design Process

Architectural drawings undergo a long and often tumultuous journey before landing in the hands of a contractor who wants to bid on the project. While no two projects follow identical paths during this journey, there are common phases most projects go through, as well as common roadblocks and obstacles most projects will encounter. This section aims to illustrate the evolution of architectural drawings from the time a project is conceived, up to the point where the drawings are government approved and ready for use.

All projects start with an owner who approaches an architectural firm with a concept in mind. The architect's primary job is to take the owner's concept and design a structure with all the appropriate engineering in place to satisfy local, state, and federal guidelines. When a design is complete, architects then submit a set of construction drawings to local building departments for review and approval. Figure 1-1 shows an example of a complete set of construction drawings for a commercial building. Once approved and once a contractor has been selected, the project can proceed with construction under the careful watch of the architect who makes sure the construction conforms to the guidelines specified in the architectural drawings. That is, in a nutshell, the process of architectural design. Needless to say, the actual process involves a little more work, and the following sections briefly illustrate some of the most important details of this process. By knowing the basics of the architectural design process, you will be much better prepared for the 3D design process, and many of the obstacles and pitfalls that can hamper your workflow.

When a 3D artist receives a project from an architect or an owner, it is critical for the artist to know exactly what phase an architectural project is in. Without knowing the phase, the artist has little chance of knowing just how likely a design is to change. Clients often leave out this very important piece of information, and when asked directly, some clients may not always provide a complete answer. If you at least know what phase a project is in, and understand what each phase entails, then you at least have a good understanding of how likely you are to see changes coming. If you don't iron out the specifics of how changes will be billed in your contract, it's only a matter of time before you run into a difficult situation. Fortunately, the sample contract provided with this book provides the necessary protection against project changes. Feel free to adopt the wording in this contract as your own.

According to AIA, the American Institute of Architects, there are five major phases of the architectural design process:

• Schematic Design (SD)

• Design Development (DD)

• Construction Drawings or Construction Documents (CD)

• Bidding and Contract Negotiation (BID)

• Construction Administration (CA)

Schematic Design

The first phase of architectural design is the Schematic Design phase, or SD for short. The primary objective of this phase is to develop a clearly defined, feasible concept and present it in a form the client can understand and accept. Secondary objectives include clarification of the project's program, exploration of alternative designs, and estimations of construction costs.

During this phase, an architect works closely with the client to determine the appropriate program, or set of needs a building must fulfill. The program includes the project's functions, goals, design expectations, budget, and site requirements (such as building code, zoning, and accessibility issues). Preliminary construction costs are also estimated during this phase so the client can know as early as possible if the project is feasible from a financial standpoint.

In the first part of the SD phase, the architect researches the project to determine what its current problems are and what kind of problems might develop in the future. Once a program has been established through this research, the architect's focus shifts from figuring out what the problems are to how the problems can be solved. In the course of solving a project's problems and fulfilling a project's need, a more practical schematic design is born. Architects often provide multiple versions of a design that reflect different options the client may or may not be willing to pay for, based on preliminary cost estimates. Minor details are ignored in the SD phase, and instead, the architect focuses on the overall big picture, making sure no major problems exist in the project's design before continuing with work in the next phase.

During SD, architects usually provide their clients with concept sketches, either by hand or CAD, as well as feasibility studies based on site and building code restrictions. It is quite rare for an architect or owner to request 3D work this early in the architectural design process, simply because the architect can very quickly hand-draw low detail 3D perspective renderings that would satisfy the clients' need for visual representation. Even if architects sub 3D work out to an outside source and 3D work is desired during the SD phase, many architects can still produce this type of low quality mass modeling 3D work in house at this point.

In recent years, city and county officials throughout the U.S. (and I presume other countries) have placed a greater emphasis on the need for architects to provide more accurate illustrations of their designs as early as possible, so officials can provide the architects with preliminary approval or denial of a design, and prevent unnecessary work on a project that has no hope of being approved in its current design. These preliminary illustrations usually include such details as landscaping because of its impact on the overall look of a project. Regardless, few 3D firms are used in the SD phase for the reasons just mentioned. If approached by an architectural firm, 3D artists must understand exactly what the client wants and be careful not to waste time on details the client does not need.

The typical documentation developed by the end of the SD phase includes:

• A site plan

• All floor plans

• All exterior elevations

• Building sections of critical areas

• Landscape plans

• Preliminary construction cost estimate

• Hand or CAD renderings

The final step in the SD phase, or any phase for that matter, is to obtain formal client approval of the provided documents. Once an architect receives approval, the next phase of the design process can begin.

If a client approaches you with a request for 3D services on a project in the schematic design phase, you should make absolutely certain that both of you come to a clear understanding about the level of detail to be provided and the cost of making 3D changes during later phases.

Design Development

The second phase of the architectural design process is Design Development, or DD for short. During this phase, the design is refined into a clear, coordinated set of drawings covering all aspects of the design. This set of drawings typically includes fully developed floor plans, exterior elevations, building sections, and a fully developed site plan. For critical areas of a project, architects may choose to develop interior elevations, reflected ceiling plans, roof plans, wall sections, and details. These drawings may or may not include dimensions and notes, and even when they do, they typically see a great detail of refinement until the point at which the drawings are submitted to the building department for approval. The drawings produced during DD become the basis for the construction drawings submitted for government approval.

In the SD phase, most of the work is performed by the architect(s) because almost all of the work is design-oriented and above the normal qualifications of a draftsman. During the DD phase, however, the work is fairly evenly split between the architect(s) and draftsman. At the beginning of the DD phase, an architect will create what's known as a cartoon set of drawings, which is usually nothing more than a set of hand-drawn letter size sheets of paper with a tentative layout of the full working set of construction drawings, as shown in Figure 1-2. Once that cartoon set is created, the drafter will spend a great deal of time setting up the DD drawings per the cartoon set and adding all the generic information required, such as dimensions, scales, sheet titles, and building/wall section callouts.


Excerpted from 3ds Max Design Architectural Visualization by Brian L. Smith Copyright © 2012 by Brian L. Smith. Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Part 1: Working with Architectural Drawings,
Chapter 1: Reading Architectural Drawings,
Chapter 2 Preparing AutoCAD Linework for 3ds Max; Part 2: Creating Building Elements,
Chapter 3: Creating Walls, Windows, & Doors (Part 1),
Chapter 4: Creating Walls, etc. (Part 2),
Chapter 5: Creating Roofs,
Chapter 6: Creating Furniture; Part 3: Creating Site Elements,
Chapter 7: Creating 2D Sites,
Chapter 8: Creating 3D Sites,
Chapter 9: Creating Backgrounds;
Chapter 10: Creating Vegetation; Part 4: mental ray,
Chapter 11: Introduction to mental ray,
Chapter 12: Global Illumination,
Chapter 13: Lighting Strategies with mental ray,
Chapter 14: mental ray Materials; Part 5: Advanced Visualization Techniques,
Chapter 15: Unwrap UVW,
Chapter 16: Advanced Animation and Effects,
Chapter 17: Photoshop Techniques for Visualization; Part 6: Efficient 3D Workflow,
Chapter 18: The Animation Process,
Chapter 19: Managing System Resources;
Appendixes: Appendix A-K

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