Making of Norway living
Alberth Costa da Silva shows you how he creates high quality architectural images in 3ds Max...
Step 1: References
My initial idea was to make a very simple scene without a lot of furniture: an apartment where a childless couple could live with only the necessities. I took a lot of time on the internet searching for references that I could use in the creation of the scene. Simplicity and functionality - that's what I was looking for.
This initial stage of researching references is indispensable in the process of creating a photo-realistic image. Knowing how a material behaves in a certain light, with shadows, camera angles and reflections - these small details make all the difference.
Step 2: Modeling process
The modeling process was pretty simple in 3ds Max, but when you work on a project where your only source of reference is pictures, it becomes very important to define a scale. I had to identify elements that could give me a sense of scale: for example, the furniture, chairs, and sofas. With these scales set, I started modeling the environment
I always start my modeling using splines, defining the main shapes as floors and walls. After defining the shapes using the Extrude modifier and Convert to Editable Poly, I can finish modeling the scene as a whole with the object in poly.
Step 3: Project organization
For every project that I do, be it personal or professional, I have an organizational structure which is divided into two steps. One step is the organization of the project on your computer, based on folder structure where I define all types of files. The other step is within 3ds Max, where I use a Layers system for organization, subdivided into four distinct layers:
- EST _: All the structural parts of the model
- Dec _: Any decor and environment-modeled composition
- Light _ and _ Cam: Respectively all the lights and cameras of the project
This way, whenever you need to select or isolate something, it's much easier.
How I organised the project files on my computer
Step 4: Composition and furniture models
With the project modeled and organized, I start the composition of the interior scene. It is often the longest part of the process for me, because at this stage I usually try several styles of composition based on the references I have: furniture, accessories and details of decoration, and some different camera compositions.
In my view this is the most important step. Although it seems simple in theory, it's actually more complex, because every composition is based on some principles of Gestalt theory, quite common in photography. I won't go into details about the principles of Gestalt theory, just what I usually use in my work, but you can look further into Gestalt theories of perceptual organization if you're interested.
Step 5: Materials and textures
I usually make a few materials for my projects, adjusting the materials for the scene according to the type of project and the lighting. The materials used in this project are basic, and in order to optimize the rendering time, most of my interior scenes have few complex materials.
A tip is to never use pure white and very rarely pure black materials. Whenever you have any element, be it a mobile, a wooden floor or even a small object of decoration, it's important you always observe its texture. For every object, there is a different way to give it a more realistic appearance. We cannot just apply a material with a wood texture and not think about how it will behave with the object. That's really important.
Step 6: Lighting and camera
Once the scene is ready, with the basic materials and camera angles set, I start lighting. However, during the lighting process some materials may change or require a few tweaks. Every scene I make has a different kind of lighting - I do not have a specific rule on how to illuminate a single environment, as I try various forms of lighting to get the result that I seek.
Sometimes I use HDRI maps, sometimes I use VRaySky. Sometimes I use neither - only some V-Ray lights. Everything depends on the outcome that I want for each scene. In this scene I use VRaySky for the environment, and V-Ray light portals for the openings of the windows and doors.
Step 7: Render setup
My render configurations for this scene are fairly simple, not using anything different from what I usually use.
The important things are render time and quality. There are no render settings which can be used in all internal scenes; each scene depends on the type of light, and quality has specific render settings. I say this because some people just copy parameters used in tutorials found in magazines or online, believing it will solve their problems. Not quite! Each scene has different settings and specifics, and the important thing is to have a starting point of reference.
Step 8: Post-production
I don't like to spend a lot of time on post-production, to tell you the truth. Usually I take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes, using Photoshop's Curves, Brightness and Contrast, and Color Correction, but nothing more than that. I like to leave my images as close as possible to the final result I achieved with 3ds Max.
Finally, I would like to thank God for all the blessings I receive in my life, and my family (my beloved wife Jacqueline and daughter Laura, my parents, brothers and nephews) because my family is my base. They motivate me every day to work and learn more.