View Full Version : Environment: I-lean chair

08 August 2003, 09:57 PM
Alright- I am in desperate need of some help, as this is for a furniture competition due in a little more than a week. The judges are looking for "innovation in design" and photorealism, which is where I need a little advice. Mainly I need some constructive criticism about lighting, materials, and composition... ie. camera work. This is the latest test render of of the chair in an environment. The chair is a foldable chair that you "lean" against the wall, hence the wall not only becomes the back of the chair, but also part of the structural support to hold the chair up. Right now, I'm going for a sort of morning shot in a minimalist room. Unfortunately I think the lighting is too hard (raytraced shadows) and can't really figure out how to soften the look. It was modeled in 3D Max 5.1 and rendered in Brazil. No HDRI. 1 light source. I'm not totally sold on the flooring, and might look into hardwood flooring, only I haven't found any good textures at the moment. All crits are welcome. Thanks.

08 August 2003, 10:00 PM
Here's a couple more shots that show how the chair itself folds up.

08 August 2003, 10:29 PM
I don't know about how the judges will view this, but I'm confused as to the function of this chair. With all the angles and folding, I still don't get it's basic function, ie: where would my butt go? Somehow you need to clarify this, either by putting a person in the scene actually USING the chair, or perhaps some props that would indicate its scale.

Is the cloth part the seat? Does the central part fasten to the wall or something? What's the lower part for? Even some sort of outline drawing of a person using the chair would help here.

Now for your lighting. Here's a rule to live by with lighting: one light doesn't work. Although you might think that, because your room is lit only by the sun, that would be enough light, you aren't taking into account the fact that all the surfaces in the room are reflecting and absorbing the light at different rates and colors. If you have only one strong light from one angle, as you can see, it is far too stark, makes the scene difficult to read visually, and screams "CG".

Try adding two or three "fill" lights to highlight the construction of your chair. You could start with simple directional lights, one from the bottom left of the shot and one from the bottom right, then one from directly overhead. Make these much weaker than the sunlight light (to not over-light the scene). That will make a huge difference in how it looks, and will soften your shadows. Add more lights, especially a "backlight" opposite from the camera and slightly to the other side from the sun that's fairly strong, this will pick out the edge of your chair with a nice contrast on the dark side. Try moving your fill lights down, aiming upward, since much of the reflected light will be coming from the floor.

Trace the light with your eyes, imagine where it is bouncing and what color it will be, and create lights to simulate this. For example, if you choose a hardwood floor, it is highly reflective and yellow/orange/brown in color, so you would choose a stronger, oranger light for the fill from this reflection.

Of course, I'm ignoring the whole HRDI/GI thing, I'm still not too familiar with that, so I can't help you there.

I would definitely choose a more traditional floor/wall texture combination, to make the scene familiar to your viewers, at least until you get some props in there and give it a theme.

Props: You definitely need to create an environment for this chair to operate in. You don't need a lot, but just imagine what a corner of a room where it would sit would look like, and put stuff in there to match. Get an interior designer to help, don't just throw plants and stuff in there. The environment your chair sits in will make a big difference, IMO.

I don't like the striped shadows, get rid of those, use nice clear window holes. Since you are raytracing, make your shadows fuzzier with the settings in your shadow caster, you will probably need to increase your shadow rays to keep it from getting too stippled.

Good luck!


08 August 2003, 11:53 PM
Thanks for all the lighting advice. I'm definitely trying to work out some of the kinks, but it's definitely good help. I posted a clarification image, albeit a rather quick one just to show how you would sit on the chair. Right now, I think the design is a little too tall, so I might have to go back into the model and make it shorter. But, I hope this helps.

08 August 2003, 12:04 AM
Hi Rchitekt...

I've really got nothing to offer in the way of rendering or scene help, but I do have two solid crits of your design...

First, as designed it doesn't appear that the chair will stand by itself against the wall. It appears the upper two panels would simply fold forward at the lower hinge if it was setup as shown in your top picture. If the lower panel folded ~210 degrees around from the opposite side, and the hinge had a hard stop there, then the weight would translate down through the bottom panel, rather than folding down the upper panels.

Second, the two lower panels need to have some kind of structure, rather than simple flat panels. This is a design contest! While you may have a great concept, it is currently lacking a great design.

08 August 2003, 04:36 AM
So here is the latest version with a new lighting solution. I think it is getting better, and with a few minor tweeks, could be right on. I still think the picture needs something to give it some scale, but I can't quite figure out what it is. Maybe a table, or a radiator in the corner. Please let me know what you think, about the lighting, materials, and composition. Thanks.

08 August 2003, 11:10 PM
Well, the wall texture is working for me, it has a nice rough feel. However, I still don't think the floor texture is working, the bump map on there needs work. If this is a carpet, you need a more bumpy/fabricy map, if this is a smooth floor like concrete or hardwood, it shouldn't have a bump at all.

I think a radiator, or end table, or coffee table, something else in the scene would improve it quite a bit.

For the lighting, it is much better, but I think you could use a bit more fill light, the parts of the chair facing us are too dark. Remember, you are highlighting the chair in the scene, don't let it fade back into the background. Put a bit more light on it from our angle (this is justified by the horizontal light entering the room, it would bounce off the wall and hit the chair from the opposite direction).

I'm still not sure about how this chair manages to stay up. Is the lower flap thing supposed to be supporting it? Because it wouldn't, it would slide down and collapse unless something on the floor kept it from doing that. Also, the whole chair would fold away from the wall, unless the central portion was fastened to the wall, in which case you wouldn't need the lower flap at all, would you? Are there going to be supports from the front of the seat to the side panel? It almost looks like the lower flap should fold up at a 45 degree angle and support the seat...


08 August 2003, 11:48 PM
I like the floor's overall bump, making it look like floor tiling. Not the ceramic stuff but that other more flexible like stuff, i forget what its called. Just section it out into tiles and it should look ok. Or just go with what the other guy said, the current bump really only lookls like the floor tiles i said.

08 August 2003, 05:48 AM
Thanks for the comment. As for the floor, right now it is supposed to be a concrete flooring, albeit different than the wall concrete. A concrete floor would still have a bump map to it, because it can't be perfectly smooth. But, I might try some hard wood flooring textures soon.
As for props, I might put a folded "I-lean" chair in the scene, perhaps one laying on the floor, to show that it all folds up. And for the lighting, I really want to put a volumetric effect on the light, and a depth of field on the camera, and two bounces of light. The only problem, is that if I do that now, it's going to take 3 days for one render. If any one has any suggestions I'm all ears. Thanks again for the comments. Keep them coming.

08 August 2003, 09:35 AM
in looking at the design i think the basic idea works but bottom joint would have to flip the other way to support the weight, otherwise your counting on the friction of the bottom panel against the ground to keep it from folding, would work better with a hard stop

the dark blue is weight and direction, yellow is wall, green is guy, red is chair, black are rubber friction pads, and cyan are pivot points and joint travel where aplicable (on chair

this is how i see it working, also it would hold itself up by itself against the wall because more weight is on the wall side of the fulcrum.. (little sketch)

anyway just thought i would chime in...

at the tone, the time will be, way too late for me to be at work.

nite all

08 August 2003, 02:03 PM
Thanks for the quick sketch, and I see what you mean about the bottom hinge. You were right about the rubber traction on the back of the seat and bottom of the leg. I've worked out the bottom detail, and plan on rendering a section cut view of it. If I do make the lower leg flip the other way, then I'm going to have to rework how all of the legs fold into each other. I'll see what I can do.
My original idea about the hinge works similarly to an igloo cooler. The type that have the rotatable top. The idea is that, you have to push in a button at the hinge, which releases a lever inside the hinge, and basically unlocks the position. Then it can fold out to the next position, where by the lever is caught again and locks back into place. Much like the design of an igloo cooler. I know that's only really shown in words and not really in my pictures, so I'm working on that too. But, thanks for chiming in.

08 August 2003, 04:21 PM
From a modeling and lighting/rendering standpoint: I like it. I won't crit on the mechanical design aspect because frankly like others have already commented this chair will not work.

From a Physiotherapists & a Chiropractors (two friends of mine who saw this pic) standpoint: DON"T CHANGE A THING ABOUT THE CHAIR!!! We can get good business if people use this chair as is!

Still a nice scene, tho'.:thumbsup:

08 August 2003, 11:47 PM
OK .. to answer you rendering question:

1. Use indirect illumination! ... if you want natural lighting (sun entering in from outside) then have it bounce of the floor and fill the space. THe harsh direct lighting you have is very unforgiving and dificult to make work... it'a also not the "norm" for galary presentation of work like yours and is really a distraction to the judges.

2. Your textures and bump are too coarse ... I suspect you have fallen into the common trap of 3D people wanting to see their textures! .. don't... concentrate on making the textures the correct scale. Many of the "detail" will dissapear but it will look more realistic.

3. Use falloff in *all* your textures -- "real" world materials nearly all change their pight scattering and reflectipon properties based on viewing and incident light angles.

4. All "real" reflection properties to all the materials with proper fresnell fallofs for the reflections.

5. Render to flaoting bit format -- or at least 16 bit per channel format and edit the image in post.

that's just a start -- the design is cool even if not practical -- who cares - it looks cool and inovative.

08 August 2003, 11:48 PM
OH ... and for that designer look to the whole image ... polioshed light coloured wood flooring and white walls.

08 August 2003, 03:33 PM
Thanks for the great criticism. I've bumped up the indirect light in the room, which definitely helped the shadows. And I changed the floor, to a hardwood panel flooring. I had one question about rendering it out to 16 bit format. What would the advantage be, of rendering it to 16 bit instead of 8 bit format.
The added chair I think helps the picture read that this chair folds up, and is not attached to the wall. But, I don't know about the color. I went for a complementary color, but I don't know if it quite works, yet. Please let me know what you think. I should be posting another image with a depth of field test soon. Keep the crits coming.
Oh yeah, the red in the chair seems to be reflecting too much color onto the concrete wall. How can I correct that?

08 August 2003, 08:26 PM
This scene has really progressed, its looking great. Something about edge strips, where the floor meets the wall, looks a bit weird to me. That amount of color bleed looks fine I think, I hadn't even noticed it until you pointed it out to me :thumbsup:

08 August 2003, 11:22 PM
Hmm.. most of the things I was going to mention have been said, but based on your last image...

Unless your going for a dark and moody look (I like, but doesnt suit for product pictures) you should probably increase the fill light on the back wall. In real life, in a lit room, you dont often have any pure black shadows... especially not in an open corner.

I really like the floor though... and the lighting on the chair seems a lot better :)

Keep it up and you should have a really great scene soon :)

Edited cause im blind..

08 August 2003, 01:20 AM
That's a bit better.

YOu still have too much bump on the wall texture.

That's not an angle that a professional protographer would take ... try getting father away and more to the front.

Repetition nearly always works well -- try putting two chairs against the wall.

Personally I would open up the shot (wider angle). I'd try putting a large designer earther vase (4 foot high or so) or some other sculpture in the shot. ... put the chair in context a bit.

Rendering to 16 bit allows you to play with the tone mapping without clipping shadow detail mainly. 24 bit colour is ONLY any good for final output.

YOur gamma is way off for instance ... the shadows are way too deep and uniform. FOr the best results you should use Lightscape renderer now it's part of Max (it's just called Radiosity). It's still the best of all of the "radiosity" renderers out there -- it's not easy to learn or use, but it is by far the best for this sort of work.

08 August 2003, 02:52 AM
Thanks for all the comments. Mark- I choose the view, albeit different from a professional photographer, for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted a side shot, to emphasize the foldability of the angles in the chair. A head on shot, would flatten the chair's angles, and it would be harder to understand how the chair functions. Secondly, this image will be the main image on one of the boards I'm going to submit. I tried to right justify the image as much as possible, because I will probably put two detail images over top of this rendered scene (on the left side). I'm going to keep them small, but at least the compostion of the overall board will be more uniform with two small images on the left, and the main focus on the right.
That being said, I've posted, what I think will be very close to the final scene without the chairs. I added a volumetric effect to the light, which brightened up the room quite a bit. I like the effect, but I wanted sharper shadows in the volumetric effect near the window, so that you could really see the light streaming into the room. As it stands now, I don't really get that, although I kinda like the desity of the volume. It might be because I am using a brazil light with brazil shadows. If someone knows how I can achieve a more dramatic effect, I would love to hear about it. Thanks again for all the comments.

08 August 2003, 06:01 AM
uh ... if nothing else render everything with supersampling on -- it's a heap slower but way better.

Dave Black
08 August 2003, 02:34 AM
Agree very much with Mr. Snoswell. Superspampling would probably rock a significant amount.

I'd also try playing with some film bloom. Just a hint of it.

I see you're using max. Create a blur render effect. Turn it to radial, and then click open the other panel. Turn off "whole Image" and turn on "luminosity". Increase the "brightness" setting to about 100 or so, then turn down the "blend" function to about 35-50%. Toy with the min and max values to include/exlude a widder pallet of whiteness.

Hope that made sense, but it can really add to the realism.



08 August 2003, 08:03 PM
The volume light has made a big difference to the feel of the composition, however, I worry that there is TOO much volume there to feel real and comfortable. As it stands now, it feels like we are looking into a fog. Can you cut the volume in half or so? Since it's an interior, a few dust specks in the light would be more realistic than a thick volume like that.

Not sure about your color choices for the chairs. Rather than bright red and green, you could choose more subtle colors, or make the folded chair orange. I also agree that a second standing chair might work, perhaps two standing chairs and a folded chair, in Red Orange and Purple :)

I also find myself looking at the baseboard at the bottom of the wall. I can't see what shape it's supposed to be. Is it reflective or something? Because it looks flat to the floor, yet under the wall. Also, in the shots with the chairs in it, the baseboard seemed to glow in the shadows.

The only other thing that caught my eye is the texture on the non-cloth parts of the chair. There seems to be some banding to that, is that supposed to be a wood grain? It seems very grey for a piece of wood. Plus, the bar holding the cloth is the same color, it looks like. Is the entire chair made of the same material? If not, I think it would look better if different parts had different colors or shades, like white or black for the metal parts, a nice bleached wood grain for the wood parts, shiny metal for the hinges, etc.

08 August 2003, 08:37 PM
It submitted my message before I could finish :)

I also wanted to talk a little about your locking hinge idea. This is a good idea, but you haven't shown it in the design. Not only do you want your judges to easily understand its function, you want the consumer to be able to look at the piece and know how to use it. For this, I suggest you modify the hinges that will lock with a disk-shaped end with a pushbutton in it. This would fit in with the cooler-lid-lock analogy you mentioned, those coolers have large circular sliding mechanisms to the lock. The way your hinge system works, it could use a lock that is a bit of distance away from the hinge itself, for extra strength. Here's a sketch of what I mean. That multi-shaded thing is supposed to be a bulgy push-button. :)


08 August 2003, 08:39 PM
Thanks for the comments, and actually I agreed with you about the volume fog. Because of time restraints, I had to go ahead and start the final rendering (which I hope to post tomorrow). The grey material on the chairs is supposed to be aluminum. I know the material in the earlier shots is very poor, but I worked on it a bit this weekend, and hopefully have a lot better aluminum material in the final shot. And, I changed both of the chairs to red, instead of orange, or purple. I wanted the chairs to catch the eye, but I think if I had had a little more time, I probably would have done three chairs in that color scheme.
AS for the base board... It's not a base board as the wall material is concrete and you don't really need a base board for concrete. Plus, this is a minimalist room. What it actually is, is 3 inch reveal at the bottom of the concrete, where the concrete recedes back a few inches. The stripe that you are seeing is a light box detail in the floor (which is why you thought it looked like it was flat against the floor). I think the luminosity of the earlier shots was too high, which the base looked like it was glowing (although that would be the point if this had been a night shot) But, I turned them down a bit, since this was more of a daylight shot.

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