Saturday, April 28, 2018

Architectural Competitions and Enscaping

Just coming up for air here, after frantically entering into lots of competitions on Freelancer.

Not a lot of luck as yet, as it seems more talented persons enter into these

I am hoping that some of them might get too busy to enter or they will judge that the amount of effort is not worth it.  This seems to be the case for a currently offered mall design. There were several calls to the contest holder to increase the prize, as he wanted multiple rendered views, along with about 20 shops that were supposed to be stocked with goods.

Well, good luck trying to stock 20 shops. Obvious work-arounds were to get pics of shop walls and use them as materials on the walls, which is what I did.  I just ran out of pics to use (most pics of merchandising are never straight on, always perspective). Not to mention patience.

I did a check render using Revit and 3dsMax on really low settings and watched the result dribble onto the screen. While the lighting came out not too bad, the amount of time to get a good looking render, probably in the region of 2 hours minimum,  which was just not competitive with Enscape, where I found that if you set capture output to 4K, you get a very sharp image in around 1 minute per shot. Then there is the ease of navigating to your next shot.  Magical.

Finding the right materials is always a trick, I downloaded a pic of the Texas flag and used it on the columns, maybe a bit garish. The floor was a download as well.

Here is the front of the mall, this shot shrunk down from 11.5Mb to 89kb:

 This competition is still running, and sealed.  I guess sealed is so people do not copy each other.
Speaking of which, it appears this site gets around 50 page views per month. What is deceptive about this figure is that it covers all the posts, and does not say if they read it or not.  So to the two persons reading this, "Hello!"

The next one entered was a pair of townhouses in Australia.  Given the brief, I found it almost uncanny how the creation of the floor plan generated on it's own the "architecture".  Which is to say that very little "architectural" design was involved.  Maybe that is why it did not win.

Here it is, all 3 stories:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Long enter a contest!

First, a man who wants some spikes for the top of a swimming pool wall:

Next, a house in the Netherlands, I made two options as my daughter gave one of them the thumbs down:
The other option:

In this last one I put in the lighting.
Finally, a tiny apartment:

All of the above used Revit with the Enscape add-on (except for the plan view).
Many more pics were done, you can find them on Contests, at 

As usual, Revit city is a good place to go to get components, but as time is short, things like nice beds, chairs and radiators seem hard to find.  Just need more time?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

More Video Card fun Not!....maybe slightly stressed....

Well, after getting my GTX1060 home,  I started on my quest to upgrade my power supply on my aging HP Z230.  Hmm. It appears no such animal can be found in NZ!

Further checking on the web site reveals that the requirement for a GTX1060  is 400W not 500W!  On the box it said 500W so ????   Oh joy, I can just slam this baby in and all things will be fine.

But wait, there's more! On checking what is needed it appears it needs a 6 pin extra power supply.

A quick look inside reveals no such plug available.  Eek!

Oh boy. Another trek back to Pbtech and another $200 to belong to the P2000 club, a certified but lesser card than the GTX1060.

Whoopee! Get this baby home and suddenly realise it was the ADAPTOR all along that was the problem.  (Simple, just plug it in and see if it works on the other one).

So a lesson here guys....don't ASSUME as it usually makes an ASS out of you and ME!

Having said all that it seems my logic was not all that bad, I mean, who would have thought a simple adaptor would go bad?

Humble grovelling apologies to Nvidia and all the cards who sail in her.

Enscape, crippled demo, runs nice now.  Bring on the work.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Video Card Fun....NOT!

This is an unrequested render done today: (we have a 2D version at work)

Not my design, but interesting in a quirky fashion?  Not being a paid item, I feel free to have things not quite as perfect as they might be!

There I was, Reviting away, when my left hand monitor died.  Turns out, it did not die, just the video card decided it had had it's Display Port connection removed once too many times, apparently.
The first few times it started again if the plug was wiggled.  Then nothing.

This part that follows is written the day after: I am definitely in the red faced department, with sincere apologies to Nvidia.  It appears that it is the adaptor that is the fault.  So see the next post to find out what happened in the end!

This part that follows is the original post:

This might be a good thing, as I was thinking that my old HP Workstation Z230 with a K2000 Quadro card was not able to even run a demo copy of Lumion, and the trial copy of Enscape I had been using was only able to run real time rendering with complexity set on Draft, so a new computer might be the thing to have.

Oops, retiring in 4 weeks, so money seems to be an object after all.  No problem looking on the net and finding out a brand new HP Z440 workstation with a P4000 video card and 32 GB of ram will set you back around NZ$6000.

That is what I would like.

What I might end up with is this:

HP Z440 E5-1620v4 3.5Ghz 16GB RAM 1TB HDD P2000 Tower Workstation with Windows 7 Pro & 10 Pro  for about NZ$3440.

Even that looks out of reach assuming I have no work in 4 weeks time. If I can find work, maybe.
My Catch22 is that I am not skilled enough to produce fantastic quality, so feel I cannot charge enough to make it all worth while!

In the meantime, I thought it would be a good idea to just upgrade my present video card  as a stop gap measure, with the hopes that if I get work. If I do, then a copy of Enscape on a monthly cost of US66 could be the plan.

For replacing my card , I narrowed things down to either a Quadro P2000 for NZ$803, or a GTX1060 for NZ$605. The P2000 was the sensible option, being Autodesk certified.  The other one was cheaper though and VR ready, which is something I might get into so I went Mister cheap and got the GTX1060.

On getting my card home, I looked at the box which said Power Supply needed is 500W.
Surely my workstation would have that? Off comes the cover and it seems it is 400W, and has little wires for Africa coming out of it.  So it looks like having to upgrade my power supply.

Just for fun, I downloaded the latest preview of Enscape, which requested I update my video driver, which I did.  On trying to run Enscape it said "Sorry, your driver is not up to date enough!"

What does Enscape offer that 3Dstudio cannot?  Seems like you do not have to mess around with setting up HDRI skies, and waiting 5 minutes for a low quality render (see the pics above). Not to mention interior scenes seem to be easier to do.  Couple that with easy to produce movies and you could make a valid case for buying it.

Back to dear old Revit to find that if I hit render, I get a black screen. Change the renderer to the Autodesk one and it runs OK.  Into 3DStudio and it runs the Nvidia one fine so who knows?


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Architectural Competions

For the last week and a half, I have been laid off work (boss overloaded), so I have been keeping myself busy by entering competitions.  Be warned, these do not pay very much, and if you do not win, you get nothing for all your work.

One of the ones I entered was for the front elevation of a house.  The brief was a typical one, as follows:

"I have one house plan with me for which I need a frond elevation to be designed (3D, Exterior only).
I received an elevation from one of the architect, but I am not that happy in it.
So want to have a new elevation.

The design should consider that the building will be in an area where we can expect 3-5 months of rain fall.

I am adding the floor plan with this (This is the final one)
Also adding two elevations in 2D (You can use any of these or a better one)"

 I did a model of the house in Revit then sent it on to 3DStudio for rendering.  It would have been nice to have nice clouds in the sky, but  this involves HDRI sky,  and as I am not using these daily, I have forgotten how to organize them, so just made do with the Mental Ray sky.

As usual, the Suite Workflow button in Revit saves a lot of time and hassle.

The night shot was a small drama, I could not get the lights to come on, even at 8 o'clock at night.
A quick internet search, and I turned their intensity up from 1 to 50,000 and away we went.

The other tricky one was of an office, the walls which I made colour pure white, which always came out grey.  In the end I found you can add luminosity to a material, and so I found a value of 100 did the trick. Hope this helps someone. I found too that 3D lettering is built in to Revit, nice.

Another freebie worth looking at is Forest Pack Lite, which I used (badly!) for the tree and shrubs.
This is an amazing product considering it is free. Find it at Itoo Software:

All these entries end up paying not much in the way of an hourly rate, and that is if you win!
I have not won any so far.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Do's and don't of architectural drafting

For the practice where I am working, here are the do's, in no particular order:
1. All text must be left justified.
2. Any abbreviations used, must be used consistently. Eg Extg. for existing.
3. Leaders, notes, must have room to breathe, ie do not cramp things together too tightly.
4. No "fly dirt". That would be say putting a piece of text on a wall, so it is obscured.
5. A group of leaders with their text shall have the text aligned to a common vertical line.
6. Line types used in the legend shall match those in the drawing.
7. The floor plan shall have a view "wheel" so the elevations can be tied back to the floor plan.
8. With this wheel, the elevation view 1 shall be of the front of the house.
9. The views shall step around the house in an anticlockwise manner, so elevation 2 will be of the right hand side of the house.
10. If you do a print, before giving it to the boss, imagine you are are him and inspect your work, on paper carefully, before presenting it to him.
11. Do not have bricks above a garage door! Easily done when all you are thinking, let's hatch this wall.
12. Related dimension witness lines shall connect with each other.
13. For elevations,  nearer parts shall have heavier lines.
14. Before issuing drawings, a checklist must be completed.

That is all I can think of, as far as "do's" are concerned.

The don'ts are pretty much the reverse of the above.

I have been given permission to do a house in Revit, but I have indicated that before I do, I will need to arrange two items: a new title block for use in Revit, and some windows that have a brick sill.

I'm looking forward to this as drawing house after house in 2D is getting a bit tiresome.

Happy drafting!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Rendering in Revit

Lately I have been doing some rendering jobs on the side, not a lucrative exercise (one job costed out around $10/hr), but keeps my Revit skills being exercised and the rendering part is fairly minor.

After my reinstall of Windows 7, although I could now use the Suite Workflow, I chose not to as it was  much easier and faster just to render within Revit.  This is probably an indication of my lack of experience with 3D Max Design than a desirable workflow, as the results, which I would say were not fantastic.  But, hey, I'm cheap!

One of the jobs was for a large number of townhouses on one big site, something I had never attempted before.  It seemed to work out in the end though.

This was for a Real Estate man, who was trying to sell off plans, which were actually done in some 3D package, but their renders must have been on the expensive side. One of their renders was so good I thought it was a photo. Hmmf!

Still, people want an idea of what they are buying, and to that end I did a lot of views with walls removed, especially as these units were up to 3 stories high and side by side, ie terrace houses.

So every unit had a helicopter view using Showcase, with walls removed, as in:

Here are some renders of the complex:

The next job was for a free standing house:

The inner views were done using Revit, which if you choose 300 dpi and Best will take around 2 hours rendering time. The inner view showing the man in is suffering from over exposure of the outside, which if I had photoshop could be corrected, but I was fairly pleased with the interior shots.

There is a man, Andrew Price, who came up in a google search regarding rendering, naming the 13 Deadly Sins of Architectural Rendering.  It seems I am guilty of a few of these, but as he says, you have to look up how to do photography to do good renders.  

Here is his link:

One of the Revit render drawbacks is the sky, and he seems to address this problem by using HDRI Sky, which is essentially a dome shaped background that emits light, so your renders come out a little more realistically.  You can have this in 3DS Max, but not in Revit, as far as I know. In a previous post I showed a render using an HDRI Sky, but as I use it only rarely, it has me going back to a tutorial on how to get it going.

Just to be complicated, he uses a thing called Blender, which is basically a thing like 3DS Max, but is free to download. 

This set me off looking at his other videos, and one thing he does do is offer cut down versions of add-ons that he has made, so I downloaded a thing called ProSkies, which gives you 3 HDRI skies to try. 

After downloading and installing Blender, trying this out proved that I did not have a handle on how to use Blender.  So back to Youtube for some more free tutorials on Blender.  Andrew has done some free ones, but sells a full tutorial set as well.

I did manage to import an FBX model, but the materials did not come through from Revit, so things looked a bit ugly as in:

Typcial of my problems with blender is I cannot see the button that says "Save this image", so I used the Windows snipping tool to do this one. The colours are me playing around with materials.

Blender has infuriating little short cuts that you have to know, otherwise nothing happens.  There is no better option for a beginning user than a good tutorial on Youtube.

To this end, you could look at a series by Jacob Lewis:

You might think, why are you mucking around with a free program when you have paid for 3D Sudio Max?  The answer is I find 3D Studio Max difficult to use, which is really not  the fault of 3DSudio Max, but of myself learning new tricks!

After seeing Andrew Price's renders I thought it might be fun to give Blender a try.