Architectural Rendering Tutorial – Part 1

Architectural Rendering Tutorial with Cinema4D – Part 1

This tutorial assumes that you know at least the basics of Cinema4D. If I get enough requests to show specific tools or techniques I make a tutorial for it.

This will be the first architectural rendering tutorial in a series which will show my process in creating a final, photo realistic visualization. I will be using Cinema4D, Vray and Photoshop to complete the rendering. Like with most 3D modeling projects this is just one method to achieve the desired result. There are many ways to accomplish this task. Many of the techniques I use can be translated to other 3D modeling software. It is just a matter of knowing how the tools work in your chosen software.

For this tutorial I will be using plans found on archdaily. I chose the Hideg House because it is a beautiful and simple house with easy plans to work with for the purpose of this architectural rendering tutorial. I am using the plans and photos for reference and it is not my intention to match the actual house exactly.

When working on a project for a client, I prefer to have them send me PDF plans instead of .dwgs. This is something I learned over time. Coming from an architecture background I had a hard time letting go of trying to make my models extremely precise. I know it seems like a simple idea but not having to be exact makes the modeling process much faster. A rendering is not a construction document.

Again, I will be using Cinema4D for this architectural rendering tutorial and there are three free plugins that I use. These are magic solo, drop to floor and HB Modeling Tools. The first two I use very frequently and the last has a few tools that are useful depending on what I am doing. I also use inches for my units.

Let’s get started! In the short video below I will demonstrate two methods of getting the reference images into the work space. One is using the menus in Cinema4D to navigate to where the images are and import them. The next method is simply to drag the image into the viewport. Once the images are in the viewports, they need to be scaled. The method I use to accomplish this will be in the video as well. I also like to set the image transparency to 50% to make the modeling elements easier to see in the viewport.

As I demonstrate in the next video, I use a plane tool with the segments set to 1 to trace over the reference image. The reason I use the plane tool instead of the cube tool is so the axis is at the zero plane. Even if you use a cube, changing the axis is easy. As I stated earlier, there are many ways to accomplish the same task and this is the way I got used to. The plane needs to be made editable so I can use the segments and points. I line up the plane on one of the walls and estimate the width of the wall to a precise dimension. For this project, I use 16”. I make note of this so I can make each exterior wall the same.

You will see in the video how I use the extrude tool to  trace around all the walls using separate extrudes for all openings. The reason for this will be seen in a later tutorial. When making the opening extrudes, I use a precise dimension so I can have all the openings the same size (as long as the plan calls for that).  Having constant window and door openings makes it faster later when I am modeling the windows and doors.

I use the same techniques to model all the exterior and interior walls. I speed up sections of the video because it is just showing the same techniques over and over. When I work around the house and the beginning and end segments need to connect I use the bridge tool. If the walls don’t align I switch to point mode and use the Cinema4D dynamic guides to align the segments.

When all the walls are complete I switch to the front view and import the elevation reference drawing (as demonstrated in the first video). I also demonstrate a different technique of getting the reference to scale by moving and adjusting the size until it looks right in the viewport. I extrude the walls by an arbitrary height (making sure “create caps” is turned on in the extrude tool) to make the model easier to see while scaling the reference. If the wall hight dimension is known, this can just be used to extrude the walls.

At this point I switch to the point tool and drag a window around the top points and drag them up until they align with the top of the walls in the reference.

At this point I have all the walls complete with segments already in place for the window and door openings. I used this technique to create several renderings which can be seen on my portfolio site.

This is what we end up with at the end of this tutorial

In the next part of this architectural rendering tutorial series I will show how to add the floor and roof, as well as create the openings for the windows and doors. Please check back, or sign up to receive an email when I update this page.  Also, please feel free to ask questions if you need additional assistance, or comment if you know a tip to speed up the process I demonstrated.

7 thoughts on “Architectural Rendering Tutorial – Part 1

  1. I am glad you are finding it useful so far. The next part will be up this weekend. I used to import my models from Archicad but I found I spent so much time cleaning them up I just started modeling everything in C4D. I have never used Vectorworks.

  2. I´m new at C4D, I was a 3DS modeler, but now I want switch to C4D (mainly because I have Mac´s). Can you give me some tips to quickly learn how to make architectural images with C4D? Many thanks!

    • That is what this blog is about. I haven’t had a chance to update lately because work has been too busy but I var more tutorials and articles with resources to come.