Thursday, October 30, 2003

Dwarf, no dwf

Technology has brought me around to make an honest effort of using the Autodesk .dwf format. After storyboarding a few positives that this will bring to the table, the first hurdle is to get my local repro company on board. Once successful the next step is to roll this out to other users. There seems to be quite a few people who are onboard already and I am late to the .dwf party, I will keep you posted on the progress. Giving some thought in regards to the use of .dwf as a way to archive submittals for the design process as the use of a multi-page .dwf can be created and give a smaller footprint than the actual drawings themselves.

I have been using .msi scripting for deployments of updates/extensions and just learned that in some cases when clicking on a .exe file you can browse to the install folder that is created to find a .msi file (when available). Thanks for the tip Shaan. In some cases you can also open up the .exe file with winzip to extract the needed contents.

Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The Shadow knows....

I guess the title is keeping with the theme of Halloween this week. :)

Shadows play a large role in renderings as they help to set the mood of a scene. Whether something is scary, daytime, nighttime and more is controlled not just by how much lighting is in your scene but also where your shadows fall. I have been reading a really good book by Jeremy Birn that explains the techniques of lighting and rendering in a way that is not specific to any piece of software.

One person (whose site I recently ran across) that makes good use of shadows and lighting is Rudy. The environment scenes he produces look quite good (especially Gallery 04).

In your next rendering project spend a bit of time examing different lighting options. If you use one key light add a second fill light to help add a small bit of environment light to you scene. These little details make all the difference.

For those of you looking for the Architectural Illustrative Rendering tutorial with photoshop, this will be posted over weekend as I put the final touches on it.

Happy Rendering...

Saturday, October 25, 2003


Check out the site of Fran Davey. She is a regular poster in the Autodesk vizions and viz newsgroup. Fran has some of the nicest interior images I have seen posted using radiosity. Keep up the great work!

Happy Rendering...

Thursday, October 23, 2003


In attending the Microsoft Office System launch event yesterday, I was surprised just how integrated xml is in to the whole package. I look forward to working with the new tools available in office, but more in particular Outlook and exchange 2003. I did walk away with a copy of Office 2003 and an update copy of and the full developers pack. This was a cool bonus that could not have come at a better time. I also ran into a few good friends that I had not planned on seeing and met some new ones. Good to see you guys/gals there.

As for rendering the new version of Max 6 rocks!!!! As I continue running through this you can expect to hear a few more comments.

Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Tools of the Trade - VIZ Render

While working in the digital visualization field there are many programs available for you to use for production work. With my main focus on architecture, the use of Architectural Desktop for all phases of work from conceptual design to construction documents has become a large part of my design tools for the past few years. With this in mind it makes sense to use the tools available within this program, one such tool that was added with the release of ADT2004 is VIZ Render.

For those with some experience with VIZ/Max this is not a replacement for the advanced tools/features that these products have to offer, but this software is a good start for the user who would like a decent rendering to explore design options, lighting and materials with ease.

The more I teach/speak/write about rendering the more feedback I receive from users who want to learn about visualization but are unsure where to begin. This past week I have been focused on testing/training with VIZ Render for use as a tool for the general user/designer. While no software is ever the "Total Package" ADT and VIZ Render can help to bridge the learning curve for the beginning to intermediate user.

Of course I would not leave you without a few links for a better understanding of VIZ Render:

1. First and foremost the help files in ADT/VIZR and on the CD are great. Take advantage of them.

2. Steven Papke has put together a good article.

3. Nancy Fulton offers a good tutorial available here.

Happy Rendering...


As you may have noticed in recent news Max 6 is out and shipping. In addition to product information the discreet website has several tutorials available as well on some of the new features offered.

There is also a large amount of new releases for third party products to go along with this as well.

Happy Rendering...

Monday, October 20, 2003

CAD Programming - Links

With AutoCAD there are currently two languages you can use for programing/customization for the power user, these include AutoLisp (Visual Lisp) and VBA (Visual Basic). Below are three resources that you may find useful along your programming path.

1. One good stop for VB is the Expresso Code Cafe. Here you will find quite a bit of good information related to the AutoCAD object model and tons of sample code to help get you started. Be sure to check out the "Brain Shots" forum. Related to this site is CAD En Coding - Information for the CAD Programer.

2. AfraLISP - this site belongs to Kenny Ramage and has a wealth of information for lisp and VBA.

3. AcadX/ - this site has quite a bit of code and articles. Be sure to check out each link in the applet on the left.

Happy Coding...

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I will be attending the EVAUG meeting this evening.  If you live in the Hampton Roads area and use AutoCAD or Autodesk products you should plan to attend as well.  Great opportunity to meet and network with fellow CAD Users.  Meeting starts at 6:30pm.  Visit the website for more information and directions.


Happy Rendering...

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Nice Work

I ran across a pretty cool website of Andy Murdock that has some good animation work done on. Be sure to check out LORtheMovie as it develops. Keep up the great work Andy.

Happy Rendering...

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Non-Photorealistic Rendering

After my short write up of the two styles of computer based rendering I ran across the following website of the International Symposium on Non-Photorealistic Animation and Rendering.

They have their next conference on June 7-9 2004 in Annecy, France. The committee members have only a few names I recognize in print, but I have never heard of the group itself. The topics look quite interesting though. Do any of you committee members read this blog? If so send me an e-mail.

Happy Rendering...

Monday, October 13, 2003

Tools of the Trade - CAD

As mentioned before since several people sent emails expressing interest in the tools I use for work, I will share and attempt to explain (when needed) the process and tools for my workflow. Todays topic is CAD.

Since most work that is done in this age is digital it goes without saying that a large potion of designing is done so with CAD. There are many CAD packages out there and my main focus is with Autodesk products (AutoCAD and Architectural Desktop to be exact). At the beginning of a rendering job you will typically be given a hand sketch or 2D plans of an idea. Your task is to take this rough idea and massage it into a workable idea.

At this point there are typically two types of renderings that can be done, elevational or perspective. The elevational rendering is typically done with AutoCAD linework as a base and "rendered" using Photoshop (or other imaging program) to keep it from looking like a typical flat production elevation. While a perspective is actually modeled using either solids, faces or AEC objects (walls, doors, window, curtain walls, etc...) and then materials are applied to this geometry. The perspective obviously takes more time to finish but the one big advantage is that you can change your view point (camera) at any time for a different look/feel.

If you have been focusing on one style, you should take the time to experiment with other methods as this will help you to gain a better understanding of what is needed to keep your renderings from looking flat. There is no one item in particular that keeps a drawing from looking flat, but instead it is a combination of a multitude of items that together help to achieve a certain look or feel in a presentation image.

Happy Rendering...

Saturday, October 11, 2003

My buddy Miker the Biker has his blog site up, tweaked and with some posts. His blog has an interesting idea, watch as the sketches evolve into his upcoming childrens storybook. Keep up the great work MTB!

Happy Rendering...

Friday, October 10, 2003

Conceptual Design - Hand Sketches

Recently we picked up a copy of the new Gnomon Conceptual Design DVD's from Feng Zhu. Feng's site has some great sketches and for those wondering what tools he uses to accomplish this, he shares those with you as well. Be sure to visit his site and check out the recently released 4 DVD collection.

For those either getting started in rendering or the experienced user, the ability to pre-visualize what you plan to render and/or model is very important. This will save you a large amount of time in that the items that are not in the frame may not need to be modeled.

If you are not great at sketching early scenes or able to understand what you are rendering you should spend some time learning this important step as it will help you to be a better CG artist.

Happy Rendering...

Days and days later....

What a busy and exciting week (even with a bad ankle). The first phase of the new web development project has been submitted and is awaiting final comments. Glad to have that part completed.

Now back to regular daily postings.

Happy Rendering...

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Ouch that Hurts

Short post this evening, but now I remember how crutches feel to use. :(

After a good game of soccer with friends I came home with a tweaked ankle, which by the way is not fun when you are working on a deadline.

Off to render and recuperate...

Friday, October 03, 2003

VIZ 5 - In production

As announced from Autodesk in a recent press release. This should put those rumors to rest. :)

Shipping to be in the first half of 2004.

Happy Rendering...

Tools of the Trade - Web Development

I have received a few emails expressing interest in what tools I use for work. Since my workflow and interests takes me in many directions, I use many tools for different purposes and my arsenal is similar to a swiss army knife. With that in mind I have decided to outline a small bit of what I do and the tools I use over a few posts.

For web development I started out with Frontpage a few years ago. If you have never created a webpage before this can get you started quickly. FP was simple and quick to use, I had a copy that came with a software bundle we purchased and one evening decided that I wanted to do some site development (having never done html coding before this). Ten minutes later I had a webpage published, the tools were very user friendly for a first timer.

When I started getting a bit more serious, there were some tools that I wanted in a WYSIWYG editor that were not available in FP, so I did some research and kept coming back to Dreamweaver. This seemed to be a good fit to work natively with the other programs I was using. The initial crossover took about 2 weeks of part time web development to get comfortable and understand the tools. At that time I liked using frames for sites and this was handled differently between the two programs, after another week and I cut the cord and stopped using both programs to finish my work.

I am still using DW and plan to continue as the additional tools and plug-ins have worked well for me. For those involved in or wanting to do webwork I would also recommend a scripting language as these tools become invaluable to accomplish tasks that html just cannot handle natively. There are many languages to choose from (javascript, VBScript, python, perl and many, many more) as well as free code that other users post to help you get started.

For those getting started in web development, html editors and programming languages come in many ranges, from free to costly. The key to choosing the right one is research. Without researching what is available and talking with those who use the products you are taking a large chance that you may not make the best choice for yourself.

Tip of the day: If you are looking to get employment from a particular company or in a certain sector of work, one of the best things you can do is find out what tools they use for production. This will ensure that what you learn is compatible with their workflow and keep in mind that it may take sometime to learn and master the skills needed before applying for that job, but making the right choice early on will get you their quicker.

Happy Rendering...

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