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Critique my work

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Hi all

Over at the archicad forum they seem to do a bit of critiquing others work, so I thought I'd try here;

I'm struggling with the shadows no this job, they are so hard.

And I haven't had any luck with radiosity - takes too long on a p4 2.2.

So can anyone offer any suggestions on how to soften up the shadows.


Thanks in advance, Mat.

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Hi Mat. We seem to be in similar areas of business. I have two ways of dealing with hard shadows:

The first is to have duplicate main lightsources. One is set to 50 intensity with no shadow - the other to 15 intensity and shadowcasting. This makes the shadow less intense and the sharpness of the edges will seem less conspicuous.

The second method is similar to the first, except I have 3 main shadowcasting lightsources rotated some degrees in relation to each other and set close to vertical. The intensity of these are no more than 5-10 - and they are supplemented with a classic setup of 3 non-shadowcasting lightsources. The deal is to set the walls and ceilings to not cast shadows (from within the texture dialogues.) This way you get a multible shadow footprint of all objects in the interior - very similar to that of a typical shop.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hello Mat:

Have you tried using area lights? They are made for soft shadows, unlike the directional lights that appear to be used in the image. If you are using Designer, there are pre-made fluorescent and halogen light bulbs that would be useful in the Libraries->Objects_Imperial folder (16_Electrical_Accurate Lamps.mcd). There are pre-made fluorescent tube symbols that would produce soft shadows in that file. Make sure to set the Lighting Options color temperature white balance to Indoor 3400K though, because the line lights in the tubes use color temperature.

Reflective surfaces take a long time to render with area and line lights so I would limit those kinds of textures if possible. I would also set the area and line light Quality settings (in the Obj Info palette) to Medium at most.

The post-processing in the image is enhancing all edges including the shadow edges.

I cannot tell what those hanger-looking things are - are they hangers? They would slow down radiosity if they are wiry because they would produce a lot of triangle load. The Human Figure PIO objects are also triangle hogs. I would add a ceiling and put some kind of light fixtures in the ceiling. The glass texture and maybe any chrome textures should probably be set to not emit and not receive indirect light in this particular scene. I would leave radiosity to deal with the larger surfaces like the ones that are red, white, and blue. I would love to try radiosity on a copy of this file if you could send me one.

The vertical edges are slanting; if you set the camera to use the same height for the from and to points they will render as vertical. The RW Camera object is an easy way to set that up, or the Set 3D View command can also let you set the from and to heights to be the same.


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George, that is a nice rendering. For everyday jobs, however, Renderworks can do pretty good and - if you have a large quantity of custom textures - it can do it a lot faster.

Here is an example of an interior with footprint shadows. Its not exactly breathtaking, but I rendered a 60 second animation walkaround of the interior in 800x600 with shadows, imageprops and all in 2 1/2 days on my home 1Ghz Imac. I couldn't have done that with area lights and raytracing.


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Renderworks has come a long way since MC6. One advantage is that you don't have to export to another program to render. There are some great C4d training DVD's at:



I agree that RW works quite well for most presentations. The setup can be faster in RW, but C4D will render more complex scenes much faster than RW. Libraries of custom textures can be built up in C4D and applied to VW objects based on class names. As you said, the project dictates how much time can be spent on renders.

I noticed that the man facing the desk has his fingers crossed. When I was kid, that used to mean that you were telling a lie. Wonder what he's up to?


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hello again Mat:

Here is my attempt with your file. The RW Camera in the proposed layer looks to be different than your rendering above. I added a bunch of fluorescent and halogen lights from the library, and I increased the contrast in iPhoto. (I'll send you the modified file)


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