Arch-viz techniques to take you to the next level

Introduction

Hello, a warm greeting and first of all for more info about me and my background, I invite you to read my interview here. All around the globe, artists in different fields of work like sculpting, designing, modeling, and rendering, have a common workflow, and complete their artworks base on that workflow in which contains some techniques. After 9 years working in the archviz industry, I want to share some of my techniques that I use on my working process. Here you can find 10 archviz techniques to take you to the next level.

Use references

We should teach our mind to recognize reality, to adapt itself to the natural laws that govern it until we have an image. Physical laws like the natural effects of lighting on the materials around us. In the beginning, when our brain isn’t trained enough, it is hard to surmise these kinds of behavior, and we need natural references over and over until our mind bakes the information for use in the purpose we need. What image we are using as a reference is also important because with the wrong reference, we can fail our goals. For example, for a sunny light, sunset, or overcast light, it is important to understand the light information that exists in the images, and then use that. Here is my final result after using references for a competition.

Make a mood board

After we find our best reference images, it’s time to gather them in one place which is always available for us, and easy to access when we need to review them again. This is what is called a mood board; very powerful tools to find anything at the moment we need them.

Composition

Making the composition is one of the elements I really love. I consider all aspects of the reference to make it as eye-catching as possible; for example, if I’m going to make a sunset mood it’s even important how a tree is making shadows on the building, or where is the best place to locate any object.

Refine textures

Producing a nice shader needs to have good textures. Sometimes it is crucial when we are going to make a photoreal shader, but we have a lack of textures, so the best way here is to modify the sources we have, and it’s my favorite part when I make a useful texture with modifying in Photoshop, by reducing unnecessary details and color correcting them. The advantage of modifying a source is in the example below.

Mark the texture flaws and started correcting

This leads to cleaner and sharper shaders

UVW map

Not all artists believe in the easy way, but I am among the laziest, so I keep the process simple. I rarely use unwrap and always use UVW map, but maybe it seems a bit too repetitive in terms of revealing the textures, so I use another simple method, and use a multi texture map with some random mask textures on two or three material layers, and here you go! I always have a non-repetitive result on my shaders.

Non-repetitive shaders wrap around the building

Camera settings

I love to keep everything natural so I keep every setting as they work in the real world, and with a bit of care I eventually have amazing results. As you see, with understanding the basic rules easily you will have great effects as well.

DOG and bekoh are some effects which reveal photo-reality 
© Credit to DarkSide of the Room project

Lighting

As HDRI files have been made from the real world with professional tools, we can have a huge advantage using these maps to make our lighting more natural. But sometimes we can be even smarter in using them, like the picture below. I used a mixed map for HDRI map and used different angles in one map, so I was able to create wider sun radiation inside.

Office44 project © Yodezeen architecture

Making shaders

I always love to challenge myself in making realistic shaders, most of the time I won’t stop until I achieve the best result.

Color harmony

There is great satisfaction whenever I begin working on the colors. When I try to make a nice color harmony for a design, I really take care and make sure everything is on the right line. There are vast case studies to understand this issue. Google and Pinterest is your friend.

© Credit to NF bathroom accessories

Changing a composition from a cold environment color to a warm interior color 
© The Second Chance project

Post-production

When you follow all the rules and techniques in the best possible way, you have a perfect basic raw render to start the post-production. Please do not conflict post-production with matte painting or other techniques because in my workflow, post-production is to correct colors, saturations, contrast, and so on, and here is the before and after of my work with post-production.

Post-production is the sum of some subtle effects

No matter what render engine we use, the most important thing to have a nice render is to have the right attitude, approach to techniques, and successful basic raw renders.