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3ds Max 2009

Barbara Witkowska 2008-12-15 00:00 article  > Article

"3ds Max 2009. Architectural Visualization. Intermediate to Advanced" is a continuation of the first volume - "3ds Max 2008. Architectural Visualization. Beginner to Intermediate". Following the title, book is intended to people willing to improve their skills from intermediate to advanced level.

The book is the absolutely necessity not only in architectural industry, but also in other sectors, such as civil engineering, structural engineering or landscape architecture. It includes issues both from AutoCad and 3dsMax software, as at least use of those two can make your modeling work really effective.


The layout of the book (hardcover, 544 pages + full color) strictly refers to the first volume.
Author divides the book into six parts:
  • "Working with Architectural Drawings"
  • "Creating Building Elements"
  • "Creating Site Elements"
  • "mental ray"
  • "Advanced Visualization Techniques"
  • "Efficient 3D Workflow"
and a set of Appendixes, which contains:
  • A. really handy and worth reading production tips (among the other: how to write a good contract, create a pricing presentation, use a professional renderfarm),
  • B. "a list of tools that can expand the power and versality of 3ds Max as well as your entire workflow",
  • C. a list of websides which may cause great influence on your workflow (many information, textures, fonts, software, scripts),
  • D. common business and artist mistakes (from improper negotiating with clients to ignoring fundamental concepts) ,
  • E. marketing your services (" Though good work sells itself, it only sells if someone knows you're selling."),
  • F. pricing your services (an appendix dedicated especially to freelancers and small business owners),
  • G. creating a business plan,
  • H. the professional services agreement (explains why signing a contract is so important, includes sample contract, discuss standard terms and conditions, and more)
  • I. 3D CAD brief,
  • J. the 3D presentation (of what you do and how you do it),
  • K. introduction to V-Ray, a third-party plugin, one of the most popular render engine around the world.
For full Table of Contents and sample chapter, please see at


The book contains huge amount of information about AutoCad - a universal software used for creating architectural drawings. Author emphasizes the absolute necessity of getting basic knowledge of CAD software.
From the book we can get to know how whole architectural design process looks like, what architectural drawings set should include to be enough to prepare visualization. It leads the reader through variety of drawings standards used by different companies, explains all the important drawing types, like floor or site plans. You will learn how to read, understand and use those drawings.
The text is illustrated with examples of a set of constructions drawings, set of specializations for architectural project, or 3D rendering used to advertise a project under construction.

Preparing the linework for import to 3ds Max.

Many CG artists may not realize how time - saving, simple and efficient is preparing linework in AutoCad before importing it into 3d space, whereas it's critical knowledge. That's why Author decided to devote a lot of book's space to explain some techniques, helpful with preparing and cleaning drawings, or simply getting around this software. After importing prepared linework to 3d space, Brian Smith unfolds before us few possibilities of using it to create elements such as walls, windows, doors, or roofs. He fairly describes a number of methods used by many lead 3ds users, so we could choose the best for us, but simultaneously emphasizes his favorite one. All the techniques are exemplified and supported by appropriate illustrates.


Apart from solid portion of erecting building coat information, we will find here in the book a wide range of interior creating advice. I find very interesting a part, in which Author reveals how to negotiate with client. It's not so easy to help the client with choosing the best materials and furniture pieces, but if we won't cope with that, soon we may realize, that modeling simple piece of furniture takes far more time, than making whole building!
The part with "Creating a Sofa" tutorial (written by Alexander Gorbunov) shows how to, in simple and quick way, model a piece of furniture using poly modeling. It is very clear exercisse, but detailed in the other hand. Shows modeling and texturing process step-by-step. We'll learn how to texture the sofa using UVW mapping and apply a material to it.

The sofa modeling tutorial.


To make our 3D scene complete it's very important to create building's surrounding area: elements such as roads, sidewalks, curbs, backgrounds and vegetation. Once again, the best method to speed up the modeling process is to make use of accessible architectural drawings. We can also support ourselves with some helpful internet sites, that Author recommends. After reading it you will surely find out, that there's nothing difficult with interpreting architectural drawings details or topographical maps.
Let's don't forget about a 3D scene background. Although it's simple to create, may easily make the scene unrealistic. That's why it's so important to be familiar with three methods, presented in the book, in which we can apply good background to various 3D scenes.
Creating vegetation chapter consists of two category of representing vegetation: 2D and 3D. With the first one, apart from gathering knowledge of ways of creating for example a tree, we will find many handy information about scatter command (really supportive tool when we want to create a clump of trees), illuminating trees and creating realistic shadows features.
The discussion about 3D trees finishes on encouraging to make use of quality vegetation software rather than creating 3D tree by yourself or use the standard 3ds Max foliage. This solution is dictated by scene efficiency and computer capability.

An example of a 3D vegetation (left) and 2D version (right)


From among a number of render engines Author had chosen, to acquaint us with, the mental ray. The one integrated with 3ds Max from 1999.
Following this rule:
"As digital artists, we are constantly playing a delicate balancing act between rendering speed and rendering quality. In order to be effective at such task, we need to understand some theory behind the complex mental ray render engine.",
Brian Smith clarifies enough information " feel comfortable with the program and be efficient with our work". Although dedicated to beginners, help to systematize even advanced users knowledge.

Mental Ray - lighting methods

In the book we will find many more techniques that enhance our skills in creating visualizations of higher quality, such as unwrap UVW modifier and post-production process, critical in creating animations and visualizations. Especially the first and third issue I find fundamental to every CG artist. Without this knowledge we won't create properly a texture map to a simple piece of furniture, not to mention more complex, even organic models. Also some Photoshop techniques discussed in he book will help us reach good results in a relative small amount of time.
A beginner to architectural visualization sector will surely find invaluable the animation process describe. Here you will find gathered together: questions that has to be asked to a client, price negotiating rules and whole visualization creating process pipeline.

Photoshop techniques - the paste-into feature


The book deserves a strong recommendation to anyone who value efficient and high - quality work process. I can ensure, that not only intermediate-level, but also advanced users will find here a lot of valuable information. It is a perfect supply to"3ds Max 2008. Architectural Visualization. Beginner to Intermediate".
Let me once again recommend a forum created on and announce the next volume of the architectural visualization books library to be published: the one dedicated to take us from advanced to professional level.


Author: Barbara Witkowska
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