// 100% Original Design, Development, Engineering, Photography, Adventures & Programming Reference by Marcus Rivers

External Rendering 1
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Early Internal Structural Detail 1
Early Internal Structural Detail 2

Log Cabin Mansion

Autodesk AutoCad | Maxon Cinema 4D

Building Research, Developement and Visualization

Specification

The Log Mansion Project Was Created in October 2019 in Autodesk AutoCAD, Cinema 4D and Affinity Photo. The aim of the project was to create photorealisitic Architectural visualization renderings of a custom designed Log Mansion, both inside and outside, followed by a complete animation of the initial excavations, foundation laying, concrete pouring and internal structure construction to final landscaping. Prior to begining the project, I did extensive research into construction techniques so I could create a complete 3D model showing every detail.

Designed in Autodesk AutoCAD

AutoCAD was chosen for its advantages in speed of idea drafting operation, ease of modification, vastly better layer support and its capability to rapidly display of hundreds of thousands of lines in the viewport (compared to Inventor). It has also been a long time since I used AutoCAD, and I used this opportunity to bring myself up to date with its modern parametric abilities.

Textured and Rendered in Maxon Cinema 4D

AutoCAD 2D dwg files containing only closed polylines were quickly created from the master drawings, and then directly imported into Cinema 4D. After some experimentation with workflow, I generated an optimized method to extrude 3D walls, complete with boolean subtracted window and door openings from the original 2D CAD, and kept the entire workflow in the parametric domain until the last possible moment to allow for rapid modification. This strict reliance on parametric models extended to the final visible structures (logs and roofing) which were small C4D Xpresso scripts controlling individual wall-section width and height, level offset, number of logs, that relied heavily on Instanced mesh components for memory and speed optimizations followed by parametric boolean operations.

Photo Compositions in Affinity Photo

After experimentation with 3d grass, I decided the best option was to photograph a field and paint it in using layer masks on top of the final renders and set suitable blend and alpha layers. After photographing and alpha-mapping my own single tree for the background billboards, I realised I wasn't going to do that 50 times, so I purchased some tree assets and painted them in.

Change of plan

One of the reasons for the research into construction techniques was the plan to animate the complete construction of a house at a photorealisitic level. The extensive parametric models and multi-level external references were limiting my viewport to about 1 FPS, and a single component modification update was taking many seconds on a reasonably powered system. Sometimes one must realize that some ideas are not possible and change course. There was no way animation could be achieved with my level of hardware. With GI rendering approaching 15 mins per frame, the animation was not realistic.

Unreal Engine

This led me to search for alternative options. After experimentation with various offline GPU rendering packages, I discovered Unity, then Unreal Engine, and felt very strongly that this was the future, even if it was not quite ready for primetime. So I completed the photorealistic stills and turned my attention to the future.

Review

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