Design high-concept contemporary architecture
Juan Carlos Ramos Figueroa describes how he designed and created his arch-viz concept Pyramid House
The project is inspired by the landscapes of Lake Zirahuen and Lake Los Azufres located in my native Michoacán, Mexico. The weather is particularly wet and rainy in this forested area, so my first thought was to make a shelter/cottage.
After research, I then found a kind of fissure in the history of architecture; and discovered that there were precedents for pyramid-style housing. Due to the ritual nature of the pyramid though, this kind of architecture has since become largely obsolete. Many people don't consider it as a base for modern architecture as the pyramid shape seems impractical.
The modeling phase was very simple. I used the basic tools in 3ds Max, to first create a pyramid and then apply the following modifiers (under Edit Poly): Chamfer, Cut, and Inset, among others.
To organize my geometry, I created layers for separate project elements.
The ground geometry was created using a simple Plane primitive, with Subdivide. I also added some Noise and V-Ray Displacement. In some specific areas I added models of iGrass with the Itoo Forest plug-in. For the vegetation models I used the iTrees R & D group, again from the Itoo Forest plug-in, with some hand V-Ray Proxy placed in strategic locations.
For the lighting, I tried to create the cloudy atmosphere you experience after rain. I usually use V-Ray Sun combined with HDRI, but in this case I decided on a Geosphere with V-Ray Light Material as an IBL (image based lighting).
I used an image of a cloudy day as the base image for the sky, which helped me generate the proper lighting and atmosphere. After adding some reflections and variations, the picture looked better as a cloudy day for a rainy environment.
I added some V-Ray Lights and V-Ray IES with warm tones inside.
As for the views, my intention was to show two panoramic views – this way you could enjoy both the scenery and the architecture within it.
I placed two additional cameras to show all the facades of the building and give a detailed view of the mobile gates at the pedestrian and vehicle access to the pyramid.
On the software side, I used V-Ray Camera to regulate the photographic image exposure.
The material palette was made of V-Ray elements, of which there were actually very little. I used wood for the interior, concrete floors for the exterior, glass, grass with a Displacement map, water, and some preloaded materials from the vegetation libraries.
I wanted to focus a little more on the material of the walls. This was a composite material in which I combined several maps with different Channel IDs and UVW Maps to create a bit of dirt and moisture on the walls. This allowed me to scale the texture for a separate UVW Map.
The maps were placed within a Composite Map that recreates the typical layers you would use in Photoshop, but within 3ds Max.
Rendering and Postproduction
Once I completed the model, I set the V-Ray format settings to an average 3000 - 4000px.
I configured the V-Ray Elements when the render was ready and exported it to After Effects.
In After Effects I combined the Render Elements to get a very flat image with little contrast so I could experiment with mood, color correction, retouching, lighting, and so on. As I mentioned before, this phase was just to experiment. At the end of this stage I exported the combined Render Elements (without filters) to Photoshop to work on the matte painting.
I added a lot of the finishing touches in Photoshop. First, I retouched the foreground and added a human scale, vegetation and Vignetting.
The Pyramid was also retouched - I improved the lighting and painted a little dirt, moisture and reflection onto the building. I added more drama to the vegetation with the use of V-Ray Global Illumination.
I also painted a little fog in the scene and prepared a background matte painting with photographs of the Azufres Forest, mixed with fog and a sky background. Finally, I added a little color correction to the entire piece to create a better harmony between the hues.
I made some final adjustments and color correction with the Look and Red Giant plug-ins. I added Grain, Chromatic Aberration and depth of field with the Frisluft plug-in and V-Ray ZDepth Element.
In some scenes I added some rain and water drops on the camera lens. For evening scenes I placed a flare with the Optical Flares software. Finally I gave a slight Sharpen and exported the image in a TIFF and JPG format.
The final image
This is the final version of the Pyramid House