Did you know that every time a new version of Enscape is released, we create a bespoke project to help us tell a story and present the new features and improvements?
Our in-house architect and 3D artist, Samir Mujovi, creates each Enscape project from scratch. And I think you’ll agree – they look pretty incredible!
In this article, Samir walks us through his process and explains how he created the Enscape 3.3 model. He also shares insights into how he achieved specific effects, such as the rendered maquette and the lighting in the final scenes.
Before we jump in, let us remind you of the promotional video where this project is used.
The project concept
Starting with the end in mind
Everything starts with the new features that will launch with the next release. These features influence the content and help us decide where and how we will showcase them in the promotional video and renders.
With Enscape 3.3, the hero feature is Site Context, and so we wanted exterior shots in the video from a bird’s eye perspective. We also have new education-themed assets and materials, and for these, we wanted to show interior spaces from a human perspective, with people interacting during their lessons and lectures.
The Site Context feature is particularly useful during the early design stages, and we tried to mimic typical aspects of an architect’s workflow in the video’s storyline to represent this. We started with a maquette model to set the scene, then moved on to how a model may look in the early stages of design as it’s evolving, and then onto the final renderings that show how the building will be used.
Here are two of the reference images that influenced this part of the process:
Image courtesy of Steelblue
Image courtesy of Stanton Williams Architects
Defining the site and building
Since the Site Context feature uses OpenStreetMap data, we wanted to place the building on a real-world site. After trying different locations, I decided to go with a relatively flat terrain, somewhere on the border of Amsterdam, with relatively low-rise buildings (a site like this is easier to manipulate in the later stages if that is needed). To learn how to use the Site Context feature, watch this short video tutorial.
Testing different location possibilities for the building
The chosen site
After choosing the location, it was time to design the building. Of course, when using real-world sites, this can greatly influence the design. The reference images and projects we had sourced also helped define the final design.
Modeling an entire building in the timeframe that we have is very hard, so at this stage, it is important to define which parts of the building will be shown and which ones will not. Since we knew that the building would be presented largely from a bird’s eye perspective, the exterior of the building and the surrounding would need to be detailed. The design of the roof would also need to be ‘attractive’.
For the interior, I defined a couple of areas that were going to be visible - a classroom to show the different assets and a lecture hall to demonstrate the new Material Overwrite feature. The inner garden area was added later as it made sense to show the improvement to reflections there.
Designing the architectural project
Starting the design process
Since there was no building blueprint and I had no 2D data to import into SketchUp or 3ds Max, I started my process in Revit. The Site Context feature had not been fully developed at the time of modeling this project, so I had to use a workaround. I imported the satellite image and OpenStreetMap data into Revit as a Custom Asset to have the correct surroundings and accurate building area dimensions.
After that, I experimented with different masses, dimensions, and scales, in different orthographic and perspective views until I got the volume I was happy with. In this whole process, I spent a lot of time walking/flying in Enscape and checking the model, already trying to find the camera view that will potentially be used in the video and images.
After the basic volume, I turned the mass into walls, floors, and window openings. To help with decision-making, I went back and forth between floor plans, sections, and most importantly, walking in real time in Enscape.
Images from this stage of the project:
Images from the early stages of the project. Created in Revit, rendered in Enscape
Detailed modeling and mapping
At some point, I felt confident in the overall design of the building (or the deadline was getting near 😀), and I transferred the project to 3ds Max for detailed modeling and mapping. I used 3ds Max because I feel most comfortable there (especially because of the shape of the building), but of course, everything could be done in Revit, SketchUp, or another design application.
In 3ds Max, I added details to the building site, pavements, façade, windows, roof, gutters, structure, stairs, railings, and lighting fixtures. I mapped everything correctly and exported everything to SketchUp.
- Tip: Don’t add too many details to every part of the project. Ask yourself what will be visible, from what distance, and act accordingly. It’s easier to add those details later if they are needed.
Images from this stage of the project:
Detailed modeling in 3ds Max
Preparing the scenes for rendering
Now the fun part begins 😀. After importing everything into SketchUp and separating everything into layers, I started adjusting materials. Usually, there are new materials that will be published with the release. So, adding different maps that define materials and playing with the values while checking everything in Enscape is the main task at this point. (Visit our Knowledge Base to learn how to add and change materials in Enscape for your specific design application).
The project is imported into SketchUp
Adjusting materials in Enscape with the Enscape Material Library and Editor
After the materials have been allocated, assets need to be placed. When doing this yourself, I will again suggest that you choose the perspective that will best show the building and then add assets to the scene. For example, in one of our release images, I wanted to show the pedestrian bridge, water, and different roof shapes of the building.
The chosen perspective
After finding the right position, I started adding assets from the Enscape Asset Library to the scene. I started scattering the vegetation, ensuring it didn't cover the building. I usually divide the vegetation into a couple of groups before I start scattering them. The groups will be more or less like this: big trees, medium trees, small trees, bushes, bushes yellow (depending on the dominant color in flowers), grass big, grass near water.
Adding vegetation from the Enscape Asset Library
After vegetation, I started adding people and outdoor assets, and very often, this process often intertwines. For this scene, I decided to add the girl in the grass to showcase the new educational assets and to indicate that the building is a school.
Adding people assets from the Enscape Asset Library
- Tip: Hide the unnecessary layers or geometry in the view if the content is not visible. That way, Enscape will run smoother.
Exterior and interior lighting
By using a combination of the Skybox, Sun Brightness, Artificial Light Brightness, and manual Auto Exposure, you can achieve various lighting scenarios depending on your needs - whether that's a sunny or cloudy day, a night shot, a sunset with more artificial light visible, less artificial light visible during the day, etc.
I usually try different HDRI (skybox) images (you can often find HDRIs online for free) until I find something that I really like. Having references is also very important in this case.
For the exterior, I always try to light up the dominant side of the building while having the less dominant side in shadow. If I try to create a cloudy scene, I always try to focus on the artificial light inside or outside of the building.
Using the sun to add key lighting to the building
Fill light provided with addition of HDRI image. See below for settings
HDRI uploaded as a Skybox to Visual Settings in Enscape
Dominant / key light - artificial interior light (no HDRI)
Fill light with addition of HDRI
For interiors, the purpose of the room plays an important role in defining how you will light your scene. In this case, the lecture hall and classrooms should be evenly lit, with pretty cold color temperature light sources, without harsh shadows cast.
Interior lighting in lecture hall
Interior lighting in kindergarten room
- Tip: Create different scenes with their own visual presets. That way, you keep the lighting and scene content consistent if you have to change something and re-render the scene again.
Rendering and post-processing
Before I render videos, I render images of the scenes that are needed. If I want to do some image post-processing, I remove the auto contrast option and lower shadows and highlights to around 30%. That way, I have more control during the post-processing. I also always render the channels out so I can adjust the parts of the image that I want. But most of the time, there is not a lot of post-processing required. Just some basic contrast and color adjustment, with some LUT presets (color presets) on top. For this project, I used Adobe’s Camera Raw and played with the sliders until I got the desired result.
Left: Turn off Auto-Exposure; Middle: Turn off Auto Contrast; Right: Export channels
Using Camera Raw in Photoshop
After perfecting the images for this project, I experimented with different camera paths and checked what needed to be added to the scenes. Those camera paths are often very simple; up and down, left to right, back to front movements. But now and then, some crazier movements are added, depending on the need and on the design of the building. After having a lot of videos rendered, putting the video together according to the storyboard is the task. Some videos won’t make the cut, but also, some new shots have to be created to fulfill the storyboard. After much going back and forth, the release video comes together.
Creating the maquette look
Creating a custom asset
From the beginning of this project, we wanted to have the rendered maquette model at the start of the video, to create a connection and introduction to the Site Context model. We thought that having a replica of the actual building model inside the building itself would be a cool idea. So, after the model was ready in 3ds Max, I had to simplify it and bring it to SketchUp as a custom asset.
The first question was, where should we place the maquette model in the project? After trying a couple of positions, I decided to place the maquette model next to a large window opening, so I could explore interesting light scenarios.
Choosing a location for the maquette in the building (the third one won!)
After choosing the location, I measured the volume (created a box) that this model could occupy. It was approximately a volume of 320 x 650 x 90 cm.
I created the volume back in 3ds Max, scaled it 100 times bigger, and kept the geometry that was inside the volume.
Volume box, 100 x bigger in 3ds Max
I simplified the geometry, grouped everything by material (it was just a couple of materials), and scaled the UV mapping.
Because I had to scatter our simplified assets (in miniature form) around the maquette model, I had to create a good proxy for the custom assets so I knew where I was placing them. In the proxy, except for the surrounding buildings, roads, and topography, I kept the floors and interior walls, which helped me position the light sources inside the building. After having the actual geometry and the proxy exported as FBX, I imported it into Enscape’s Custom Asset Editor and placed it in the right position in SketchUp.
Custom asset created and placed in the scene
Populating the maquette model
After the custom asset was ready, it was time to scatter the model with our simplified assets. I separated the scattered assets again into different groups. Trees, cars, people, and streetlamps were scattered separately across the model.
Left: Chosen simplified assets; Right: Scattered on the model
Lighting and rendering the scene
For the maquette look, I decided to go with a dramatic night scene, dominantly lit with artificial light. In the skybox slot, I used a HDRI which you can download for free from Poly Haven. It was shot at night and lights up the scene very slightly.
HDRI used for lighting effect
Next, I added IES lights (independent from where the source could be) that had very focused beams to light up different parts of the maquette. With this light, I tried to bring the focus to the surrounding buildings too, to create a connection to the Enscape feature in the next shots.
Focused IES light on the model
Since the rest of the scene was far too dark, I decided to turn on the regular spotlights that I had in the scene while creating the exterior renderings. This one had more scatter and softer light beams and was not that focused. They had, like the ones before, a very cold color temperature. You can download a lot of free IES lights profiles from the internet (as this one was). This article lists various sites where you can find IES light profiles, HDRIs, materials, assets, and more.
Lighting the rest of the scene with softer beam lights
And finally, the lights on the maquette have a very warm temperature color and were Enscape sphere and rectangular lights. Rectangular lights were placed in the streetlamps, and sphere lights inside the building itself.
Rectangular street light
Sphere lights inside the building model
After I was satisfied with the lighting, it was time to experiment with camera positions and depth of field to create some cool renderings for us to showcase the newest version of Enscape 😊.
Adjusting field of view, depth of field, and focal pointAdjusting field of view, depth of field and focal point
The final maquette rendered in Enscape
Learn more about Enscape 3.3
A big thank you to Samir for sharing some of his workflow elements for this beautiful project with us here on the blog. We hope you have found this insightful, helpful, and inspirational!
To learn more about the latest version of Enscape, be sure to check out these resources:
- Enscape 3.3 video tutorial
- Enscape 3.3 is Here! Discover the Latest Enscape Update
- On-Demand Live Stream: Introducing What's New in Enscape 3.3