The addiction of virtual visualising


3D visualisations for architecture are a necessary tool but at one point this can become an addiction. Here I am, blending a simple picture display for my living room wall. It’s true my husband is not an architect and it’s a good idea for him to have a clear image of what’s in my head before he starts hammering nails in the wall. But the hidden truth is that I just can’t help doing it.

Before moving into our new apartment last year, I modeled it and started virtually planning it. It was really useful, especially for areas like the kitchen.  It was an Ikea kitchen and the Ikea 3d planner is rather a good tool but the visualisation is not realistic and I wanted to convince my husband and myself on the color scheme so I used Blender.

Before Blender, although I already worked in archviz I never did 3d for my own personal stuff because I had a crappy work flow, modeling in autocad and then rendering in 3dmax. Well, it was not actually that bad, as the projects come to me in dwg format so it made sense to model them right there in the dwg file, but then I had to move a lot between software if I wanted to make changes to the model. So I didn’t like to waste time rendering personal stuff just for the fun of checking things out virtually first. After all, I can draw and measure on paper (I can I can!). Also, because I didn’t learn to model in max, I didn’t do organic type of modelling much and didn’t go into making furniture and interiors except generic ones using some standard libraries. And interiors were harder to pull off back then.  After switching to Blender, I had some trouble importing models from autocad at first, so I decided to learn to model with it, and my work flow improved so much that I started using 3d visualisations in a new way. If the modeling-rendering process is smooth and all in one place, visualising stops being the end result and becomes a part of the creative process. The grease pencil and the edge length are two Blender features that I started using more frequently. I am also starting to see that Cycles will increase this addiction with it’s real time previewing and stunning realism (btw, the image above with the TV area uses Cycles).

One thing I’m asking myself is whether this habit of wanting to see everything in 3d first before committing to it is not slowly taking away my ability to design and make design decisions when away from a computer. What do you think? It’s one of the things that makes me keep my kid away from technology as long as I will be able to.. and speaking of the kid…

The weirdest thing that happened was while getting some shelves on my girl’s bedroom wall. She is three and she caught me at my computer, making a quick render of her shelves.

Well, I felt it was easier to decide on the positioning of the shelves hidden behind my computer screen instead of trying them on the wall with her playing around and asking tons of questions 🙂 but this ended up with her looking over my shoulder.. or from under my elbow to be more accurate.. and asking for a different setup! So I had to make a new one to my little client specs, and with the new layout approved, daddy was allowed to get the shelves up (she also wanted to make sure she can reach them first :P)

So you know, kids have a tendency for neatly aligning and sorting stuff 🙂

The kids room is rendered with BI. One of this days I want to make a really nice kid room packed with toys image for the gallery!

  • Carrozza

    Hi Oana,
    I enjoyed so much reading this post of yours!

    I perfectly feel your points on this topic because – like you – I am the person in the family catching every occasion to sit down on the computer and design something.
    From my perspective this is not killing any ‘real’ skill at all, it is just a chance to make better decisions and to enjoy doing something useful.

    Out of curiosity, what do you use grease pencil for? I never learned how to use it.

    Wish my little one had the same attitude to keep things in order… but hey, he’s only 26 months old and there is still plenty of time left to learn.
    By the way we have the very same ‘coloured quads’ at home, only difference is that they are in our living room!

    Cheers! ^__^

  • Oana

    Hi, nice to know you are a toddler parent too! 26 months is where the real fun begins 😉 Don’t worry, I was only talking about getting the shelves aligned. You must not think that room really looks anything like the render, it’s an adventure getting around without stepping on toys!
    The grease pencil is not difficult to use but it makes more sense if you also have a tablet though I have tried it with the mouse too. You can doodle a bit over your scene to adjust the composition like you would with pencil on paper over a print. You can do more things like convert your grease pencil drawings to mesh but I just used it to sketch a bit. The grease pencil marks are on layers that can be turned on and off and some other options. I have a post somewhere about it.. let me look.. here it is: grease pencil

  • Hello Oana, I was looking at your renders and amazed by them. I read your posts to and they are very entertaining. I am still learning Blender, I’ve only been doing it for two weeks, but I’m in college and spend ten+ hours a day on the computer- but like you I find myself addicted so to speak with Blender. What I want to know is how long did it take you to render something like the living room you did, and how do you add the textures in, where do you get them from, and in your opinion what are the best tools or tricks you use the most? Lots of questions I know but I may be doing this sort of thing as a career one day and want to know as much as I can so I can begin to do quality work (like yours) as soon as possible. I’ve come a long way just in 2 weeks, the first two days I spend just looking and trying buttons and thinking, ok, do I really want to start doing this, cause I do like everything else I start I have to try and master it. But I did, and now I am trying to do just that. Thank you very much for any information and your time. Bless you and your family 🙂 Adam

  • Oana

    Hi Adam,
    Lots of questions indeed 🙂 and a bit too general, I could answer better on specific issues. There is some information scattered around the blog but it is mostly on modeling and the Blender Internal engine, the Cycles part it’s not well covered yet, as I’ve been using Cycles for a short period of time. You can find good tutorials on texturing on Blenderguru or Blender cookie; as a simple pointer, I use generated mapping rather than UV for architectural surfaces, due to tiling needs. I have some textures of my own but is a great resource fot free quality stuff.
    I’m not sure if you are asking how long it takes me to render an image like the livingroom one – could be a couple of days or less.. or more if I am not in a hurry and want to twitch the materials more… If you are asking how long it took me to get to this point, it has been a long time, I have been working for many years using various software, took some months to get confident enough with Blender and I still have to keep up with all the changes and try to improve myself.. learning never ends 🙂

    All the best in your study and thanks for posting! Feel free to ask stuff when in need.