✱ Which Rendering Program is the Best One for Me?

I get asked all the time what 3d rendering program I use and why. This is coming from a particular point of view - mine. I do architectural work. I do my own design. I work in small and large teams on small and large architectural projects. You may not do the same thing as me, but I'm sure there's some overlap if you're reading my site. I hope this is useful for you. 

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News: Maxwell Render Now Free For Faculty & Students

Next Limit:

As of August 2014, Maxwell Render is offering FREE licenses to academic institutions and the students enrolled in their courses. 

This is great news for those of you either in school or working at one to start using Maxwell Render. It can be used for anything non-commercial.

Read more about it on the Maxwell Render site.

Link: formZ/bonzai3d + Maxwell Render Bundle

There's a 30% off promotion going on right now for some of my favorite 3d tools - formZ, bonzai3d & Maxwell Render. You get 30% off a Maxwell node-locked license when you buy either fZ or b3d. Don't miss the part that says the next version of fZ that's coming out (v8) is going to be a free upgrade to everyone who buys v7 now.

I don't get anything from this offer - I'm just letting you know about it because these are my go-to design tools and it's a great deal. I'm also letting you know about it because they used my image for the promo email :)

News: Maxwell Render Plugin Now Available for FormZ v8 Beta

A FormZ v8 SubD sculpture rendered in Maxwell Render - click for a larger view

For those of you following along with the Form•Z 8 Beta and all of the cool new stuff it has to offer: the developer of the Maxwell Render plugin has released a beta for us. This is great news. Now we can start rendering our subdivision surfaces in Maxwell directly from FormZ!

And as a quick aside, Maxwell FIRE is now 64 bit, so you should be able to preview grass, scatter, and all that cool stuff right in the FIRE window inside the FormZ interface without running out of memory (assuming you have lots of memory to work with, of course). You do have lots of RAM, don't you?

See the announcement and get instructions on how to get it here.

Happy rendering!

PS my grass presets are working beautifully in the latest version!

News: The Latest on FormZ, Bonzai3d, SketchUp 2014, and Maxwell Render

There have been a bunch of small and large announcements recently about the tools I talk about (and use) a lot, and here they are in summary:

FormZ v7.3.4, Bonzai3d 3.2.4 Updates

Updates to FormZ v7 and Bonzai v3 are out that address many small issues, and are available from within the app when you check for updates. There are a bunch of refinements that make the apps more stable and predictable - basically better to use in a production environment. We all know how important it is to have the most stable software instead of whiz-bang new features with these maintenance releases. You can read more about the FormZ fixes here and the Bonzai3d fixes here

Maxwell v3.0.11 beta for FormZ and Bonzai3d

The latest plugin for Maxwell 3 for FormZ 7 and Bonzai3d 3 has been posted to the Maxwell Beta site. I've been beta testing this for a while and I recommend grabbing this one because it fixes a bunch of stuff. Something new is that you can now download all of the beta plugins for Maxwell so you don't have to wait for the official releases. You can read the release notes and find out exactly what the latest fixes are when you login to the Beta site. Here's how:

Next Limit is delighted to announce the launch of the Maxwell Public Beta Area. Customers can now get access to the most recent builds, and won't need to wait for official releases to get the latest fixes. It will also help us to reduce development cycles, meaning that you get better versions of Maxwell, faster! 

For more information about how to access the public beta area, please visit our forum: 
http://www.maxwellrender.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=41692

SketchUp Pro 2014

Trimble SketchUp Pro 2014 is out, and just like previous releases this is an iterative, refined and more powerful version of SketchUp. While there aren't any new features that make my eyes pop out of my head, there are a few nice upgrades to the ubiquitous modeling program that affect us architects and designers from previous versions:

  1. Faster shadows (up to 15x faster depending on your setup)
  2. New Arc drawing tools (nice, finally!)
  3. Classifier (a new way to add metadata to objects in your models - think BIM)

While these may seem small, these are very welcome updates. The Classifier alone is a great new foundation in SU because we now have the ability to tag types of geometry, do quantity take-offs, and when using the new IFC exporter you can pass that data along to a higher level BIM tool so it knows that a wall is a wall, a slab is a slab, etc. Having faster shadows is a big deal for real-time walkthroughs. I actually do our presentations on the fly right inside the program, and I'm looking forward to not have to wait for the shadows to pop into existence only when I stop moving. That's always been jarring to me and I hope this will fix that problem. If it's jarring to me, I know it's jarring to my clients watching the presentation.

There are other advancements under the hood and on the web regarding the extension warehouse, underlying Ruby API framework and more. They seem to be going more in the direction of BIM which is a big deal for a program that costs $590. I expect a lot of people to jump on making some very cool plugins for SketchUp in this area in the future because it's a huge market.

New Layout features for creating documentation of our designs include:

  1. Auto text
  2. Smart labels
  3. Improved vector rendering
  4. Much better handling of large documents

These are all things that, if you haven't tried for yourself, have been major slowdowns in previous versions. More and more people tell me they are looking for a single tool to do their architectural work in (which I don't actually condone), and the team at SketchUp is clearly listening. And I get it - learning a few programs and their quirks takes longer than learning a single program. I'll talk more about that in another blog post.

If you haven't tried using Layout in a while, I suggest giving it a try. I think it's one of the most underrated and easy ways to document and present your 3d work as printed documents, PDF's or as a Powerpoint-style presentation. While some people have dug in and have been using it for construction documents for a while now, these new enhancements will make it easier for new people to adopt the program in this way. 

Image courtesy SketchUp

SketchUp 2014 runs on both Mac and Windows. As far as I can tell, the Pro version is the one getting all these updates. There is also SketchUp Make which replaced the free version last year and is not for commercial use, but it's still free but has some serious limitations as you can see in the graphic on the right. You can read about all the upgrades in depth here on the Trimble site.

Maxwell Plugin v3.0.1 for SketchUp

More great news for SketchUp users is that there has been an update to the plugin released that fixes some important bugs in conjunction with the newly released Maxwell 3. They say this update is a must-have. I've written about the new stuff in Maxwell 3 in a previous post, so check it out if you haven't yet. You can get the update in the customer portal or on the previously mentioned Beta site if you're a current v3 customer.

Happy modeling and rendering!

Link: Countdown to Maxwell v3

Image via Next Limit

Image via Next Limit

The countdown to Maxwell Render version 3 has begun, and to build anticipation until the realease comes out, Next Limit is showing off new features every day on their new v3 mini site. The cool thing is that they are showing a lot of features every day because there are so many new things packed into the upcoming version.

Make sure you click the extra buttons and watch the videos too. 

I'll be watching every day. The new version looks like it's going to be really great. You can see a preview of most of the new features in this video as well.

✱ Introducing the Maxwell Grass Preset Pro Pack

I have some awesome news that I'm finally able to share with you. I'm launching my first product! I'm so excited to put this out into the world because it's something that has helped me time and time again.

Helped with what? I'm so glad you asked. 

We all do renderings of our architectural projects and are using some amazing modeling and rendering tools. I'm eyeball-deep in FormZ/Bonzai3d and Maxwell Render. They are some seriously fun and powerful tools that make my projects look great without a ton of effort. I decided last year to start making my own custom presets to take my renderings to the next level. Like I said, they have really made my images look great, and now I'm making them available to you!

Don't just take my word for it. You've probably seen a couple of renderings I've put up on the web lately teasing this new product. It's finally here!

So check out the new Method store where you can see everything all in one place - tons of renderings, what's included, how it works, and how it can help make you a rendering rock star!

And for the first week, I'm running a special that takes $20 off, so get it at that price while you can. 

I hope you love it as much as I do. 

…and can I just say that the bonus tutorial videos are worth more than the price alone. There's so much great stuff packed into them, you're going to learn a ton. You might consider buying the presets just to get the tutorials!

Learn more about the Maxwell Grass Preset Pro Pack

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