Making of Legacy Magnet School

Recently, we have been working on the project of the Legacy Magnet school. It was project that mediated amazing cooperation, and provided oportunity for us to learn a lot of new things.
In this article, we would like to describe our workflow on some of the images from this extraordinary project.

Each project has its own specifics. This one was interesting and readable from the beginning, because the client sent us a created 3D model and a basic idea/concept of the materials. The final material solution was emerged gradually in process of the creation of visualization and after multiple consultation. The client had the opportunity to try out and see many color solutions and choose the most appropriate and most convenient one.

We would like to start with introducing the school campus area. It is one of the most beautiful picture of this project and it describes the atmosphere of the future school very well.

The client sent us a printscreen from the Sketch-up with his idea of where the position of camera should be.

Compare to final render you can see simple palette of colors we used. Elementary combination of green and blue completes white colour of walls. We tried to lead observers attention towards color accent used on the facade of building.

WORKFLOW

At first, we imported a 3D model which a client created in Sketch-up to Blender.

Clean and well-created model can save a lot of time and effort. It often happens that the model from client is chaotic, in that case is better and less time-consuming to build up geometry again from scratch. However, this was not the case and we received an eye-pleasing, good quality model from the Sketch-up file to work with.

After we had a model in the scene, it was necessary to divide model into the layes. For this purpose we use the addon Layer management. If you use default setting of Blender the addon is unabled, but you can enable it in user preferences window. We highly recommended it.

The next step is set up the camera angle and start working especially on the objects which are in the field of view of the camera.

We began to create basic materials and adding the main objects – primary trees in the foreground. It is important to have all main objects in the scene from the beginning because of composition, details should be dealt with later on to keep work simplified.

GREENERY

The client had an explicit placement plan of where which type of green should be. It was helpful on the one hand, but on the other we had to create or buy exact models of the types of trees and shrubs requested. If the required tree model was neither found or purchased, we used the add-on Grove. It is the simple tool for fast creation of greenery. The main idea is that you choose the kind of tree you want, click a few times on the “grow” button and you have the instant result. There is a huge amount of setting for adjusting almost every part of the tree – from roots to leaves. The advantage of this tool is that the leaves are not a part of the geometry, but they are distributed as a particle system. It allows you to change the type of leaves, their number or size. The realistic tree can enrich the scene, or it can disclose that the picture is just a visualization. That is the reason why it is an essential part of almost every exterior scene and why we put emphasis on all types of greenery.

When we are working on the scene full of high poly models, we try to link them from other files instead of appending them to the scene. The main file stays small this way and we trying to keep scenes up to 150 – 200MB. The scene this big is able to respond to commands very quickly. Using linked object brings much more advantages. It´s great for work in a team and also for the big project like this one, which contains more scenes in separated .blend files – instead of changing one object in every scene separately, we just can change it once in an original file.

MATERIALS

The materials we used in Blender consists most often of PBR node group by BlenderBRIT. A node-based process of creating materials allow us adjusting result by connecting PBR textures, which we modify and edit using RGB node, Color ramp or Hue and Saturation node.

LAWN

At first, we created a base – the ground from where the grass grows. We start with a simple plane, which we shaped to create terrain.

When the modeling of the ground is done, important step is to unwrap it. The function used this time was an Unwrap from view (top view). For base we used simple texture, because later it was covered by grass.

For grass we used particle system. The tufts of grass were distributed at random across surface. For scene we combined different types of grass steaks.

If you want to create a realistic looking grass field you have to use a lot of particles. However, the more particles slower the response by software is, and it also causes longer rendering time. In most of the scenes, you need to show particles just in the area visible on camera. Therefore is important to optimize where and how the particles are distributed. For it we use Vertex groups and weight paint.

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About 

My interest in 3D began when the movie Toy Story was released in 1995. I was 15 and was amazed by the idea that realistic images could be computer generated. To feed my curiosity I began working with LightWave, a 3D animation package, to create cartoon characters within environments. Once I picked up 3D, I never put it down. Motivated and self taught, I spent the next 12 years perfecting and improving my 3D software application skills. I am the owner of PiXate Creative, husband, and father of two kids.