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Chapter 8. Architectural Environments > Building an Architectural Scene in Layo...

Building an Architectural Scene in Layout

Building a skyscraper is only one aspect of a complete project. While it’s an important aspect, the texturing, lighting, camera placement, and environment that your building lives in are just as important.

Exercise 8.6 Creating the Skyscraper Environment

If Modeling is the ying, then Texturing and Lighting are the yang. All of these elements are connected. If you have a great model but poor textures and surfaces, the model will look poor. If you have a poor model and great textures, the model will still look bad.

For this reason, you need to make sure that you learn and excel at working with both models and textures. Do not rush—if you speed through either phase of the project, it will show. If you take your time and methodically work through the entire process, the care and quality of your work will stand out.

To develop your surfaces and textures adequately, you will need a good light kit. A light kit is a set of lights used for a particular scene. Many times you might develop a generic light kit that you can use over and over again. But, your generic light kit is only a starting point, a jumping-off place from which you can develop your scene. The light kit is not the end of your journey; it is the beginning.

This exercise will bring your model to Layout. You’ll create an environment for the Skyscraper object, as well as position the camera. You can make the skyscraper appear more impressive with the proper camera positioning. From there, you’ll apply lights and textures to bring the building to life.

Start Layout and make sure that your Content Directory is set to Skyscraper.

Load the skyscraper model you created by pressing the plus key (+) or by clicking the Add button and choosing Object and then Load Object. This command is located under the Items tab.


The performance of your computer will determine how you should set the display of your objects in Layout. If you have a computer with the fastest CPU and the best graphics card available, you may be able to display very complex models with OpenGL textures turned on.

Experiment with the different display modes to find the one that best suits your needs and does not bring your system to a halt.

After loading the skyscraper model, set a keyframe for the Camera. Doing this now will keep the camera at its current location.

If you did not set a keyframe for the Camera, when you load the skyball the camera will move along the negative z-axis to frame all of the object.

Next, load the Skyball.lwo object, provided on the accompanying CD.

With the skyball and skyscraper loaded, make the Camera the active item by clicking Cameras at the bottom of the Layout interface or by pressing Shift+c.

Make sure that your view is looking through the camera by pressing the 6 key on the top row of numbers on the keyboard (not the numeric keypad) or by selecting Camera view in the upper-left corner of the view border.

With the Camera active, change its location and rotational values as follows:

X 40.5264m
Y 10m
Z –190.8049m
Heading –15.20°
Pitch –70.40°
Bank –32.60°


To move the camera, select the Move tool under the Tools heading under the Items tab or press the t key.

To rotate the camera, select the Rotate tool under the Tools heading under the Items tab or press the y key. The hot keys in Layout are the same as they are in Modeler, which makes them easier to use because you do not have to learn a new set of hot keys for each module of the software.

Set a keyframe for the camera.


After moving and rotating your camera, you object might look clipped. This is because your Grid Size is set too high.

To make your Grid Size smaller, use the left square bracket key ([). To make your Grid Size larger, use the right square bracket key (]).

Rotate the skyball on its Heading to place the bright area of the image map in the appropriate place in the scene. Why this particular angle was chosen will be described later when you create your lighting kit. Use the following settings:

Heading 144.00°

Make a keyframe for the skyball.

With the skyball rotated to the correct location, you will want to change its rendering properties. If you were to add your light kit and start rendering, the skyball would affect the lighting in the scene. You do not want that. The skyball is used to give the scene some background. It also is used to indicate where the light is coming from.

Change to Object Selection mode and make sure that your skyball is the object that is activated.

Once the skyball is the active object, activate its Object Properties panel by clicking the Item Properties button at the bottom of the Layout interface or by pressing the p key.

Approximately one quarter of the way down on the Object Properties panel, there are four tabs:





Select the Rendering tab. Then deselect all of the Shadowing Options for the skyball. They are Shelf Shadow, Cast Shadow, and Receive Shadow.

By deselecting all of the shadowing options, the skyball will not block the lights in the scene. Your view should look like Figure 8.43.

Figure 8.43. The camera and skyball have been moved and rotated into their correct positions.



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