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RexManning

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Reply with quote  #1 

Hi there! My name is Steven, have been working with Sketchup for a couple of years now and leaped into rendering for the first time just this month. Podium was my choice and I have been working on my portfolio and first renders.

First impressions: I love the steep learning curve! Might be nice to read some of my hickups along this way:
- Aha...Lighting outliner is NOT the Sketchup outliner...after a week of traveling through the sketchup outliner to switch my lighting, I figured it out. Handy tool!
- Presets: Nr 3_ is obsolete, why it is in there, I don't know. High is best, QMS as well, but slower and not for my needs.
- Light comes through seams of walls/ceiling connections.
- The options..forgets its settings a lot of the times, annoying, but worth to check every time.
- Fluffy pillows? I'll forget about that for now.
- Hard light shapes from the windows, must investigate how to soften.
- Viewer is not what is rendered. Something to do with dual points of view, hard to recreate a foto.

Overall, very, very happy with the product and extremely enthusiastic! A bit at a crossroad now however, and would love suggestions on how to procede, where to focus on.

For my portfolio, I decided to reverse engineer professional foto's I have of a property I co-created. I did the work in Sketchup. Now I used Podium techniques to decorate the Sketchup property and rendered as close I could towards the fotos. What I would like to show to clients is the steps of going from newbuild projects, to drawings to end result. Please see pictures below.

Things I notice and would like tips on:
- Lighting is very difficult. I set the geography, time of day and date to the exact same as when the foto was taken. Not a very bright day, but the foto is well exposed. Can't really recreate the brightness without losing clarity. Background items in the kitchen are also very dark.
- Anti-aliasing: for example in the bottom section of the projector closet, edges are not straight. Tried the different production settings and the material properties, but to no effect. There is a gap of 0,5cm on top of that white closet door.
- Anything else?

What I realise is, that the framing could be much better to create a nice picture. Also, I could be swayed to try a different shadow setting (time, date), even though would not be similar to the foto.

DORIO_Living_01_a.png  DORIO_Living_01_b.png  DORIO_Living_01_c.png 
I will reply on this topic with a higher resolution of the render with furniture.


RexManning

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Reply with quote  #2 
I love the fact that the pot of the plant reflects the same as in the picture. Also the art in the kitchen reflects the same objects. I was stunned. 😉


DORIO_Living_01_b.jpg 

bigstick

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Reply with quote  #3 
This is a really good start!

I think you mean the learning curve is shallow rather than steep 😉 If you want a steep learning curve, try something like Maya!

1. If you want fluffy pillows, have a look in the Browser, there are some there. Most of our furniture has been optimised to keep the polygon count manageable so you get good results, but fast. DesignConnected has some of the best high quality SketchUp furniture, it also has a lot of classic designer furniture. You have to pay for objects, and they are high polygon, but are very good.

2. If you want to stop lighting issues in the corners, you need to model using extruded geometry for walls, floors and ceiling - not single planes.

3. It's better to use the HDR presets and .hdr output format. You get a lot more flexibility for post-processing. You see that banding on your renders? That is caused by  image compression with jpg or png images.

4. If you want more accuracy, you need to spend a little more time understanding what you want to achieve. Duplicating photos is the best way to learn, but it does require you to look at your scene and try and work out exactly what is happening. In your scene, you can see that the reference photograph you don't have strong direct sunlight.  You have diffused overcast light, which is different. You also need to look at the source images and identify exactly where the light is coming from. If you look behind the plant, you can see that there is shadow on the wall behind. If you look a the sofa, the chair and the table you can see the shadows from those too. It's clearly evident  when you look in the kitchen, you can see the shadow from the front kitchen unit on the surface of the one behind it.

This means there is a light source from the left behind the camera. My guess is that there is a large tall wide glass door/window on the wall opposite the kitchen out of shot. If you want to simulate the photograph in a render, you have to duplicate the light sources. The easiest way to do this is with a very large, low power LEM out of view of the camera.  This will duplicate the lighting you have in your image. You can also reduce the sun intensity and exposure in the sliders to reduce the sun strength.

5. The high presets often don't create much higher quality images than the default ones, but the render time is much longer.





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RexManning

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Reply with quote  #4 
Haha, well, I feel I have been learning a lot in a short time frame 😉
I love this rendering playground, my results are not anywhere near of the high quality of other examples in this forum, setting the bar very high, but they trigger the challenge. Thank you very (!) much for your comments, I will start working immediately!

Editing this post as I am working on it:
- Fluffy pillows in the browser, check.
- Lighting issues in the corners: I hadn't used single planes, it might be because of connecting different groups of walls and coves? As I am progressing with learning to render, the problem gets less.
- HDR works very good. Backgrounds work really nice and am playing around with them now. Am using LEM panels on the outside though, can't seem to get a proper render without them. What is the difference when I get the options for Tone Maps? HDR files do open in Photoshop, not in Lightroom. I prefer Lightroom.
- Was puzzled by the light source in the kitschen, but found out. I finally remembered the photographer keeping the front door open and letting the light in through the hallway through the steelglass doors.


By the way, is there something I am doing wrong when the settings do not get saved at times, or is that a known bug by any chance?
RexManning

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Reply with quote  #5 
Some improvement I believe.

Still fiddly how it works with lighting and shadows. HDR seems to help some. I opened the front door and hallway door (both out of view) and added two lems, one outside the front door, one behind the camera outside.

The HDR photo used has a sun casting shadows and light in the right direction, causing reflections in the windows similar to the photo. However the shadow bottomleft of the pot I can't seem to reproduce. When I change the rotation of the hdr photo, the reflection on the windows dissappear.

Comments are highly appreciated!

I think I'll improve this model with modelling a better kid's table and go on to the next project in my portfolio.

Thanks again for all the help!

Living02 2020-05-26 14493100000.png

bigstick

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Reply with quote  #6 
I'm not sure what you have done here. Have you used an IBL background and an HDR preset? I'm not sure this will simulate the lighting in the image because it's a very overcast sky. Your lighting in your render doesn't match the source photo.

To start with, it's too bright, washing out your nice subtle indirect lighting. It's too flat and not realistic.

Look at the source photo, you have diffuse light coming from large windows at the left behind the camera, and you have diffused light coming in from the 3 windows on the left wall, creating the shadow from the pot. The trick is to simulate those light sources so that the light from one doesn't wash out the shadows from the other.

Best thing to do is experiment with the lighting and post results without any PP. Then we can tune the lighting.

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RexManning

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thank you very much for your help, very (!) appreciated.

Tone Maps - Standard

Preset - 2 Interior Bright Fine AA 2.1
Image Size - Viewport
Format - HDR
Background - HDR/IBL
Rendering - Fast
Options - Off, except for Information Bar
HDR/IBL - Afternoon01.hdr. Rotation 215. Exposure 1.4

Lems - High intensity off:
In front of front door - Light power 50
In front of yard door - Light power 40

I saved the hdr file as a png, no post processing.

Living_2InteriorBrightAA2.png 
Lems in front of (open) front door. Hallway door is always open and glass in steel frame.  Living_Lems.jpg 
Rotation HDR:
Living_HDR_Position.jpg 


bigstick

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Reply with quote  #8 
Working with daylight can be much more involved than sunlight.

IBL might actually help, because you have a greater degree of control over the exposure. 

Previously, the best solution was to use the SU background, turn shadows off, and position LEMs outside the windows. Start with very low power levels and experiment with using curves to adjust lighting in PIE.

If this sounds weird, it's because what we see is based on a realtime automatic levels adjustment carried out by our brains. You will be familiar with photographs in rooms during the day almost always look darker than they appear to us in real life. The photos are a much more realistic representation than the enhanced images we 'see' - HDR issues aside. Most people over-illuminate their renders - don't. Look at the subtlety of the shadows and try using PIE first. Use of HDR means you should avoid the banding.

Also, you ought to use the HDR presets.

This means that for a more realistic simulation, you render closer to the view a camera will capture, and do the PP adjustment to get a similar result to what our brains do.

I've attached some notes on your images.



Living_Lems.jpg  DORIO_Living_01_c.png 


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davew

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Reply with quote  #9 
My 2 cents.  I amazed that you are not getting any noticeable noise with this interior scene and using HDRI / IBL backgrounds for light.  What is your secret?  Denoising later with PS?
RexManning

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Reply with quote  #10 
I was expecting that as well after I read the manual. That's why I chose the aa option. I didn't slide any options in the Image Editor and that was the result of saving it clean as a png. The only thing I had to do (non optional) in the editor is chosing a tone maps. I don't know which one gives me a better starting point in post processing, I feel the adaptive linear one guides me better, but I could of course be wrong.

I cleaned up some stuff (open window, checked materials, round corners, glass table was floating, etc..), deleted the lem from the front door, creating 3 lems from the yard windows, which improved the render, lighting directions etc. The handy thing for me is my new desktop arrived, making it easier to adjust with 10 minute rendertimes instead of 1,5 hour. 😉 

I also ended up going back to the suggestion of using the default backgrounds Physical sky 1 (2 does make for slightly better lighting, but also creates some strange colored shadows in the ceiling), hdr output, less exposure and turning off shadows. In the end, I find two things hard to tweak: the "expressive" shadows and contrast without making the kitchen too dark, which is the second thing. I am new to Photoshop, but have the feeling that using different layers to enhance both shadows and lightening up the kitchen could be a way to go if I can't figure out how to do this in the render itself. Maybe even combining renders with and without shadows turned on.

Difference in Tone Mapping options (unedited png's):
  
Adaptive Linear:
Living_2InteriorBrightAA2_adaptive.png 
  
Standard:

Living_2InteriorBrightAA2_standard.png 
Both as mentioned without shadows. Turning them on gives this result with the adaptive linear tonemap. Some parts look more interesting, but the overall result seems too far of from the photo:
Living_2InteriorBrightAA2_adaptive_shadow.png 

Anyway, I feel to be moving somewhat in a better direction overall. Will play around with the lem lights and environment exposures a bit more. It might help to add some furniture in the dining (glossy piano for instance). After which I will dive into Photoshop and start learning on post processing.

bigstick

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Reply with quote  #11 
This is a tricky exercise. Duplicating a photo lit entirely by indirect light is challenging! 

If you want to duplicate the photo, I think you will need LEMs outside the windows. Make them transparent and hidden. Start with very low power. Turn shadows off and use the SketchUp background colour.

Use HDR format, and adjust the lighting using curves. Podium Image Editor can do this. We added it because not everyone can use Photoshop, and in fact that's not always the best tool for the job.

Don't forget also, that to duplicate the photo, you need to match the floor colour as well. Indirect lighting causes bounced light to reflect the surface colour onto adjacent surfaces.

You can turn shadows on and render with sunlight as opposed to daylight - but you wouldn't be learning as much [smile]

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RexManning

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Reply with quote  #12 
I was indeed secretly hoping that this project was on the difficult side for the same objective: learning the hard way. I will follow your workflow advise! The floor is a tricky one, having trouble to replicate that. Also because it is not a very common choice (mine in the day) to use black oil on a wooden floor. The effect is very mat and soft light.
RexManning

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Reply with quote  #13 
First try looks promising and Lems all around definitely seem the way to move forward with after the weekend. Thank you very much!

Living.png

bigstick

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Reply with quote  #14 
Don't start with the interior bright default preset!

That's very much a problem solving preset for particularly dark interiors.

You don't have one of those. Interior default, brighten using curves in PIE. 

Our automatic contrast adjustments are useful, but can be a bit of a blunt instrument. Definitely not good for this image.

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RexManning

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Reply with quote  #15 
Turning this into my own clouded sky interior render topic 😉

I thought I'd go ahead and change the scenery, with the same difficulties in lighting, but a simpler setup. A relatively small bathroom, same day, same sky. Aiming to have less information in the scene to work with. I left out the decorations on purpose and opened the cabinet just for fun, will close it later.

Attached image: no post processing.
- Viewport
- HDR
- 2 Interior Bright Fine AA 2.1
- Sun/Sky 50/50
- Soft Omni Lights
- Texture Overcas01.hdr (downloaded from podium browser)

What I notice is the flat and pale colors of especially the tiles. I presume in rendering you might always run into this (?), having too much whites in the colors.

For the rest, I actually see a lot went right this time in comparison with the previous living room scene. Compared to the picture, sky looks ok, shadows are somewhat looking to be where they are supposed to be. In the end, vibrance of the colors is what is difficult for me to adjust in post processing.

Again, critics and tips are appreciated!
Bad02.jpg 
Bathroom_DORIO.png

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