Even house project

Even though I have started the new desert house project, I jumped back to the Philly Bridge project to generate this year’s winter special. This was a view that I had planned on illustrating months ago but ran out of time. Luckily, it works perfectly for creating a winter narrative of the first snow of the year with sledders racing to the top of the bridge. This image took a drastic leap from the original V-Ray rendering to the final completed scene with lots of Photoshopped textures throughout. Below is a quick break down of how the image evolved.



1. Sketchup Model / V-Ray Rendering


Above, the Sketchup Model

Above, the V-Ray base rendering. The sketchup model was minimal in detail most of the textures were reused from other views. The only thing I adjusted was the amount of reflection in the sidewalks and the softness of the sun shadow.



2. Context


Next, I inserted the context by Photoshopping in facades that I cut out of online street view maps. I didn’t spend too much time here because I knew it would get washed out quite a bit by the snow.



3. Vegetation


Winter trees were added in the plaza along with shrubs and plantings up the stair wall.



4. Bridge Ceiling


I wanted to do something to draw attention to the bridge, so I dropped in some LED lights and amped up the saturation of the panels. I didn’t want the underside of the bridge to read too dark and uninviting. The LED’s also add some much needed movement to the image.



5. Wet Ground


This was an important part to the narrative of the “first snow”. The ground needed to look wet and slushy so I found several textures that I stitched and overlaid onto the street and sidewalk. I should have spent more time on this step but had to keep moving on.



6. Lights and Snow


Next I needed to show a dusting of snow starting to accumulate on the vegetation. Again, I would have preferred to spend a little more time on this step but had to keep the image moving forward. I also dropped in some lights on the trees for a holiday atmosphere.



7. Car Details


The street needed to be activated so I added tail lights and reflections on the ground. Mist from the wheels was also added to again play up the wet ground look.



8. People


A big part of the narrative of this image was the bridge turning into the perfect sledding site on top. Therefore, I inserted some sledders on and around the grand stair moving the viewers eye up to the top of the bridge. More people were added around the plaza to give the sense that the entire space was being utilized.



9. Color Adjust


Before I inserted the snow, I tweaked the tones of the images to cool things down with more blues and purples. I also drew out some more textures in the underbelly of the bridge and sidewalk.



10. Snow


Finally, the snow was added washing out some of the background and creating more contrast between the shadow of the bridge and everything else. You can find a tutorial on adding snow HERE.

Desert Abstract Interior Studies

I decided to go abstract with this latest post. With this set of illustrations, I have been studying the interior spaces of the Desert House. I tend to prefer interiors with minimal color and material, so I generated these studies as a way to force me out of that way of thinking. Also, the exterior renderings were a little more serious and detailed, so I wanted to switch things up and have a little fun with these. One thing about minimal images is that inserting just a little texture can really change the reading of the illustration. In this case, just a hint of plaster texture on the walls gives the images a painterly quality. Below is a quick break down of one of the images.



1. V-Ray Base Rendering


For the V-Ray base rendering, I simply applied some colors close to what I was looking for knowing that I would tweak them later in Photoshop.


The Material ID that rendered out of V-Ray was crucial for me to make fast selections. Each color represents a zone that will take on a very specific color in Photoshop. I have talked about Material ID in more depth in this POST.



2. Add Color


Next, I took each zone of color and created a mask of that specific area in Photoshop so that I could dial in the color. In the image above, I adjusted the center pink zone to be lighter and more saturated. I wasn’t trying to be realistic so I wasn’t concerned about washing out the shadows a little bit.


Above, the image shows what the illustration looked like once I had all of the colors adjusted in each zone.



3. Texture


I added a simple plaster texture to all of the walls to break up some of the smoothness of the color gradients. I wanted to do this in Photoshop so that I could dial in how strong the texture was. It is important to note that I still distorted the perspective of the plaster texture to match the wall angles. If it sounds like a lot of work, it isn’t because I was able to use the color zone masks used in the previous step to speed this process up.



4. Color Adjust and Noise


At this point, I began adjusting the overall image. I first lightened the images and increased the saturation. I also added just a hint of noise. I describe how to add noise in step six of this POST.



5. HDR


Finally, I added a slight HDR effect that amplifies the contrast and textures. I used Topaz to generate the HDR effect.



Final Images


Desert House Spreads

The Desert House Project is nearing completion and I have begun looking at how I can piece together the different images into portfolio spreads. Setting up these spreads help me to clarify what images still need to be generated to fill in the narrative gaps. They also get me thinking about the branding strategy of the project and what tone the pages will take on. In the case of the Desert House Project, I drew inspiration from the Abstract Interior Renderings that I created in my last post. Those images used an aggressive color palette and could be interesting when applied to the entire project. The colors are weighted on the warmer side and are extremely saturated. Once I had the color palette, I began adjusting some of the past illustrations to take on the more vibrant colors.

Below are some drafts of the spreads. I still need to obviously add text and annotations, however the spreads are starting to take shape and I can now study how the colors and layouts flow from one spread to the other. There are also a lot of images and spreads for this project that are not included in this post but that will be included in the final portfolio. For the new portfolio, I will be giving each project more pages to express the design so that each spread can have a little more breathing room and less pressure to cram as much information as possible into them.

One of the spreads I put together included some new floor plans of the house. Again, I still need to layer in some text and annotations, but the framework is there. I experimented with lots of different material and color options before settling on a more simplified final image. Floor plans contain a lot of information that viewers are trying to digest quickly. Layering in lots of textures and colors can sometimes overload the plans with too much information and ends up hurting the hierarchy and reading of the diagram. I almost always end up going the more simple route with my floor plans.

I will hopefully have a new project underway by my next post. I have yet to do a project in a mountainous terrain. I think I will give that a go and see what I come up with….

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