Interior rendering of living room with grey carpet
Dan Stine

Dan Stine

Last updated: February 20, 2024  •  6 min read

Leveraging Custom Assets in Enscape

Creating a compelling architectural visualization starts with a design solution along with quality materials, lighting, and a thoughtful perspective to frame the view.

Since much of what we design is meant to support activities and protect life, the visualizations often have another layer of detail added, called entourage. Adding people, trees, vehicles, miscellaneous objects, and clutter helps bring the proposed design to life and, more importantly, helps the decision-makers, clients, users, and owners more readily comprehend what they are seeing.

Adding entourage is not generally considered a burden or unnecessary step by many designers. Consider the amazing architectural hand sketches you’ve seen and are still being created today that carefully weaves in the story of a place.

In fact, there are books that cover the art of hand sketching entourage: 'Entourage' by Ernest Burdan and 'Chapters in Architectural Drawing: Hand Sketching in a Digital World' by Steven H. McNeil and Daniel John Stine (yes, this is me 😊).

Books of hand sketching

Books covering the method and value of hand sketching entourage

With this in mind, it is exciting to learn how easy the process of adding assets (aka entourage) to a project is when using Enscape. Not only is the process simple and designed to not burden the 3D modeling platform with complex geometry, but Enscape provides a significant amount of the content needed! The other benefit is these assets are used in static images, videos, and VR. Thus, the entourage is managed per project rather than per scene.

Custom assets

When Enscape does not have the necessary assets, it is possible to curate custom assets. Lake|Flato has amassed a large library of custom assets to enhance diversity and complement project or activity-specific scenes. These custom assets, which are accessible to everyone in the firm, support the wide range of project types in our portfolio, such as ranches, ski resorts, and museums, not to mention region-specific vegetation and more.

Custom assets are often purchased online and require optimization for real-time rendering.
You can learn more about our purchased people 3D models on this RenderPeople blog post: Using 3D People to Enhance Diversity of Enscape Visualizations and Client Communication.

Lake Flato Ryerson Project with people assets Lake|Flato project with custom assets

When set up properly, the curated content can be accessed from within the Enscape Asset Library via the 'Custom Assets' tab, as pointed out in the following image.


Lake Flato's collection of custom assetsLake|Flato custom Enscape assets tab

Like Enscape’s provided assets, custom assets can be grouped into categories, as shown below.

Custom Assets dialog 02 PeopleLake|Flato custom Enscape asset categories example

Custom assets can be searched to make finding specific content easier. Notice there are three scanned assets of me in the search results below 😀.

Lake Flato's custom assets of Dan StineSearching in custom assets

Note that Enscape’s adjustable asset feature does not work with custom assets. It is also worth mentioning that customer outdoor vegetation cannot be made to blow in the wind, so we often set the wind speed to 0 so all trees are equally still.

Using photogrammetry to create custom assets

When custom assets are needed for a project, the options are to create (if someone has the skillset), purchase models (if available), or scan existing objects (if they exist or are accessible).

Lake|Flato has been using Polycam to “scan” objects with an iPhone. Polycam then uses photogrammetry (or Lidar on supported devices) to create a 3D model and texture file. We have had better results with Photogrammetry over Lidar. Plus, with the photogrammetry workflow, we have the option of scanning people/things with the app on my iPhone or just using photos or a video file.

For the previously mentioned project-specific teacher assets, the school simply made a short video of each person, and the 3d model was created from that!

The image below shows me scanning the Lake|Flato mascot in our courtyard (this dog is on our website, letterhead, and drawing titleblocks). It was an overcast day, which is ideal for even lighting. We also try to prop the bottom of everything we scan up of the ground surface to avoid the object and surface blending together in a way that is difficult to separate in Blender (more on this tool later in the post).

In the image below, you can see small rocks placed under the dog’s paws, and later in the video, you will notice Aiza (Lake|Flato designer we scanned) is sitting on a book.

Dan Stine scanning object with iPhoneUsing an iPhone and Polycam to scan an object

Screenshot of Lake Flato's YouTube videoViewing the raw scan in Polycam


Here is a short YouTube video showing the custom assets (Aiza and I) in a Lake| Flato-designed residence. This, of course, complements all the provided Enscape assets and custom Revit families used within this scene.

Screenshot of Lake Flato's YouTube video of custom assets

Viewing the edited and optimized scan in Blender

Between the raw scan and being served up as a custom Enscape asset, we use Blender to decimate the model. This is a process that simplifies the mesh and reduces the polygon count.

The traditional render engines can handle much larger datasets because they have hours, if not days, to process a rendering. Real-time rendering has an upper limit on the polygons and textures in a model before things start degrading (the upper limit varies based on the computer hardware used for Enscape – with the main competent being the GPU).
Scanned people asset in BlenderOptimizing the geometry in Blender for use in real-time rendering

For one additional example of scanning real-world objects, here are several of my house plants that were scanned, optimized in Blender, and turned into custom Enscape assets. Now, anyone at Lake|Flato can use these plants in their projects.

 Collection of Lake Flato's plant custom assets

Example of scanned plants

For a discussion on how to create and optimize custom assets for real-time rendering, and Enscape in particular, be sure to check out this Enscape-sponsored presentation by Pieter Schiettecatte from A+I in NYC, Architecture Plus Information: Building a Custom Asset Library with Blender.

Presentation on models by Pieter SchiettecattePresentation on creating and optimizing custom assets

When 3D models are purchased, from Turbosquid, for example, a firm is only buying the rights to use the model and cannot share or resell an optimized version of it. Thus, if you are working with a consultant (e.g., AOR or LA) and they also need the same custom assets, they would need to buy the 3D model from the same original service/platform. Then, you could give them the Enscape-optimized version now that they own the rights to use the model(s). In any case, be sure to read the license agreement for any content purchased.

Modifying the custom asset path

When using custom assets, it is important to plan ahead and organize the content to make it accessible to everyone in the firm and avoid changing the folder path or file names to maintain a consistent workflow.

The path can be changed manually within the Enscape Asset Library per computer, as shown in the following image.

Custom asset path in Enscape

Manually specifying path for custom Enscape assets


If the software is deployed in an automated way in a firm, the path to custom assets (as well as offline assets and a downloaded copy of Enscape-provided materials) can be baked into the deployment.

The required settings file is stored here: C:\Users\username\Documents\Enscape\Settings\settings.json

This file can be copied into the Enscape deployment folder and then copied into the required location immediately after the Enscape installation via a script or similar automated method. An example of this JSON file is shown in the following image.

Enscape JSON settings file

Enscape settings JSON file

Enscape can only ever be set to one custom folder at a time. For example, it is not possible to have a firm-wide custom folder and then another project-specific custom folder.

Because everyone can see all custom assets, based on how we deploy Enscape, we have a 'Private Customer Object' category to make sure someone does not use a statue, artwork, or some other object that is owned by or is specific to a client.

For example, on one of our current school projects, we scanned several teachers from the school and created custom Enscape assets so they could be included in the renderings. These folks should never show up in other renderings (unless they agreed to that in writing).


Enscape comes with some amazing assets that are easy to access, place in a model, and do not overburden the host design platform. When the required content is not available, custom assets can be curated and shared across the firm.

Planning how the custom assets are organized and deployed ensures everything will be robust and consistent for designers and projects within a practice. The value of leveraging customs assets cannot be understated, as they can make a difference in conveying the design intent to your client.

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Dan Stine
Dan Stine

Dan is an author, blogger, educator, design technologist and Wisconsin-registered architect. He is the Director of Design Technology at Lake | Flato architects in San Antonio, Texas. Connect with Dan on LinkedIn.