Renderings: Learning How You See (Part II)

Last month, we took a look at some of the “time-honored” rendering types we create at TBA, including 2-D elevations, hand-drawn perspectives and watercolor. In addition to these, our team utilizes a variety of cutting-edge techniques to bring our homes to life in 3-D. Much like our architecture, which is rooted in tradition while integrating modern sensibilities, our unique process merges classical vernaculars and methods with contemporary tools and ideas – allowing homeowners to envision their house in a variety of unexpected ways. In this second installation of our two-part blog series, we explore some of these 3-D rendering types: Revit and Enscape, hand-styled 3-D, VR and 3-D printing.

Revit & Enscape

Revit is a building information modeling software (more commonly referred to as BIM) used to create 3-D models of buildings and structures. In commercial work, architects, engineers, designers and contractors commonly use it. It is used less often for single-family residences. At TBA, we create Revit models for all ground-up homes, as it allows us to understand the relationship of the home to the site and aids homeowners in envisioning something from a blank slate.

Senior Project Manager Kelly Becker says, “This is a ground up home we modeled in Revit (see below). We chose the Enscape rendering plugin because it gives more realistic representations of materials so the client can better understand the qualities of the home we are designing.” 3-D modeling also gives us the opportunity to troubleshoot, Kelly explains: “It allows us to do quick sun studies and helps eliminate potential conflicts by understanding the three-dimensional intersections.”

Design Associate Priya Dhairyawan created the Revit Enscape model above for one of Kelly’s ground-up projects. The software allows us to choose the time of day, weather and more to view still photos of specific spaces and walkthrough or fly-over the entire home.

Project Manager Katie Peterson used this 3-D rendering of a ground-up project to gain approval by a City Design Review Board to build the residence as planned. “We created this rendering via Revit integrated with Photoshop. The landscape architect added the proposed planting, as the Board wanted the landscape to be compatible with the architectural style,” she explains.

Senior Project Manager Korey Kromm and Design Associate Mengying Bai utilized this Revit model, created with Lumion, to illustrate materiality, scale and the home’s relationship to the site.

Project Manager Jim Coyle employed Enscape to realistically convey the character of a revised porch design and materials of a project, including siding, trim and the standing-seam copper roof. “We can modify sunlight and shadow by controlling the time of day and even the number of clouds in the sky,” he says. “We are also able to add from a library of components such as plants, trees, furniture and cars that add an additional dimension of realism to the rendering.”

Hand-Styled 3-D Renderings

Oftentimes for interior renderings, we use Revit as a base and then overlay it with hand sketching and Photoshop effects. Jim recently completed many of these (see below) for nearly every room within a ground-up home, currently in the Construction Documents phase.

“We begin in the Revit 3-D model by setting up a camera to show the view we wanted to render. The model includes the main elements of the room: floor, walls and ceiling. Once we’re happy with the view, we print it out and sketch over it on trace paper, adding finer detail and material texture. We then add shade and shadow in Photoshop, creating the final product,” Jim says. “The renderings [are often] more visually appealing than 2-D drawings, [and] can be more efficient in that we are able to gauge clients’ feedback on everything in the room – millwork, paneling, trim, surface materials – in one drawing, rather than a combination of several disconnected plans and elevations.”

“This rendering [created by Design Associate Julie Luu] provides a sense of the warmth and character – like the tongue-and-groove paneling in the playroom (above). With shade and shadow added, these renderings also help convey the light in the room,” explains Jim.

Design Associate Priya Dhairyawan created the Revit Enscape model above and added filters in Photoshop. “[Her technique] gave it a more watercolor, “impressionist” look… allowing us to capture the basic feel for the space without being distracted by things like the color of the materials, which weren’t yet the focus,” notes Project Manager Ari Engelman.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality offers the opportunity for a homeowner to become fully immersed in the project’s design, giving the perception of being physically present in a non-physical world. This is especially helpful to illustrate the volume of rooms or spaces. This volume is what often creates the “drama” of architecture.

To create this experience, we utilize a home’s Revit model and then render it in Enscape before exporting to the VR platform. The rest is the headset and the controllers… and we virtually send a homeowner into their home. They walk through the house physically without ever learning their chair. The helmet allows them to see their space and the controls in their hands allow them to navigate their new perceived world. “The VR process is a wonderful opportunity for us to take that work and push it to another realm of perception, literally,” says Director of Operations David Stone.

3-D Printing

For some of us, a physical model is best understood. “A 3-D model allows our clients to hold in their hand a physical representation of their home. That tactile experience can help those who do not visualize 3-D to better understand their home,” says Director of Operations David Stone.

“Beyond the full home model, we also have the ability to print a specific detail of a project that might help a homeowner understand a connection, a specific space or a particular detail,” notes David. “This is new technology for us and we are excited to see the possibilities, problem solving ability, and design opportunities it may open up. This will allow us to better explore and explain our designs to our homeowners and our collaborators.”

The 3-D printer prints in a honeycomb structure to stabilize the model.

A completed model of a ground-up home.

From pencil to 3-D printer, renderings make architecture – and our designs – tangible. We strive to communicate these designs in the clearest way possible – as each of us, like our projects, is unique. For more information about how we work, take a look at our process.