Welcome to the first progress update for my new project - Crimson. This is the first part of several which will dive deep into my entire creative workflow from start to finish and will hopefully provide some insight into how I build my scenes from the ground up!
2020 was a big year. Not only on a global level, but for myself and for The Lumion Collective as well.
Because of this I was forced to postpone some of the works I'd planned to start, Crimson being one of the biggest. However, after some time spent chipping away getting the project to a presentable level, I’m happy to finally share the first progress update.
This is an idea that I’ve thought about exploring for some time now, however, the scale of the entire process remained firmly at the front of my mind and this perhaps lead to a little hesitation. Though, as 2020 came to a close, I was able to dedicate some time to get started and since then my progress has begun to snowball!
Before I get started, I thought it would be good to give some context about what I’m trying to achieve here.
Earlier last year I held a poll on The Lumion Collective Facebook group to learn about the type of content that you would like to see.
Many of these requests focused on feature-specific content, as well as some broader topics such as lighting, materials, and populating. Also on the list, was a request for a large-scale progress build which is something that I believe to be extremely helpful to many artists (myself included).
I decided to go down this path, as I think seeing both the broader topics as well as more focused feature tutorials in action will go a long way to helping understand how and why they are used in a project scenario.
This isn’t a time-lapse, or ‘watch me build’ type of series, but rather a deep behind-the-scenes look at my own workflow and how I apply this to all my Lumion projects. I’ve seen some amazing series that follow similar ideas, and the information I was able to gather from these was invaluable.
To set us on our progress journey, I’ve decided to use a project that I’ve long thought about starting – Crimson.
Crimson is a project that I first entertained in late 2019. It was inspired after seeing some of the amazing landscapes that can be found throughout the world, most notably, in Australia.
An area known as the Kimberley in Western Australia is home to some of the most other-worldly terrain I have ever seen.
From jagged red desert cliffs to sub-tropical rain-forests and pristine coastline, the Kimberley is so densely packed with natural diversity that it’s hard to believe it’s isolated to such a small geographical region.
This terrain is what inspired Crimson.
The concept of housing a highly unique and opulent piece of architecture amongst the towering red cliff faces was a thought that I couldn’t seem to shake and this has helped form the ‘story’ of Crimson.
First things First
I mention formulating a story for Crimson.
For many of us, the idea of creating story-driven Architectural visualization might seem a little too… artsy. Arch-viz is often proclaimed as a technical art-form where a lot of emphasis is placed on demonstrating technological prowess to achieve hyper-realism above all else.
However, if we take a look at some of the best Arch-viz artists in the business, you’ll see that story is everywhere.
It doesn’t need to be an award-winning novel, but understanding what your main themes are in a scene can go a long way to visualizing a space in a way that best reflects the design.
In the case of Crimson, this theme is Journey.
I wanted these renderings to be a creative illustration that shows the journey of not only the architecture but also the way in which it interacts with the world around it.
To help achieve this, I started with the most important part of the project: Mood Boards.
The Mood Board
Since I’d started collecting reference images almost 18 months ago, I had a good catalog to start my mood board with.
A mood board is a vital step when creating any projects, as it allows me to segment ideas into neat little piles that can be re-visited as I need them. It allows me to develop the look that I’m hoping to achieve in the final renders and gives me a clear direction that I can follow in the early stages of the project.
Pinterest is my go-to when collecting references, and PureRef is my application of choice when collating my references into a mood-board.
Aside from the obvious environmental references, the architecture was the other feature that I needed to explore more.
I’ve always loved Tony Stark’s mansion in Iron man and with the Crimson house being a design of similar scale, I finally had a reason to pull together a bunch of reference images and expand on these for my own project.
The interior spaces feature large expansive ceilings, with minimalist features combined with select decor to fill the spaces.
It’s a look I’m excited to explore more, but I’m going to come back to this later, as there’s a long way to go before the interior starts to take real form.
With a clearer idea of what direction I was going to take to get started, I could move onto the daunting task of modeling the scene.
As this is the first update, a large portion of my progress was focused on modeling the fundamental parts of the scene.
First up I began modeling the basic floor layout. This helped give me an idea of shapes and dimensions and helps the block-out of the scene to have a bit more structure.
After drafting the floor plan, I proceeded to model the walls, entry-ways, and major features as basic shapes.
This same process was carried over to the areas that would intersect with the terrain (color-coded in red) and will be used as a guide for how different areas of the terrain will be blended in with the building.
After getting the main exterior blocked out, I went on to add some additional shapes to the interior to segment the spaces as they will appear in the final design.
If you’re unfamiliar with blocking out, it’s essentially an early-stage process of creating basic shapes that form a ‘skeleton’ for the project.
This is an amazing tool when creating large complex scenes such as this, where many aspects of the design impact each other. It’s not unlike the early stages of design drafting in that it helps get raw ideas onto the page without getting caught up on the details.
After getting the rough shapes down, I started to detail the interior spaces. If you follow The Lumion Collective's Instagram, you may have seen some of these progress shots of the interior spaces starting to form.
The first piece of detailing was creating some of the skylights that will form a major feature of the design. As the interior spaces are largely open, lighting the scene will present a few challenges, and so getting this process started early will really help in the later stages of setting up effects.
The Skylights are based off this design style. I think the curved features throughout the design will contrast with the sharp rock formations surrounding it and so I’m eager to bring this concept into the scene.
As the interior spaces are largely open, lighting the scene will present a few challenges, and so getting this process started early will really help in the later stages of setting up effects.
I like to get my projects into Lumion as early as possible so that I’m able to start implementing lighting and camera angles from the beginning.
Rather than perfecting an entire model and then beginning the rendering process, I’m a big believer in using both the modeling and rendering processes to fuel each other.
Often I’ll model as much of the ‘lighting’ features such as windows, skylights, and doors so that I’m able to learn what will work and what won’t.
Once these details were modeled I loaded the model into Lumion to start some lighting test and see if the skylights and windows would work as expected.
I was pleasantly surprised with how even the lighting was casting throughout the scene with only a few effects added and no ‘artificial’ light objects placed.
I tried a few different views, slowly adding new details to different portions of the model. These mainly revolved around detailing the windows, adding a few placeholder furniture shapes, and doing a rough material ID process (I plan to go through the material phase in more detail when the time comes).
I was also able to test out some rock textures on the flatter areas of terrain that would have theoretically been cut away for the main building to be constructed. These are far from final, but they gave a welcome look at what the scene might look like in the future!
Finally, the last update that has been included here is the first of the Megascans assets that are going to be used in this scene.
As there’s a lot of natural formations in this project, scanned assets are going to be used extensively in combination with the native Lumion library to build up the environments.
I thought it would be a good idea to begin testing some of these now so that I can figure out how best to integrate these!
That’s it! My progress so far for part 1 of this series.
Here are a few things I’ll be working towards for the next update:
Creating the furniture models to begin finalizing interior areas
Apply Material ID’s throughout in preparation for texturing
Terrain Sculpting the surface environment
Starting to integrate the terrain with the main building!
As always, I’ll be opening a discussion about this on The Lumion Collective Facebook group to answer any questions you might have as well as hear your thoughts on the project so far!
Be sure to check out The Lumion Collective's Instagram page too, as this is where the majority of daily progress videos are being shared.
Until next time, happy creating and I’ll see you soon!