Architectural Rendering - Please Critique!

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Old 02 February 2013   #1
Architectural Rendering - Please Critique!

Hey guys,

So this is my first real architectural visualization job and I really want to do a good job. Please be as harsh as you can I really want to improve on my rendering as much as possible.

I'm a pretty big noobie so I've been doing this a lot I feel the scene is too boxy and doesn't really pop out. I am also not very happy with the glass reflections (using mia_material X, trying to achieve a very slight brown tint and some haze). I am still working on the render still so this is a raw image with no photoshop yet



I am using:

Maya 2011
mental ray with FG and physical sun

Old 02 February 2013   #2

It's a good start. I'm not a huge fan of Mental Ray's sunlight system as it seems to tint everything a bit blue, but that can be fixed in post, I guess.

The thing that stands out most to me are the reflections on the windows - do they actually have rooms behind them, or are they just mirrored glass panels? - one thing that can make a building look more realistic is giving the window some depth - even if you don't make an entire room, make a cavity behind the window and then the transparency of the glass should let some light through, making them look a bit less like mirrors.

Another thing that you could try is add some background detail that can be reflected in the glass itself - at the moment you've just got the flat horizon line, which makes it feel like the building is floating in space. See if you can find an HDRI image to use as an environment map (If I remember Mental Ray, you can assign an image to the sky object so you lose the dodgy gradient that it can come up with).

At the moment the lighting seems to be quite soft - there are no hard shadows - do you have a sun light in the scene - if not, add one and it will make the buildings stand out a bit more.

Other than that, the only other pointers I can give are that the window ledges seem to have the same texture as the brickwork, which looks a bit weird. If the builder went to the trouble of adding protruding ledges, they would probably be of a different material to the surrounding brickwork. The texture on the ground around the building could do with a bit of work - there would be a buildup of material where the walls meet the floor.

I hope that the above helps. Keep at it - like I said, it's a good start.

Old 02 February 2013   #3
I miss a hard light in the scene, that gives the main shadows.
Old 02 February 2013   #4
@mindgoo: Wow thank you for the great response it really helps to have others' perspectives. There is currently nothing behind the windows, I will do as you say and add a cavity and some transparency to add the some light through to look less like mirrors. I do plan on adding some background details to get the upper windows some better reflections as well. As for the HDRI, I do have one enabled but it doesnt seem to be adding the reflections I want. To counter this I added an ambient with no intensity to cast shadows, but I have no hard light as the spot light I put up seemed to be taking all the shadows away... I am a big noob when it comes to lighting . Should I bump up the intensity of the ambient light to cast shadows? The window ledge as brickwork is intentional as the architect wants it, but I am going to change to a vertical bond to help it stand out (I will post another render in a bit) I will also change the tiny on the physical sun - thank you!

@zenopilgrims I will experiment with the lighting an post an update to hopefully get some hard shadows... when I added a spot light before I couldn't get it set up correctly because I'm a noob Thank you for response!
Old 02 February 2013   #5
yep,,,as for now, it looks like your scene is illuminated just by the hdri dome. if you check your reference you will notice that the main light is in fact the sun which is lacking in your render, should add some harder shadowing and warmth to your scene.

there is a sun node in mental ray, dont use spot light
Old 02 February 2013   #6
I see the sun (directional light) and it does illuminate my scene but it is not casting hard shadows for some reason. I have unchecked "illuminates by default" and have the sunshape intensity at 1.1, as is the gain... do I have some setting off that is causing my scene to not cast hard shadows? I will look into this but let me know if any of you have any ideas, thanks!
Old 02 February 2013   #7
do you use Linear workflow?
Casting Refs: - CG Movies list:
Old 02 February 2013   #8
well I follow linear workflow in so far as it was referenced in a digital tutors tutorial I did but am no expert. My images are gamma corrected and I have color correction correctly enabled. I just found a resource on linear workflow and am going to do a tut on it this weekend as it seems paramountly important - thanks for the tip! I'm about to post an update to my project, sorry for delay but was dealing with a corrupted geometry that was casting weird shadows. I am rusty with maya and am learning a lot, but my current scene is a sloppy mess... will post soon
Old 03 March 2013   #9
I'm not sure what you mean when you talk about using an ambient light for the shadows and that you have a sun is illuminating the scene but not casting shadows. Unless you go into the object settings and turn off cast or receive shadows, light and shadow works just the same as the real world. If a light is illuminating something, it will also cast a shadow.

You really need a bright sun source, turn all your other lights off and tune this till it looks good. Then you can turn on what ever you're using for ambient light and tweak that and then you can even add some additional lights to get additional pings or hits where you want them.

I think the composition could do with some work, the main thing is that you've cut off the sides of the buildings.

Technical pointers:
- For the windows, you'll want to turn on fresnel reflections
- The leaves on the trees look too bright, maybe tone that down.

Have a look at reference architectural renders, here is a good site: Look at how they've given the buildings a good amount of space on either side. A lot of them have foreground elements like a few leaves from a tree. There's usually a bit of a gradient to the sky.

You have a solid model, push this more and I'm sure you can make it look awesome.
3D Reel, Photography and Blog
Old 03 March 2013   #10
thank you all for your comments, it is really appreciated. I am done for the night but will post again tomorrow, my computer is taking very long to render these scenes because it is so messy... The glass materials are really holding me up, I have fresnel reflections on but I've lost my nice bronze glow somehow. The entryway is also causing problem because there are no reflections so I'll have to add some light source or something, my brain needs break. I have a million materials floating around in my hypershade... I'll need to clean things up tomorrow or something... anyway here is a new render, thank you all again for your input

Old 03 March 2013   #11
With regards to the windows, it looks to me that they're the same colour as before. Maybe the warmer light on the rest of the building is making them look cooler. The reflectivity is a bit high, if you look at your reference photo, you can see how much darker the windows are.

Clean your scene up by all means but I doubt it's going to make a huge difference to the render. You can go to Edit > Delete Unused Nodes in the Hypershade if you have extra nodes floating around. If the render is taking a long time, it's more likely that changing the render settings will improve things.
3D Reel, Photography and Blog
Old 03 March 2013   #12
@Kev3d: Thank you last night I found the magical "optimize scene" button and everything seems better (although I still have not been able to get my predefined bookmarks back, they keep glitching and I have not been able to find a solution on the web). The windows I was referring to were the ones closer to the camera that lost a tint, but now that you mention it the others were too bright so I dimmed them down, also also color corrected the scene and added some haze so things are starting to clear up. Thanks for the tip!
Old 03 March 2013   #13
thank you all for your helpful crits. Here is the latest render of the scene. I changed the composition which I think has helped a good deal. My biggest concern are the near windows and the passageway windows which all look like mirrors. I've tried messing with the settings and adding a cavity but they come out pretty dark, maybe I need to add some lights inside the building? I've attached a screenshot of my mia_material x settings as well.


Old 03 March 2013   #14
For the windows, you should check out standard values for glass (like refraction is 1.52 - 1.62). Building the glass material in a physically correct way will pay off, i guess!
Old 03 March 2013   #15
I would des-saturate the image in the renderer itself. And you should try adding some dirt to the big mass of perfect textures. Use blend mats or layered textures. you could just paint some noise and project it as a 2d texture projection to move the dirt around and play with it.
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