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Aligning 3D model views with photos


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What options are available for aligning model views with photographed backgrounds? Can it be done without 3rd party plugins?

Is Panzercad's Cameramatch the only 3rd party option? If so are there any tips on what to do and what not to do when taking photos?

Cameramatch looks like it's improved a lot since I last looked at it, especially with the new photoshop-like cloning tools, etc.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi Christiaan,

For tips on taking photos to use with CameraMatch:

- Make sure to take the the photo so that all of the proposed model will fit within the photo. Of course, in some cases, you may have no choice and must crop the model to the photo.

- CameraMatch uses control lines to define the perspective vanishing points. Try to take the photo so that you have some good existing horizontal elements where you can place the control lines to define the vanishing points. This also includes at least one good vertical element. If you haven't watched any of my CameraMatch videos, you may want to have a look to get a feel for where control lines might be placed on a photo.

- Take lots of photos from different angles. It doesn't cost any more to take extra photos, so snap away. This way, If one view doesn't workout too well, you will have some other similar views to fall back on.

- Avoid using shots PERFECTLY head-on (perpendicular to the elevation). Using photos taken just slightly off to one side should suffice.

That's all I can think of at the moment. If you have other questions, let me know.

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  • 4 weeks later...

To answer Christian's question fairly, yes, you can composite photos if you use a second program like Photoshop.


Simply measure from your camera location back to the object being photographed and replicate that position in your file in Top Plan view. Import your photo onto a new layer with the opacity reduced so you can see through it. Redo your Vectorworks camera settings until you begin to match. Once you are happy with the model position, export is as a jpg and import it into P'shop. Dissolve the base of your model to nest it and adjust contrast to match your original photo. Use the stretch feature of P'shop to warp the existing structures to match the vertical lines of your model. Merge the layers. Use the stamp tool to add greenery to the base of your model.

In fairness to Matt, his plugin is easier and more accurate, to say the least. If you are going to do more of these than two, buying Camera Match is the way to go.


Edited by Tom G.
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

While I may be a bit biased, I'd argue that CameraMatch would pay for itself straight away. You might spend a small amount of time learning how to use it, but having an accurate match and a final masked rendering without leaving Vectorworks makes up for it. CameraMatch has basic masking, cloning, and shadow tools that can be applied directly within the viewport's annotation space. In most cases, these tools can get you a final rendering without exporting to a image editor. I know of several users that have incorporated CameraMatch into their regular workflow for every project. They do this because it can be done very quickly and the client can immediately relate the design to the actual site.

This video shows the process from start to finish (in real time) in just under 10 minutes. Of course this was rehearsed beforehand, but I think you'll see in the video that it's not a difficult process and gives very good results:

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