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Is Renderworks worth it (for my purposes)?

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First, I know that there's a specific Renderworks forum, but my question has more to do with workflow efficiency within a residential design context. So I'm thinking folks who pay particular attention to this specific forum might have the best answers to my questions.

Since there is currently a great Service Select promotion to add Renderworks I'm finally seriously considering adding it, but I need to know if it would really be a value add to my particular business, which is residential design services to folks generally in the mid- to upper middle class strata. These folks typically would rely on either stock plans or builder plans for their homes rather than pay the typical fees of licensed architects. I offer them design services at a rate they would find palatable.

Over the years I've refined my VW techniques to a workflow which works well for me and more importantly, my clients and their builders. I'm able to give them a deep understanding of what they are going to build, using, of course, many of the 3D tools, and adding hatches on layer planes in lieu of textures. See Webpage Samples, and esp. the first two images to give you an idea of how I currently present.

So, all that said, here are my questions (there's really only one, in multiple components):

1) Will Renderworks speed up the process, since I won't have to add hatches?

2) The hatches work great for me in the construction drawings elevations. Would Renderworks elevations work as well, or would I still have to create the hatches anyway, in order to get the linework and "crispness" typically associated with construction drawings and what builders are familiar with?

3) In other words, is Renderworks more a visualization tool limited to preliminary and design development stages, and to sell a project or one's firm? Or can it successfully be integrated into the whole construction document process?

If the answer to the very last question is yes, can any of you quickly point me to some image examples?

I'd love to add Renderworks and move more to photorealism, but given my clientele and business model I'd need a good reason to justify the added expense. All the better if it does speed up the workflow.

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I would say yes, it is probably what you are looking for. I don't think it would speed up the process of adding hatches, as a texture is sort of the same thing. But, you can render with bump texturing only, so your elevations would have a hatch like feel.

The renderworks package is a good intermediary for those looking to not jump into a full scale rendering package like C4d. The quality of the renders won't be as good, but they are getting better as VW adds more power to the renderworks package.

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I think Yes.

You can assign a RW Texture to most of your Geometry that uses Fill Color for Diffuse only,

and assign special Materials with Reflexion/Bump/Hatches/ ... only to important parts.


As grant_PD showed, you can improve your 2D Viewports with RW.

And most appearance will come generated from the 3D Model so changes will automatically

update your Viewports - opposed to manual drawing 2D Fillings over the Viewports.


For me RW is part of the whole BIM Model.

Assigning Materials by Class lets you create nice Presentation/Screenshots at any phase of

the Project. The more the Projects evolves, the more do the 2D Plans and Visualizations.

So for your purpose, I would say yes.

Nevertheless for me, RW is at a level of quality that is so far from what I'm used in my other

Apps in usage, consistency and reliability that I would prefer to live without RW and do

Visualization outside of VW completely.

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I don't use RW for renderings anymore, but it is a step up from not having the ability to render at all. I do find that in architecture, as in other disciplines, there is a level of quality that can suit a specific client base. Skia's work currently does not seem to demand photorealistic renderings and so therefore would only be benefiting from renderworks.

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As I said, for his purpose he described, I think RW is suited.

And no problem with the RW Render Quality or Feature Set itself.

Beside some lack of UW control that seems to be limiting some of the architects

here, the Rendering Capabilities of RW exceed the need of most users by far.

It is just that the usability is far more tedious that it had to be, some problems/bugs

and some strange special behaviors in RW design that I can't tolerate.

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Thanks for the responses. Questions:

What does "UW" mean? User W____?

zoomer: What do you use to "do Visualization outside of VW completely"?

And when you say it "is just that the usability is far more tedious that it had to be, some problems/bugs and some strange special behaviors in RW design that I can't tolerate," wouldn't all of that mean that it ultimately might take longer to do things in RW vs. the use of hatches applied on Layer Planes?

And, not having really looked into RW, I had the impression that photorealism was attainable without having to add on other software packages. Not so? If this is the case, then when I look at examples on Nemetschek's website, are these renderings done with RW PLUS something else? If so, can anyone show me any 3D examples of what RW does without that PLUS something?

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UVW are just the XYZ coordinates called for Texture Mapping Space.

It controls how the Texture images will be projected on your geometry.

This works a bit different in VW.

For me, with little drawbacks, the VW Mapping way is sufficient for 99%

of architectural work.

I use and used before many other 3D Software.

I worked and rendered in Microstation, 3DSMax, Sketchup, (even Allplan), ...

currently VW, Cinema4D + VRAY and Modo (which I like most)

wouldn't all of that mean that it ultimately might take longer to do things in RW vs. the use of hatches applied on Layer Planes?

I'm not very used in 2D and Hatches but I don't think it will slow you down.

It will ad some extra functionality to you.

If you are used to do everything including Layoutwork in VW and like to work

with Sheet Layers, everything will be fine for you.

It is just that I need a more flexible way, like getting Geometry in/out of VW in

a lossless manner, or that my end results will be 3D Models or Images Files,

Not Layout Plans to print on Paper, which VW seems to optimized for.

And, not having really looked into RW, I had the impression that photorealism was attainable without having to add on other software packages. Not so? If this is the case, then when I look at examples on Nemetschek's website, are these renderings done with RW PLUS something else? If so, can anyone show me any 3D examples of what RW does without that PLUS something?

No, the Render Quality of RW is, being the Cinema4D Render Engine licensed,

nearly that of the full C4D package.

Of course VW has not all the advanced detail render settings, similar for Materials/Lights/Cameras/... but the base is the same and more than sufficient for

architectural purposes and users, as I think.

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OK, I think I'm almost talked into it. Final question (I think!): will my machine specs handle it OK? The hatches add a fair amount to file size. I keep almost everything contained in one .vwx file (the model on Design layers, with Sheet layers with viewports of all the plans, elevations, sections, etc. It's just me doing the work so one file works best. My typical file size is in the 80 to 110MB size and for the most part walkthroughs, flyovers, etc. of the fully detailed model render well and quickly enough (only occasional crashes or freezes). Do you think trading out the hatches for textures will help in this respect? (FWIW, I usu. wait to upgrade to the current VW until after at least one service pack has been released, and will upgrade to El Capitan at the same time.)

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With regards to renderings, if you look in the user forums under Vectorworks Gallery, you will see user submitted work which I think is far more trustworthy than VW's marketing images. These are done by users that have deadlines, have clients, etc. They are not producing images for the sake of producing them to entice others to buy the software.

Rendering will always be a tender subject as everyone has a different threshold of "realism." If you look on any of the rendering programs' websites (C4D, Vray, Thea, Maxwell, etc) they will all have much more realistic and complex renders than VW can produce. But that is probably more complexity than is warranted for your needs. Bottom line, if you and your clients are happy with the look of your renders, then your rendering software and skill levels are good enough.

Your use of hatches applied is very much the idea of texturing. But with RW you will be able to apply light and shadow to the models, and textures will react to that light and shadow. They can reflect other textures.

Your hardware will run RW, it won't be a i7 machine with 16 or 32 gigs of RAM, but it will run it. Walkthroughs or flyovers, unless in OpenGL or rendered out in a movie file, will never be realtime.

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Your iMac should work for RW Rendering too.

There is always a trade off how much you want to add in Hardware or how long

you can to wait for your Renderings.

Rendering can get quite time and RAM consuming, you have to get a feeling for

where you can optimize settings or avoid time consuming effects like Displacement

Texture, Caustics, Blurry Reflections, ...

Just one thing to your current hardware, you can buy more RAM, it is not expensive

and can avoid bottlenecks, useful general for large files and exports too.

For future iMacs,

if you have fun with 3D and renderings, you should choose the faster CPU (i7)

option because it is noticeably faster (as i5 without Hyperthreading) and the better

GPU option, which has more VRAM and will support larger models.

So the "right-below-model" as we call it here.

It costs a bit more but normally Apple Hardware has a longer life/usage time.

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Thanks, Grant and Zoomer. I guess I'm sold. Yup, I figured I might add the additional 8G RAM my machine can take. And the samples in the Vectorworks in Action forum (not the Gallery), esp. the most recent ones by David S, seem to be at that next level I'd like to get to. Lack of shadow-casting has been one of the biggest limitations in my current design toolkit. I and my clients will appreciate that feature.

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I'll throw my two cents into this as well though only to support what has already be said. I would say no, your work flow will not be sped up but rather enhanced.

Your work looks great as it is. RW will give you the ability of photo realism. I see you're using 2015. VW 2016 has made some great improvements that has made RW a valuable part of VW as a single software package.

I don't use hatches in my elevations. See pic attached. Where I work we have been increasingly using textures that match real world materials so that we can have a close idea of what the final product will look like. I like the results I'm getting.

Like Zoomer I have used other software to create visualizations that far surpass VW. I'm quite impressed with what I can do in an all encompassing software like VW; from concepts to working drawings and everything in between.


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What I like most for architectural renderings is just using simple diffuse or

better class fill colors, some transparency for glass, daylight - and Global Illumination.

That gives a feel for the proportions and space.

This works very fast and with simple settings in VW, even with larger geometry.

As soon as someone asks, can we have some trees and some wood for the tables,

it's over :)

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Since you can apply Hatches to RW Materials, they will appear in 2D representations also.

Hatches can be cool to show facade panels.

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mjw: Why do you add hatches in viewports? If I'm understanding why you might, I would respond that I used to do that, but when I learned that the hatches can be applied directly to the model that's all I ever do now. For example, in 2D elevation viewports it was always so cumbersome to apply a brick hatch to a wall behind deck posts because it'd be multiple brick hatch polygons/polylines rather than the one applied directly to the wall surface, with the posts obscuring in the 2D viewport (which I think is what zoomer is describing with applying hatches to RW materials—is that right, zoomer?)

But maybe you have other reasons. I'm (almost!:-) always ready to learn something new.

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Yes, that is what I meant.

Applying Hatches to 3D Materials will automatically bring the desired Hatch

appearance, covered behind other elements, in a 2D Elevation.

It can get quite tedious though, if you need to have sensible Hatch positions and

have to manually adjust offsets of Hatches to fit for all 3D parts together.

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