What is rendering in Photoshop

Post-processing architecture rendering in Photoshop

Sometimes you ask yourself how you can achieve one or the other effect during an architectural rendering. I'm here via a video tutorial from Andrei Oprinca came across, which takes on the topic of post-processing an architecture rendering - a good opportunity to learn from others.

I would like to go through with you roughly the steps that lead to the goal here and add a few tips and information at one point or another. Basically, the principle is simple: You start with your architecture rendering from a 3D visualization tool of your choice such as 3DS MAX or Cinema 4D and uses Photoshop to mix in various elements such as trees, people or even entire scenes.

As you can see - what is important here is the corresponding source material in the form of photos, cut-out architecture staffage, etc. You really have to say that the quality of the source graphics does not depend on the quality of the end product!

When you start, the first thing we can do is to recommend our “open ArchiVIZpack” to you. It's a free and high quality collection of:

  • Cropped trees
  • Isolated plants
  • Architecture material textures (tileable)
  • Background graphics for your architecture renderings (like sky)
  • Cropped abstract people

So actually everything to get started without much preparatory work or to expand your own library with architectural graphics.

The nice thing about it is that the graphics are already prepared for use in architectural visualization - you save yourself the time-consuming clipping, for example, because the graphics are already in .PNG format with alpha channel and can thus be used in Photoshop. You can download the "OpenArchiVIZpack" here for free:

LINK to the free "OpenArchiVIZpack"

By the way, you can even use the graphics for your commercial projects!

Next, we would like to refer you to our free graphics library with over 4000 photos of architectural materials, scenes, trees + plants, etc. These cannot be tiled, but the fund that you can use for your projects is all the greater. There are many photos here that you can use, especially to fill in the background or horizon of a scene, for example. Use for commercial projects is also permitted here!

Both resources can be used free of charge. We would be very happy to receive your feedback and recommendations!

OK - at least you already know where you can help yourself from an extensive pool. Let's first take a look at the video tutorial from Andrei at:

When post-processing architectural visualizations in Photoshop, there are always a few basic steps that count, such as

  • Working with layer masks
  • Perspective transformations
  • Adjustment of image properties of the base material

I would like to explain a few of these steps to you again here, which are important for every architect who wants to edit his design graphics with Photoshop. This is more about the basics for beginners when it comes to Photoshop:

Masks are actually one of the most important functions in Photoshop. Basically, it is a matter of defining in a graphic attached to the layer using black and white information which image areas of the layer should be transparent - and which should be opaque (i.e. not transparent). The following pictures show the basic idea:

Sure you could simply delete the areas you no longer want to see on the level, but working non-destructively has many advantages! You can simply make adjustments later, otherwise: deleted is deleted. So basically try to hide elements with a mask rather than delete them from the layer.

Layer masks are mainly used in the video to hide parts of a layer. So you add a layer mask to a layer and then use e.g. the selection lasso to select areas that should no longer be displayed by the layer - this way you can optimize transitions between e.g. a grassy area or similar in the image.

As I said, the mask is, as it were, its own graphic (attached to the layer) in the grayscale spectrum. Everything that is black is displayed transparently on the layer - everything that is white on the mask remains visible on the layer. And important: everything that is specified in gray or in various shades of gray from light to dark gray is also displayed semi-transparent.

It is important that the newly added elements fit the scene in perspective. Otherwise, even with the best transitions, it is noticeable that something was copied together here. And somehow our composition should look like "all of a piece". Photoshop basically offers many possibilities to make perspective corrections. The simplest variant is perspective transforming.

To do this, simply mark your selection that you want to edit and either use the shortcut CTRL + T and move the recognizable handle points at the corners of your selection with the CTRL key pressed. Alternatively, you can access the command via Edit> Transform> Perspective.

If you call up the command via the shortcut CTRL + T, try also to press the ALT or SHIFT key. As a result, other grip points, for example, are distorted with which you can directly achieve different perspective distortion effects - just try it out.

The exposure is actually one of the most important things when it comes to a convincing architectural visualization. So that everything fits together in the architectural composition afterwards, it is important that new elements that are added correspond to the atmosphere and lighting of the scene. To be honest, you have to help very often here. In the video, Andrei shows some good methods how to proceed here to lighten or darken areas.

With this tool you can work very well selectively or certain areas, because you can work with all possible brush tips. The dodge tool brightens areas, the burn tool darkens.

You can find the two tools in the toolbar or with the shortcut "O".

I like to use the two tools if, for example, the exposure does not quite match the scene with an inserted element such as an isolated bush or shrub. If the sun is shining from the right in the architecture scene - but the bush is lit from above, you can brighten the right area of ​​the shrub graphic with the dodger and darken the left area with the post-exposure unit. For smooth transitions you simply have to adjust the properties of the brush tip used. A really versatile tool when it comes to the exposure correction of certain areas!

Standard task! You fill your architecture illustration with cut-out accessories, but of course these don't cast a shadow! But no problem, it's actually very easy in Photoshop. If there are no hard shadows in the scene, it is sometimes enough to simply paint a small "blub" with a soft brush and low opacity on an underlying layer, which you can then soften further (e.g. Gaussian soft focus) so that it becomes something blurred. This gives the elements a little more depth and doesn't seem to be used as it is.

If the shadow has to deal with the shape of the object, proceed as follows (example shadow of an isolated person):

  1. Create a layer copy of the exempted person
  2. Place copy under base layer
  3. Blacken the copy completely (e.g. reduce the brightness completely)
  4. Switch to the transformation mode with CTRL + T and hold down the CTRL key and pull the upper handle points down so that the shadow fits the scene
  5. Blur shadows (Filter> Blur Filter> Gaussian Blur)

That was it. You can also make two copies and blur them to different degrees and then mix the two together. As a result, the shadow near the person is a bit crisper and continues to blur downwards.

A similar effect can also be obtained by e.g. using the lasso to select the areas that should cast a shadow. Especially if it is a building you can simply work here with the polygon lasso tool. Then you don't initially fill this area completely black but work with the gradient tool. Here you select “black to transparent” as the gradient type and draw the gradient from the building so that black is applied close to the building and the area is filled more transparently as the distance from the building increases. So the shadow runs out a bit.

If you then either go over it with a soft focus filter or with the "wiping finger tool" with a large, soft brush tip, then you can also produce very good results.

Hope you enjoyed the few little basic tips, good luck trying them out!

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Filed Under: Tutorials