CASE STUDY:
Dream Home Realized in 3D

Design Firm: Picture Engine Company, Inc.
3D Designer: Jon Carlson
Client: EH Design/Averill Family

Project SummaryBuilding a dream home in reality takes a lot of planning. For EH Design - and their client the Averill family - they knew that waiting until the house was built would be too late to get things perfect. To visualize their multi-million dollar home overlooking Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho they turned to Jon Carlson and his Picture Engine Company.




The ChallengeJon and his company are located in Colorado - not exactly next door to Coeur d'Alene. Taking a trip to Idaho was not in the budget - everything had to be done electronically via 2D CAD files and photographs.

No problem for Jon - he just used his 20+ years of experience, an architectural CAD application and a combination of Strata Design 3D and Adobe Photoshop.


The SolutionPicture Engine Company uses a proven design process that allows them to work seamlessly with their clients - and it all begins in 2D:

From 2D to 3DUsing 3D CAD files provided by EH Design, Jon used the architecture CAD application to build the basic structure of the home and the immediate terrain the home was to be built on. From this point the project was ready to apply the rich textures and design elements the client was looking for.

Bringing it in to Strata Design 3DUsing a standard CAD transfer file format, Jon brought the project into Strata Design 3D where surface textures and design details were added. Jon utilized actual photos of elements that the client had requested, such as a stone block wall, shutter details, chimney design and more. Using these photos, Jon was able to recreate the exact details the client had asked for in virtual 3D.

A Hierarchical ApproachJon took advantage of Strata's ability to model using a hierarchical approach. Using this technique, one object can be modified and all instances will be updated. For example, if the client decided that the exterior lighting fixtures should be copper instead of brass, Jon only has to modify the "parent" and all the "children" will automatically update.

Setting the SceneJon knows from experience that selecting the right view is critical - "If you have a bad angle with a bad background, all the rest of the project will conspire to defeat you."

Jon selects a view angle and background by reviewing the site photos provided by the client. Once Jon had made his selection, he asked EH Design to shoot additional site photos, providing them with instructions on the angle and time of day so that he'd get the shadows, sky color and position that would produce the best rendering.

Lighting and EnvironmentUsing Strata's HDRI (High Dynamic Range Image) lighting system, Jon was able to utilize real-world lighting based on an actual sky image matching the desired setting and time of day. In addition to this, Jon used a photograph in the reflection channel to get details like window and metallic reflections just right. Lighting was further adjusted based on test renderings.

Rendering the ImageWith surfaces prepared, lighting set and the environment adjusted, Jon was ready to create the photo-real rendering. Using Strata's award winning raydiosity rendering engine, Jon rendered out the image with the background masked out.

Touch-up and PresentationWith a full render, Jon took the image into Adobe Photoshop where he added the site background photo, trees, landscaping and other detail. With additional painting touch-up the image was ready to show to the client to allow for red-line notes for corrections.

With adjustments from the client, a new rendering was produced and again brought into Photoshop for final touch-up.

The ResultsAs Jon puts it, the objective is to "...make the client feel at home with the design." Jon's time isn't cheap, but he knows that buying his time is much more cost effective than making changes on site during construction - or worse yet, after the project is completed. The client's took advantage of this virtual realization of their design, made changes and in the end everyone was happy.