Getting Started Special Interest Group June 2017

In this session, we looked at using the Send to Surface command to place landscaping on the surface of our site model and at how to change the rendering, lighting, and texture settings in order to offer the best rendering of our project.

Topics covered:

  • 00:10    We started out by looking at how to set up a rendered view of a project, including how to set up a sky and some trees and plantings around the building. We had a file with a model and a site plan but no landscaping. What could we do about the landscaping? Using the VBvisual Plant Tool, which can get plug-ins from the Vectorworks Service Select (VSS) website, we added some trees to the site and controlled settings such as species, height, and season through the Object Info palettes. Once you have a tree in plan view, you need to change its Z value so that it will sit on your site model in 3D views. You can’t just use your building’s elevation because the elevations of the site surrounding it might differ. However, using the Send to Surface command (AEC > Terrain > Send to Surface) is an easy way to set the tree on the site model surface. If you now look at the tree’s Z value, you will see that it is no longer zero. You can even select multiple objects and send them to the surface. If you already have a heliodon in your model, it will automatically cast shadows in your model.
  • 06:01     We looked at the quality of our model and noticed that it wasn’t that great. There were things—the rafters showing through, the poor grass texture, the opaque glass—that we preferred to change. Some of these things could be controlled through their textures (i.e., grass, glazing on windows), other things through the lighting, and still other things through the rendering quality. We decided to add a viewport to our site plan that would provide the best rendering of our project for the client. We added a crop object to the viewport went through our classes, turning off anything that we didn’t want in our rendered view. We thought it would be impressive to have a sky in our rendering. In the Object Info palette for the viewport, there’s a pop-up menu for RW Background (Renderworks Background). We selected HDRI Sky Day Mostly Sunny, which is a standard Vectorworks background that can be imported from their library.
  • 11:12    We noticed that the rendering in our viewport was somewhat fuzzy. One cause of this can be found in the sheet layer settings. We opened up the settings and changed the Raster Rendering DPI from 72 (fast printing but fuzzy rendering) to 300 (sharp rendering but slow printing). Our rendering already looked MUCH crisper! OpenGL is the lowest quality (fastest) rendering setting. Final Quality Renderworks offers fairly high quality, but my favorite is Custom Renderworks.
  • 13:06    If you choose the custom option, then you must edit your Background Render Settings. We clicked on the button and opened up a new dialog box. There are several settings to change: check Anti-Aliasing (it removes jagged lines on images), check Displacement Mapping, change the Quality Levels setting from All Low to All Medium, and Anti-Aliasing from Medium to Very High. Those are the essential setting changes. The more quality that you give the other levels, the longer it will take for your image to render—there’s a trade-off: low quality rendering is quick, high quality rendering is slow.
  • 14:10    Next, we clicked on the Lighting Options button to edit our lighting settings. We changed the Indirect Lighting to “Exterior, 3 Bounces” so that light bouncing off the grass would reflect green up on our building and light bouncing off the concrete would reflect white. The ambient light setting controls the shadows; 0% gives black shadows, whereas 15% makes the shadows a bit brighter. Ambient Occlusion is a computer trick that makes the joints between objects look better. Finally, we set the Environmental Lighting to Renderworks Background: HDRI White. All of these lighting options are discussed in detail in my lighting and rendering manuals. These lighting options change the rendering quality. We noticed that updating the viewport took significantly longer after changing these setting. We changed the DPI back to 72 so that the rendering would finish in a reasonable time for our discussion; although it was fuzzy, it gave us a good idea of what the quality rendering would give us. If your boss wants you to print out a high quality rendering, do it before your lunch break, not right before heading out to see a client.
  • 20:38    The Subscription Libraries on the VSS website allow members to download the Landscape and Exterior library, which has image props for many plant objects. We downloaded version 2017 of the Plant Image Props – Understory zip file. In my Resource Manager, I clicked on the gear and added a new Favorites folder, which we named “Plant Image Props.” I prefer to have my downloads reside on a separate harddrive; so, after putting them there, I went back to Vectorworks, clicked on the gear button, and selected the Add Favorite Files option to add them to my newly created Favorites folder. Before you download the objects from the VSS website, you might want to check the Subscription Libraries section of your Resource Manager to see if the objects that you want to use are already there—many are there, but not all. We went back to our site model and added some of the plant image props to our site model. These image props are not plants; they are 2D symbols. We ended by placing our plants on the surface of the site (AEC > Terrain > Send to Surface). The problem with these image props is that, in plan view, they don’t look at all like plants. We right-clicked to edit the 3D component (so that we could see the object) and added a green 2D shape in screen plane with the Freehand Tool. Closing our revised 3D symbol gave us the warning “You have converted the 3D symbol you are editing into a hybrid symbol by adding screen plane or hybrid objects.” Our new hybrid symbols appeared as 3D images in 3D view and as 2D plant shapes in plan.

Getting Started June 2016 am

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