Exterior architectural scenes were the first to broach the barrier of plastic 3D into realism. This is due to them being significantly easier to light. Exterior architectural scenes have only one predominant light source, the sun. The rest of the lighting is an overall ambient, evenly coloured glow from the sky. Due to the overwhelming effect that both these light sources have the need for complex calculations such as radiosity and global illumination are minimized, as reflected light is only a small part of the overall solution.
The main hurdle to overcome with exterior scenes is landscaping. Plants are difficult to model in 3D and consume vast amounts of computer memory and CPU cycles. Our landscaping techniques took years to develop and require countless hours of experimentation and modelling to get a realistic result that can still render quickly. The other landscaping factor is how to get realistic grass, which has been a hot topic among 3D artists for some time, and one that has only recently been overcome in a complete, realistic way.
Over the years we have developed techniques that rapidly turn an empty site into a lush forest and garden beds into sculpted landscape artwork. We are actually know to be one of the best at this, having recreated entire mountain ridges for Greenbrier in West Virgina and ornate designs for Wyndham's Margaritaville in St Thomas.
There are finer details as well, that we keep building on, such as beautiful skies. Not only is it sometimes necessary to buy some but we are often capturing in 360° our own whenever a beautiful sky and the right opportunity presents itself – you can't have too many skies in your library!
Creating an exterior scene requires:
The shell of the building is created including the pathways, terrain, garden beds and hard landscaping features. This is similar to the construction that your builder would do.
Coloring and lighting
This is where all the wall, floor and other finishes are applied and lighting is added.
Done in conjunction with coloring an lighting, this process requires the creation and/or selection of each shrub, tree and soft surface.