This month we were approached by an architects practice, MP2 Design in Malborough, who had been working on a project overlooking a beautiful cove in Salcombe, Devon. The site in question is defined by a steep south-facing hillside, with views over the sea, and the design of the building is a perfect response to accentuate these unique features. The brief was to create two architectural visualisations for the exterior and a single architectural photo-montage.

As CG artists, firstly we like to inspect the terrain within which the structure will sit. After interchanges and site visits between the team here at Archilime and the team of Architects at MP2 Design, we reached a clear understanding of how exactly the project will impact it’s immediate surroundings. We then applied this into our modelling softwares so that the terrain was moulded to suit the proposed building plans and sections also to include vehicular access and stepped grassy terraces down one side of the site.

One aspect of this project that we always strive to achieve is the implementation of native vegetation, with the intentions of creating a transitional image, combining the existing and the proposed greenery. In expanding our vegetation libraries, one notices a greater sense of realism, and this is something that we have received praise for with this project in particular.

As aforementioned, the design of the building takes advantage of its south facing nature, and we believed that this key feature needed to be highlighted in some way within our visualisations. Due to the nature of the site, we found ourselves drawn to the central glass opening on the southern face, as this would distribute light throughout the building towards the north, which received less direct sunlight. We decided that this key feature deserved recognition within our image, so to draw the eye towards it, subtle lighting elements were introduced.

We tend to find that any imperfections in the materiality, be it big or small, in any given design element drastically alter the ‘feel’ of the image as a whole. So when we were asked to emulate the vernacular Cornish stone, we jumped at the chance to recreate this iconic texture, finding the high resolution stone image from Arroway Textures and then manipulated using Photoshop and Pixplant. It can be seen being applied to the walls that retain the grassy banks in the garden, covered with an array of local vegetation.

To illuminate the final model we opted for a composite HDRI (High-Dynamic-Range Image)- courtesy of Peter Guthrie’s PG Skies – a 1219 Dusk HDRI. Along with red tones from a late afternoon, and subtle exterior garden lights we were able to bathe the structure in the warm glow of a summer’s evening. As seen in the final renders, in using this method, the light has invigorated the horizontal, grey wooden beams and given them a sense of place within the existing environment. Archilime have found this technique to be invaluable whilst producing visuals to successfully gain planning permission for our clients. By creating hybrid HDRI environments within our software we can pick and chose particular lighting elements from different images, and take the most appropriate from each to create a fully customisable scene for each project. This is how we manage to achieve both a morning and an evening visual. We find that with the right adjustments we are able to create multiple moods with a single HDRI by amending the gamma control in the dome light and playing with the physical camera settings in the vray options.


Technique with Proxies (Monte Petrie Vegetation)


We are proud to be able to offer a diverse range of high-polygon models, with an aim to provide a thoroughly populated site, every single project.

We use a technique within vRay whereby we create proxies of high-polygon models (this is perfect when working with vegetation-intensive projects) which allows us to maximize the number of models we can use within any given job, whilst maximizing the performance from our systems so that scenes can load more efficiently.

With the Monte-Petrie project, due to the nature of the plan, we found ourselves in a position where we were to place large quantities of foliage on the site, and so we turned to the vRay proxy function.

Initially, we import the models as an .obj file, and then meticulously edit and apply two-sided materials to each face using a plugin called Material Replacer. We then create maps in .png or .tiff format to allow for two-way light scattering throughout the model. It is at this stage that we setup the environmental and material settings in anticipation for the final CGIs. After the aforementioned steps, we convert them to proxies using vRay, and then populate the scene with the prepared proxies.