How NOT to make visualizations

What heathens we are! Admit it - we’ve all committed some of these CGI crimes at least once. 


On September 18, 2016, I was preparing a presentation for Splash in Prague (an international conference for artists from archviz, CGI, VFX and other industries). At first I was really unsure what to show. I didn't want to make just another presentation showcasing our best projects. Let’s face it, even though it would probably be nice to look at, in the end it would still be the same old boring self-promotion... So, if not our best images, then what to show? 

Then it hit me: Do the OPPOSITE: Show them the worst of the worst!

And that’s just what I did. I showed some of our worst images ever. No joke. For the presentation, I grouped the images into 10 different categories, or better said: rules. The feedback from after the presentation was so positive that I decided to make an article out of it, so that even more people can learn from it. So here goes:

10. Ultra-wide camera angle


When your client asks you to make the camera angle wider... and wider... and wider... wanting to capture the whole interior and, if possible, even the exterior in a single image, you know something is wrong. They pay you per image, so they want to get the most for their money. Artistic approach, composition, idea behind the image, and storytelling be damned! Just make it wider!

09. Watermark


Covering half of the image with your email address and/or telephone number just isn’t an effective way to advertise or protect your artwork... it just doesn’t work. You’ll just end up distracting the viewer away from the artwork.

08. People

There are a couple ways to fail in using people assets:


Shiny happy people

Your images are full of commercial s**t, like a happy cheering crowd on a new, 50x50m concrete platform. What made them happy? Being in the image? The concrete itself? If you are going to use such happy people, give them a reason to smile. Create a story.


People staring at the photographer

Simple. Don’t show the fronts of their faces, don’t make them look at you. It just leaves the observer feeling embarrassed, stressed, confused, guilty and weird. That’s not a feeling you want your client to have. Become invisible as a photographer, don’t clue anyone into your presence. Be a ghost—an invisible, calm viewer.

07. Odd displacement - fake grass


Yeah, some people still use it. Fake grass using displacement, which looks artificial, unrealistic and odd. You have tons of realistic 3D asset resources online—learn how to use them.

06. Transparent assets


Have you ever seen transparent people, trees or a ghosted neighbouring house? My guess is no. This is a common sin among many architecture studios, using 50% transparency for trees in front of their building, so they don’t conceal their creations. And you, as an artist, are supposed to assist in that. Next time send them an image with the tree and one without it. Let them blend it if they want to. 

05. Low quality assets


A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Cliche, but true. Low quality assets lower the quality of the overall image: low-poly people, low-res textures, out-of-place vehicles, trees, or even white blocks for neighbouring buildings. These all detract from the image and leave it uninteresting, forgettable.

04. Odd Cutouts


It takes just 5 extra minutes, but it’s worth it. Avoid white halo and ghosting effects. Remove border pixels and blur the edges, so the cutout fits better.

03. Light


Sun direction from the back

This is a very common request for commercial projects: positioning the sun behind your back, avoiding any shadow.


Vignetting / Edge blur

Don’t misuse and go too heavy on the photographic effects. If your image isn’t realistic to begin with, effects won’t save it.


Various light sources

Use natural light, put it in a logical place and at a normal intensity. This is not something that you can compensate for in post-production.


Missing shadows

This is pretty obvious. Assets without proper shadows will just bring the overall quality down.

02. Color palette on LSD


Always think of the color palette in advance. Combine, observe, analyze. Get inspired. Be very careful with your colour palette, as it’s the very first element the naked eye can observe. After that come detail, composition, textures, lights, but colour palette is definitely first.

01. Lens Flare


Some people just want to watch the world burn…

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Want to see our best-of -the-best from recent times? Check out our portfolio HERE.

***

Don't repeat these mistakes and learn from the countless faux pas being repeated in archviz history over and over again. You can thank us later ;)

Have something to add? Join the conversation below!

Comments
    erwin
    3 and in terms of leaves/foliage 6, guilty, but in my defence I do the renders in house as I work for architecture firm and it's just one of my many tasks! All the others: seen too many times. Especially the lens flare seems popular. When my girlfriend still lived in Praha I'd see so many of these lensflared renders of new appartment blocks in the metro >.<
    erwin
    That floating cat though... It's growing on me!
    LasseRode
    i showed the list among my collegues and we have to agree with all of the listed points. but just a few to add:
    LasseRode
    - not using references for materials: materials look weird/unnatural. this happens a lot on wodden floors e.g. - random image narrative: it is not clear what the image is going to tell or show - depth: as bad and common as the wide-angle problem. images lack of foreground and background layering appear flat
    LasseRode
    -random composition (if done unintentionally): it helps to refer to classic composition techniques like rule-of thirds, golden ratio etc
    erwin
    I came back to enjoy the floating cat. Also, something I notice quickly in renders: poor proportions/wrong size of sitework details like kerbs, railings. Or cars on roads without drivers. I just imagine the billboard people about to flee in terror as the driverless car comes running down the road!
    valiki
    could be google driverless cars stuck in a traffic jam, one behind the other! :D hahah
    Matus
    CGI artists... predicting the future since 1995 O:)
    Ilius
    Hey, wanted to show this to some friends but the picutre dont seem to be linked correctly anymore. Any chance this could be updated?
    Matus
    Hello Ilius, this issue has been resolved! Feel free to share the article with your friends ;)
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