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Architectural Viz: Rendering in Photoshop |

John Michael Wilyat's Blog

Architectural Viz: Rendering in Photoshop

Posted on November 17, 2012 | 4 Comments

4 V otes
Need to present a design idea to y our client/professor tomorrow? Whether y oure doing architectural,
product, or concept work this rendering technique is sure to get y our idea noticed.

Y ou may hav e seen my earlier post about compositing images inside of Photoshop to create a
rendering. This is a tutorial that outlines this process so y ou can apply some of the techniques to y our
own work.
What y ou will need:
Photoshophence the title
A simple image of y our building; the sample image was rendered using V -ray . The v -ray rendering
engine is av ailable for sketch-up, Rhino 3D, May a, 3D Max , etc. and is a v ery quick and effectiv e
engine to render with.



Architectural Viz: Rendering in Photoshop |

Photos of some landscape elements; for the purposes of my project the building is set in an open
field. Y ou can use a city street, ocean, etc. Each project will be different in this regard.
Photos of background elements, same rules apply . I generally use buildings, mountains, or
whatev er relates to the contex t of the image.
Photos of clouds; whatev er fits the mood y ou are aiming for.
General entourage (plants, people, etc.)
Now with all those elements in a nice new folder start a new Photoshop project and drag them onto y our
canv as. It will look something like the image below with more or less elementsnot v ery ex citing y et.

note: I did not include a few elements seen in the sample image; this was done for time sake since the
method I will be demonstrating can be applied to any objects and there is no need to be redundant.
I didnt like those two guy s running after the frisbee any way ; who threw that frisbee?
Lay out
This is the v ery first stage of making these v ery disconnected pictures into one image. Y ou will basically
be arranging y our images in such a way that they work together or tell a story . Ev ery one lov es a good
story .
This can start as a sketch on paper but Im spontaneous (and lazy ) so I just mov e the images around
inside photoshop until they look nice. The most important aspect of this phase is really the perspective.
The elements should all match a similar v antage point as the base rendering y ou are using for y our



Architectural Viz: Rendering in Photoshop |

project. In this case the base rendering is from a low human ey e perspectiv e so all the photographic
elements match this v iew. The grass would look out of place if it was pictured from abov e and the other
elements were being v iewed v anishing into the distance. The end lay out will look something like the
image below.

note: Some images will hav e to be duplicated to fit y our canv as. This is easy with materials such as grass
or sky since it looks v ery random and helps blend the copied image. Duplicate any lay ers accordingly ;
in this case the buildings and grass were duplicated.
Cleaning Up the Elem ents
Now its time to clean up the edges of our little photoshop collage. Using the poly gonal lasso tool, trim
the base off of y our building so that the bottom appears to be sitting right on top of the field of grass.



Architectural Viz: Rendering in Photoshop |

The red line represents the general path of y our lasso selection; y ou can just delete this selection. Nex t
we will be trimming the horizon of buildings. Notice that the sky abov e the buildings does not match our
clouds, we will need to get rid of this. Use the eraser tool with the hardness and flow settings dialed
down. Hardness can be zero and flow around 7 %. (Found in the top bar and brush settings)
Just gently erase the edge until only the building edges remain.

Dodge and Burn

Now ev ery thing is beginning to look a little more integrated but its not quite there. We will be using the
Burn and Dodge tool to suggest lighting in the scene. These tools should be set to midtones in the top
tool bar nex t to the brush settings. The dodge tool can be used to lighten up pix els and the burn tool can
be used to darken pix els; so naturally y oull want to brush according to the sunny and shaded areas of
y our rendering. This process can be loose and v ery fun, so dont worry about it being perfect unless y ou
hav e a v ery specific effect in mind. Apply this to all elements until y ou hav e some sense of lighting. In



Architectural Viz: Rendering in Photoshop |

my case the lighting is a bright sun coming from behind camera somewhere. This will take y our own
artistic merit so do whatev er sets the mood of the piece.

Y ou should also take a moment to lightly erase little bits of the base of the building and any thing in
direct contact with the grass. This giv es the illusion that the image is actually nested into the grass in
reality . This definitely giv es a grounded (no pun intended) feeling to the ov erall picture. Try to use a
grass shaped brush for the eraser tool. There is a stock one that comes with photoshop and can be found
in the brush selection (top left hand corner).
Blending the Colors
Now we are going to use an adjustment tool called Selective Color; this can be found in
Image/Adjustments/Selectiv e Color. By default it is set to adjust the red tones but if y ou open the
dropdown menu y ou will see other options. The most drastic changes can be found when adjusting the
White/Neutral/Black settings. Tweak these colors for each lay er until y our images hav e a more relativ e
color scheme. For instance y ou might choose to make ev ery thing a bit more green and warm because
the scene is outdoors surrounded by grass. This step really brings some nice blending and drama to the
The second really important color adjustment is to create a new fill lay er, with a gradient. This is found
in the Lay ers/Fill Lay ers/Gradient menu. In my case I will do a gradient that starts as a nice blue from
the sky and fades to a warm orange towards the ground. (diagonally so it seems more naturally , stay
away from any thing to straight or rigid)



Architectural Viz: Rendering in Photoshop |

This will look ex tremely ov erpowering at first but if y ou change the Blend Mode of the gradient lay er it
will fix that. In the upper left hand corner of the lay ers panel change the gradient lay er from Normal to
Soft Light. Now the gradient will blend more appropriately with the scene. This can be made more
subtle by adjusting the opacity of the lay er.

Finishing T ouches



Architectural Viz: Rendering in Photoshop |

Now the image is looking a lot better. We just need to add some ov erall punch to the elements. This can
be done in v arious way s but in this tutorial we are going to use highlights. Create a new lay er and using
white, simply put some small blobs of white where the sun light is hitting the building the hardest. In my
case it is towards the top. This creates the illusion of glare from the suns ray s.
Keep this lay er selected and go to Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur. Turn the blur up until the white blobs
begin to feather and look much more like bright highlights from the sun. This can also be done on trees,
cars or any additional elements that y oud like to draw attention to.

In this tutorial we hav e cov ered how to montage v arious photos into one cohesiv e render and add some
punch to the ov erall picture. Y ou can use these techniques for a v ariety of elements and circumstances.
For project specific ex amples of compositing landscape, water, roads, etc. subscribe to the blog and
watch for new tutorials. I will be cov ering more detail specific ex amples for these elements in the near
Hav e any comments or question? Post below or send a message from the about page and Id be happy to
chat. Hope y ou found something here that will be useful in y our own work. Until nex t time, Cheers!



Architectural Viz: Rendering in Photoshop |

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Trick Photography Book | November 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Reply

Y our sty le is unique compared to other folks I
hav e read stuff from. Thank y ou for posting when y ouv e got the opportunity , Guess Ill just
book mark this site.

John-Michael Wilyat | November 24, 2012 at 4:38 am | Reply

Follow the blog from the homepage (top right) to receiv e all tutorial updates by email.
Thanks for reading!

david | February 3, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Reply

can y ou giv e me y our rendering of the building? i want learn to do this render sty le. thanks

Ryan Dempster | March 9, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Reply

Fantastic tutorial, made, what could hav e been drawn out and complicated, v ery simple and
digestible. Thank y ou v ery much.

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