Making of CABINS concept
Part ONE by Ronen Bekerman
Pen & Paper
For the launch of the 7th Architectural Visualization Challenge, I developed the CABINS concept as if I am participating in the challenge myself. This was an exercise for me and a way to craft visuals to be used for art showcasing and promoting the challenge as well as an inspiration piece for all of you who are about to take part in it.
In this article, I will break down the process from start to finish. The cabin design is simple and was simple to model once I had it in mind. I did not go into too much detail and kept it at the concept level. I used good old SketchUp for the 3d modeling of the cabin which I then imported into Lumion version 8 for all the rest with some Photoshop at the end.

In Part ONE I will cover the process up to the very start with Lumion. Part TWO will dive into what is going on inside Lumion in more depth.


The Meteora rock formations in Greece.
Photograph by Adrian Baela via pixabay pixabay
I know about Meteora in Greece from my rock climbing days. That place fascinated me and I wanted to recreate a situation similar to what you see in the photo above. Not necessarily duplicating Meteora, but very interested in the structure on the edge of a cliff scenario and what it could offer in terms of story and views to tell that story.

“We seem to underestimate good old pen & paper these days. Don’t! Coming up with the basic idea this way was fast and fun in more ways than one.”

I always carry my FIELD NOTES Memo Book and Machine Era Pen for when I have an idea, so I can put it on paper before it is lost! Digital is great, but sometimes analog is better.

It just is.

Or maybe it’s just me?

Anyway, my cabin is composed of three small triangle shaped cabins in a circular formation so that each cabin goes a little over the edge of a cliff, offering amazing views of the surroundings. A hero tree is placed in the center of it all with my Lunacy Memo Book Moon at the back of it all.

My favorite 3d modeling application of all time!
SketchUp by Trimble
After sketching, I modeled the bare basic shape of the cabins and overlayed the sketch on top of it.

This helped me figure out the way the cliff should look like from the various angles.

I’ve blocked the cliff using rock assets from the 3d Warehouse, scaling and rotating them as I duplicate and put them in place to form the overall cliff shape.

“For fast conceptual design, the 3d Warehouse offers almost any asset you might need for free. Use it!”
I picked one of the potential views that I liked and decided to go back with it to sketch mode, but this time doing it digitaly with my Wacom.
CABINS Optional View #03.
Saved out of SketchUp
The sketch below locked the concept in my head and now it was time to execute. I did not do more sketches from other angles, knowing this is going to be the hero vantage point and all else will be done to fit.
Render without leaving SketchUp!
V-Ray for SketchUp by Chaos Group

At this point, I am still thinking about doing the visuals with SketchUp and the newly released V-Ray for SketchUp so all was supposed to be done inside SketchUp with the help of Skatter and Laubwerk Plants Kit to populate the entire area with trees before I begin the views exploration stage.

Thing is… I took a short break from this initial concept stage before I came back to it for obvious reasons.


I did manage to output some mood / lighting tests with V-Ray while exploring the new version.

CABINS Mood / Lighting Test.
Done with V-Ray for SketchUp by Chaos Group
A big surprize with lots of potential!
Lumion by Act-3D
By the time I got back to developing the CABINS concept, Lumion 8 was already out and I started to explore it. See what was new and if and how it can be used for work at The Craft.

You’ve seen my first tests with it in the “Hello! MMF House Meets Lumion” article I posted on the blog back on November 23rd. I took a gradual approach to this process, as should you if you like to explore it. You can’t just dive into Lumion running around aimless thinking you’ll get the hang of it. It is not like any other software you’ve used.

Lumion comes packed with a few pre-made scenes, the Farnsworth House being one of them.

Testing out Lumion with the Farnsworth House.
Using a pre-made scene that comes with Lumion v8
I took it for a spin and explored what I can do the output from Lumion to look good with little to no Photoshop being used after I save images out of it.

I could not skip the photoshop part, though I did manage to minimize it to color grading mostly. With that part explored as well as remaking the MMF House, I was ready to continue with the cabins concept.

Before that, I took Farnsworth House for one last spin as I practice making an environemt similar to what the cabins concept needs.

The terrain in the images above was done by importing a grayscale heightmap into Lumion. To do that test I just used the first height map that came up in a Google search.

For CABINS, I search for a place with specific terrain features and Salt Lake City, Utah, USA was the perfect fit for what I needed. Creating a terrain to match specific project needs can be time-consuming. There is no need to create it from scratch and many benefits if you rely on real-world data.

The Global Data Explorer and how to save out a Heightmap JPEG.
Obtained via USGS
With the help of USGS and NASA, you can download heightmaps from all over the world and import these into Lumion. The screenshot above is all you need to know for getting your jpeg out. You’ll need to register for the service before you can save anything out though.
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA – Area Heightmap.
Obtained via USGS
Once I had the terrain in Lumion, it was a matter of exploring it and finding the areas that fit with my initial concept sketch.

I have identified two areas with a good looking cliff and enough space for water to wrap around it at a lower level. I’ve marked these spots in the diagram below, which represents the terrain data before I tweaked it to accomedate the cabins and added more rockformations to it.

Below you’ll see the terrain inside Lumion after importing the heightmap and activating the ocean feature and setting the water level height so that it all fits with my concept.
The Meteora rock formations in Greece.
Photograph by Adrian Baela via pixabay pixabay
This was my starting point inside Lumion. I then went on exploring the grounds like a bird flying over it all, which is game like and lots of fun!

“Importing a Heightmap is a good start, but do try Lumion’s terrain sculpting & painting tools.”

Once I’ve identified two potential locations for my cabin as was shown in the diagram above, I sculpted them a bit to fit the cabin size and form the cabin approach. I was interested in an overall look similar to my initial sketch with background formation that works too.

Below you can see both locations after the tweaks that allow me to land a cabin on the cliffs edge.

I could only stretch the sculpting tools up to a point before I knew I had to add in some rock formations beside the imported terrain. All about that and more in Part TWO!

Till then, enjoy the CABINS set of visuals below.

Lumion offers lots of options to control the environment and that includes the sun, sky, clouds, fog, ocean and more. I played with it all while creating this set.
So, what do you think of all this so far?

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