Winter Scene #1: Starting With Sketches And Rhino


This is the tutorial where you will learn how to compose an entire project presentation board (poster). Please note that this is complete workflow, and you can -and should-use it as it is, step by step, for your own projects. This is a multi-part tutorial, please check the links to other parts below.

IF-Poster_FOR_WEBThis is what I’ll make in this tutorial:

Do this tutorial step by step but with your poster sketch and your model, and you can finish your entire final task for Digital Image in just over an hour (total length of all videos in this tutorial is less than 30 minutes!).

Don’t be afraid of so many steps, almost all of the steps take less than one minute to complete (and some steps as short as 20 seconds)!

Before we start:
This tutorial is very similar to this one:
Tutorial: Barcelona Pavillion Presentation Board

The difference is that in this tutorial we:

while in the other tutorial we do one additional thing:

Sketch to Plan Ahead!

As always, start by sketching your entire presentation board (poster). This is very important so you could plan ahead your work and make the best use of your time.
When you do your sketches, take into account how much space your drawings may occupy on paper (depending on the scale you decide to print them at).


I decided to use horizontal format, and put 4 elements on this poster:

  1. Exterior rendering that has a full width of 60cm, and is positioned to occupy top 2/3 of the poster. (see the rule of 1/3s again). Bottom part of the poster will be black with white drawings.
  2. Section
  3. Floor plan
  4. A photo of a model (physical model)

Preparing The Background

I decide to use this background for my rendering, the one which comes with the Idea and Form project description:


But let’s see if it’s big enough to be printed at such a big format (60cm wide).

To be able to print this in 150dpi, here’s how much width in pixels we need:

60cm / 2.54 =23.6 inches, x 150dpi = 3540px.

However if we check our photo in Photoshop’s Image Menu > Image Size, we see that the size of the photo is only 2362 x 996px, which is much smaller than 3540px that we need.

So the question is: can we enlarge this photo to the print size that we need without losing too much quality? The general answer is NO, but since this is such a good quality sharp photo, and we’ll use it for the background, we maybe give it a try.

So I tried to resize the image to 3500px wide:

… and when we zoom in, we see that we lost some detail (it’s looking a bit blurred) but looks like we may be able to take chances and use this image after all.

Note: Enlarging images in Photoshop is in general bad practice that results in low-quality results, so take care and don’t use it too much.

Pro tip: When you enlarged the image, save it under different file name, to keep the original file.

Ok, now that we’ve checked the background quality, we can go to Rhino to make a rendering.

Rhino: Setting Up The Rendering

Setting The View Proportions

As I’ve already pointed out in this other tutorial, you should always start by modifying your view so that its proportions are the same as the proportions of the final image. That’s the only way to accurately position your view and be sure that it’s going to be the very same view (with same proportions) that you end up rendering.

:)So what can our viewport size be?
If we take a look at background image size in Photoshop (Image > Image Size), you’ll see that its size is 3543 x 1496px. Let’s round that to 3500 x 1500px as it’s easier to remember

I took a look at current size of the perspective view, and seen that its width is around 600px already.
So I made a simple equation:
3500px : 1500px = 600px : x
where it turns out that x = 600 * 1500/3500 = 257px.
So I just rounded up the viewport size to 600x257px, since we don’t need super-accuracy for this image.

Adding Viewport Background

Now we want to add our background to the viewport so we can set up camera that matches the view.
Note: This will not add background to final rendering, but only for the viewport! For rendering we want the transparent background anyway so we can tweak it in Photoshop.

Here’s how to do it, all view properties are in Display Panel:

Fine Tune The View

Now I will rotate and zoom our view around until I get a natural match with the background.
Note that before that, I changed to Two Point Perspective, which I always recommend (it avoids perspective distortion to verticals). Also you may want modify the Lens Length of your camera, which is not the same as zooming in (in Rhino, zooming in actually means moving your camera forward and backward, not changing the lens width).

Save The View To Named Views

In Rhino it is very easy to mess up the view, so once you are happy with the position of your camera, save it to Named Views. See how I gave this view a name “Snow View”
Now if you move the camera by accident (like it happened to me in the video), you can quickly revert to the “good” view by selecting its name (“Snow View”) from the list. See the end of the video to see how it’s done.

Set Up The Lighting: Sky

We will only set up Sky for this image, because there is no sunlight visible in the background image. That’s why if we added sun to our rendering, it would look strange – it wouldn’t match nicely with the background image.
Setting sky is basically as easy as one click!

Note: If you want to set up Sun, check this tutorial.

Render Quick Preview

Now our model and light seems to be ok, but we can’t see much detail in Rhino viewport. To test how our model will render, we can use Preview. Preview makes a quick low-resolution “pixelated” render of our scene, which is not good for final purpose (for the poster), but it’s good to see if our lighting and materials are correct.

Important: Note that before I click “Preview’ icon, first I go to Render Settings and set the resolution (image size, really) to be the same size as the viewport.

Note: You will not see background image in preview, which is perfectly ok.

Rendering The Final Image

Our render preview looks quite ok, so if we don’t want to make any more changes, we can render the final image. In this case, I don’t want any materials, just white model is fine and then we’ll add some textures in Photoshop.

Before you click Render button (first button on the left in Render Tools toolbar):

Note: You will not see the background image in rendering, which is ok because we really want to add background in Photoshop anyway.

Save Rendered Image To File (as PNG!)

After Rhino finishes the image, we need to save that image in order to open it in Photoshop.

Important: In order to save transparent images, do not use JPG – use PNG file format instead! Also make sure that Save Alpha Channel is ON!

Next Parts

This is the first tutorial of Winter Scene series, see the following parts.

Winter Scene #2: Post-Production In Photoshop
Post-production is an essential process to bring life to the rendered images of your project.
Winter Scene #3: From AutoCAD To Illustrator
Illustrator lets you combine your drawings with images and other visual material in a much more visual way than AutoCAD. There are several ways to import your drawings from AutoCAD to Illustrator, each with its own advantages.
Winter Scene #4: Putting Things Together In Illustrator
This tutorial will show you how to compose your poster by bringing together different visual material such as drawings, rendering, photos and text.
Winter Scene # 5: Save Your Work For Print And Web
This short tutorial and final tutorial of the Presentation series will review two ways to save your file - one suitable for print, and another for web publishing. Please pay attention to these methods here because failing to save and share your work in proper file format may render everything you've done completely useless.


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