Category Archives: CineRender

Multiple Files & Attribute Matching

Attribute management between files for a single project is critical. If attribute numbers do not match from a building file to a site file, or between multiple building files of a single project, the Hotlink Modules will not appear correct. Surfaces of a module may show incorrectly, or be missing, custom profile beams/columns/walls can become reassigned to a new shape, and composites can switch to a different width if not properly matched.

It is important to note, the attribute number is how attributes are assigned to elements. For example, if your building file has attribute #10 as a stone, but the site file has attribute #10 as a wood, the buildings file will show correctly as stone, but when the building is saved to a .mod and placed to the site, all stone will switch to wood. If attribute #10 doesn’t exist in the site file, the stone will show as a purple & black checkered pattern, indicating the surface is missing.

Attribute Matching

To prevent these errors we have introduced an Attributes file into our workflow for each multi-file project. All attributes (Fills, Line Types, Composites, Custom Profiles, and especially Surfaces) will be generated in this central Attributes teamwork file, then using the Attribute Manager will be matched to all other files for that project on the BIM Server. This does mean a little more management up front, and involves a couple extra steps in managing the project. But the results are a lot less headache on the back end when publishing BIMx, or linking Views from a Site File to the Layout Book of the Buildings File. This is especially critical where projects get so large they require multiple building files, or even multiple site files; which is becoming increasingly commonplace.

Please note, the use of a dedicated Attributes file is not an option or choice to be used (or not) by each team. This is the standard we are using to manage attributes between files at WWA, and a dedicated attribute file has been created in your BIM Server folder if your project program requires one. A little extra time to do this right will ensure we do not need to stop and do things over when our BIMx, PDF and DWG files don’t show correctly due to poor attribute management.

Please watch for an update to our BIM Manual for instructions on how to properly use the dedicated Attribute file.

New Surface from Internal Settings

Getting a surface image or color to render out properly can be difficult due to the number of variables that need to be managed. I have gone through a basic exercise to explore 4 different surface settings for reflection to compare results on surface color in Open GL and CineRender views. The surfaces I generated are a basic medium gray and a bone white surface with varied reflection and emission settings.

For the purposes of this exercise, I have eliminated all Transparency and Emission variables, and only made adjustments to the Reflection and Glowing Settings. By playing with the Specular Color, you can further adjust the hue of the CineRender view.


Matte Settings


Semi-Gloss Settings


High Gloss Settings


Mirror Settings

Note that the final color of the rendered view is impacted to varying degrees based on the reflection settings. Further adjustments can also impact the color, intensity, reflectivity of the surfaces include: Lamp Settings and location and hue, Rendering Engine preset, Rendering Sky Preset, and Surface Color.


Open GL View


CineRender Outdoor Daylight Medium + Lamps 50%

Custom Surfaces for CineRender

There are quite a few resources for ready made CineRender compatible surfaces. We have 2 catalogues of surfaces in our library folders. If you want to develop a new surface from scratch, you need to duplicate an existing surface, or create a new surface from the Library Catalogs and then edit it. In this exercise, we will be duplicating our basic massing surface to create a new stone surface.


Fig 1.0 Creating New Surfaces

Once the surface has been created by duplicating a previous surface it can be manipulated and edited to include the correct image and render out properly in CineRender, ARCHICAD’s 3D window, and BIMx.


Fig 2.0 New “Duplicated” Surface

The first thing to do after creating the surface is to apply a Surface Texture. This can be an image from our Arroway texture catalog (FS01 > WW AC Library > 01 Arroway Textures), or from a custom photoshopped image. For this example, I am using an Arroway image and its corresponding bump map image (for the CineRender settings).

After the Surface Texture is applied, you can start to play with the scale, light settings, and transparency. For solid surfaces, transparency should always be set to 0. Emission Attenuation is not completely relevant, unless you are applying an Emission Color to the surface. This can be a very helpful effect if you want to alter the color of a surface, just be aware that the surface is actually emitting a color with this setting. Below are some examples of various Emission Color Settings. Note that, in order to get the surface to match the original image, the Emission Color should be black, or as dark as possible.

For this Surface, we are simply going to leave the Emission Color Black with no Attenuation. With a black Emission, you will get a solid black surface until you apply Reflection and Glowing Settings. After years of trial and error, I have found that the ideal Reflection Settings for semi-matte surfaces are:

  • Ambient = 75-85
  • Diffuse = 75-87
  • Shininess = 8-15
  • Specular Glowing = 0-12

Lastly, if you have a bump map image for the surface, make sure you check Bump Mapping under Alpha Channel Effects. This will define a bump map option in the CineRender settings when matched to the Internal Engine. A bump map image is easy to generate in photoshop with the threshold filter. Keep in mind that the lightest parts of the map are the closest, or the “bumps”; and the darker portions are the recesses.

From here, lets just switch over to the CineRender settings and match. Simply click Match Settings… and choose Update CineRender Settings (from Internal).

Match Settings_Cinerender

Fig 5.1 CineRender Settings

Match_update CineRender

Fig 5.2 Match CineRender from Internal Settings

From here, you can go to the Bump map tab, and change the image to the correct black and white bump map from the Arroway Catalogue, or one that you have created for a custom surface. The Bump Map and the main image file need to align perfectly and be saved at the same size and resolution.

You can check that they are both being aligned and resized properly in the Size tab of the CineRender Settings. You can click on the more Info “…” to the right of the line that reads Use Image Proportion:

Apply Bump_Surf Images

Fig 6.0 Surface Sizes used in CineRender Settings

You can quickly adjust and test the intensity of the bump map by doing quick “outdoor daylight” renderings of a single element or surface. With a little luck and lots of trial and error, you can come up with a surface that maps out correctly and looks good in all views and formats it will be used in!


Fig 7.0 Rendered Stone Surface


Rendering Post Production

Photoshop is an essential part of Architectural visualization and BIM. Wether it is creating surfaces to map out over the BIM model elements or fine tuning presentation images, we need photo editing tools.

Using out of the box ARCHICAD default renderings settings is often sufficient for producing quick images or lighting studies, but to create stylized visuals populated with believable people, plants and other entourage imagery it is essential to utilize post production techniques.

In the upcoming February lunch and learn we will be presenting photoshop techniques to bring in content and create a cohesive image with background photos and plant/people cutout images.

Here are the before and after samples from two projects that will be presented. These images have been produced by Amadeo & Darcy:


Project 1 Before (Amadeo)


Project 1 After (Amadeo)


Project 2 Before (Darcy)


Project 2 After (Darcy)

CineRender Subtleties

There are many presets in the CineRender settings of ARCHICAD, and most of them work really well out of the box. But you can make some very minor adjustments to the settings without loosing the overall character and quality of the rendering, but only changing the general lighting and feel of the final image.

An example of this is in the preset sky. The following images were both started from the Indoor Daylight Medium (Physical) preset. The first is an out of the box rendering:

Diamond Head Furniture Rendering2

A very nice rendering, but the color felt a little warm and pink to me. So I switched the weather preset from Clear to Friendly Afternoon. The result is a slightly cooler, almost blue feeling space with deeper shadows.

Diamond Head Furniture Rendering1

If you do find a slight adjustment you prefer to the out of the box settings, be sure to save it as a preset to quickly get back to those settings in the future.

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 11.55.13 AM

Cinerender Background

Cinerenders presets are pretty awesome; I am not a huge fan of the Weather Preset names or the background associated with them, but I do love the light and shadow affects these Weather Presets have on the final rendering.

So how do you keep the cool light and shadow casting, but replace or eliminate the background? It is a simple toggle in the detailed settings or the rendering settings dialog. Unchecking the Sky Visibility under Environment > Physical Sky > Compositing will change the sky to match the background to match the default background settings at the bottom of the dialog. In this example it is set to None, but it could also be set to a color(s) or an external image.Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 1.23.26 PM

Leaving it white, as in the example above, enables a quicker photoshop clean up to add a post production background.

Another Rendering Example

Maggie has been doing some pretty incredible renderings for her project, as I mentioned (and she demonstrated) in the last staff meeting. Just to showcase some of those, and give a comparison of how you can take your renderings to a new level of awesomeness, here are her updated images!

The “improved” version of these images started as the CineRender Indoor Daylight Medium Physical preset with a few minor adjustments, like turning lamps on. None of these images uses any photoshop post rendering adjustment.

Default CineRender Indoor Daylight Fast Rendering:

01 1BR Common Room

Updated objects, new surfaces, lamp elements & adjusted rendering settings:

1BR Cottage common room

Default CineRender Indoor Daylight Fast Rendering:

Barn Bunkhouse 01

Updated objects, new surfaces, lamp elements & adjusted rendering settings:
Barn bunkroom entry

Default CineRender Indoor Daylight Fast Rendering:

Barn Bunkhouse 02

Updated objects, new surfaces, lamp elements & adjusted rendering settings:

Barn bunkroom bed elevation

Just a little attention to detail, the right objects and leveraging the lamp tool makes a huge difference!