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Digital Design & Production | IoA Institute of Architecture | University of Applied Arts Vienna

CGI 2019

The course will address various topics within the field digital imagery and CG production. By introducing advanced tools and techniques and through productive experimentation we will also address the ongoing discussion around the digital realm, image sciences and the iconic turn. Students are invoked to further develop their technical abilities as well as define/refine an attitude towards their style of visual communication.

CGI production overlaps the domain of architectural production although approaches and methods are slightly different. Where architects need to measure and keep a consistency between the existing physical space and the artifact, CGI production just operates in the realm of visual content.  CGI tools are more derived from sculptors painters photographers animators than from constructors or engineers.  CGI production needs to be fast, imaginative, consistency is needed just when you can see it. Think of a set design from the movies.

“How else are you going to get insight into a world mediated by software unless you’re implicated within it, getting your hands dirty with plugins or code or hardware?” Alan Warburton

So please hands on! We will work with BLENDER an open source DCC Toolkit. We will learn basic techniques like poly modelling, scene setup, lighting and materialization, as well as experimenting with advanced features of the software like animation, physics/simulation.


S01451 – Architectural Computer Generated Imagery (SE)
10.10.2019 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Kick Off
17.10.2019 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Basics modelling
24.10.2019 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Basics Scene Setup
31.10.2019 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Krit. Task 01
07.11.2019 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Deadline Task 01
14.11.2019 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Advanced Tools
21.11.2019 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Group 01
28.11.2019 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Group 02
05.12.2019 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Group 01
12.12.2019 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Group 02
16.01.2020 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Group 01
23.01.2020 – 10:15 bis 11:45 | Seminarraum 10 (OKP) Group 02

Delivery Deadlines:
01 29.01.2020 (Semester End)
02 04.03.2020 (Post Semester vacation)
03 22.04.2020 (Post easter vacation)

Task 1 : training exercise

We will learn common techniques how to work with DCC software and compare it CAD style software like Rhino. For getting a basic understanding please watch this video: , it will give you an overview oft the manifold ways to create or generate 3d content.
To Accomplish:
– Get BLENDER 2.80 running on your LAPTOP
– Get a USB Keyboard with numpad
– Tutorial 01 Download
– If you miss the first tutorial please do this tutorial on your own:
– Find some references for our still live image, something like a jug, drink glass and maybe a model from a library to add.
– Remodel some elements, preferred from your references.
– All modelling must follow the low polygon techniques, no imports from rhino etc.!
– Advanced modelling: and Try this if you find the chess tutorial boring.
– Setup a scene in Blender (lights camera, Background)
– Render some images, maybe also variants, medium resolution (2.5k)

Additional How To’s:

Texturing and materials:
-Basics about the three build in render engines in Blender:
-Using the shading editor:
-Working with texture coordinates:

Scene setup:
Learning how to setup a nice scene mostly follows a long tradition coming from painting and photography. Working in 3d-software makes it much easier to learn staging techniques as we can experiment almost in realtime!
So please experiment with lights and cameras! There are rules (which can be broken), but at least a basic understanding is needed.

-So what can we do with Blender lights (quite a lot!), what does it do to our scene?
-How does the lighting relate to our camera, what can we do with our camera (almost everything!) you can do with a real camera.
-There are numerous tutorials howtos in the web ranging from beginner to professional, mostly discussed by photographers- if you GOOGLE ‘still life light setup’ you can find them easily.
-Please be more careful with your images, seriously!

Our first task is accomplished when we know the basic techniques how to model, set up a scene, do basic UV mapping, and finally how to render out a final image.

Task Two: Spectacle as speculation

CGI tries to represent artifacts and phenomena within our physical world. These representations are models with more or less strong relation to its original. How are these models constituted how can we operate with these models? Besides pure representations of something already existing (why would we need such representations?) these models give back some kind of extra notion or experience. They can visualize unseen (e.g. Computer tomography), but also can be generated by the means of simulation (e.g. Climate models, stress tests), models can be hypothetical, highly abstract like used in various sciences (e.g. Atomic models, economic models).

In CGI developments mostly focus on improving “realism” and speed – Bigger models, more and better imagery resulting in stronger emotions, higher trustworthiness, more attention? Speed matters.
Like the ongoing render discussion how precise can algorithms calculate the optical flow of light, a conflict between speed and realism. Not all technical improvements are also accepted by our perception, like we see in the uncanny valley effect, when more realistic human representations make us feel uncomfortable (Wiki). Besides the technical developments there is also a strong ongoing discussion about use of imagery and the effects within our society.

The mediating images we generate in Arch-CGI are mostly pure material representations of tectonic artifacts, the intention behind is to visualize a hypothetical in(ter)vention in our physical environment. Of course there are elements beside, like people, trees cars etc.. But these elements are just staffage, generic elements provided to decorate, make the observer trust in physicality and liveliness of the proposal.

Project outline:

Lets think of something real, an object a situation maybe, tasty, attractive, well known in its form and behavior. Try to represent it by the means of CGI as precise as you can, as real as possible. Then add something which sets the object/behavior into another condition, change the context, mutate it whatsoever.

The observer should react with surprise, be shocked, getting uncanny or feel disgust.

-Find some references to the topic.
-Define your project, sketches references…
-Analyze methods and techniques, talk back to me to check feasability
-Use Blender for production choose a technique within Blender best suited for your intentions.
-The outcome can be stills or a short animation.

-Mesh Paint, Physical simulation, Scattering, Hair, Cloth, Soft bodies, Camera mapping, displacement mapping.

References links:

Spectacle and speculation by Alan Warburton
Good bye uncanny valley by Alan Warburton

Topics and Tutorials
Here are my favourites from the web regarding tools and techniques also adressed in the course:

World Building: Ian Hubert gives an impressive presentation of his work. He strongly uses Camera mapping a technique to “spatialize” 2D images.

Understanding Geometry: Get a better understanding about meshes/polys/ngon/boolean

Digital Arts References:
Viktor Enrich: Not “just” architectural photography

HDRI Heaven ,
Free PBR Materials

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