Enscape https://enscape3d.com Instant realtime Rendering plugin for Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, and ArchiCAD Wed, 20 Feb 2019 14:09:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Save Time and Money with Renderings Done Right https://enscape3d.com/save-time-and-money-with-renderings-done-right/ https://enscape3d.com/save-time-and-money-with-renderings-done-right/#respond Mon, 11 Feb 2019 13:11:13 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=41834 In the recent past, we had to export our projects to a secondary software, which often required a separate effort to apply materials and entourage. Times have changed and designers no longer need to wait for hours, or even days, to develop a single still image or animation.

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Save Time and Money with Renderings Done Right

I’ve been in the architecture business for close to thirty years and therefore understand many of the pains related to efficiency and accuracy in our industry. Developing presentation graphics has always lived on the edge of overkill in terms of cost and effort. But this has been tolerated, as the opportunity to impress the client and outshine the competition has its rewards. Now we can be competitive, more efficient and even more accurate using Enscape, which results in a tangible business advantage.

Let’s explore ways to cut time and save money.


In the recent past, we had to export our projects to a secondary software, which often required a separate effort to apply materials and entourage. And in some cases, when the design changed, all those steps had to be repeated. And then there was the mindboggling array of settings like ‘caustics’ and ‘photons’, and telling the software whether you are inside or outside of the building. Another problematic scenario involved sending the visualization work out to a freelancer, which introduced time delays in the feedback loop.

Times have changed and designers no longer need to wait for hours, or even days, to develop a single still image or animation. Rendering at the speed of now: with contemporary GPU technology it is possible to render in real-time, while designing at the same time.


The architectural studio culture has been notoriously characterized by long and late working hours to produce the best design solution in the allotted time. For instance, I worked on a music hall in conjunction with a world-famous architect who had a chef on staff as a perk for the long hours required of the design teams. Thus, any tool which has the potential of saving time in the process of designing a building is highly sought after.

The ability to iterate and validate design ideas has never been faster or more efficient than with Enscape. But don’t take it from the company selling the software, or me—an outspoken proponent of Enscape. Rather, hear what other customers are saying about the value they are experiencing with Enscape:

“Enscape has been completely revolutionary to our process” David Birtwistle, Associate Director, Bates Smart

In their ‘Conversation Series’ videos, David Birtwistle, Associate Director at Bates Smart, says his firm went from spending 30 – 40% thinking about renderings to just 5% with Enscape. James Stevenson, Computational Design Graduate, adds that he is “blown away” by the Enscape settings and how quickly he can change them and see iterative results in real-time. I can confirm that myself. The live-link between the BIM/CAD and Enscape has boosted my efficiency incredibly.

Payette , a Boston-based design firm, sums up that Real-Time Rendering has quickly become an invaluable asset to their design team. Hyeyun Jung, Designer at Payette, who also received her Master of Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, stated The design team used Enscape to evaluate the design of a multistory curtain wall system and its integration with adjacent benches and geometrically expressive ceilings. “There were several design iterations in terms of geometry, patterns and coloring, and it was really efficient to share screenshots through emails and get feedback from everyone in the team,” states Jung. This is another sentiment I can attest to, and a great example of developing more accurate models and documentation through the ease and fluidity of Enscape.

Final Project (left) Proposed Design (right) Image by Payette


It’s no secret that there’s plenty of rendering softwares out there. However, built-in rendering takes too long to process or is poor in quality or is not even possible. Specialist software comes with amazing large-scale sets of functions but is so complicated that you need training or experts to use its potential to the fullest.

Of course, it’s fun to create animations, with moving cars and people, but it takes significant effort and time. Plus, the entourage is always the same people, which you can easily spot in your competitor’s work; does the obviously unnatural movement of people and cars add real value for the client? In most cases, I don’t think it does. Therefore, I prefer software that is specially designed to make it as easy as possible for architects to use in daily life. And not just rendering software, by the way: massing, energy modeling, and lighting design are just some other examples.

In the specialist workflow, there is often a large amount of time spent in post-production after the rendering or video is created, using Adobe Photoshop and/or Premiere Pro. These tools also required specialized skills and take time just to learn the many settings and techniques. With Enscape and quality assets placed in the design model the post production can be skipped completely in most cases. And when any video stitching and transitions slides are required, check out the easy to learn and use Camtasia by TechSmith.


We increase our efficiency by getting proficient with software: knowing the clicks, picks and ideal settings. It absolutely helps to have a plan for when to use which phase of a project and, keeping to this standard, knowing there are always exceptions to the rule. Like any other office standard, this allows different staff to quickly jump on a project to meet a deadline or fill in while I am at the ‘escape room’ game with my family!

I’ve been researching the AEC software workflow that I am using and observing in the industry. There are many “cornerstone” applications that are widely used in the industry, because they also offer a significant business value. What’s more: staff are more confident investing their personal and professional time learning these tools are they know these skills are valuable within the industry. Learn more about the broader topic in this article I wrote

For most project phases I go with the standard combination of Revit and Enscape. For specific evaluations, I add specialized software. Question to the readers: What is your standard software workflow? Share your answer via Twitter and include @Enscape3d, @DanStine_MN and #SoftwareWorkflow.


In a recent interview titled Black mirrors: part two , Justin Wright of Assembly Architects Limited  in Queenstown, New Zealand talks about the value he sees delivering virtual reality (VR) experiences from Revit models for internal design and client presentations. In terms of using VR to convey the adequacy of a space for size and quality, Justin says he is “astounded by how much better it is for communicating with the client.” Not only that, but where his firm thought it might cost the client more to engage VR on a project, by using Enscape and Revit they have “had three or four experiences where it has proven to be the opposite.” What he is getting at is that beyond the value of a more efficient internal design process, they are also avoiding extra work and project bloating due to the improved way in which they are able to communicate the design intent to the client—saving everyone time and money.

In closing, Justin reminisces on a time when a client could finally understand and appreciate the designed space whilst on-site, even after looking at traditional presentation graphics and 2D construction drawings for months. He contrasts this with their current workflow, somewhat nostalgically, and says that “now they really understand it a long time before it is built.” As with most things in life, communication is key and here Justin reveals yet another way many design firms are benefiting from using Enscape across their practice.


It is easy to draw one’s own conclusion regarding the value Real-Time Rendering offers today’s forward-thinking design firms. The ability to visualize iterative designs photorealistically in real-time, communicate design intent more efficiently, as well as offering internal and external VR experiences: this all saves production time and possibly even project time/costs. Don’t waste your time on processing with traditional rendering and too much software for specialists.

I have seen significant time and costs saved by focusing on efficiency. I have gained much more time for design and the family. I wouldn’t want to miss a minute of it! In fact, I am seriously leaving with the family now for The Escape Game at the Mall of America!

To the readers: Calculate yourself how much time and cost you can save with these tips. Reach out via twitter to share your thoughts and numbers!

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB - a 250 person full-service design firm.

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Convey Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Design with Enscape https://enscape3d.com/convey-mechanical-electrical-and-plumbing-mep-design-with-enscape/ https://enscape3d.com/convey-mechanical-electrical-and-plumbing-mep-design-with-enscape/#respond Thu, 17 Jan 2019 15:30:15 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=40753 An important part of any building is the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems. It can often be difficult to fully convey to clients the complexity and the design intent of these systems, because they are buried in walls, above ceilings and hidden away in the basement.

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Convey Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Design with Enscape

An important part of any building is the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems. It can often be difficult to fully convey to clients the complexity and the design intent of these systems, because they are buried in walls, above ceilings and hidden away in the basement. This article will highlight some ways these systems can be better communicated in Revit and with Enscape.

For this article I am using the new Revit 2019 German sample project referred to as the Golden Nugget. This file has a sufficiently detailed MEP model which will allow the reader to try the features and workflows presented in the same, safe, Revit project. To access this file, from within Revit, simply go to File (tab) à Open (flyout) à Sample Files and then select: BIM_Projekt_Golden_Nugget-Gebaeudetechnik.rvt. The file is located here: C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Revit 2019\Samples.

Of course, in this sample file the user-entered text is all in German, which I personally cannot speak, but that is no problem for what we will be using it for; if you have any questions just copy/paste any text into Google translate.


To facilitate the review of different aspects of the MEP model in Escape, it is helpful to create specific views in Revit: for example, an ‘MEP Only’ view with architecture and structural turned off. Alternatively, try creating a ‘MEP plus Structure’ view to coordinate connections, not necessarily clashes. For more on setting up views, and the Revit project in general, check out this previous post I wrote: Best Practices for Revit Project Setup .

Special 3D View Only Showing MEP Elements

Because this sample project has a detailed MEP-related Revit Design Option in the mechanical room for different air conditioning strategies, we should also create special 3D coordination views for each design option. For more information on using design options in Revit with Enscape see this article I wrote: Best Practices for Revit’s Design Options .

In the following two images the two designs can be clearly seen. In the secondary option, the air handling unit is much taller, so the bottom is lower than the floor. This option would require the architectural model to use design options as well, but they are not present in this sample project.

Special 3D View Showing Mech Room Option A

Special 3D View Showing Mech Room Option B

Employing special views can save a lot of time and make client-facing presentations much smoother!


The way materials are assigned to many of Revit’s MEP elements is unique. Let’s explore this now…

This is what the lower level technology room model looks like, without changing anything: some materials from the linked architectural model and a material for the pipe insulation. But everything else, as we will see in a moment, does not have any material defined. Thankfully, Enscape applies a nice white material when one is not specified – not the drably gray Revit uses.

Initial Conditions in Technology Room

For MEP system families, such as pipes, ducts, cable tray, etc., the material is defined by Category or MEP System Type as shown in the following image.

MEP Element’s Material Controlled by Category or Logical System Type

Revit’s Advanced Materials are Superior in Visual Quality

In the previous image the pipe system type material is set to By Category. And, in the Object Styles dialog for this project we can see there are no materials defined for the pipe categories. Thus, no material is defined at all for pipes. Let’s set a material for the three primary pipe categories. Be sure to use the new Revit 2019 advanced materials as they will look much better in Enscape. Notice the visual quality of copper, compared to the legacy material (i.e. the one with the triangle in the lower left corner).

With just one change, the view already looks significantly better! Some things are now copper that should not be, but we will get to that. The second image shows what happens if we try to set one of the pipe system types to a galvanized metal pipe material; everything associated with that system gets that material, including loadable families and the pipe insulation. There is no way to change this, which is less than ideal, to be sure!

Result from Just Changing Material for Pipe Categories

Problem with Changing Pipe System Type (MEP Logical System)

As mentioned, loadable families can have unique materials defined, which is common in Revit. But, again, if a material is ever assigned to a pipe system type, these materials will be overridden.

Loadable Families Can Have Unique Materials Defined in Family Editor

In the next image, more material definition has been added. Notice that the tank, water heater and boiler all have specific materials assigned. The Sewage pipe system type is nearly all the same PVC material, so it was given a specific material; notice the pipes in the far left of the image.

The third, and final way we can control materials here is to use the Paint tool. In the middle of the image, near the door, I painted a red color on the vertical pipe; I had to pick twice for a single pipe, as the paint tool see two sides to the cylindrical element. The Paint tool should be used sparingly, as it would be a lot of work to maintain throughout a complex project like this – and it is not very BIM-like.

Additional Material Adjustments; Included Painted Red Pipe

A nice option in a smaller room like this, especially for static rendered images, is the Two Point Architectural setting in Enscape. This will make all the vertical pipes appear vertical all the time. The wide-angle lens effect in small spaces can make some vertical elements appear to be sloped/slanted and be distracting for the client. The previous and next images can be compared to see the difference.

Architectural Two-Point Perspective

Keep in mind that the materiality of elements in any linked models cannot be modified within your model. You must change the material in the link. If the link is not to your model, you would have to request the material be changed by the model author.

These techniques will help the MEP designers and engineers to create compelling real-time presentations in Enscape. The dedicated architectural visualization specialist will also benefit as they may not be familiar with these idiosyncrasies for Revit MEP elements.


Now for the fun part:  with the views created and materials applied it is now possible to deliver stunning real-time walkthroughs with clients and stakeholders. Not only that, but this can be done daily, or continually by each designer, to easily look for design and coordination issues.

For example, in the image below we see the pipe routing is nearly perfect. But there is one conflict with the duct. Of course, clash detection workflows can find this, but in my experience not everyone does that.

Model Exploration – Pipe Conflicts with Ductwork

Here is a nice view showing all the systems and structure. There may be a coordination issue with the tub and pipes for the towel warming rack on the left. Even a project manager who is not familiar with Revit could easily use Enscape to explore a model and take screenshots (my favorite tool is Techsmith’s SnagIt ) and delegate required changes.

Model Exploration – Towel Warming Pipes Conflict with Tub

No problems here, it just looks well organized, and the client will love the feeling that their project will soon be a reality.

Model Exploration – Pipes Positioned Correctly Around Structure and Sewage

Here is another view showing a well-coordinated area. Remember, all materials for elements in a link come from the link. You may need the architect to send you their custom textures (jpg, png files) and set a render appearance search path pointing to them in Revit’s Options dialog. If the background, with a sky, is too distracting you might consider using Enscape’s White Background option.

Model Exploration – All Structural Materials Define in Linked Model

Enscape can produce well light interiors even when no lighting is included via its Auto Exposure technology. For more on this read my previous article: Best Practices for Lighting and Exposure . However, this can wash out the effects of certain lights like spot lights. Using Enscape’s Artificial Light Brightness setting, it is possible to bring that definition out when needed. The different can be seen in the following two images; notice the hot spots on the work surface. This adjustment also brings to our attention the light fixture misplaced a small distance above the floor, near the door on the right.

Model Exploration – Auto Exposure Can Wash Out Lighting Effects

Model Exploration – Adjust Enscape’s Artificial Light Brightness

I am a big fan of displacement ventilation , and the firm I work for uses this HVAC strategy on most projects. In this project, Enscape can help inform the client about the potentially precarious placement of the half-round diffusers, given that they are essentially freestanding. With this view, or in a real-time walkthrough, there can be no question about the design intent. But by just looking at 2D drawings, and then seeing it for the first time after installation, the client might not have realized how these would appear astatically.

Model Exploration – Discuss Displacement Ventilation Placement with Client?


Another option for informing the client and stakeholders is to provide 360-degree panorama views and a Google Cardboard viewer. First, we start by creating views as shown here. In the case of the two design options in the mechanical room, we can create to views for comparison.

Create a 3D Camera View – Default Design Option (Primary)

Here is a static rendered view of this saved camera view. This is a 4k image that took about 15 seconds to process and save to file. Notice another misplaced light fixture near the floor!

Rendering from 3D Camera View – Default Design Option (Primary)

Here is a link to the Enscape generated, and hosted panorama view: http://panorama.enscape3d.com/view/ys7rppmx . This link can be viewed on a computer or mobile device. On a cellphone, when the Google Cardboard icon is selected, the single view separates into two as shown in the image below. The device can then be placed in a Google Cardboard viewer which allows a person to look around, in all directions, while standing in a single location.

Enscape Rendered Panorama Viewed on Cellphone

The Google Cardboard viewers can be custom branded and purchased in bulk, which will allow you to freely give them to clients. Then, you can simply email clients links to new and updated views as needed.

Here is one more example from the technology room: a saved Revit camera view and then a static rendered image. Notice one more conflict with a light fixture and a pipe in the rendered view.

Create a 3D Camera View – Technology Room

Rendering from 3D Camera View – Technology Room

Here is a link to the panorama view in the technology room: http://panorama.enscape3d.com/view/lz5mnlnk . Creating and sharing panorama views is easy and clients love it. It allows them to be the presenter and share this with their staff, investors and other stakeholders.


Finally, consider using virtual reality to bring your project to life. This is helpful for internal design reviews as well as client, stakeholder and even public presentations. To learn more about this, read my previous article: Best Practices using Virtual Reality for Project Presentations with Enscape .


of your proposed MEP design. And it will help you produce a more accurate design model, as many of the images presented had some coordination issues. Even though the sample model is excellent overall, it still has many issues easily found during a walkthrough of the building using Enscape. Many of these conflicts are not clashes, but misplaced model elements, access issues or code-related compliance issues.

MEP designers and engineers using Enscape are breaking new ground in their discipline and gaining an edge over their competition. If that is not yet your firm, download the free trial and check it out today!

Please get in touch via twitter @enscape3d and @DanStine_MN.

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB - a 250 person full-service design firm.

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Technology Trends That Will Shape the AEC Industry in 2019 https://enscape3d.com/technology-trends-that-will-shape-the-aec-industry-in-2019/ https://enscape3d.com/technology-trends-that-will-shape-the-aec-industry-in-2019/#respond Thu, 03 Jan 2019 11:00:15 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=40499 As the year comes to a close, let’s look ahead and speculate which technology trends will shape the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry in 2019.

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Technology Trends That Will Shape the AEC Industry in 2019

As the year comes to a close, let’s look ahead and speculate which technology trends will shape the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry in 2019. What we will see are some existing products which have been generating momentum coming to fruition, as well as exciting new developments sure to make designing and constructing buildings more efficient, safe and fun! So, sit back and let’s look into the near future together.


So many things are emerging at the moment around generative design that should have a significant influence on the AEC industry in 2019. With commercial tools such as TestFit already on the scene and BILT 2019 adding a stream of sessions dedicated to Computational and Generative Design , things are going to get interesting real quick for the typical design firm!

For a succinct definition of generative design read Anthony Hauck’s LinkedIn article What is Generative Design? Anthony, who is also leading the new stream of GD sessions at BILT, is the president of Hypar , a web-based computation design platform. Here are how they describe this offering:

“The Hypar platform helps capture, explore, extend, and apply AEC expertise to accelerate the delivery of a better built environment.”

Here is an example of the UI and results within Hypar.

Office space layout optimization via the Hypar platform Image courtesy of Hypar, Inc. https://www.hypar.io/

Autodesk just released the next evolution of their generative design offering, called Project Refinery . Interestingly, this is a group Hauck used to oversee at Autodesk. These tools and workflows still require a relatively high level of expertise to implement, but the opportunity for the generalist architect/engineer/designer has the potential to explode in 2019.


For the AEC industry, 2019 will be the year of “no excuses” for those who are interested in VR, as costs continue to decline, and wires get cut. Using the reasonably priced Enscape software, a Vive/Oculus/Microsoft MR device and a computer capable of running Revit, the virtual AEC world can be yours.

Earlier this year we saw the next gen Vive Pro ($799USD) and Vive Wireless Adapter ($299USD) hit the streets. In addition to the original Oculus ($400USD) and the Oculus Go ($179USD), we are promised the “No PC, No wires, No limits”
Oculus Quest in 2019. Given the lower hardware costs and streamlined setup, we will even start to see VR headsets loaned or gifted to clients, particularly on larger projects. Watch for wireless VR to become a standard in AEC as the client experience is significantly better.

Seeing the value in Virtual Reality, the computer giant Dell created a marketing video highlighting an AEC firm’s use of VR in the AEC space; full disclosure, the video features myself and LHB, the firm I work for!

For more on using Enscape to deliver high quality virtual reality experiences check out these articles about project presentations, VR with Rhino and how VR can help architects make better design decisions.


The sibling of VR is also poised to see expanded growth in 2019 as more AR devices are available along with the rumored release of the next generation Microsoft Hololens . As someone who has used the original Hololens on real projects with real clients, I can attest to the potential value this technology can have for AEC in 2019. Clients love the experience, which involves them walking around an existing space, untethered, looking at holograms of proposed content properly positioned and in the correct perspective.

LHB Construction Administrator Roger Purdy using the Microsoft Hololens with Trimble hardhat for Hololens Image courtesy LHB Corp. http://www.lhbcorp.com

For a case study project, I worked on, check this post (Microsoft HoloLens in Architecture; Case Study with Vertical Endeavors Rock Climbing ) on my blog, BIM Chapters.


With a growing interest in combining Building Information Modeling (BIM) with the Internet of things (IoT,) 2019 is ripe for implementation and new services offered by design firms. With voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, as well as access to sensors and automation tools such as Dynamo, we are sure to see some interesting developments in this area.

On this topic, you can read about the forward-thinking architecture and research firm KieranTimberlake ’s use of over 400 sensors in their own office in Philadelphia in this AIA COTE Top Ten Plus article: Ortlieb’s Bottling House . I see some real possibilities in marrying the knowledge gained from this research and their new web-based post occupancy evaluation (POE) tool called ROAST . Comparing measured data such as temperature, sound level, etc. with individual comfort reports would be highly valuable.

KieranTimberlake used over 400 sensors in their new office Image courtesy of KieranTimberlake

Back in 2016, Kean Walmsley from Autodesk Research, wrote this interesting presentation on the topic: Connecting Autodesk to the Internet of Things (PDF). Brian Haines, FM:Systems, also wrote this insightful article: Does BIM have a role in the Internet of Things? , and if you have a little more time and interest be sure to check out this ScienceDirect white paper: A framework for integrating BIM and IoT through open standards .


With costs continuing to drop for laser scanners and drones, 2019 will thrive in rich real-world data. More and more, we are hearing of smaller firms owning their own scanners and drones. The Leica BLK 360 has been very popular, as have been a number of drones. Even if owning is not in the cards for 2019, there are opportunities to rent the equipment or hire the service.

Combining scanned data in Revit/AutoCAD to accurately model new equipment, pipes/ducts or layout new spaces is huge in a time where we are keen on preserving existing building stock to be more sustainable. Not only that, but now these highly accurate models can take advantage of AR, just discussed above, to better inform clients of the validity and completeness of one’s design.

In addition to the hardware becoming more prevalent, keep an eye open for supporting software to become invaluable. For many, this is already the case, using tools such as ClearEdge to model from scan data, and to compare newly constructed elements with the design BIM to ensure accuracy and design intent.

Photogrammetry with proposed design overlay Image courtesy of Isthmus Engineering https://www.isthmusengineering.com


Due to its potential to reduce injury and loss of life from construction related activities, I want to name the forthcoming robotic exosuits as another trend for 2019. This, along with the already available wearable technology to monitor workers vitals and location with RFID and devices like Fitbit, the near future looks bright!

Exactly what is a robotic exosuit? Here is a quote from Jean Thilmany via Trimble’s blog Constructible:

“The exosuits are metal frameworks fitted with motorized muscles to multiply the wearer’s strength. Also called exoskeletons, the robotic suits’ metal framework somewhat mirrors the wearer’s internal skeletal structure.

The suit makes lifted objects feel much lighter, and sometimes even weightless, reducing injuries and improving compliance.” Source: Exoskeletons for Construction Workers Are Marching On-Site, 15 February 2018 .

Guardian XO robotic exosuit by Sarcos Image courtesy of Sarcos Corp. https://www.sarcos.com

Here is an exciting video that hints at the potential of this product being developed. To learn more about this actual product in development, check out this video:


The future of AEC looks promising in terms of technology and its ability to improve design, enhance presentations and protect construction workers in the field. And while Enscape does not have direct features or workflows for all of the topics covered, nor should they, we know they are certainly aware of them.

We all have an important role in leveraging this technology to the greatest extent possible to ensure a safer and more sustainable future!

Beside my six trends of 2019 – which additional trends to you have in mind? Please get in touch via twitter @enscape3d and @DanStine_MN.

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB - a 250 person full-service design firm.

The post Technology Trends That Will Shape the AEC Industry in 2019 appeared first on Enscape.

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How to give your architectural project a reality boost https://enscape3d.com/how-to-give-your-architectural-project-a-reality-boost/ https://enscape3d.com/how-to-give-your-architectural-project-a-reality-boost/#respond Thu, 20 Dec 2018 12:20:23 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=39650 This post will discuss ways to give your project a reality boost using Enscape. Many people are already taking advantage of these ideas, albeit separately perhaps.

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How to give your architectural project a reality boost

In a world where autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence (AI,) Internet of Things (IoT,) virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are becoming commonplace terms across the globe, the average client in the AEC space will surely begin to except more realistic presentations and experiences during the design process. This post will discuss ways to give your project a reality boost using Enscape. Many people are already taking advantage of these ideas, albeit separately perhaps. Consider combining several of these features to create a more lively and immersive experience not soon to be forgotten.

We will look at accurate daylighting, project surroundings, entourage, proxies, bump maps and even sound… all culminating in a memorable presentation experience.

Accuracy in Daylighting Your Scene

With the emphasis on high performance or sustainable design these days, the role daylight plays in the built environment cannot be overstated. We can certainly gain some insight during the early design process by using Enscape. Therefore, it behooves us to take the time and select our Location on earth and specify True North.

Accurate daylight for exterior

Accurate daylight for interior

Wrapped in Reality – Use a Skybox

There is nothing worse than seeing a simple, flat, horizon line in a rendering. This has been a typical occurrence in many computer-generated architectural renderings for years. It manifests itself in both interior and exterior renderings. This can even be seen on reflective surfaces, such as glass or marble. Thus, adding a background manually in Photoshop will fix one problem, but the reflections will still be broken, as it were.

Try using horizon presets, as shown below. Of course, your client will notice the background is not the property they may have just paid a lot of money for, but it will certainly feel livelier. Taking a 360° panorama from the construction site itself will give the customer a total boost in reality.

Scene with skybox selected

Uses photograph of adjacent existing buildings

However, you might want to consider using a custom skybox downloaded from OpenFootage.Net , and adding it using the Enscape function “Skybox as a background ”. OpenFootage has several low-resolution options like this one, which are free, as well as high-resolution downloads for a fee. Why is this better than adding a similar image later in Photoshop? Two reasons: First of all, as the design continues to evolve, the image will always be there. Secondly the same background will be visible from multiple rooms, and at different angles.

Use Advanced Textures!

Whether you are using Revit 2019’s new advanced materials, or the similar results one can achieve with Enscape’s material editor, it is always a good idea to develop and use high quality textures. The results can be super dramatic in the final rendering. The two examples shown below highlight the rich and lively effect high quality textures can have.

Example tiles textures

Example wood textures

If you have Autodesk Revit installed, you can access a wealth of textures installed on your computer’s local drive. There are many more options here than formal materials within the software. It is also helpful to know that there are three quality levels; low, medium and high. Be sure to use the high-quality textures located in this folder: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Autodesk Shared\Materials\Textures\3\Mats. Also in this folder you will find files to support the new advanced materials, such as ‘norm,’ ‘refl,’ ‘rough.’

Also check out websites that offer free high-quality textures such as https://www.sketchuptextureclub.com and https://megascans.se .

Mind the Bump!

When developing materials, remember to apply bump maps when appropriate. Doing so has such an incredible impact on the quality of the material and overall image. For example, look at the subtle shadow lines added at each brick in the image below. Or, how about the fabric that looks so comfortable on the sofa and ottoman, plus the impressive woodgrain with highlights in the flooring?

Bump map used for masonry (Revit)

Bump map used for wood and textiles (SketchUp)

I think designers often think their static renderings will not resemble certain materials closely enough, so they do not apply a bump map. But times are changing! With real-time rendering, we can end up all over the model while presenting on-screen or in VR. Plus, there is not really any loss in performance or time increase like there is with traditional rendering tools.

The importance of using bump maps cannot be over emphasized. It really is the difference between someone thinking “I understand that to be brick” in an okay rendering, to “wow, is this a photograph” in a properly developed model.

Architecture is for People – Add People

It should be no surprise that architecture looks better with people and clutter in it – that is what buildings are for, right? The two images below speak for themselves: acceptable versus reality boosted!

BumWith people and clutter (lively)

and, without (plain)

Using RPC content can transform an image from great to amazing. There are some libraries with free and paid content that help you to add people to your architectural project . With some effort you can achieve even more of a reality boost by using custom RPC content .

Reality does not mean being perfect

When thinking about reality, we understand nothing is perfect. So, it can be a benefit to your composition to rotate a chair, add a can of soda, place a magazine or a pack of 3M Post-It notes (by the way, did you know that 3M stands for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing?). But don’t just place them in their original orthogonal state; that is mainly for walls. Once you place your entourage or plantings, rotate them slightly in random increments. And, for plantings, also change the scale slightly for each instance.

A naturally folded napkin and a can of soda

Desk clutter randomly rotated

Proxies are your best help for large projects

To help with performance in your model, use proxies. These complex elements appear as simplified objects e.g. in SketchUp and then are replaced with much more complex geometry and materials in Enscape. In the two images below, the SketchUp model has another entire SketchUp model placed as a proxy. When Enscape is opened, the referenced SketchUp model is used. The bookcase with clutter, by itself, is a 16MB file with 106k edges, 43k faces and 52 materials. As you can imagine, the simple wireframe box will make your main SketchUp model perform a LOT better.

SketchUp model with proxy placed

Enscape with detailed model used for proxy

Find the perfect perspective

Finding the perfect perspective is somewhat of an art. Many architectural illustrators I have worked with over the years have a few simple rules which I have found very helpful in composing images digitally. First, compose the view from a human vantage point. Second, avoid aligning or overlapping geometry which creates the potential for confusion. Next, frame an exterior view with adjacent vegetation if possible, such as a tree branch in the foreground. Finally, avoid foreshortening a plane, like an adjacent wall, too much as this can misrepresent the proportions of a space – simple shift the vantage point to the left of or right to see a little more.

If nothing else, just taking a moment to step back and reflect on the composition of the view can reveal issues which can be easily addressed by nudging entourage or adjusting the camera position. And with all of this in mind, one of the things I love most about Enscape is its ability to make subtle adjustments in real-time, so you can quickly find that perfect perspective.

Poor Composition

Improved Composition

Fine-tune Your Perspective

With a well-developed model, it is now possible to add one more layer of refinement: depth of view and field of view. These two features create results that mimic a physical camera, which can leave many wondering if the image is real or CGI. The field of view defines how much of a scene is visible in the given view. A wider field of view helps to make up for a lack of peripheral vision in a flat image, but the wider you go the more distorted the image gets; think fish-eye distortion. The depth of view, in super simple terms, is what causes the background and/or foreground to be blurry. Seeing as it is not practical to represent all clutter or blemishes in a real-world setting, using depth of view to slightly blur targeted portions of your scene can really help with the overall sense of realism exuded by an image.

Field of View(move slider across picture)

Depth of Field(move slider across picture)

BONUS: Add Sound to Virtual Reality

Perhaps the most underutilized feature in virtual reality is the ability to add sound. This is yet another way in which we can bring a real-time visualization to life. Use one of the Sound Source commands, depending on how you want the “Speaker” to be hosted in Revit.

You will be prompted to select an MP3 file. Enscape brings you to a folder with a few samples; C:\Program Files\Enscape\ExampleSounds. Of course, there are unlimited options accessible via a web search. You can even make your own if needed. Like custom textures, be sure to place sound source files (MP3s) in a shared location so everyone on the project has access to them!

Once you click to place your sound source, you will have a symbol visible within Revit as shown here. In addition to the file location listed in Properties, notice there are also parameters to control the volume and distance (radius) the sound can be heard from within Enscape. Keep in mind, Revit elements such as walls and doors do not block or reduce sound, so set the values accordingly.

Sound source symbol in Revit

Sound source visible in Enscape


Do not be satisfied with average results. Take advantage of these nine steps to create more realistic renders. With these in hand, you will create excitement in even the most mild-mannered project stakeholder!

Use these techniques on your next project to impress everyone involved, including your competition! Consider it a compliment when someone asks “What software are you using?”

In the high-tech world we live in, architects and designers should not miss out on opportunities to develop better work, faster. Enscape presents such an opportunity, which is evident by the large number of people in our industry who are talking about this cutting-edge real-time visualization software. If you have not tried it yet, you owe it to yourself to download the trial and open a few of your models in Revit, SketchUp, Rhino or ArchiCAD to see them come to life right before your eyes.

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB - a 250 person full-service design firm.

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Meet Us in Person – Trade Fairs 2019 https://enscape3d.com/meet-us-in-person-trade-fairs-2019/ https://enscape3d.com/meet-us-in-person-trade-fairs-2019/#respond Mon, 10 Dec 2018 12:10:59 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=39450 When architects and designers gather to discuss innovative software for the AEC industry, Enscape is part of it. Every year we present at more than two dozen trade fairs and user groups around the world.

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Meet Us in Person – Trade Fairs 2019

BIM World Munich 2018

When architects and designers gather to discuss innovative software for the AEC industry, Enscape is part of it. Every year we present at more than two dozen trade fairs and user groups around the world.

We have compiled an overview of trade fairs that could be the most interesting for the AEC industry in the coming year. Enscape is going to present at most of them.

  • Are we missing a trade show you want to see us at?
  • Which user group meetings would you like us to attend?
  • Would you enjoy co-presenting with us at conferences?

January 2019



BAU 2019, München (DEU)

Rhino User Group, Helsinki (FIN)

February 2019


BIM Show Live, Newcastle (UK)

March 2019





MADE Italy, Milano (ITA)

GTC North America, Silicon Valley (USA)

Midwest University by ATG, Minnesota (USA)

BILT China, Shanghai (CHN)

Berlin Hackathon 2018

April 2019




BILT Thailand, Bangkok (THA)

BIM World Paris, Paris (FRA)

BILT Singapore, Singapore (SGP)

May 2019


BILT ANZ, Melbourne (AUS)

June 2019






AIA Las Vegas, Las Vegas (USA)

NeoCon, Chicago (USA)

NXT BLD, London (UK)

Autodesk University, London (UK)

MuM Vision, Wiesbaden (DEU)

AU Las Vegas 2018

July 2019



MuM Vision, Munich (DEU)

BILT NA, Seattle (USA)

September 2019



MuM Vision, Hamburg (DEU)

MuM Vision, Dortmund (DEU)

October 2019





BILT EU, Edinburgh (UK)

ACEC Fall, Chicago (USA)

Autodesk University, Darmstadt (DEU)

Digital Construction Week, London (UK)

AU Darmstadt 2018

November 2019




ABX Boston, Boston (USA)

Autodesk University, Las Vegas (USA)

BIM World Munich, Munich (DEU)

Get in touche with us!

  • Are we missing a trade show you want to see us at?
  • Which user group meetings would you like us to attend?
  • Would you enjoy co-presenting with us at conferences?

Throwback Trade Fair's 2018

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How to reality check your project https://enscape3d.com/how-to-reality-check-your-project/ https://enscape3d.com/how-to-reality-check-your-project/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 15:50:06 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=39332 Buildings are getting more complex as we continue to implement new materials, methods and technologies. Of course, this means our construction documentation and BIMs are getting more complex as well. To help keep things in order during the design process, many firms will use a clash detection tool such as Autodesk Navisworks or Bentley Navigator.

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How to reality check your project

Buildings are getting more complex as we continue to implement new materials, methods and technologies. Of course, this means our construction documentation and BIMs are getting more complex as well. To help keep things in order during the design process, many firms will use a clash detection tool such as Autodesk Navisworks or Bentley Navigator. However, those tools, as great as they are, do not find all problems with a proposed design.

This post will look at ways we can use Enscape to review a project before it goes out for bids (aka tender), or at any project milestone, to find problems. This saves time and money during construction for both the client and the design team.

This “real-time” review may be accomplished by a single person at their computer, or with a group in a conference room, even via a web-based meeting. Another option is to review the project in VR. Each of these options offer several opportunities to discover problems with the design, which can be easy to overlook from within the primary design software or via printed drawings and static renderings.


A while back I was showing a project manager his project in VR and at one point he said, “Why don’t the top of those doors align?” Doors that are placed in plan-view and on adjacent walls can sometimes get out of sync when it comes to height and materiality.

Using Enscape, we can visualize a project more naturally in real-time and discover potential design issues while moving around the virtual project. Notice in the next image that the door on the left is taller and has a different frame than the door on the right. Plus, the overhead (OH) garage door in the center appears to be too low. While reviewing the issue, it is also evident that the duct in the upper left could easily be moved closer to the wall to allow the OH door to be taller.

Three adjacent doors with different heights and finishes

Three adjacent doors modified for height and finishes


There are many failed restroom designs, in terms of sightlines; don’t let your project be one of them. This first image is from my Interior Design Using Autodesk Revit 2019.Here we see how the space can be designed to passively avoid uncomfortable sightlines, even at the expense of a plumbing fixture (i.e. fewer total fixtures).

Restroom sightline analysis

Restroom sightline analysis

Navigating a project in Enscape we may find a similar situation. In this next image we see the project’s typical all-glass door had been copied around in Revit. In this case, we are just looking into the handwashing station and the toilets are separate compartments with full walls and doors (a common European design). Thus, this may just be a quick discussion with the design team or client to see if anyone is concerned about this. Given this space is adjacent to a lobby, it may be decided to use frosted glass as shown in the second image.

Visual analysis of sightlines into restroom; clear and frosted glass, respectively.

Visual analysis of sightlines into restroom; clear and frosted glass, respectively.

A worse case would be the glass door opens into a unisex restroom for one person, where the toilet is fully visible. I have seen some great examples on Twitter of people using Enscape to discover this very issue. In this case, frosted glass may not be the answer (unless nearly opaque). Thus, a solid door panel may be more appropriate as shown here.

Frosted glass poses unforeseen issues

Solid door panel as a solution


There are many design issues that cannot be discovered with clash detection software because items in question do not touch anything, or, as in this first example below, they simply do not exist. Notice here that the ceiling is missing. Unfortunately, it can be all too easy to delete an element unintentionally. Navigating the model with Enscape can quickly reveal these omissions.

It could also be that the structure, ducts and pipes are meant to be exposed. In this case, the light fixture type and supports should be reviewed. It would not hurt to make sure the drawings and specifications call for all of this to be painted (if that is desired).

Missing ceiling discovered

Ceiling element restored in the BIM

The corridor looks better with the ceiling restored. Ceilings like this are designed to be highly reflective so light bounces around more, and this ACT system improves the acoustic performance of a space.

Here is an example of power and data outlets on the wall not aligned with the copier. Perhaps the architects moved the copier as the design evolved or they were placed before the copier family existed in the model. In any case, if this is not resolved there will end up being a design compromise; the copier has to move, or the cords/cables will be visible.

Power and data outlets for copier in the wrong location

In this next example, it jumps out to me, as it does in real life, that the tops of the hollow metal door frames do not align. I know why; the door into the stairwell is in a fire rated concrete block wall and the other two doors are in a metal stud framed walls. In the USA, most commercial doors are 7’-0” tall. A masonry opening is 7’-4” so the door frame head is usually 4” to make up the different. But, doors in metal stud walls typically only have a 2” head, which matches the jambs.

Door heads do not align

Door heads adjusted to align

However, with todays improved production methods, it is easy to order 7’-2” tall doors, which used to be cost prohibitive, and make all the frame heads 2”. The problem is solved, as shown in the second image.

Like the copier example above, we want to visually verify that adequate power/data devices are provided where needed. In this case, we can temporarily delete the refrigerator and vending machine in Revit to get a look at the wall behind in Enscape.

Visually verify FFE size and layout

Hide or delete FEE to visually verify power/data outlets

With those items out of the way, we can see the required outlets. I personally do this often when reviewing a project. If the electrical team is modeling things properly, the devices should appear where you would expect them once the project is built. This includes at reception desks, above countertops and in microwave cabinets.


Another way to visually review the model is to use Enscape’s Light View mode, which renders a pseudocolor image of the illumination intensity, to look for potential glare or hot-spot issues. Notice how this feature was used to visualize the benefit of employing exterior sun shades in the below design.

No sun shade on the left results in hotspot (red area); right is with sun shade

No sun shade on the left results in hotspot (red area); right is with sun shade

Graphically compare the same cutaway view with and without light view enabled

Graphically compare the same cutaway view with and without light view enabled

Besides informing design, presenting accurate information to a client or public should be a standard-of-care all design professionals strive for (even if not called for in an LOD document). Not doing so can be misleading if not qualified and even lead to litigation. Read about best practices for Revit project setup here .


Another way to visually review the model is by hiding all the architectural elements to expose the MEP and structural portion of the design. While the next image shows things that can easily be discovered using clash detection, looking at the problem areas in Enscape can aid in developing a solution to the conflict. Being able to quickly see the problem from all angles is very helpful.

Revit MEP and structural elements with conflicts

Revit MEP and Structural elements for a complex project

The second image is not highlighting any problems, but rather pointing out another way in which the model can be presented to the client to help them understand that the project is fully coordinated and ready to be approved and built!


I end many of these posts by pointing out that it is easy to see how Enscape can assist, not only in the visualization efforts of a project, but also in the design and validation process. I use this technique often myself. While working, I will use SnagIt, by TechSmith, to quickly screen-capture areas in need of attention and use its tools to mark up the image (like the MEP view above with red arrows). The great thing about SnagIt is it keeps the entire history of all your screen captures, so you can keep moving and save or print the images later.

And, finally, for a little out-of-the-box thinking on tracking comments in this context, check out Phil Read’s LinkedIn article Context, Comments and QR Codes .

How have you ‘reality checked’ your project lately?

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB - a 250 person full-service design firm.

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Best Practices: Wood in Architectural Design https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-wood-in-architectural-design/ https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-wood-in-architectural-design/#respond Thu, 29 Nov 2018 16:35:14 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=38526 Wood is an amazing and versatile natural material we all love, in its natural setting, as carved figures and furniture or as finishes within buildings. This material has many characteristics such as species, finish and modern applications like plywood and glulam beams and columns.

The post Best Practices: Wood in Architectural Design appeared first on Enscape.


Wood is an amazing and versatile natural material we all love, in its natural setting, as carved figures and furniture or as finishes within buildings. This material has many characteristics such as species, finish and modern applications like plywood and glulam beams and columns. In this article I will share some tips on ways to represent wood optimally in Enscape.

This article will focus on developing wood materials in Revit, but many of the concepts also apply to SketchUp. For more on wood in SketckUp, be sure to check out this YouTube video by Architecture Inspirations called REALISTIC Wood Materials Tips and Tricks | Enscape for SketchUp . He does a great job of covering many important concepts in just six minutes! And many of his tips also apply to Revit indirectly.

  1. Revit’s Wood Material
  2. Revit Advanced Materials
  3. Plywood Materials
  4. Distressed Wood
  5. Autodesk Provided Wood Texture And Bump Files
  6. Generic Revit Materials
  7. Painted Wood
  8. Conclusion

First, we will look at some of the materials that come with Revit, how they are setup and how they look in Enscape. Then we will look at how to adjust these materials and, finally, create new ones.

High Quality Wood Textures


Revit has a physically based material type for wood. Enscape understands this material type, which results in high quality images. This first image is based on the Wood Flooring material that comes with Revit. Looking at the material settings, you should note three helpful settings; Stain, Finish and Relief Pattern. These three settings can drastically change how the wood looks.

As you would guess, the Finish controls the roughness, or gloss, of the surface. But, compared to the advanced materials covered later, this is an all or nothing setting.

The Relief Pattern setting is able to simulate the three-dimensional nature of the material, like the joints between the boards and the recess along the gain. Similar to the Enscape material editor in SketchUp, this material type can base the wood grain on the albedo using the Based on Wood Grain option.

Wood flooring material – default settings

Wood flooring material – stain color applied

When Stain is checked, the Stain Color becomes available. Adjusting this value affects the overall color of the wood as shown below.

Wood flooring material – default settings

Wood flooring material – stain color settings

Wood flooring material – Bump height adjusted

In this next example, using the same wood-based Revit shader, a custom material is used. I downloaded this material from SketchUp Texture Club . Here you can download quality textures for free, and for a fee you get access to the highest quality versions. I downloaded the seamless texture shown below and applied it to a new wood-based Revit material.

When creating a new material, remember to click on the image preview and adjust the size.

Wood-based material with bump defined by woodgrain in the main texture (albedo)

Wood-based material with bump defined by woodgrain in the main texture (albedo)


Now let’s look at Revit’s new advanced materials for representing wood. With this opaque shader type, you can achieve the best results, which is closest to Enscape’s own material settings found in SketchUp. A few examples, rendered in Enscape, are shown here.

Examples of Revit’s new advanced materials

Examples of Revit’s new advanced materials

One of the best ways to test a material is in context, as shown in the next two images. Here we have daylight, artificial light, various shades and shadows as well as reflections. Just testing a material in an empty model does not reveal the true character of the material. Notice the difference between the finished bamboo flooring and the unfinished plywood. Also, a larger area like this will quickly reveal any unwanted repeating patterns, which results from the seamless texture sample area being too small.

Revit advanced material - Bamboo

Revit advanced material – Unfinished plywood


In addition to the plywood panel shown above, Revit 2019 also provides two materials which represent the laminated layers at the edge of a panel. In the example below, I painted the edge material to make the plywood panel look more realistic.

Advanced plywood material with painted edges with painted edges

Detailed view - Advanced plywood material


Now let’s look at customizing a Revit material to get specific results. In this case, we want to represent an old wood floor with several scratch marks. Let’s say the client likes the aesthetic and desires to simply clean and seal it. The first step is finding a texture that matches the wood species. This Revit walnut material is pretty close. The default settings produce a matte finish, so adjusting the Roughness value gives us the clear coat finish we want.

Revit advanced material – Walnut with default settings

Revit advanced material – Walnut with roughness adjusted to 55

Next we need to modify the bump map to add the scratches. I opened the bump map used in the original walnut advanced material, made a copy and then added two new Photoshop layers. On one, I added the scratch marks and on the other, the joints between the boards. Here is the final bump file and the results in Enscape… amazing!

Final bump with scratches

Sample result in Enscape

Now let’s look at the result in context. The next two images embody the idea that this floor as been in service for many years, and in this sustainably remodeled project, it will have many more!

Walnut floor material with scratches


When looking for wood textures, you can start with the ones installed on your computer. The following image shows the search results for “wood” in this folder: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Autodesk Shared\Materials\Textures\3\Mats. You may find textures here not associated with Revit materials, or are used in some other context, such as fencing or soffits, but could still fit your needs.

Be sure to use the textures in the “3” folder and not “1” or “2” as those are lower quality versions.

Search Autodesk Textures folder for “wood”

Notice in the detailed list above, I added the Dimensions column to the view. This helps to identify the higher quality images, likely associated with the new Revit 2019 advanced materials. When switching to the previews, the same sorting is still applied. Notice how the high-quality material are not square? You need to keep this in mind with setting the texture size in Revit.

Search Autodesk Textures Folder for “Wood”

Of course, there are many placing to find high quality textures. Some are discussed in the YouTube video linked above and some in the “Free Resources ” Enscape blog post.


In addition to the advanced and wood-based materials (i.e. shaders) we can also use the Generic material type. In the example below, the exterior wood shake siding, I use a Revit provided material and then fade the image so the custom color bleeds through; similar results can be achieved using the Tint option here as well. The result simulates a green colored stain where the color variation of the wood is telegraphed through the finish.

Exterior wood shakes material settings

Exterior wood shakes


In this final example, we will look at representing painted wood. This is done using an advanced material with no main image, just a color. Then, a woodgrain bump file is used for both the roughness and bump. The results can be seen in the following image. There are many cases where this level of detail cannot be appreciated, but when it can be seen, it makes for a very compelling visualization!

Painted wood - window shutter with woodgrain bump applied


With these tips in mind, creating the right wood material for a real-world design project becomes a simple task. These assets can then be saved in a custom Revit material library and used on other projects. And, if saved on a shared network, everyone on the team – or in the office – can benefit.

If you keep an eye out for it, you’ll notice that wood materials pop up all over your project. So it’s even more important that you make sure each material looks its best. In the end, you want to give your client the most realistic experience of their project, before the construction has even started. By paying special attention to your materials, you’ll be sure to blow them away. For more tips on how to make your materials even more accurate, check out my previous post about getting your albedo just right .

Give wood the love it deserves… make a quality material and render it in Enscape!

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB - a 250 person full-service design firm.

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New Version: Enscape 2.4 released https://enscape3d.com/new-version-enscape-2-4-released/ https://enscape3d.com/new-version-enscape-2-4-released/#respond Wed, 31 Oct 2018 14:50:13 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=37259 Version 2.4 is out and has some great features that make your work even more easier! We want to introduce you to some new features that are now available.

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Enscape 2.4


Version 2.4 is out and has some great features that make your work even easier! We want to introduce you to some of the new features which are now available.

We would like to highlight the Asset Library, Web Standalone, faster video rendering and adjustable grass settings.

With Enscape 2.4 you can create even better renderings.
And you have more time to do the real design work!

New Version: Enscape 2.4 released

Overview of new features and settings

Asset Library

To reach a remarkable level of realism, we have added the Asset Library to your Enscape license. You can choose from various people, vegetation and other assets. Just drag one into your model and then rotate and scale to match it to your needs. And this is just the initial set of content: we are going to add more assets in coming releases.

Read more

Web Standalone Export

You know the Executable Standalone. Now we added the Web Standalone. Just share your project in our cloud and send your client a link to open in a browser. They can walk through and explore the model without installing any additional programs.

Read more

Adjustable Grass

Our new options for adjustable grass streamline you landscaping workflow. Specify grass height and variety to find the right type of grass for your design.

Read more

Faster Video Rendering

You can now take better advantage of video animation. The video rendering speed is up to six times faster than it was before.

Further Improvements

  • Improved sky rendering
  • Water on mini map
  • New mouse/keyboard input
  • Stability fixes
  • Normal map auto-detection
  • Quality & performance improvements
  • Video export performance
  • Image quality and stability
  • Panorama upload
  • Improved depth of field
  • Panorama flagged as 360° image
  • Latest Nvidia Display Driver compatibility
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Easy to use

No additional software needs to be learned – simply install the Enscape plugin and walk through your projects with only one click.

Presentation Icon
Easy Presentations

Present your project in different phases of the workflow. Use the Enscape plugin together with Revit, SketchUp, Rhino or ArchiCAD or export an (web) standalone file of your project.

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Fast Rendering

No long waiting times until your visualization is finished: Enscape renders your project within seconds and generates on average 50 images per second.

No Cloud Icon
No Cloud

Uploading data to the cloud is not needed. With the direct integration into Revit, SketchUp, Rhino and ArchiCAD, Enscape gets all the data directly from your CAD.

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Real-Time Feedback

With the live link between Enscape and the CAD software, all changes that you do in Revit, SketchUp, Rhino and ArchiCAD are immediately visible in Enscape. Explore every adjustment right away.

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Virtual Reality

Together with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Windows Mixed Reality, you can virtually walk through your project in Enscape. Experience your work as if it was already built.

Try all new features with a free 14 Day Trial

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Best Practices: Grass in Architectural Design https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-grass-in-architectural-design/ https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-grass-in-architectural-design/#respond Wed, 31 Oct 2018 14:45:55 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=36211 Representing grass has always been a challenge in architectural graphics, especially for the average designer who does not specialize in developing computer generated graphics (CGI). The best we could do is apply a bump map and maximize the setting, so the ground did not look completely flat.

The post Best Practices: Grass in Architectural Design appeared first on Enscape.


Best Practices: Grass in Architectural Design

Representing grass has always been a challenge in architectural graphics, especially for the average designer who does not specialize in developing computer generated graphics (CGI). The best we could do in the past was to apply a bump map and maximize the setting, so the ground did not look completely flat. Then, Enscape totally changed the game in early 2017 by automatically adding three-dimensional grass within their real-time photorealistic rendering engine. And now, it just got better, as we have been given control over the height and height variation of the blades of grass! This is sure to be a new fan favorite for anyone designing building façades, parks, roadways or bridges!

Any material in Revit, SketchUp, Rhino or ArchiCAD with the word “grass” in its name will render as a thick three-dimensional-looking grass in Enscape by default. Even in the small comparison images below, it is easy to see what a big different this makes. This article will cover the ins and outs of the grass feature in Enscape, including some incredible new developments! The focus of this article will be on Revit and SketchUp.

  1. Grass in Revit
  2. Grass in Sketchup
  3. Examples
  4. Conclusion

Revit flat grass

Enscape 3D Grass

Here are a few images I have created which greatly benefit from realistic and natural looking grass. All three images where rendered with Enscape and have had no post-production edits.

Grass shown in a transportation project

Grass shown in a landscape architecture project


Using Autodesk Revit, we can achieve amazing results in Enscape using various materials to define grass. Let’s look at how this works and what the options are.

Grass Height

The magic happens when Grass Rendering is ticked within the Enscape settings dialog and one or more Revit materials have the keywords “grass”, “short grass”, “tall grass” or “wild grass”. Here is an example of each grass style compared side-by-side.

Revit material with keyword ‘grass’ in name

Revit material with keyword ‘tall grass’ in name

Revit material with keyword ‘wild grass’ in name

Here is what happens based on keywords used:

  • Grass: Medium grass
  • Short Grass: Shorter grass
  • Tall Grass: Taller grass
  • Wild Grass: Taller grass with varying blade heights
The keywords are not case sensitive, but you cannot change the order, e.g. “grass tall” is not the same as “tall grass” to Enscape. I have already made this mistake myself!

Grass Color

Because Enscape samples the color or texture assigned to the material, we can achieve interesting results. I have been using this texture for a while as it has subtle variations in color, which translates nicely to Enscape’s 3D grass. It was acquired from a larger high-resolution aerial image. I set the texture size to 120’ square; the patterns are not obvious due to the scale.

Texture I often use for the grass material texture

Here are the results in Enscape… notice the color is not consistent, an effect that often occurs due to droughts. So, the result is more natural if this is the look you are going for.

Grass rendered using texture shown above

Grass rendered using texture shown above

A few grass types to study

Grass Types

Now let’s look at how we can create specific grass types. You will be happy to know it is easy. First, notice a few grass types shown in the image: Centipede, Bermuda, St. Augustine and Zoysia. I found this image by searching the internet for “grass types”. I then cropped the image down to just the desired grass type (no text or lines) and saved a separate image. Applying that new image, with a texture size of about 8-12” wide and 4-5” tall produced the results shown below. Of course, finding larger tileable samples would produce better results and look correct in Revit if ‘realistic view’ were ever used.

Here are the results of my ‘grass types’ study in Enscape…

Grass type study: Centipede

Grass type study: Bermuda

Grass type study: St. Augustine

Grass type study: Zoysia

Out of curiosity, let’s look at what the two default Revit grass materials look like in Enscape – these are the ones that install with the software. There is a big difference. The one actually called “grass” is way too dark. The other is better, but still a little off. And this will change with the lighting, so remember to consider the albedo .

Grass study: Revit’s default grass material

Grass study: Revit’s default ‘Plant’ material

With this, we can see the variety of options we have to represent grass in Revit. Some of the techniques offered in the next section on SketchUp can also be applied in Revit. However, Revit does not have the detailed sliders for height and height variation.

If the grass is poking through your floor or walk in Revit, add a Building Pad below the floor/walk to stamp out the top of the toposurface in that area.


When working in SketchUp we have all of the options just covered for Revit and a few more! In fact, because of the Enscape-centric material editor and ability to place custom proxy object some designers will export their Revit models to SketchUp to finish the rendering task there. For my SketchUp examples I downloaded the model Walled Garden with Rock Waterfall created by JBJDesigns .

Grass settings in the Material Editor

Notice in the Enscape Materials dialog the Type is set to Grass and we have two sliders; one for Height and another for Height Variation. You can quickly set you material type to grass via the dropdown menu. The grass settings are only visible if the type is set to grass. Use the Height slider to adjust how long your grass is. The Height Variation slider adds variation to the height and size of the grass blades. The higher the amount of height variation, the wilder your grass will look. If you would prefer a more uniform appearance, set the slider to a low value.

When setting the material via keyword, the type is automatically set to grass because the SketchUp material name has the word ”grass” in it. But, we can also manually change the name if needed. In this model, there were a few materials with the words “vegetation” and “grass” in the same name. Those materials default to Vegetation so I must either change the name or manually change the type… I did the latter.

Grass height (0,50,100) and variation set to zero

Sports Examples

If you design sports stadiums or athletics fields for educational institutions, you will be happy to know Enscape can produce extraordinary results for this application! I did a quick search, again on 3D Warehouse, and found a high quality model of the Gillette-Stadium created by Cleveland Rocks to explore this use case.

In this SketchUp model each grass color is a different material. All I did for each of these materials was make sure the type was set to grass and adjust the height and variation sliders to zero. And that was it! Just five minutes into opening this model and I was able to navigate a photorealistic model in real-time, even adjusting the time of day.

Various grass materials used to define sports field

Here is a close-up shot of the logo defined by several different grass colors.

Detailed view of logo defined with grass material

Thinking Outside the Box

In this last example I selected a carpet texture for the albedo, and the result is not too bad in Enscape! There are likely many ways in which this versatile material can be used. However, keep in mind it cannot currently be used on vertical surfaces.

Using grass to represent carpet, outdoor carpet in this case

Example: Using grass to represent carpet, outdoor carpet in this case


It’s truly exciting to see such dramatic results for grass in a real-time rendering engine, which also has a live link to our favorite 3D modeling environments. And if you think the grass is amazing in these still images, wait until you see it in virtual reality using the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or Windows Mixed Reality devices. It is breathtaking, and very memorable for clients and stakeholders.

For more inspiration, be sure to check out the Enscape Visualization Gallery to see what other customers are doing. If you have yet to give Enscape a try, download the free trial today and check it out with Revit, SketchUp, Rhino and/or ArchiCAD. If you are a student, be sure to take advantage of the free student version

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB - a 250 person full-service design firm.

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Best Practices: How to use Web Standalone Export for presentation https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-how-to-use-web-standalone-export-for-presentation/ https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-how-to-use-web-standalone-export-for-presentation/#respond Wed, 31 Oct 2018 14:45:19 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=37030 You already know and love the executable standalone; it allows you to package your Enscape model and share it easily. But it requires a certain level of hardware, and your client doesn’t have the powerful graphics card required. With the web standalone, this is no longer an issue!

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Best Practices: How to use Web Standalone Export for presentation

You already know and love the executable standalone; it allows you to package your Enscape model and share it easily. But it requires a certain level of hardware, and your client might not have the powerful graphics card required. With the web standalone, this is no longer an issue!

  1. Why A Web Standalone?
  2. Export And Manage Your Web Standalone
  3. Conclusion

Enscape’s web standalone removes the requirement for high end graphics cards, as the standalone is rendered in a web browser. All you need in order for it to run is an internet connection. Just like with the executable standalone, it only takes two clicks to export your project. The uploaded standalone can be accessed instantly via a web link. Send your model to clients instantly, or export web standalones to use during client presentations, even if they do not have a high-end graphics card: the possibilities are endless!

Why a Web Standalone?

You might be wondering what the actual benefits of the web standalone are, and when it might be beneficial to use it versus our executable standalone. In this case, it comes down to what your goals are. Both the web standalone and the executable standalone offer a 3D walk-through of your rendered Enscape project. But the web standalone is, in some cases, easier to share.

The great benefit of the web standalone is that it removes the previously required high end graphics card. You might have top of the line hardware, but your client possibly does not. If they have a standard laptop, they might not meet the system requirements needed to run the executable standalone. However, the web standalone can be run on any computer with a WebGL2 compatible browser. All you need is an internet connection. You can send it to anyone and they can immediately open it.

Along these same lines, the web standalone is great when you want to quickly send your client an updated model for approval. You don’t have to worry about how to get the file to them; simply email the client the web link, and they can view the standalone immediately. Not only does this save you time, it might help you and your client catch some errors before they happen.

The web standalone is also perfectly suited for client presentations. Your office computer is probably able to run Enscape with no further issues, but the laptop you take on the road might not meet our system requirements. In this case, the web standalone makes it easy to still dazzle during a client presentation, as all you need to run them is an internet connection. Take your hard work with you and convince the client of your vision.

Export and Manage Your Web Standalone

Exporting the web standalone is the same process as exporting the executable standalone, with the added bonus that you can manage your web exports directly in Enscape. Enscape needs to be running to export the standalone, so first click the start button. Then, simply click the Export Web Standalone button.

Export the web standalone with two clicks

Once the upload is complete, your default browser will open the standalone. The view you had active prior to export will define the start position when you open the web standalone. The settings you had active prior to exporting will be included in the standalone. It is not possible to change settings in the web standalone, beyond adjusting the time of day.

You can manage your uploaded standalones in the Manage Uploads window. Click the My Uploads button in the Enscape ribbon to open the window. Here you will find not only your created panoramas, but also any web standalones you have uploaded.

The My Uploads button in the Enscape ribbon

Uploaded standalones can be managed easily

Clicking on any web standalone automatically opens it in your default browser. You can also delete any standalones you have created by hovering your mouse over the title and clicking the red X.

When you open the web standalone initially, you will see a loading screen featuring the Enscape logo.

The web standalone loading screen

The web standalone is a streamlined version of our executable standalone. The navigation controls are the same ones you are familiar with from Enscape. They are detailed in an instructions panel that appears automatically when you open the standalone. You can hide the panel simply by using the H key on your keyboard.

The web standalone has the same controls as Enscape itself

The web standalone can only run if the browser you are using is WebGL 2 compatible. As such, the web standalone will not be able to run in Internet Explorer or Edge; we recommend using Chrome or Firefox. Currently you cannot adjust settings or export favorite views with your web standalone, but these are features we hope to include in the future.


You work hard on your models, and you want to be able to quickly send them to clients for approval. You want to be able to show your model off during a client presentation, but don’t have a laptop with a high-end graphics card. The web standalone solves these problems in two clicks.

It couldn’t be easier to export your model, which is immediately uploaded and available via a web link. You can send your model is seconds, and don’t have to worry whether your client can view it and whether they have the right hardware. Take your model with you to client presentations and for on-site reviews. It’s not just about convenience. The web standalone can of course help you save time, but it also allows you to catch errors and avoid potential extra expenditure. Straightforward and user-friendly, the web standalone will change the way you share your projects!

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Best Practices: Asset Library https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-asset-library/ https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-asset-library/#respond Wed, 31 Oct 2018 14:45:05 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=36476 Adding models to your project is a great way to take it to the next level and really impress your clients; it can make all the difference during a presentation. But carefully considering the composition of your scenes can be time consuming – and that’s assuming you have already found your models.

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Best Practices: Asset Library

Time and again Enscape users have asked for a way to more quickly spruce up their projects with 3D models. Adding models to your project is a great way to take it to the next level and really impress your clients; it can make all the difference during a presentation. But carefully considering the composition of your scenes can be time consuming – and that’s assuming you have already found your models. Enscape’s Asset Library takes all the effort out of locating models for your project.

The handy tool saves you time by delivering 3D-ready models of people, vegetation, furniture and more for your projects in Revit, SketchUp, Rhino and ArchiCAD.

The Enscape-ready assets can be added to your project in seconds, simplifying your workflow immediately. You no longer have to spend extra time searching for the right tree or figure: they are now right at your fingertips.

How to Use the Asset Library

Icon Asset Library

Let’s take a look at all of the features included in the Asset Library. The Asset Library can be opened via the Enscape dropdown menu or via the Asset Library icon, depending on your CAD program.

The Asset Library will open in as a separate window and show all available assets grouped by category. Click on a category to see the available assets. When you hover your mouse over an asset, you will see its name and a short description. At the top left you can also search for specific assets by name.

The main view of the Asset Library

Hover over the asset to view a description

You can also favorite your assets, so that they appear together in the Favorite category. To add an asset to this category, simply hover your mouse over the desired asset and click the star in the left corner. The asset will automatically appear in the Favorite category. Any favorites will be saved after you close your CAD program. Click the star again to remove an asset from the Favorite category.

When browsing the selection of trees, keep an eye on the figure standing next to it. This way you can gauge the relative height and size of the tree before adding in to your project. If the assets are too large or small, you can scale them. In SketchUp and Rhino, the assets can be scaled along any axis. In Revit you can scale assets uniformly by increasing or decreasing their height. It is not currently possible to change the size of the assets in ArchiCAD.

Find assets by name in the search bar

Favorited assets are grouped together

Select an asset to place in your project simply by clicking on it. While you are placing the asset in you CAD program, the Library window will minimize, and return when you have finished the placement. You can also press the Esc key on your keyboard at any time during placement to abandon the asset and return to the Library window.

Best Practices in Revit

Let’s take a look at how to place your assets in the different CAD programs. We’ll start with Revit. The easiest way to add an asset in Revit is to place it in a floor plan view. Select the appropriate level and the asset you want to place by clicking on it. The Library window will automatically minimize and your cursor will allow you to place the asset. Just click once to place the asset exactly where you want it. The Library window will open again and you will see the asset in Revit, represented as low-res geometry.

When you place assets in a floor plan view, the elements might automatically be hidden. If this is the case, simply unhide the “Planting” category and all of your assets will be visible again.

Click just once to add an asset to your floor plan

The vegetation will appear as low-res geometry

Now it’s even easier to add great looking vegetation to your model. Two clicks and you can immediately see how the tree or flower fits into your model. With the models currently available, you can create welcoming gardens of every kind.

Turn a remote terrace…

...into an intimate place to linger.

The great benefit of the Asset Library is how quickly you can create scenes like the one above. Being able to add assets with two clicks streamlines your workflow and saves valuable time. I added around forty assets around the terrace to create a more comfortable, grounded scene. You want your client to be able to picture themselves in the scene; by adding some vegetation and a preset Enscape horizon, you might be able to convince them you’ve just taken a photo of the already-built project.

Best Practices in SketchUp

It’s just as painless to place assets in SketchUp; I’ll demonstrate using some people assets. Select an asset from the Library window and place it with one click on the desired face. If Live Update is enabled, the asset will immediately become visible in the Enscape window. The asset will be shown as a white, low-res figure. After you place an asset in SketchUp, you will be able to continue placing the same asset in a batch. This is a great way to add many assets subsequently and keep your project size small. Pressing the Esc key will recall the Asset Library window.

Place an asset on a face with one click

Continue clicking to place more of the same asset

Previously Enscape offered 10 RPCs, which were only available for Revit. The new library, however, expands this number to 18, and makes the figures available in all four supported CAD programs. Use them to really bring your scene to life. No matter which program you use, Enscape assets can take your scene from empty to bustling.

Combine different assets to make your scene dynamic.

Carefully arrange figures to mimic real-life interactions

Best Practices in Rhino

In Rhino, you can place assets in any of Rhino’s Viewports. Play around and decide which one works best for you. Select the asset from the Library window by clicking on it. Rhino will ask you to select a target surface, or alternatively you can press the Enter key to use the base plane. After that your cursor will allow you to place the asset on a surface by clicking once.

Assets in Rhino are shown as low-res geometry

A fall morning created in Rhino

Combine different assets to create specific scenes and evoke certain feelings. You can use the more autumnal trees available in combination with more heavily dressed assets to create a fall scene. The more specific you can make your project to your client and their wishes, the more likely they are to fall in love with it.

Best Practices in ArchiCAD

In ArchiCAD, you can access the Library through the Enscape dropdown menu or via the ribbon. Open the Library and select the asset you want to place in your scene. The cursor will change to allow you to place the asset; click once to add it to your scene. In ArchiCAD, the assets are represented as orange, low-res geometry. You can also rotate, elevate or drag the asset after it has been placed using the native ArchiCAD Move functions.

Enscape assets represented in ArchiCAD view

Mix and match assets and backgrounds to create scenes.


A stunning Enscape project results from the combination of several different aspects, but the icing on the cake are assets. The goal of rendering your project is to make it appear as realistic as possible, and most scenes just don’t feel real until they are filled with items, people and plants. The Asset Library makes this step easier than ever. Just a few clicks and you can transform your project and convince your client.

Now that you’ve seen how easy it is to use the Asset Library, you might already be impatient to try it out yourself. The wide array of people and vegetation already available is only the beginning. Future versions of Enscape will expand the Asset Library to cover more categories and include more assets. What would you like to see included? Get in touch with us and let us know which assets you can’t live without.

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Best Practices: Finding the Right Perspective https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-finding-the-right-perspective/ https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-finding-the-right-perspective/#respond Thu, 25 Oct 2018 14:00:54 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=35842 Finding the right perspective is an art, not a science, and we can all get better at it by understanding a few basic principles.

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Best Practices: Finding the Right Perspective

Finding the right perspective is an art, not a science, and we can all get better at it by understanding a few basic principles. For some this may be a refresher. But, given Enscape’s great support for students by offering their software for free, it seems fitting to offer this “fundamentals” article as a way of helping aspiring designers get the best possible results when creating still images. And, since I don’t work for Enscape, I do not feel bad about mentioning not all software is free to students

This article will look at the various view types and composition considerations, as well as problems to watch out for. The following image represents a well-composed image where the edges are framed, the many vertical elements are not aligned or overlapping, a subtle ‘depth of field’ is applied, and the viewpoint is at eye-level.

Example of a well-composed view

Because finding the right perspective is more of an art, some of what I am about to profess may not be the right answer for everyone. Even if you don’t agree with some of the aspects covered, the hope is that everyone reading this will find some value and firm up their personal understanding of what constitutes a great rendered image.


There are three perspective types: 1-point, 2-point and 3-point as shown below. Enscape can create each of these view types. Additionally, your 3D modeling programs (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino and ArchiCAD) can display axonometric views.

I am using a few hand sketches in this article to help tell the story. Even with an amazing tool like Enscape, a good designer still puts pen-to-paper to develop initial ideas. These sketches are from my book Chapters in Chapters in Architectural Drawing; Hand Sketching in a Digital World with co-author Steven H. McNeill.

Compare 1pt, 2pt and 3pt perspective (1)

Compare 1pt, 2pt and 3pt perspective (2)

In the next two images, you will notice a subtle difference between 2-point and 3-point perspective views. The point here is that, for 2-point perspective, the vertical lines are perfectly vertical. At the end of this article, you will see how the 2-point option is extremely helpful in the courthouse example.

Note that the horizon line is intentionally exposed in these images, and several like them in this article, to emphasis several fundamental concepts related to our topic at hand.

A 3-point perspective example (Mouseover for markup)

A 2-point perspective example (Mouseover for markup)


The vantage point from which a model is viewed is important to consider. Most people view architecture from the ground, standing on their feet, so that is the vantage point I prefer. In Enscape I will “fly” through the model looking for a good view, and then press the Spacebar to quickly set the vertical position at eye level; the exact height can be changed in Enscape Settings via the Spectator Height slider.

Aerial images also have their place, but it is important to keep in mind the extra work they often require. For example, compare the next two images, notice how much extra backdrop must be created, even with Enscape’s built-in environments. By contrast, there is a much smaller area to fill in for eye level views. From an eye level view, a large area of the backdrop is filled with sky, which Enscape handles well. Plus, just a few well-placed trees are sometimes all that is required to hide the horizon.

More backdrop required for Aerial vantagepoint (Mouseover for markup)

Easier to fill backdrop at eye level vantagepoint (Mouseover for markup)

Another thing to note about the vantage point of a view, when set at eye-level, is that all the people in the view often have their head aligned with the horizon line. This is a very helpful detail when hand sketching but can also help to spot an Enscape-view positioned in a way someone would not normally look at a space. Knowing this helps with the realism of a final still image.

Principals of sketching

For eye-level renderings, meaning the angle of the view is as if a person were standing on the ground, the heads of most people will be at the horizon line no matter where they are in the scene, as depicted in the sketch below. As you can see, some people are very close while others appear far in the distance, but most of them have their heads aligned with the horizon. The exceptions are when a person is sitting, on a different level, bending over or just shorter than the person they are standing next to.

Heads align with horizon in many cases

Here is the same concept visualized in Enscape. We have three people, all at a different distance from the viewer, but each of their heads are aligned with the horizon line.

Heads align with horizon (Mouseover for markup)


Understanding real-world camera settings is very helpful in developing the right perspective in Enscape, as many of its settings are based on how a real camera works. For example, the default field of view (FOV) in Enscape is very wide and helpful for navigating a model on a computer screen. But for still images, a professional architectural photographer would not normally use that wide of a lens as they tend to distort the image, making a scene look less realistic. A common camera lens used for architectural photography is 24mm (Tilt-Shift) which is a 67 degree FOV in Enscape. The Enscape default is 14.5mm which is a 90 degree FOV. Check out this post for more on this topic: Lenses for Architectural Photography

Change the field of view from 14.5 mm to 35 mm for most still images (Mouseover for markup)


Not only do people help to bring your sketches to life they also give the viewer a sense of scale. Continuing to look at the mechanics of a perspective, notice how we can use people in the scene as a sort of measuring stick, literally or subconsciously.

Entourage help set perspective scale

Here is the same concept visualized in Enscape. We can see how the woman’s body height can help us gage how tall the structure she is standing next to actually is. We can even project her height vertically and in perspective to, for example, place a 10’-0” (304cm) vertical line in the scene; each yellow line is the same height.

Adding people naturally helps discern scale (Mouseover for markup)


The composition of a view is a key ingredient in developing the right perspective. In the next image you can see some problems; our vantage point has us visually grazing the side of the main building and the outdoor fireplace covers a major edge of the main structural, leaving an odd portion of the roof exposed. Compare this with the next image, where the left side of the view is framed be the main structure, the fireplace does not cover any major elements and the top edge of the view is also framed by an umbrella. Even a small portion of a chair in the foreground helps to frame the view. I touched on this specific example in my ArchDaily article: 9 Ways to Make Your Renderings More Realistic

Example of poor perspective results (Mouseover for markup)

Elements in foreground framing view (Mouseover for markup)

Now that we have talked about some fundamentals, let’s look at some applications. For most, we will have a poor, good, better and best example to compare.


Poor example:
If you only had one image to provide, this would be considered a “poor” example, as this is not how a person would normally view this project and the backdrop needs a lot more work.

Exterior still image – Poor example

Good example:
Now we are on the ground, making the vantage point better than in the previous image. However, there are still things we can do to make it better.

Exterior still image – Good example

Better example:
In this case we have taken some artistic liberties and repositioned a tree, which does exist, so we have the sense of a branch framing the view in the upper left. This is a favorite technique in architectural visualization to ground the building and break up the vast amount of sky.

Exterior still image – Better example

Best example:
This last example incorporates all the previous features as well as a custom Depth of Field to draw the viewers focus to the important part of the image – the building; not the person in the foreground or the city beyond. This is also great when your specific project does not have a custom skybox for the site. Blurring out one of the built-in Enscape options can help avoid questions and confusion by the client.

Exterior still image – Best example


Now, let’s move inside this same project and look at an example in the open kitchen.

Poor example:
Here, the field of view is too wide and there are no people to help define the scale of the space. The scale may be difficult to understand as it is so open; there are no visible doors or objects in the foreground. Let’s look at how we can make this perspective a little better.

Open kitchen still image – Poor example

Good example:
First, we change the Field of View and vantage point. Now we have an object in the foreground, the dining room table, which helps frame the view and convey scale.

Open kitchen still image – Good example

Better example:
Adding a few people helps bring the space to life and further implies scale. By the way, these high-quality examples in this article are from ArcvhVision’s RPC collection (AXYZ models).

Open kitchen still image – Better example

Best example:
Adjusting the Depth of Field draws attention to the kitchen while still making the foreground elements visible but not the focus.

Open kitchen still image – Best example


In this next example you will notice that two vertical edges are aligned. This makes it more difficult to quickly understand where the brick wall in the foreground stops and the pool house wall starts in the background. The view is also looking downward slightly, which makes the wall on the right looks like it may be sloping or not vertical. The second image corrects both subtle issues by moving the vantage point slightly and leveling the view.

Poolside composition – Poor example (Mouseover for markup)

Poolside composition – Good example (Mouseover for markup)


There are always exceptions to the rule, as you will see with this last example. Sometimes we need to present a space with unusual proportions, like this courthouse foyer which is 22’-0” (6.7m) tall, but only has a floor area of 28’-0”x22’-0” (8.5mx6.7m). Not only that, but the floor and ceiling have important design features: a State seal and dome respectively. The first two images below use the techniques previously discussed but do not adequately represent the essence of the space. Let’s look at what we can do to properly capture the space, to make sure the clients and public understand the design intent.

By the way:
You might be interested to know that I created this 3D model and similar renderings back in 1995 for this project (similar in composition, not quality)! Yes, that’s right, 23 years ago. Fast-forward to today, and I simply linked the AutoCAD 3D file into Revit and modified the Revit materials assigned to each AutoCAD layer. The only thing I had to change and update was the state seal on the floor with a higher-resolution image as a Revit decal.

Courthouse foyer: Good representation of the bottom half of the space

Courthouse foyer: Good representation of the top half of the space

To really capture this space, we need to use Enscape’s Architectural Two Point Perspective option. Additionally, we need to position ourselves about half way up in the space, not at eye-level as I often prefer. I backed up until I just passed through the wall, having gone too far, and then moved forward a little, which puts me as far back as possible. Notice each side is nicely framed by the ionic columns in the foreground. I was also able to use these side columns to level out the view, capturing a little of the seal on the floor and the dome above. The  field of view is set to 115 degrees. We must be careful, when adjusting the field of view, to not let the view or entourage get too distorted.

The lighting can be artificially increased, for emphasis, in the Enscape Settings dialog.

Good - Two-point perspective with 115-degree field of view

Better – Default exposure brightness and entourage added

In the next image I added people. For this example, the Exposure Brightness setting is at the default and Auto Contrast it turned off. The people really help define the scale and proportions of this unusual space. But these two default settings can be adjusted for better results.

Finally, here is a nice bright two-point perspective image with people. Even though we manually brightened the space, we can still see the cove lighting at the base of the ceiling dome.

Best – Custom exposure brightness and auto contrast


As you read this article, you may have thought to yourself that much of this is common sense. And you would be correct. But, as with most things it is good to have fundamental principles refreshed, so that they are better understood. In so doing, we will be able to more quickly develop our views and convey the design intent to those viewing our presentation graphics, especially seeing as it now takes more time to compose a view than to render it thanks to Enscape. In this regard, we should slow down and ‘smell the roses’ to create the best possible graphics!

So, the next time you are establishing a view in Enscape, remember these key points: view type, scale, field of view, depth of view, vantage point, alignment and overlap. And, once you find that perfect view, don’t forget to save it back to Revit or SketchUp so you can render it again in the future.

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB - a 250 person full-service design firm.

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Best Practices: Glazing in Architectural Design https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-glass-in-architectural-design/ https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-glass-in-architectural-design/#respond Thu, 04 Oct 2018 11:00:47 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=34624 Glass is an amazing material which provides a barrier from the elements while allowing a visual connection to the beauty around us; it provides light and even desired warmth in the cold season. Glass, referred to as glazing in the context of architecture, is also aesthetically pleasing in many ways, including its reflective qualities.

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Best practices: Glazing in Architectural Design

Glass is an amazing material which provides a barrier from the elements while allowing a visual connection to the beauty around us; it provides light and even desired warmth in the cold season. Glass, referred to as glazing in the context of architecture, is also aesthetically pleasing in many ways, including its reflective qualities.

Traditionally, glass was challenging to represent properly in architectural visualizations. Either the color or reflections where off, or the software and settings one had to know where too complicated for the average designer. Not that they had not done it before, or where not able to learn it, but the benefit to cost of time and budget just didn’t make sense on most projects.

Thankfully, Enscape is not your father’s rendering software. This contemporary real-time and physically based rendering software is always just a click away from within your Revit, SketchUp, Rhino or ArchiCAD software. The user settings are simple: more like the controls on a camera than a spaceship. With a few simple “reflection” adjustments within the menu we can have nearly perfect glazing.

Captivating exterior visualization with expansive glazing

The Big Picture

This article will cover the application of glazing within a Revit model. With the evolution of Revit materials, there are three primary ways to define glass: Generic, Glazing and now Advanced Materials in Revit 2019.

Understanding the differences between these options and how they look in Enscape is key to getting the realistic or aesthetic results you are looking for. The images above and below highlight the amazing results we can get from Enscape with just minimal effort. Not only that, but this effort is all encapsulated within the primary Revit model, not exported and refined in another format or copy of the model.

Dramatic interior rendering with beautiful glazing (Credit: Dan Stine, with assets of ArchVision/AXYZ)

It is also helpful to know that Enscape has a material definition for glazing, i.e. classic PBR: roughness, specular (F0), metallicness, etc., and they try to map the CAD’s material system onto these. However, by contrast, in Enscape’s own material editor in SketchUp, you get the maximum control over all parameters.

Glass in SketchUp

As just mentioned, SketchUp has the most options for glass when it comes to Enscape because the native materials are more limiting, supporting only a texture and transparency value, and thus there is a custom Enscape Material Editor. This editor, of course, corresponds directly to the rendering engine. Sort of like Apple making an OS for its own hardware, which removes the “middle-man” and lots of guesswork and unknowns.

When dealing with glass in SketchUp the Transparency Color and Reflection Roughness are key. The smoother the material (Roughness -> 0%), the more it will reflect its environment, whereas a rougher surface will diffuse incoming light. Here is an example in SketchUp showing three different glazing conditions and their respective settings.

Three glazing applications in SketchUp

Glass settings in SketchUp

Notice the railing’s glass panels have a pattern. This is defined by the Texture parameter, which allows you to control the transparency using a 2D image: a map. It refers to the opacity value, so a black area (which equals zero) on the image used will result in a perfectly transparent portion of the surface, while a white area will appear perfectly opaque. Grey areas will appear partially transparent, such as glass. If you load a colored image, Enscape will automatically convert it to black and white, so you don’t have to worry about that. The image can be inverted and resized as shown here.

Glass settings in SketchUp

The Refractive Index slider determines by which factor light is being bent when traveling through a transparent surface. You know this effect from looking at a glass of water or very thick glass. Air has a refractive index of 1.0, so light rays travel through it in a straight line. Water has an index of 1.33, while the index of window glass is 1.52. Diamonds, for a further example, have an index of 2.42: they bend light quite heavily. For architectural glazing, this value can be very low or zero for efficiency. Here we see the effect when adjusting the Refractive Index on the glass panels in the railing.

Glass railing with refractive index set to zero

Glass railing with a high refractive index value

As you can see, with just a few augments to the SketchUp materials in the Enscape Material Editor, some stunning results can be achieved. If you want to read more about working with materials in SketchUp, you can read this post I previously wrote: SketchUp Material Editor and Enhanced Materials in SketchUp

Glass in Revit

Using Autodesk Revit, we can also achieve amazing results in Enscape. However, Revit has multiple material shaders to reach similar results, with slight differences between them.

A Revit-provided template has the “Glass” material set to the Glazing shader option as shown in the settings below. But the Reflectance value is set quite low so the initial impact in Enscape can be disappointing at first. The range of reflectance can be seen in this comparative image, with a 100 setting on the left, 50 in the center and 0 on the right. The default in Revit is 15, which is closer to the example on the right which almost looks like there is no glass in the curtain wall system.

Comparing reflectance values for Revit’s glazing material (Credit: Dan Stine, with assets of ArchVision/AXYZ)

Revit’s advanced materials, introduced in Revit 2019, have different settings for the physically based glazing shader. It should be pointed out that this “glazing” material is different than the new advanced “glass” material. Unlike glass, light is not refracted for efficiency in glazing (as discussed in the previous SketchUp section). The result in Enscape is a surface which is always evident from any vantage point, and the reflective quality is good.

Glazing defined with Revit 2019 advanced material – special 'glazing' shader

There is currently a bug in the 2019 advanced material within Revit. In the material dialog, on the Graphics tab, if you check “Use Render Appearance” the Transparency is set to 0 (i.e. not transparent) and the Color to solid black.

It is interesting that the new advanced material has a Visual Transmittance (T-Vis or VLT) value. Anyone specifying glazing or involved in daylight analysis or calculations will be familiar with this real-world physical property.

Revit and Insight also use this information for energy analysis. However, I am not sure if this value, in the new advanced materials, is used for that just yet. The default value shown in this example, of about 20%, is far from a normal value. In the chart below we see the range is from about 60 – 90%. I am not sure if this value effects visualization as I have not done any testing in this area yet.

Visual Transmittance values for Revit’s glazing options in energy settings (table from Autodesk Help)

Name Glazing Type
Northern, Southern,
Eastern, Western Walls
Sgl Clr Single Clear 6mm 6.17 1.09 0.81 0.88
Dbl Clr Dbl Clear 6/13 Air 2.74 0.48 0.7 0.78
Dbl LoE Dbl Low-E (e3=0.2)Clear 3/13 Air 1.99 0.35 0.73 0.74
Trp LoE Trpl Low-E (e2=e5=0.1) Clr 3mm/6mm Air 1.55 0.27 0.47 0.66
Quad LoE Quadruple LoE Films (88) 3mm/8mm Krypton 0.66 0.12 0.45 0.62

Here is an example of “plain” Glass, using the advanced materials, not the new glazing option. In this case, with the darker color selected, it looks pretty good and could be used to represent a spandrel panel – i.e. non-transparent glass panels, usually used between the ceiling and the floor above on all-glass curtain wall systems like the one in this example.

Glazing defined with Revit 2019 advanced material – regular ‘transparent’ shader

The next few images show various results possible within Revit, including a patterned bump map, transmissive color adjustments, as well as tint colors. The captions offer more details for each image.

Glazing material with bump pattern applied (Credit: Dan Stine, with assets of ArchVision/AXYZ)

Glazing ‘advanced’ material with light and dark Transmissive Color settings respectively (Credit: Dan Stine, with assets of ArchVision/AXYZ)

Glazing material with Custom Color applied to every other panel to show contrast (Credit: Dan Stine, with assets of ArchVision/AXYZ)


There is still much more that could be said about glass in buildings, or even in objects. But the information covered in this article should provide enough detail to achieve the beautiful results shown and additional variations by adjusting the related settings. Keep in mind, with Enscape open on a second monitor, many of these settings are visualized in real-time, making the process incredibly easy.

As glass is just an important part of architecture, it is truly exciting to see such dramatic results in a real-time rendering engine which also has a live link to our favorite 3D modeling environments.

For more inspiration, be sure to check out the Enscape Visualization Gallery to see what other customers are doing. If you have yet to give Enscape a try, download the free trial today and check it out with Revit, SketchUp, Rhino and/or ArchiCAD. If you are a student, be sure to take advantage of a free student license.

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB - a 250 person full-service design firm.

The post Best Practices: Glazing in Architectural Design appeared first on Enscape.

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Best Practices for Emissive Materials in SketchUp https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-for-emissive-materials-in-sketchup/ https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-for-emissive-materials-in-sketchup/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2018 09:39:45 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=34321 You may have seen my recent post about artificial light sources in SketchUp , in which I covered different techniques to realistically light your model. But there is another way of creating light in your projects: emissive materials. These self-illuminated materials emit light, but differently than artificial light sources, and can be used to create effects that you can’t achieve with artificial lights.

The post Best Practices for Emissive Materials in SketchUp appeared first on Enscape.


Best Practices for Emissive Materials in SketchUp

You may have seen my recent post about artificial light sources in SketchUp , in which I covered different techniques to realistically light your model. But there is another way of creating light in your projects: emissive materials. These self-illuminated materials emit light, but differently than artificial light sources, and can be used to create effects that you can’t achieve with artificial lights.

Making your material emissive turns it into a glowing light source, which you can assign to any shape and even add a texture to. This means you can be incredibly creative with emissive materials. They are often used on objects where some part should appear to glow, such as a television or computer screen, the brake lights of a car, or an exit sign. But you can also use them to create light in areas of your model where it might be impractical to use artificial lights: to create the effect of recessed ceiling lighting, for example.

It can be difficult to differentiate when to use emissive materials versus artificial lights; both have their benefits and drawbacks. Understanding when to use which type of light can take your project to the next level in terms of realism. In this post you’ll learn all about emissive materials, how to apply and adjust them using Enscape’s Material Editor in SketchUp, and their many different uses. This post show examples from SketchUp, but you can of course work with emissive materials in Revit, Rhino and ArchiCAD as well!

What Is an Emissive Material?

Emissive materials are self-illuminated materials, that is, materials that emit light across their surface. When an emissive material is used in a scene, it is rendered as a visible light source, and depending on the intensity you set, its glow can actually light up the surrounding area. The great advantage of emissive materials is that you can use them to create complex forms that glow; you can get really creative! Check out the picture below; I just created some shapes in SketchUp, and made the generic white material assigned to them emissive.

White material applied to simple geometry

The effect created by making the material emissive

Emissive materials belong to the global illumination calculation. Global illumination (GI) is an important element in the rendering of realistic scenes.  When light hits a surface, it does not simply end there, but bounces. With GI, these bounces result in an indirect light, which illuminates areas of your project that may not have artificial light or direct access to sunlight, like a long hallway or the corners of a room. Emissive materials are part of this GI calculation, meaning they emit indirect light. You won’t be able to use them to simulate a spotlight, but you can recreate the glow of a television screen, for example.

Let’s take a look at how you make a material emissive in SketchUp; with Enscape’s Material Editor, it just takes two clicks! First, open the Material Editor by clicking on the button in the Enscape ribbon, or by selecting Enscape Materials in the Enscape dropdown menu. Then use the native SketchUp pickup tool to select the material you would like to make emissive. This will allow you to adjust various settings relating to the material; to make it emissive, just check the box next to Self Illumination.

Check the Self Illumination box to make your material emissive

An emissive surface emitting white light and creating shadows

As you can see, the material surface emits a very bright light, which casts softer shadows. Emissive materials have one bounce less than artificial lights, which results in the light not being able to bounce around many corners. To change the brightness of the material, adjust the Luminance slider.

Global illumination is switched off in Enscape’s Draft Mode, so the light emitted by your emissive materials will no longer bounce. The surface will still be bright, as you can see in the image below, but the materials will no longer contribute to the overall lighting in your scene.

An emissive material contributing to the bounced light in the room

The same emissive material in draft mode

Emissive materials can be noisy and cause an effect known as fireflies. These types of surfaces cause artifacts commonly known as fireflies. If you encounter this effect, increase the size or decrease the brightness of your emissive surface. It is best to use emissive surfaces that are as large as possible to avoid noise.

What makes emissive materials so versatile is that you can illuminate both colors and textures. To apply a color to your emissive material, simply select a color from the drop down menu in the Enscape Materials Editor.

Emissive surface emitting a blue color

Match you color values for identical colors

To exactly match your material’s color to the color that is emitted as light, simply copy the color value out of the Advanced tab of the albedo color drop down menu into the same space in the emissive color menu.

Now check out what it looks like if you apply texture. For this example I have applied a wood floor as my texture, to emphasize the effect. It’s up to you whether to match the color of the light emitted to the color of the material itself. The generic white light that is emitted will still be slightly tinted to the color of the texture. If you would like the effect to be more intense, you can adjust the color of the light emitted, as I have done below.

Apply a texture and match the color

The texture applied to an emissive material with also glow

Emissive materials do have certain drawbacks. Occasionally, if the geometry you applied an emissive material to is not visible on screen, the light emitted by the surface may not contribute to the actual light level in the scene. For example, if you apply an emissive material to some geometry and then turn the camera so that it is no longer in view, the light being emitted by the surface might not show. If this occurs, try changing your camera perspective until part of the geometry is visible again, and the light will return.

How to Use Emissive Materials

One great way to use them to boost your scene’s realism is to apply them to digital screens. Have you ever looked at a rendered scene of a living room with a television, or an office full of computer monitors and felt there was something a little off? That’s because in real life, we are surrounded by glowing screens. Applying a low level emissive material can give your scene the authenticity it needs. Check out the living room below. It already looks pretty great, but the television and tablet appear a bit flat.

Select the texture on the screen using the pickup tool. You will see it in the albedo section of the Enscape Materials Editor. Just enable Self Illumination, and the screen will glow. Play around with the brightness; you probably won’t need it to be so bright that it contributes to the overall light level of the room – just bright enough to give off a visible glow. Depending on the situation, you can adjust the color of the light emitted to match. Above I did this with the television, but left the tablet with the default white light. Get creative!

A comfortable living room scene

Check out that reflection on the coffee table!

Another way to apply emissive materials to enhance the authenticity of your scene is to apply them to small glowing elements we see every day. One of my favorite new ways to use emissive materials is to enhance car models. The car below is meant to be idling in the main drive, but none of its lights are illuminated, detracting from the realness of the scene. Illuminate a few materials, and it looks like it could drive away before your eyes.

Use emissive materials in combination with artificial lights. Enscape doesn't render the actual source of artificial light, just the result: you won't see the point the light originates from, but you will see the light hitting part of your scene. Make the geometry inside the light fixture emissive to achieve a realistic lighting effect, without any post-production.

Just a little touch of light…

can make your scene much more authentic!

Emissive materials are also perfect when you want to create a lighting effect similar to an LED light, or for lighting up areas that are tricky to get to with artificial lights. Take for example recessed ceiling lighting, or LED lights that are installed along the tops of cabinets. These types of lights are seen both in residential houses and in office buildings or stores.

Achieving this effect with artificial lights can be time consuming, and might not give you the result you are looking for. Instead, try using emissive materials. It’s usually quick and easy, because the geometry already exists. Just apply an emissive material to the right spot, and it will give the effect of an LED light rail installed in a recessed space.

Emissive materials, along with any applied colors or textures, will be visible in reflections, unlike other types of indirect light. However, it is not possible to guarantee 100% accuracy in reflections; the more geometry that is involved, the less likely it is that the reflections will be accurate, for performance reasons. So if reflections are an important part of your scene, keep it simple.

Emissive Versus Artificial

So what is it important to consider when weighing emissive materials against artificial lights? Oftentimes it is not entirely clear which type of light might be the best for your situation. Take a look at the table below for a quick overview.

Emissive Artificial light
Shape and Size Illuminate every possible surface and shape Restricted to certain types and sizes (Spot, sphere, rectangle, disk, linear)
Light Potentially noisy, especially if powerful and small Almost noise free
Shadows Rather blurry Sharper
Bounce light Needs one indirect bounce to be visible at all Directly visible, therefore have one indirect bounce more than emissive
Customization Change the color and apply a texture to illuminate Only color can be changed
Performance Cause less performance strain than artificial lights Many artificial light sources can impact your real-time performance
Visibility Light can appear to turn off if the camera does not see the source Light is always visible, even if the camera is not facing the source
Light Level Adjustments Must be individually dimmed or brightened Can be collectively turned on and off via the Enscape Setting menu
Source Emits light, and shows where the light is emitted from Emits light, but shows no visible source

Size and Shape: Emissive materials can be applied to any size or shape of geometry. There is basically no limit to your creativity! Artificial lights, on the other hand, have pre-defined shapes and sizes.

Light: Diffuse light is potentially very noisy, especially if the emissive surface is small and bright. In these situations, it’s a better idea to use an area or point light, as artificial lights are virtually noise free.

Shadows: The light emitted by self-illuminated materials casts fuzzier, very blurry shadows. If you are looking for sharp, clean differentiations between light and dark, you might try a spot light instead.

Bounce light: The light given off by emissive materials has one bounce less than artificial lights. This results in the light not being able to bounce around many corners. Artificial lights bounce one time more and are therefore generally brighter.

Customization: You can apply a color to your artificial lights if you want to create a certain atmosphere or effect. However, emissive materials allow you to illuminate not only a color, but also an applied texture, leaving no limit on your creativity.

Performance: Placing many artificial light sources in your project can impact your performance, even if you have a top of the line graphics card. Using emissive materials to replace artificial light sources can improve your performance if you find your project lagging.

Visibility: It can be the case that the light from emissive materials seems to turn off when the source is not directly visible to the camera. You might find that if the light source is behind the camera, the emitted light will disappear as well. The light cast by artificial lights is always visible.

Light Level Adjustments: You can adjust the individual brightness of you artificial lights, but if you want them to be collectively brighter, or turn them all off, you can do this using the Light Brightness slider in the Advanced tab of the Enscape Settings menu. This setting does not affect emissive materials: if you want to dim or turn them off, you’ll need to adjust each material’s settings individually.

Source: Emissive materials emit light and show where the light is being emitted from; their light source is visible. With artificial lights, you will only see the light emitted, but not the source of that light in the form of a point or shape.

Rendering by Enscape Forum User Tas_1985


Emissive materials have numerous benefits, and can transform your project in terms of realism. They are easy to apply, and even easier to customize. Using emissive materials to make your screens glow and to achieve the effect of LED lighting is an easy way to add interesting elements to your project that draw the eye and spark the imagination. In terms of client presentations, it’s not simply about showing the project: it’s about creating and presenting a surrounding they could actually see themselves in. And with emissive materials, creating this world doesn’t have to take forever.

Finding the right combination and balance of emissive materials and artificial lights can be the difference between peaking your client’s interest, and making their dream project a reality. It’s important to know when to best use which type of light to achieve the effect you are going for. Take the time to carefully consider which light will serve you best, and you’ll end up blowing them away.

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How VR Can Help Architects Make Better Design Decisions https://enscape3d.com/how-vr-can-help-architects-make-better-design-decisions/ https://enscape3d.com/how-vr-can-help-architects-make-better-design-decisions/#respond Tue, 11 Sep 2018 07:39:43 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=33777 Not long ago, creating a virtual reality rendering of a building was a long, arduous process. Architecture firms had to enlist the help of programmers to create the environments with special software usually used by video game designers. The process would take weeks

The post How VR Can Help Architects Make Better Design Decisions appeared first on Enscape.


How VR Can Help Architects Make Better Design Decisions

Enscape makes virtual reality rendering easier than ever before.

Not long ago, creating a virtual reality rendering of a building was a long, arduous process. Architecture firms had to enlist the help of programmers to create the environments with special software usually used by video game designers. The process would take weeks. By the time the renderings were finished, they would often be out-of-date because the design process had since moved on.

Enter Enscape. Founders Moritz Luck and Thomas Schander wanted to find a way to take VR rendering for architects and make it faster. “We looked at the market and there was nothing there,” Luck says. So, they began developing their own software, rolling out a beta version in 2015.

Their product didn’t just make virtual reality faster, though. It made it instantaneous. Enscape is designed to work as an extension of common modeling programs Autodesk Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, and ArchiCAD. Users click one button and, in a few seconds, can see a three-dimensional virtual reality rendering of their designs. “You don’t have to learn a new program,” Luck says. “It’s easy. And it looks good.”

Rendering: Courtesy of Overland Partners

This helps designers communicate better with customers, who probably don’t have much experience looking at floorplans. Luck says it’s especially useful in helping customers envision large, open, multistory spaces like atriums and lobbies. “In 3D, you can grasp it.”

Clever Collaboration

But more than communicating with clients, Enscape helps designers communicate better with one another. Even looking at the same exact blueprints, it’s not uncommon for designers to come away with different mental images. Enscape removes the ambiguity.

San Antonio, Texas–based design firm Overland Partners had worked with other VR before but found the process long and difficult. Then Overland’s Director of Technology Daniel Carpio and BIM Manager Steve Fong stumbled across Enscape. They were impressed but skeptical at first of the company’s claims of real-time renderings, so they downloaded a demo. “We could not believe what we were seeing,” Carpio says. “It was doing everything it said and more.”

The software has changed the way Overland works. “If you go into our office now, everybody has two monitors,” says Overland Principal Bob Shemwell. One will show a design in Revit, while the other will feature an Enscape rendering of that design. “It would be impossible to walk through the office and not see somebody working on Enscape.”

Rendering: Courtesy of Overland Partners

Bringing Design to Life

The renderings really come alive, however, when connected with a virtual reality headset . Not long ago, Shemwell and Ben Rosas, Overland designer, were in a hotel lounge in Florida, gearing up for a presentation on a botanical garden Overland is designing. Rosas was tweaking the renderings as Shemwell wore a headset, offering him feedback. Then a line began to form. “The next thing you know we have the hotel desk clerk and a line of random people we didn’t know that we are walking through the model,” Shemwell says. “It’s technology, but, ultimately, it’s about people.”

Enscape’s ease of use and quality renderings are quickly making the software an industry standard. The program is now used by many of the world’s top architecture firms and the company is growing so fast they’ve had to find new office space. Luck says they hired an architect to design the new space, an old-school guy who was skeptical about the whole 3D thing. Then, as plans were being finalized, the architect realized there was a huge column smack in the middle of the room. “In 3D, it would have been clear from the start,” Luck laughs.

These are five things you can do using Enscape.

The Process

  1. Using geolocation, the program allows users to adjust the time of day  and year to see how sunlight comes through windows. It’s even possible to factor in shadows from other buildings. It’s not as precise as other methods but provides a quick and easy-to-understand reference. “That’s something you can very easily see in VR that’s very hard to tell in a floorplan in 2D,” Luck says.
  2. Enscape releases new versions of its software every three months, often with new features voted on by users on the company’s online forum. Based on this feedback, Luck says the company hopes to roll out virtual reality renderings for smartphones, tablets, and internet browsers. Enscape also plans to allow users to alter design elements from within the virtual reality environment.
  3. Using Enscape, architects can spot problems in their plans that wouldn’t otherwise be evident. On a recent project, Overland designers and engineers switched to an Enscape VR session and noticed a duct was poking through a wall. The problem was not evident in Revit, but in VR the error was as plain as day.
  4. Although the firm still uses physical models and sketches when presenting projects to customers or other stakeholders, Overland has started to incorporate virtual reality into its promotional materials. At one recent meeting with city leaders, the company used Enscape to create QR codes linked to 360 panoramas  of a nearby building so everyone could see how the soon-to-be-built structure would look from various vantage points. The firm plans to place QR codes on fencing surrounding the construction site, so passersby can see what’s coming and get excited.
  5. Many users view Enscape renderings on a computer screen but, for a really immersive experience, virtual reality headsets are the way to go. “You have to curate the experience for the client so they don’t feel like they’re going to look foolish,” Shemwell says. When clients feel comfortable , the payoffs are great. Carpio says, “When they take the headset off, there is a sense of euphoria and joy. They finally have a clear understanding of the reality of their project.”

Rendering: Courtesy of Overland Partners

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Tips for Interior Design https://enscape3d.com/tips-for-interior-design/ https://enscape3d.com/tips-for-interior-design/#respond Thu, 06 Sep 2018 08:16:05 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=32729 As I am the author of the only Revit textbook focused on Interior Design, Interior Design Using Autodesk Revit 2019 , one could say the topic is near and dear to my heart! In this article I would like to share several tips and some tricks anyone can use to create amazing interior graphics.

The post Tips for Interior Design appeared first on Enscape.


Tips for Interior Design


As I am the author of the only Revit textbook focused on Interior Design, Interior Design Using Autodesk Revit 2019 , one could say the topic is near and dear to my heart! In this article I would like to share several tips and some tricks anyone can use to create amazing interior graphics.

To emphasize how easy Enscape is to use, I created a custom design using a sample project, just for this article. The design effort and graphics all took about 8 hours to create. Using competing contemporary software and workflows, the rendering effort alone would likely take this same amount of time, including static post-production efforts.

By the way, some elements in the design were manufacturer-created and downloaded or borrowed from another project, and other elements are completely custom. I created the bookcase and rolling library ladder and downloaded several elements from BIMobject .

While not meant to be a dramatization, we will discuss a few ways to go from the descriptive image on the left to the emotive one to its right. Considering lighting , materials and entourage , to name a few fundamental elements, goes a long way in creating amazing, dynamic and easy to update graphics while fully engaging in the design process.

Comparison between two renders; descriptive (left) and emotive (right)


The big picture

Let’s take a moment to review and understand our featured image, which depicts a high-end publisher’s office. We are in a spacious urban location with an exposed structural slab, mechanical systems and floating ceiling above. The space is encompassed by a large expanse of glazing, which lets in a lot of daylight. Even with plentiful daylight, there is still an electric lighting need, for work tasks and accents. Sample inventory is featured in an expansive custom bookcase complete with a rolling ladder. Finally, several darker materials help to balance the massive amounts of daylighting and set the atmosphere desired by the client, which were revealed through several visual-listening meetings and correspondence.

Highly developed final render


With the goals of the project in mind, we want to emphasize the needs of the project and client while not letting the software or technology slow us down, or worse, dictate the outcome.

Turn on the lights

Good lighting cannot be overemphasized. As such, I am excited to be presenting later this year on professional lighting design at the AIA-Minnesota Convention 2018 in Minneapolis. I also presented on this topic at the world’s largest conference on architectural lighting; Lightfair 2018 in Chicago. Architects and interior designers have some amazing tools with which to design, study and analyze both daylight and electric lighting.

A good interior lighting  solution is not always easy to depict in a computer-generated illustration. Too often, lighting is underwhelming or faked in architectural renderings. But, with a physically-based rendering engine such as Enscape, we can get closer to reality without needing to add fake or hidden area lights and make time consuming post-production edits in Photoshop (or a similar image editing program). When using the techniques mentioned here and in the next section on materials, quality lighting helps set to overall tone of the scene. And, if the image seems off, it just might mean the lighting design needs to be reconsidered, not that the rendering needs superficial adjustments.

It is worth noting that the electric/artificial lights are always on in Enscape. However, in some cases the brightness of the daylight washes them out.


The image below shows our Revit scene with the Light Source sub-category turned on to reveal all sources of artificial lighting. I prefer to use accurate photometric light sources (IES files) whenever possible. They are not only used by Enscape, but also by professional lighting analysis tools like ElumTools to do point-by-point illuminance calculations. However, sometimes they are not available for a specific luminaire or do not produce the expected results, in which case the built-in Revit light sources can be used. Our sample project uses photometry for the two pendent lights and Revit’s ‘spot light’ for the rest.

Light sources exposed in the Revit view


The following image is missing several lighting elements which are part of the design. Thus, the image is not as dynamic or lively. Missing, as well, are hot spots on the bookcases and visible light sources from those same fixtures. A quick search online revealed several ready-to-use Revit families; this included the family file (RFA file), a type catalog (TXT file) and, in some cases, photometry data (IES file). The type catalog is saved in the same folder as the family file, and when the family is loaded (via Revit’s Load Family command) we are presented with all the predefined options for that specific model, such as standard lengths, luminous flux and power requirements.

Example of missing light fixtures


For the family I decided to use, I also modified the family for two things: to add a visible light source and include a void so the face-based family cuts the surface it is placed on (see two images below). Some light sources can have ‘emit light from source’ checked, and this spot light from point cannot. So, I created a self-illuminating material and painted it on the inside housing (I made the shade an orange color so it would be clear what was painted).


Revit light fixture family

Tips for Interior Design

Material with self-illumination


The difference may be subtle but can be clearly seen in the follow images: in one you see the light source and the other you do not. In both cases we benefit from the light emitted from the fixture. Notice, the color temperature of the light is also defined via Revit’s Initial Color parameter, with the value being measured in kelvin (e.g. 3000k).


Light source not visible


Light source visible


Develop materials

Materials should be developed for the project and not to fit the lighting scheme or rendering engine. Let’s not let technology dictate our design! To that end, use the advanced materials in Revit 2019, create your own or develop similar quality materials using Enscape’s Material Editor. In the Revit 2019 material editor, notice there are four images used to define albedo , roughness, bump and reflections.


Advanced Revit material


Advanced material settings


To see the level of realism added, you can compare the texture with the traditional Generic Revit material shader. It’s a world of difference in Enscape. It is the same texture and scale but lacking the roughness, bump and reflection definition.

Material orientation is also important in the creation of a natural feeling graphic. The default orientation of the wood grain, for example, may not be ideal in all cases. For instance, the panels between the lower and upper bookcases may look best if the grain is rotated ninety degrees – compare the two images below.


Default material orientation


Modified material orientation


In Revit, it may not always be obvious how to rotate a material, especially when there is no model pattern applied to the objects surface. But that is the key: apply a model pattern, tab to select it and rotate it. When a model pattern is rotated, the texture is also rotated. Once positioned, the model pattern can be changed with another which has a large spacing, so it does not appear in construction drawings (but you cannot remove the model pattern, as the texture will reset).


Model pattern can be selected and rotated


Model pattern applied to material


Entourage, entourage, entourage

Architecture is for people, and people help define scale in an architectural presentation. Adding them in Revit is easy, especially if you have the ArchVision  subscription, create custom RPC’s or own some of the AXYZ  premium content. In the image below, I used one AXYZ (on right), one custom 3D (me, on the left) and one custom 2D RPC (my friend Jon Rose at the desk). Not only are they easy to add in Revit, compared to post-processing in Photoshop, you can capture any number of angles (like the two extra ones shown here).

Fully 3D Custom and professional RPC examples


In the image above, you can also see a reflection of the person on the television screen. And below, notice the shadow cast on the person and by the person; normally I would move the person or adjust the lighting, but to make this point I did not. All of this would take a lot of extra time in post-processing and if you are not a “Layers” expert in Photoshop, design changes are often avoided to limit the amount of rework required – especially if the vantage point or perspective changes.
There are many ways to create your own content; I discuss a few of them in this article about Custom RPC Content in Enscape .

Custom 2D RPC example with adjusted depth of field


View the composition

With all the concepts previously discussed in this article applied to your project, view composition is literally a joy. This is where all your thoughtful work pays off. It is very easy to get carried away with the number of views and combination of settings , possible to create an array of provocative images ! I find the best workflow is to compose a view in Escape and then save the view back to Revit, rather than trying to compose the view in Revit first.

Be sure to set the Enscape-created view to Fine for level of detail in Revit. Also, the cropped view created by Enscape may not have the same ‘field of view’ but the Enscape view will match the original view composition as long as the Enscape settings have not been changed.


View composed in Enscape and then saved back to Revit



The thoughtful use of lights, materials and model-based entourage can transform a descriptive image into an emotive graphic that will surely resonate with your clients and project stakeholders. Not to mention the freedom to improve the design without the worry of massive rework of your presentation materials.

Enscape empowers interior designers and architects to validate their design ideas as they design. It also facilitates a deeper sense of client comprehension. As I have mentioned in several previous posts, Enscape can produce amazing results with minimal energy. But with a little extra effort and understanding of the tools and techniques, the results can be simply breathtaking!

Hopefully this article has inspired you to take your architectural visualizations to the next level in significantly less time, now that it can be done with such ease in real-time!

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB – a 250 person full-service design firm.

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Free resources for architectural projects https://enscape3d.com/free-resources-for-architectural-projects/ https://enscape3d.com/free-resources-for-architectural-projects/#respond Thu, 30 Aug 2018 12:06:34 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=32288 You’ve probably seen it before, that rendering that at first glance fools you into thinking it is a photograph of an actual room or building. Just by viewing your project in Enscape, you can achieve fantastic results, but how do you take your project to the next level, to amaze your clients with the authenticity and atmosphere of the scene? As beautiful as your building is, you’ll be hard pressed to inspire your client’s imagination if all the rooms are empty.

The post Free resources for architectural projects appeared first on Enscape.


Free resources for architectural projects


You’ve probably seen it before, that rendering that at first glance fools you into thinking it is a photograph of an actual room or building .

Just by viewing your project in Enscape, you can achieve fantastic results, but how do you take your project to the next level, to amaze your clients with the authenticity and atmosphere of the scene? As beautiful as your building is, you’ll be hard pressed to inspire your client’s imagination if all the rooms are empty.

Choosing this content can be overwhelming, simply because there are so many different sources. And acquiring the content can get expensive, especially if you need a lot of it. But if you know where to look, the right elements don’t have to cost an arm and a leg – in fact, they don’t have to cost anything at all!

This blog post will summarize some of the best sources out there for free elements to add to your architectural project: from furniture and skyboxes to textures, and everything in between! Create an emotional experience for your clients without breaking the bank!

Overview about free resources for architectural projects:

1. Free Textures
2. Entourage and Accessories
3. 3D People
4. IES Lights
5. Trees and Vegetation
6. Skyboxes
7. Sound Files


1. Free Textures

The right textures can take your rendering from lifelike to astounding. And there are a lot of resources out there were you can find high quality, free textures that will take your model to the next level. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites.

Why textures are important to architectural design:

Let’s take a look at what these textures can do. The ground floor of this beautiful Revit project already catches the eye, but free textures can make it pop even more. I downloaded just four free textures from the above websites, a wood floor, a plaster texture, a wallpaper and some tiles, and quickly applied them. Take a look at the results: in just a few minutes, the project already looks much more inviting! Applying textures, in this case especially the wood floor texture, gives the room a more authentic feel. And the tile backsplash in the kitchen livens the scene up immediately.


A living room and kitchen area without any applied textures.


The same space with five textures applied to the walls and floor.

Where to find:

1. CC0 Textures   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
At the top of the list is CC0 Textures. All of the available textures and maps are licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 License, so you use them however you like, even commercially. The textures are available at high resolutions, many with sizes of up to 8192px, allowing for detailed surfaces.

2. 3D Textures   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
3D Textures is the website of João Paulo, a freelance designer and 3D artist from Portugal. He offers free seamless textures with diffuse, normal, displacement, occlusion, specularity and roughness maps. The quality is great, and you have the option to download all of the maps together in a ZIP file, or just download the one you need.

3. 3DXO   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
3DXO has around 600 free textures to choose from. Their website is incredibly easy to navigate: find what you are looking for through a keyword search, or browse their extensive categories list. With one click you can download a ZIP file containing diffuse, bump and specular maps.

4. Poliigon   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD) – Sign-Up Required
The vast majority of the textures at Poliigon.com are not available for free; in fact, they only have 54 textures available free of charge. However, the textures they do have are high quality, and spread across a wide range of categories. You need to register an account to download the free textures, but it’s relatively painless when you consider how nice the textures are.

5. Textures.com   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD) – Sign-Up Required
Textures.com has a huge selection of textures across a wide variety of categories. The only drawback here is that you have to register an account to download the textures, and you are restricted as to how many you can download per day. When you have registered your account, you receive 15 credits every 24 hours, and with these credits you can download small and medium sized images. Every night at midnight, your credit number resets itself to 15.

6. ArtchViz   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD) – Facebook Account Required
ArtchViz has around 200 textures available on their Facebook page for free download. They mainly have wood, marble, and flooring textures, but they are high quality, seamless images. Additionally, the company frequently updates it’s page with new textures. You do have to have to be logged in to a Facebook account to download the textures, but beyond that there is no additional sign-up required.


2. Entourage and Accessories

3D models, entourage elements and RPCs are invaluable for creating realistic renderings, and they will take your projects to the next level. This covers everything from plants to trees, knick-knacks, furniture, people, and everything in between. Your project will impress based on its architectural beauty alone, but when you add these extra elements, your clients will really be able to see themselves in the scenes!

Why entourage and accessories are important to architectural design:

Let’s use the above resources to keep developing our Revit model! It can take a little work to find the right elements to add to your space, but if you invest the time, you can enrich your model and your client’s experience immeasurably! In the below pictures, I have added some furniture to the model to make it more realistic.

Furniture already transforms the space, but what really elevate a scene are the little things that make up daily life, the glasses and books and vases that make a space look lived in: entourage. It is important to take a little time and care when placing your entourage. Try to skew and rotate the objects to make them look more natural; almost no one lives in a home that is always perfectly in order!


An empty architectural space becomes…


… a realistic living space decorated entirely with free models.

Where to find free entourage and accessories:

1. SketchUp 3D Warehouse   (SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
The SketchUp 3D Warehouse almost doesn’t need to be mentioned here, as it is already so well known. It houses an enormous library of free content, with varying quality. A lot of users complain that overall, the quality of the models in the Warehouse is not high enough, however I have had a lot of success by searching for collections, instead of models. I also wanted to emphasize for Rhino and ArchiCAD users, that you can download and use the models from the 3D Warehouse, too! Both Rhino and ArchiCAD support .skp files. You will find a little bit of everything here: furniture, cars, light fixtures and much more!

2. ArchiBase Planet   (SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
I have to say right at the beginning that archibaseplanet.com  is not the most appealing website you will ever see, design-wise. However, this is something I can personally get over pretty quickly, as the amount of free, quality models is just amazing. Sure, there are a lot of banner ads, but the categories are easy to navigate and each category has hundreds of models to choose from. There’s almost 300 models in the fireplace category alone. Best of all, you don’t have to register to download the models!

3. Cgtrader   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD) – Sign-Up Required
Cgtrader.com is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, they have hundreds, maybe even thousands of lovely 3D models available for free. You have to register an account to download them, but after that you can choose from up to 10 different file formats and download the models with one click. On the other hand, you can’t filter out the paid models. If you search a category or keyword, you can check the box for “Free”, but you will still see models that require you to pay. For example, I searched for free plant models, and only 15 of the 30 shown options were actually free. But if you can get over this, you will find nice, high quality models!

4. pCon.box   (SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
This website is quite possibly one of my favorites on the list, simply because it is just a really slick tool. At box.pcon-solutions.com you will find brand-specific 3D models of mostly office furniture. You don’t have to sign-up an account to view and download the models. The very cool thing about pCon.box is that you can immediately view and adjust the model in a 3D modeling space. Not only that, but you can immediately customize your models to the fabric and materials you want to use. And, you can add multiple 3D models to the modeling space, arrange them how you would like, and export them as a group.

5. Bimobject   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD) – Sign-Up Required
If you are looking for manufacturer specific BIM models, look no further than bimobject.com. They have models from over 1000 brands, organized in a pretty smooth category system. You can navigate by object type, brand, or even file type. You do have to register an account to download anything, but this is a small price to pay for the amount of quality models made available. And even better, bimobject has apps available for SketchUp, Revit and ArchiCAD, which are free to download and use, so you don’t have to manually download the models from the website: you can drag and drop them right into your project!

6. Modlar   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD) – Sign-Up Required
Modlar.com is another website that provides manufacturer-specific 3D models, free of charge. You do have to register an account, or log in using your Google, Facebook or LinkedIn account. You can browse models by category, brand or project type (residential or commercial). What is particularly cool about Modlar is that you can save, or essentially bookmark, 3D models to download later. Not all models are available in all file types, so sometimes you have to search a bit to find what you are looking for; however, even if your desired model isn’t available for your CAD software, there are plenty of great alternatives.


7. RevitCity    (Revit) – Sign-Up Required
RevitCity.com is similar to the SketchUp 3D Warehouse, in that the content is user-generated, and therefore the quality can be hit or miss. On the other hand, the amount of content specifically for Revit is overwhelming, and there are some cool features, like being able to comment on models and start conversations with other users. You can also rate the models. To download, comment or rate, you have to register a free account.


3. 3D People

Adding 3D people to your scene can really be the icing on the cake, especially in still renderings. Your office might be perfectly decorated, but until there are workers milling about, the scene lacks that certain something. Take the scene from one your client likes, to one they can imagine themselves in. Finding quality 3D people can be challenging, so check out some of the sources below as a jumping off-point.

Why 3D People are important to architectural design:

One last step is to add some 3D people to the scene. I just quickly copied and pasted some characters out of the Enscape RPC sample project, and check out the results! Carefully consider which people models to add to your project. In the best case scenario, you want it to look like they are interacting with your scene, not just dropped into it. To maximize this effect, look for models that are naturally placed, for example, holding a phone or taking a step.


Placing RPCs turns this from an empty house…


… to a family affair.

Where to find free 3D people:

1. 3D Warehouse and Archibase Planet (SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
To repeat two of the websites named above, the SketchUp 3D Warehouse  and Archibase Planet  both have a number of people models available, though in both cases, you might have to search a bit until you find the right, high quality ones.

2. RenderPeople   (SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
Render people mainly offers paid 3D people, but have also made several test models available for download. They are available in a variety of file formats that will cover SketchUp, ArchiCAD and Rhino users.

3. Human Alloy   (SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD) – Sign-Up Required
Human Alloy also offers mainly paid content, but they have made a couple of their models available free of charge in a variety of file formats. You do have to sign up for a free account.

4. RPC Content for Revit (Revit)
If you are looking for free, high quality RPC content for Revit, specifically for 3D people, you might be looking for a while. There are few free resources that reach the quality of Archvision. You can, however, try out a free RPC Entourage Starter Pack  if you don’t already have an Archvision subscription. Additionally, there are several human models that are shipped with Revit which look great in Enscape; check out Dan Stine’s previous blog post  about this. Or, if you are feeling creative, you can follow Dan’s instructions here  and create your own RPC content. Maybe the quickest way to add RPCs to your Revit model is to use our free RPC test project . It has a selection of ten 3D people to choose from.


4. IES Lights

Adding IES light profiles to your fixtures is a subtle but effective way to make your model even more authentic. IES stands for Illuminating Engineering Society, which created a file format to transfer photometric data via the internet. Today the format is widely used by lighting manufacturers. The great thing about IES lights is that they represent realistic light  emission patterns based on manufacturer specifications; it’s the digital version of a real world light. This means that if you know which lighting product you are going to use for a project, you can check whether there is an IES profile available for that product, and give your model a huge dose of reality. IES light files are created and made available by many major lighting manufacturers and can usually be downloaded from their website at no cost. IES files can be used in any of the CAD programs supported by Enscape.

Why IES Lights are important to architectural design:

Here is what our developing model looks like in the evening and at night with some added IES lights. I don’t have to tell you that the biggest difference is that you can now actually see the model after the sun has gone down. But much more importantly, carefully placing your lights adds accuracy to your scene. If you are designing a new home for a client, they won’t just want to know what it will look like during the day. Using IES profiles, you can give them an accurate picture of the atmosphere in their new home at any given time.


Your room can’t make an impression in the dark.


IES light profiles let your model shine at any time of day.

Where to find free IES lights:

1. Phillips   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
Obviously one of the leaders in the lighting industry is Phillips, who have developed an extremely handy and extensive database of IES profiles. You can access them all for free using their Philips Photometric Database. If you know which product you are using, you can search for that specific IES profile. However, what is so great about the tool is that you can search by light fixture, and see which lighting options are available for that fixture. Once you have selected your product, you can download the IES profile directly to your computer.

2. American Electric Lighting   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
America Electric Lighting joined the Acuity Lighting Group in 2001, and you can find IES profiles for their products on their website. They offer well over 1000 IES profiles. You can either find the specific profile you are looking for and just download that file, or download a ZIP archive of all available files.

3. Lithonia   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
Lithonia is another member of the Acuity Lighting Group, and also provides lighting for everything from commercial buildings to residential projects. Just like American Electric Lighting, Lithonia lets you download individual files, or their whole archive as a ZIP file.

4. Erco   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
The German company ERCO is one of the leaders in the field of architectural lighting using LED technology. On their website, you can search their product catalog and download ZIP files containing IES profiles for entire product families.

5. LA Lighting   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
LA Lighting is a great resource for commercial and industrial lighting. Browse their extensive catalog, and then download the corresponding light profiles for over 200 light fixtures directly from their website.


5. Trees and Vegetation

Trees and vegetation are important to ground your scene in reality, inside and out. Whether it is placing potted plants in the lobby of an office building, or adding trees to the exterior of your model, vegetation makes your scenes more dynamic and authentic. We are so used to seeing nature elements in our everyday lives that it is immediately apparent when they are missing from a rendering. Take a look at some of the websites below and find the plants that are just right for you.

Why trees and vegetation are important to architectural design:

As you can see in our model below, adding tree and vegetation especially to the outside of your model can make all the difference. It’s rare to see a house without some form of landscaping in the real world, which is why our model looks so stark without any plants by taking the time and adding some of the models from the Enscape RPC test project, I can give the model a welcoming yard that makes the rendered image much more dynamic.


Without trees, this scene is rather stark…


… but, add a little vegetation, and it really blooms!

Where to find free trees and vegetation:

1. SketchUp 3D Warehouse   (SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
Obviously there are hundreds of vegetation models in the 3D Warehouse, but I wanted to emphasize those by user SkapeUp . He originally posted in the Enscape Forum in 2017  that he had made some plants specifically for use in Enscape, and they really look great! He now has nearly 100 2D and 3D vegetation models available.

2. Cgtrader   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD) – Sign-Up Required
Cgtrader was also already mentioned in the section about entourage, but I wanted to repeat it below because it has some really nice vegetation models, especially houseplants. Once again, you have to search a bit to find your desired file type, but with close to 1000 free models available, there’s something for everyone.

3. SketchUp Texture Club   (SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD) – Sign-Up Required
SketchUp Texture Club also has a nice selection of free textures and entourage, but I wanted to specifically mention their vegetation collections. They have six collections available for download, with a wide array of variety. There is a really nice palm tree collection, and a collection that has some bare trees, if you are going for a more wintery effect. You do have to sign up to download the models, but by doing this you will also get access to their free textures, so it’s worth a look.

4. Polantis    (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD) – Sign-Up Required
Polantis has over 100 trees available for download in many different file formats. What is so great about the vegetation available at Polantis is that most of the models available are for specific types of trees. So if you are looking for a baobab tree, a California buckeye, or a maidenhair tree, look no further than Polantis. The drawback is that you have to register an account to download the models, and you can only download three models a day, so you’ll need to practice patience.

5. Enscape RPC Test Project   (Revit)
The easiest way to add vegetation to your Revit model is to use our free RPC test project. Just copy and paste the trees and plants you like directly into your model. There are nearly 100 models to choose from in a variety of sizes, colors, and types. No sign up required!


6. Skyboxes

If you want to vary the background in your model, the easiest way to do this is to use a skybox in Enscape. You can load it right into your model via the Atmosphere tab of the Settings menu: Skybox as a background. Skyboxes loaded into Enscape must be either in Longitude/Latitude (panorama) or cross format. For more information, check out our Knowledgebase article  on this topic.

Why Skyboxes are important to architectural design:

Take a look at our model with two different skyboxes applied; just that little adjustment changes the atmosphere completely! The generic Enscape sky is a nice backdrop by itself, but if you have a specific location in mind for the building, using a skybox can transport your client there with one click. Even if you are not aiming to represent a specific location, you can use skyboxes to lend a certain atmosphere to the rendering. Use a forest skybox for a more intimate, rustic feeling, or any residential street to ground the scene in reality.


Use the Enscape sky for a more universal look…


… or add a skybox to place your model in a specific location!

Where to find free skyboxes:

1. Enscape Backgrounds   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
You can download a collection of 12 skyboxes directly from our website. They are HDR backgrounds in cross format, which can immediately be loaded into Enscape.

2. Textures.com   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
Textures.com doesn’t just have a lot of high quality textures, they also have HDR panoramas available. They have a nice selection available, though with your daily free credits, you are only able to download the smallest image size.

3. Texturify   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
On Texturify you’ll find both sky background and environment panoramas. The environment panoramas are great if you want to set up a scene to make it look like your building is situated along a city street, or a more exotic location. You can download high quality panoramas without registering and with just one click.

4. HDRI Haven   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
HDRI Havenis one of my favorite resources for free high quality panoramas. They have everything from urban backgrounds to countryside scenes. All of the panoramas are free and available in varying qualities, from 1K to 16K.

3. sIBL Archive   (Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, ArchiCAD)
The sIBL Archive has upwards of 100 free high quality panoramas available for immediate download. You don’t need to register an account, just choose your panorama and with one click download a ZIP file containing varying resolutions of the image.

6. Make Your Own!
If you didn’t find a skybox from one of these sources, or if you are going for that extra level of realism, consider making your skybox! Enscape supports Skybox image files (*.hdr, *.bmp, *.jpg, *jpeg, *png, *tif, *.tiff, *.tga) either in cross or panoramic (Longitude/Latitude) format. Panoramic skyboxes should have a resolution ratio close to 2:1. You can, for example, take a panorama of the site where your future building is to be situated to show your client exactly what the view from their future office will look like.


7. Sound Files

The elements discussed above are all great for still renderings, but sound sources are the way to really make your model pop during a real-time walkthrough. In Revit and SketchUp, you can add a sound source to your model in just three clicks, and immediately boost the authenticity of the scene. Add crown noises to a shopping mall, conversation to a restaurant, or make music come out of a record player in the living room. You can use any MP3 or WAV file for your sound source, but most people probably don’t have an MP3 of rain sounds or a crowded room. Luckily, there are great websites out there where you can find just such sounds for free.

Why sound files are important to present architectural design:

Placing an Enscape sound source takes just a few clicks, and takes the live walk-through of your model to the next level. Learn more about placing sound sources here  in our dedicated Knowledgebase article. During your live walk-through you will then be able to create the exact atmosphere you are looking for. Add the sound of soft rain to create an intimate space, or footsteps to enhance your crowded shopping center, or airplanes flying overhead your future airport terminal. If you are viewing the model in VR, you might even forget that the project hasn’t been built yet!

Where to find free sound files:

1. FreeSoundEffects.com   (Revit, SketchUp)
This website has both free and paid sound effects, but their free ones are definitely worth a look. You don’t have to register an account, and can choose between MP3 and WAV formats. They have a lot of specialized sound effects you might have difficulties finding on other site, like office sounds or airplanes passing overhead.

2. SoundBible   (Revit, SketchUp)
SoundBible.com is another site with a lot of variety. You don’t have to register to download the files, which are all available in MP3 and WAV formats. You can preview the sound directly on the site, and they upload new files every week. You’re sure to find what you’re looking for here.

3. freesound   (Revit, SketchUp) – Sign-Up Required
At freesound.org, you can download hundreds of sounds for free; they have all been released under Creative Commons licenses. If you are not sure what you are looking for, you can browse by keyword or tags. There’s a little something for everyone, from city street recordings to sounds of crickets chirping in a meadow. All the files are free, though you do have to register an account to download anything.


8. Manage your resources


Manage your resources effectively!

One thing to keep in mind before you begin to browse through the websites we have summarized above is how to manage all of the files you will end up downloading. Between testing out materials, and seeing which chair looks best at the kitchen table you picked out, you can end up with a lot of files floating around on your computer. Here’s some tips on how to organize your resources so they don’t end up lost in your Downloads folder.

First, decide which elements you need for your project. Depending on the effect you are going for, you might not need to add all of the elements discussed above. Next, create a resource folder list to house all of your files. You can think of it as your personal library. Expand this collection even further with each project you work on. With a nicely organized list, you’ll never have to search through your Downloads or Documents folder again; all of your free resources will be right at your fingertips!


Refining and enhancing your model with the five elements discussed above can make all the difference between a happy client and an amazed one. After all, you don’t simply want them to like your model – you want them to see themselves in it. Adding some furniture and decorations, 3D people and the right background will make your clients think they are looking at a picture of the finished product. And this wow-effect doesn’t have to be expensive: in fact, as you have seen, it doesn’t have to cost a penny! Elevate your project with these resources, and improve your time-management by organizing them effectively.

So here is our finished model, before and after! In just seven easy steps, and using completely free elements, we took it from ordinary to extraordinary!


A beautiful, but empty architectural space is transformed into…


… a vibrant, lived-in house!

The websites I have discussed above are great places to start, but do some exploring of your own, too! There are so many free resources out there that it is impossible to feature them all on one blog post. And, we’d love to expand this list and feature more sites in the future, so if you have some personal favorites that were missing from this list, feel free to share them with us at support@enscape3d.com . All of the websites on this list offer free files, but many of them only exist because of user donations, so if there is a site you particularly value, consider giving back by making a small donation!

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Best Practices: Albedo in Architectural Design https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-albedo-in-architectural-design/ https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-albedo-in-architectural-design/#respond Thu, 16 Aug 2018 06:00:32 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=32192 A rendering technique nearly perfected in the gaming world is the understanding and application of Albedo to their materials. The result is a consistent, more realistic effect throughout all your images and projects.

The post Best Practices: Albedo in Architectural Design appeared first on Enscape.


Best Practices: Manage Your Albedo in Enscape


A rendering technique nearly perfected in the gaming world is the understanding and application of Albedo to their materials. The result is a consistent, more realistic effect throughout all your images and projects.

It is fruitful to continue to develop your skills professionally. This is true in any profession, but even more so in the AEC space, given the complexity of the built environment: materials, costs, science, health, environment, art, efficiency, human comfort and much more. There are small things that can be done to make the results even more appealing and realistic. Albedo is one of them.

It’s important to know the meaning behind the colors if you want to create consistent renderings. For example, the brightness relation of concrete, paper and snow can be easily mixed up and lead to implausible images. It becomes obvious for vegetation if you use unrealistic greens. Using albedo reference images or tables ensures that your materials are physically correct and if you’re still unhappy with the result, it might be a better idea to change the lighting conditions.

The big picture

Let’s start with a high-level overview of what this somewhat uncommon thing called albedo is.

Albedo definition
“The fraction of incident light or radiation reflected by a surface or body, commonly expressed as a percentage.” From Wiktionary 

  • Albedo, where “ALB” is from the Latin “Albus” which means white.
  • Albedo is to be distinguished from reflectivity, which refers to one specific wavelength (monochromatic radiation).
  • The amount of light reflected back from a surface, defined by a value between 0.00 and 1.00.


Albedo is similar to, but not exactly the same as, luminance which measures the brightness of light reflected off a surface. It is scaled by the materials albedo – a darker surface reflects less light, hence causing less luminance. We use the terms luminance and illuminance in lighting design along with specific surface reflectance values.

For albedo, the amount of light reflected depends on the surface. For example, fresh asphalt is very dark and reflects little light; 0.04 (RGB 59-59-59). At the other end of the spectrum we have fresh snow which is a light color and reflects a lot of light; 0.80 – 0.90 (RGB 243-243-243).

Going briefly back to the comparison with lighting design and surface reflectance: some material manufacturers publish surface reflectance values for their products. For example, USG makes ceiling products in North America and have published Light Reflectance – a listing of the surface reflectance values for their products. Here, you will notice the ceiling components are mostly white and have a high light reflectance value between 0.81 – 0.89.

Example surface reflectance values for USG ceiling systems


The fundamental principal is the same between albedo and reflectance/luminance, in that darker colors result in a lower number (less reflective) and higher numbers indicate lighter colors (more reflective).


The Albedo Challenge

Why does the concept of albedo matter in architectural visualization? Let’s take a look at a simple office rendering, comparing a bad and good image in terms of albedo.

Looking at the first image below, something just doesn’t look right. It is not believable nor realistic. We know what the image represents – it’s an office space. But can you tell what’s wrong? The whites are too white, the grass is too dark and the mousepad is solid black.

Now compare this with the albedo-corrected image. The whites are softer, the grass is natural and even the mouse pad looks better. When the proper albedo is applied, the combination of all elements will look more realistic from any view and lighting condition. We no longer need to compensate for a poor rendering engine by using full whites/blacks and other tricks. We can now focus on the physical environment and its measured attributes.


Unrealistic image due to wrong albedo


More realistic image due to correct albedo


Reference Charts

Scientists have measured and documented the albedo of many materials. And, by the way, astronomers measure albedo of planets and asteroids to help understand surface composition. Gaming developers have done a great job of applying those results in the development of Physically Based Shader (PBS) materials to increase the level or realism and consistency in their game environments. We can and should do the same in architecture!

Here is one simple list of albedo values for a few materials spread out across the full spectrum between 0.00 and 1.00. The links provided below offer more detailed charts.


Fresh asphalt0.0459-59-59
Worn asphalt0.1291-91-91
Bare soil0.1785-61-49
Green grass0.25123-130-78
New concrete0.55192-191-187
Ocean Ice0.5–0.7148-148-148
Fresh snow0.80–0.90243-243-243


Enscape rendered image depicting the base-range of the full albedo spectrum


I highly recommend you read what some of the gaming designers have written. Marcos Borregales published a nice reference on his blog Technical Art Adventures here: PBR – Albedo Cheat Sheet.

Unity offers this interesting document on representing dark materials, Materials authoring guidelines 1: dark dielectric materials (PDF). This document starts with the following introduction: “With the large adoption of Physically Based Shading, game materials parameters changed and replaced diffuse color with Albedo. This parameter represents the characteristic color of an object, and is independent from the lighting conditions. It can be measured and a lot of documents have appeared online, giving reference values for Albedo. Most of them recommend using a range of albedo comprised between 50 and 243 (in 8 bit sRGB).

Finally, for reference material, if you really want to get into the “weeds” on this topic you should also read these two posts by Sébastien Lagarde:
DONTNOD Physically based rendering chart for Unreal Engine 4  
Feeding a physically based shading model 

One last comment on these charts is that they are listed in various formats, such as 0-1, RGB, sRGB and a three-digit number representing the RGB average. If they provide a color swatch, I will sometimes use Photoshop’s color picker tool to sample the RGB value for entry into Revit or SketchUp.


Enscape and Albedo

Enscape encourages designers to consider the proper albedo to generate more consistent and realistic imagery. Thus, this blog post! You will even see the term used within Enscape’s Material Editor in SketchUp as shown in the image below. In this context, albedo refers to the main texture or color, from which the albedo value can be derived and compared to the “standards” charts previously mentioned.

Enscape Material Editor with Albedo Settings in SketchUp


Grass example in Revit

A good example, using a regular challenge introduced by a default Revit material used by many, is grass. The image below contrasts the two default Revit-provided grass materials, left and right, with a custom material using a standard albedo in the center. The second image below is the raster image shipped with Revit for grass. It is easy to see how this texture is way to dark to represent the average grass in a rendering.


Comparing grass in Revit


Default Revit grass texture

Here are two building renderings, first with the default grass and the other with the preferred albedo. In the first image the grass is just too dark. A common reaction, in the past, might have been to adjust ambient lighting to compensate. But doing so changes the rest of the image. Some might have done post processing in a raster editing program, such as Photoshop, to edit just the grassy areas. However, this was time consuming and reflections are nearly impossible to change.

In the second image, with corrected albedo for grass, the overall image feels more natural. Notice even the grass visible through the building does a better job of fulfilling the design intent compared to the first image, which leaves the backside of the building looking dark and even stormy.

I will admit that the grass is still not perfect in this image. This is an academic example using a solid color for Enscape to sample. In the near future, I have some exciting tips to share about making grass more natural looking through randomness of color within the extents of the grassy areas.


Wrong albedo – grass too dark


Corrected albedo – grass more realistic


Albedo might seem like an insignificant setting, but in fact it has a big impact on the believability of your renders. The game industry understood this and applies albedo consistently to achieve realistic effects. We can and should do the same in architecture!

It can be a challenge finding an albedo standard for all materials we use. But, with a firm understanding of the concept and application of the basics, we can make some assumptions which will result in beautiful images which will impress our clients and peers. Please check the tables and links in this article – save them to your bookmarks to find them easily.

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB – a 250 person full-service design firm.

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Best Practices: Lighting in SketchUp https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-lighting-in-sketchup/ https://enscape3d.com/best-practices-lighting-in-sketchup/#respond Thu, 09 Aug 2018 11:00:24 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=31862 Best Practices: Lighting in SketchUp   How do you elevate your model, and create an experience the viewer will never forget? Lighting is crucial to creating not only realistic scenes, but also to leaving a lasting impression and conveying a certain feeling. All lights are not equal, and it is not surprising that many users […]

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Best Practices: Lighting in SketchUp



How do you elevate your model, and create an experience the viewer will never forget? Lighting is crucial to creating not only realistic scenes, but also to leaving a lasting impression and conveying a certain feeling. All lights are not equal, and it is not surprising that many users are in the dark about which light best suits their needs. This post will provide an overview of the lighting options available via the Enscape Objects window in SketchUp: spot light, sphere light, rectangular light, disk light and linear light.

The aim is to provide you with useful information and helpful tips to take your scenes to the next level. For a more focused, but equally illuminating discussion of lighting techniques in SketchUp, take a look at Dan Stine’s blog post on the topic. He recently also wrote a similar post for Revit users. Let’s get started!


Types of Lights in SketchUp

There are five different lights you can add via this window:

Once you successfully add a light to your project, you will be able to fine-tune various settings for the individual lights in this window. In addition to lights, this window also allows you to add sound sources and proxies to your model.

Let’s take a closer look at the five different lights you can add in SketchUp. All of the lights can be placed with the easy 2-Click System; even if you’ve never placed an Enscape light before, you can learn it in seconds! It is important to note that while Enscape has a good performance impact in relation to lights, real-time rendering can’t process an unlimited number of light sources. How smoothly your project runs comes down to a combination of your hardware, the size of your project, and the number of lights. The number and intensity of your light sources will impact the performance greatly, especially if the lights overlap.


Spot light

A spot light is fairly self-explanatory; it functions similarly to a spot light in real life and provides a very direct source of light. A spot light is a cone of light which emits light from a single point in one direction (Image 1). By changing how wide the cone angle is, you can control how much of your scene is actually illuminated. The width of the cone can also determine whether the light is hard or soft.
Practical uses for spot lights include store displays, desk lamps, street lights or stage lighting. They can also be used in a scene to create dramatic lighting effects, as they are useful for creating an obvious falloff from light to dark.

Placing a Spot Light

To add a spot light, select it in the Enscape Objects window. I’m going to place a spot light in my project to add a bit of drama to a rooftop terrace. There is already geometry in place representing light fixtures along the edge of the roof.


1. Light cone of a spot light


2. Placed spot light and Objects window with adjustable settings


A spot light can be placed with four clicks: two to determine the endpoint and two to determine the direction of the light cone . Click once to place the endpoint of your light. You can then decide whether to slide the light along a certain axis. Do so and click again to affix the light source. On the third click, you will have the opportunity to determine the point you want to illuminate. Adjust to the desired point and click one last time.

It is important not to place any of your light sources directly on the surface of your geometry, but just before it. If you set it directly on the surface, the light could become obscured by the geometry. This is why the 2-Click System is so efficient. In two clicks you can define the endpoint and ensure the light source is in front of the geometry, and in another two, set the angle and range. You can also use the Left, Up and Right arrow keys between the first and second clicks to set a specific axis direction.


You will see the light represented as geometry in SketchUp (Image 2). As soon as you have placed the spot light, you will be able to edit two settings in the Enscape Objects window: Luminous Intensity and Beam Angle. The Luminous Intensity slider allows you to adjust the brightness and maximal range of the light, measured in candelas. The Beam Angle slider controls the width of the beam, in degrees. If you have an IES profile you would like to use, you can load it via the Enscape Objects window by clicking Load IES profile.
Check out what our spot light looks like on the roof (Image 3). Kind of lonely, right?


3. Single spot light


4. Four spot lights placed using Copy/Paste


A great tip for all light sources is that you can copy and paste them, adding efficiency to your workflow. For instance, continuing the example from above, one spot light does not light up the scene effectively, and there is geometry existing for four lamps across the front edge of the roof. Instead of placing each spot light individually, just select the light you have already placed and copy it, using CTRL-C or the Copy option in the Edit menu. Paste the copy in using CTRL-V or the Paste option in the Edit menu.


Copying ensures that lights that should look the same have identical settings, without any extra effort (Image 4). You can also group your light geometry together with the components or fixtures they are placed in. This way, you can quickly place lamps that already contain a light source. Just select the elements while holding the Shift key, then right click on one of them and select Make Group.


Sphere light

Let’s take a look at the sphere light next. In its default state, the Enscape sphere light is a point light, which sends light out from a single point in space, equally in all directions. In this way, the effect it gives is similar to a common incandescent light bulb. Sphere lights are useful not only because they can simulate light sources like light bulbs or candles, but also because they can be used to light areas with a gentle falloff in all directions.

Placing a Sphere Light

Most sphere lights can be placed with just two clicks. The scene below doesn’t currently contain any light sources (Image 5). But say I want to place a sphere light into the lamp next to the couch, so that the room will be illuminated even if I change the time of day to night.


5. Empty light fixture in SketchUp


6. Placed sphere light at night


Click Sphere in the Enscape Objects window. Click once to place the endpoint of your light, then click again to place the light (Image 7). You will now see the light source geometry in the lamp (Image 8).


7. Placing the endpoint of a sphere light


8. Sphere light geometry


When you have placed the geometry, you will again be able to edit the luminous intensity, to avoid being blinded by the light. With the sphere light you also have the option of adjusting the Light Source Radius slider. This controls the size of the source in meters, though this is only visible in reflections.

Lights are always on in Enscape, however, during the day it may appear as if some of them have turned off. This is actually not the case; the intensity of the sunlight simply crushes all other emitting lights. A solution for this is to greatly turn up the luminous intensity of the sources you want to be able to see during the daytime.


Now that the sphere light has been placed, the lamp will appear to be on at night in Enscape, as you can see above (Image 6). The sphere light effectively mimics how this type of lamp would light a room in reality.


Rectangular and disk lights

Next up are two similar lights: the rectangular and disk lights. These are area lights; this means that they do not emit light from one, infinitely small point in space, like the spot or point light. Instead, they emit light across their surfaces uniformly, resulting quite literally in an entire area of light. Because an area light emits from across its entire surface, it tends to produce light that is softer and more subtle than other lights. It produces a diffuse light with softer, less dramatic shadows (Image 9).

Because of this, an area light has ample uses. Perhaps the most tangible use case example of an area light is to create a florescent light fixture, like the ones you find in any office building. Similar practical applications include light banks, backlit panels, and florescent tube lights, but they can also be used for more atmospheric lighting, for instance light shining in through a window.


9. One rectangular area light illuminating a dining room


10. Light beam of a rectangular light

Placing a Rectangular or Disk Light

Because these two lights are so similar, I will mainly refer to the rectangular light in the below examples. The only difference between the two is the shape of the beam.

You can place the rectangular light using the same 2-Click system described above for spot lights. The beam, however, looks different from a spot light. Check it out below. As you can see below, both ends of the beam are rectangular, and the face from which the light emits covers a much bigger area than a spot light, which ends in a single point (Image 10).

Placing the rectangular light allows you to adjust three settings in the Enscape Objects window (Image 11). The first is Luminous Power, which controls the brightness and range of the light; it is measured in lumens. Additionally, you can define the Length and the Width of the light source in meters via the Objects window. The maximum size for a rectangular light is 3 meters by 3 meters.

After a light source has been placed, you can always return to editing it by simply double clicking on the geometry. When you do this, the light beam will be visible, as will various aids to help you adjust the size and direction of the beam. To exit this editing mode, simply press the ESC key. If you are in the middle of editing the position or size and realize you have made a mistake, the ESC key will cancel the edit and return the light source to its previous setting. You can also use the Undo and Redo functions in SketchUp, and any changes you make are immediately transferred to Enscape.



11. Rectangular light window


12. Editing a placed rectangular light


Let’s take a closer look at the controls you have in regards to editing your lights after placing them. Double clicking on the light will enable the edit mode (Image 12).

By clicking any of the red squares located along the edges of the rectangle (1), you are able to adjust the width or length of the area light, just like in the Enscape Objects window. The advantage of doing it by hand is that you have the ability to match the size of the light exactly to the light fixture you want to place it in, especially if you don’t know the measurement of the fixture in meters.

Clicking the middle red square (2) will allow you to move the face of the light source around, if you decide it should be placed a little differently. You can also move any of the lights by selecting it and clicking Move Light in the Enscape Objects window. You can adjust the angle of the beam by clicking the square at the end of it (3). Clicking the magenta square (4) will allow you to rotate the face of the light source.

You also have the option of using the native SketchUp tools to rotate or move your light source.


So what else can you use rectangular lights for, other than the practical uses of filling light fixtures? Obviously it is worthwhile to light your model meticulously, so that when you are showing it to a client, you are prepared for any eventuality. The client might want to see what the house looks like at night, and if you haven’t added lights, there won’t be anything to see.

But even with Enscape’s easy 2-Click system, it can take some dedicated time to light a model, especially if it is very large. Area lights are perfect if you want to take a quick screenshot of your model at night, but don’t have the time to add too many lights.

Take a look at our model below (Image 13). It currently only has the lights we added on the roof and in the living room. It’s pretty hard to see anything at all.


13. Exterior view at night


14. Exterior view at night with four area lights


Now take a look at this second screenshot (Image 14). In this one, I have added four rectangular lights, one each in the bedrooms and kitchen. Looks a lot better, right? And it took no time at all to get this image ready to screenshot.

What if you want to turn your lights off? While this is probably not necessary in most cases, there are a couple of different tricks to turn your lights off. Perhaps you want to take a screenshot that emphasizes one particular room, but you obviously don’t want to undo all of your hard work. If you want to turn all of the light sources off, you can set the Light Brightness in the Advanced tab of your Enscape Settings to 0%. If you want to turn of individual lights, you can do this by hiding the geometry or the assigned layer.


Linear Light

The fourth light in Enscape’s arsenal is the linear light. It resembles a fluorescent tube in shape and can only be scaled in length, which can be adjusted in the Enscape Objects window or by editing the source itself (Image 15 and 16). Again, you can also set the luminous intensity of a linear light.


15. Geometry of a linear light


16. Adjustable settings for a linear light

Placing a Linear Light

The linear light can be placed with two clicks, like the sphere light. After you place it initially, you can define the length and rotate it to fit the scene. The placement of your linear light will affect where the light shines: the shadows along the length are soft, while the shadows on each end of the light are somewhat more focused. Below I have placed a linear light in our SketchUp model to show you what I mean (Image 17 and 18). Most of the light is emitted along the length, rather than from the ends of the light.


17. A long linear light


18. Light emitted by a linear light


You can now color any of your lights in SketchUp by using the paint bucket tool. Simply select the paint bucket tool, choose your color in the Materials tray, and click on the light to color it. This also works if you paint a component or group that contains a light source. The possibilities with this are endless!



19. Colored linear lights in SketchUp


20. Rendered view of Image 19


Here I’ve added some linear lights to the pond in our model for a glowing effect (Image 19 and 20). You can use this feature to achieve a more decorative effect, like the one above, but also to add realism to your model. If you are trying to match your 3D model to a real-life lighting concept, you can use the paint bucket tool to mimic the crisp white of an LED lamp, or the yellowish glow of an incandescent bulb.

Depending on what you effect you are trying to achieve with your lighting, you might find that emissive materials suit your purpose better. This is a completely different approach than placing light sources. While you can always make a material emissive by adding the keyword “emissive” to the material name, a more effective way is through the Enscape Materials Editor. Simply select your material in SketchUp and open the Material Editor through the Enscape ribbon.


You can then check the box next to Self-Illumination to make the material emissive. Use the Luminance slider to adjust the emission intensity; the maximum intensity is 100,000 candelas. You can also assign a color to the material.
Check back to the blog soon to see a dedicated blog post on emissive materials!

However, do not forget to check out this wonderful Video from The Rendering Essentials about Interior Lighting and Colored Lighting:



You can implement and combine the Enscape lights I have presented in limitless ways to take your model to the next level. Whether you are shooting for extreme realism or dramatic scenes, light is one of the easiest ways to achieve your goal. Place a few, quick sources to light up the rooms in your model for a screenshot. Or, take the time to develop dedicated lighting for each room; this will wow your client during a walk-through presentation. Your models are already stunning by themselves, but adding lights elevates the experience for the viewer.

The best part is that integrating lighting into your workflow doesn’t have to be complicated, if you follow the tips you have learned in this post. In fact, you probably knew how to do all of these things already, before reading the post. Now just apply that to your Enscape lights! Place your lights just in front of your geometry with the quick 2-Click system. Duplicate identical lights quickly by copying and pasting them. Double click a light to edit it immediately, and use the ESC key to abandon changes if you make a mistake. If you prefer, you can use the native SketchUp tools to rotate or move your lights. And, don’t forget to add some color with the paint bucket tool!

However, don’t take my word for it: to test out Enscape lights yourself, just download our 14 day free trial here. I’m sure you will find it enlightening!

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Enscape Version 2.3 released https://enscape3d.com/enscape-version-2-3-released/ https://enscape3d.com/enscape-version-2-3-released/#respond Tue, 26 Jun 2018 14:10:10 +0000 https://enscape3d.com/?p=30072 Today we would like to introduce you to Enscape Version 2.3, which is even more exciting to use, for both architects and designers. Besides the noticeable improvements to be found in the VR performance, this latest version also brings new functionality to help optimize your workflow.

The post Enscape Version 2.3 released appeared first on Enscape.


Enscape 2.3

Today we would like to introduce you to Enscape Version 2.3, which is even more exciting to use, for both architects and designers. Besides the noticeable improvements to be found in the VR performance , this latest version also brings new functionality to help optimize your workflow.

With Enscape 2.3 you can now create even better renderings.
And you have more time to do the real design work!

Enscape 2.3

Overview of new features and settings

ArchiCAD Support

You can now install Enscape for ArchiCAD and make use of all the known functions for Real-Time Rendering and virtual reality.

Your materials , lights , etc. are instantly recognized and are automatically updated whenever you change them.


Creating a video path  has never been easier in the AEC industry when using Enscape. Simply insert and edit keyframes, adjust Time of Day, Field of View or the camera movement.

Read more  


At any point during a walkthrough you can capture phenomenal scenes  from your project whilst in virtual reality. Once captured, high-quality screenshots  will be rendered as a batch once VR mode has been exited.

Read more  


Enscape’s standalone export feature enables your visualisations to run on your customer’s computer, without them having to install additional architectural software. Set rendering quality or virtual reality with just one click.

Read more  

Adjustable Water

With the enhanced water settings you can make your projects even more engaging. Decide whether you want quiet or turbulent water; adjust the water color to better compliment to your project

Read more  

Further Improvements

  • Rendering quality of reflections has been improved (sharper during movement)
  • Integrated Minimap in the Virtual Reality menu
  • Smoother shadow transitions during time-lapse videos
  • Export uncompressed video for post-production
  • New materials in Revit and Revit 2019 now supported
  • Proxies in SketchUp now reload automatically
  • TGA textures are now supported in SketchUp’s material editor
  • Area lights are now available in SketchUp (Line, Rectangular, Disc)
  • Improved grass rendering
  • Transparent Textures now supported in Rhino
  • Save Enscape views to Rhino
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Easy to use

No additional software needs to be learned – simply install the Enscape plugin and walk through your projects with only one click.

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Easy Presentations

Present your project in different phases of the workflow. Use the Enscape plugin together with Revit or an exported standalone file of your project.

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Fast Rendering

No long waiting times until your visualization is finished. Enscape renders your project within seconds and generates on average 50 images per second.

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No Cloud

Uploading data to the cloud is not needed. With the direct integration into Revit, SketchUp, Rhino and ArchiCAD Enscape gets all the data directly from Revit.

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Real-Time Feedback

With the live link between Enscape and Revit, all changes that you do in Revit, SketchUp, Rhino and ArchiCAD are immediately visible in Enscape. Explore every adjustment right away.

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Virtual Reality

Together with the Oculus Rift you can virtually walk through your project in Enscape. Experience your work as it was already built.

Try all new Features with a Free 14 Day Trial

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