MAKING OF: Old City Apartments Part.1 [EN]

Click on the image too see whole image gallery. Exterior visualisation by 3D Architect

Click on the image too see whole image gallery. Exterior visualisation by 3D Architect


As we promised some time ago, we are sharing another MAKING OF. This time - exterior visualisation with sketchup, 3ds max + corona 1.3 and photoshop. This project was developed in collaboration with the amazing CitusContruction team. 

As usually we will cover these main visualisation creation stages:

  • modelling (pt. 1)
  • materials (pt. 1)
  • lighting (pt. 2)
  • cameras (pt.2)
  • post production (pt.2)


There was three main stages of modeling: 

  1. basic architecture elements modeling in sketchup
  2. Architecture detail and landscape modeling in 3ds max
  3. Adding props. 

1. Sketchup part

Since we did not have any CAD drawings we used JPG images converted from PDF. 300 DPI while converting gives enough details for accurate modelling. This work well only for exteriors. 

Sketchup modeling with jpg's on geometry. – 3D architect.

On this project sketchup Round Corners plugin has been used heavily. As You see, every window, door, chimney, etc. has rounded edges. For windows we used 3mm rounding with 6 segments, for glass railing in balconies 2mm and 1 segment. We sometimes use a bit higher values for CG images than in real life to strenghten the effect. 

Modeling details

Sketchup detailed modelling by 3D architect

Rough model of landscape relief was also modelled in sketchup. Does not really matter if You do that in sketchup or 3ds max. Keep in mind that later Populate Terrain plugin will be used for much more detailed effect. Also some low-poly buildings were added in surrounding area. 

Basic landscape modelling with sketchup. 3D architect

Low-poly building models in scene. 3D architect

2. Architecture detail and landscape modeling in 3ds max

As mentioned before, minor details were modelled in 3ds max.  Firstly we added guttering system from our library. When modelling roof, Batzal Roof Designer came very handy and saved quite some time. Great tool with possibility to customize profiles and everything you need for tiled roof. 

Gutter modelling 3ds max

Batlzal Roof Designer plugin were used to model tiled roof. 3D Architect.

For landscape modelling we used Populate Terrain plugin in 3ds max. It perfectly converts sketchup "rough" model to detailed and nicely smoothed mesh. Please follow the images below to see whole process. To make it faster and easer to understand we prepared simple scene (click to download) and made short gif.  Using the same method You can create any type of lanscape. 

landscape creation

Geometry modelled using the method showed in GIF.

3. Adding props. 

We always use pre-made models in our scenes. This time it was two collections from evermotion and laubwerk plants. If models are high-poly we convert them to corona proxies. It not only saves memory while rendering, but also fastens up things in viewport and autosave. 


Good materials starts with good texturing. Most of architecture texturing we finish in sketchup, since we find it a bit faster. Textures in sketchup might look not right in terms of final colors, because UVW's are only important. With right textures sizes and placement we can go to 3ds max and tweak materials and textures itself when rendering test images. For street this time we used uvw unwrap ant photoshop-painted textures. This allowed us to get great details where needed and go towards realism without working much on material seetings.

Preparing textures in sketchup. "3D Architect".

Photoshop painted texture for road. "3D architect"

Here are some material setups we have used in this scene. 

Road material setup with corona. "3D architect"

Brick material setup with corona. "3D architect"

Window glazing material setup with corona. "3D architect"

Black metal material setup with corona. "3D architect"

Stucco material setup with corona. "3D architect"