Peter Guthrie is a talented 3D artist based in Falun, Sweden. We asked him to tell us about himself, and share some of his work with the vray.info readers.
Interviewed by Torgeir Holm
Could you tell us a little about your background? How did you end up in the CG industry? And how long have you been working in the ArchViz field?
I studied architecture in Edinburgh, Scotland and worked in architecture for a number of years. During that time I got more and more interested in 3d visualisation and eventually decided to try and do it full time. I've been working with architectural visualisation full time for about 5 years now, and have been using V-Ray since around 2003.
What and/or who inspires you in your work?
I often look to architectural photography for inspiration, and photography in general. I went through a phase of being very into photography and I think I learned a lot of things about light that has helped me in arch viz. I subscribe to a lot of architecture related blogs and often bookmark cool photos that have great composition, lighting or mood and go back to them when I am trying to achieve a certain look.
Frame House, Line House and Square House by Ziphouse and Pompom Arkitekter (click to enlarge)
Tell us a little about your Farnsworth House project. What was your motivation for starting the project? Could you describe the process of recreating the building?
Although I like the Farnsworth House, it's not a building I am passionate about or really relate to. I started it as a project in collaboration with the3dstudio.com, and all of the furniture models are from there. Having taken the project on, I concentrated mostly on the environment, learning to do grass and trees was a great exercise. At the time, V-Ray environment fog was an exciting new feature in V-Ray which I decided to try out. For some reason my use of it really seemed to polarise opinion, but I was very happy with the results.
Farnsworth House 3D (click to enlarge)
Do you have any other favorite projects you would like to mention?
My favourite projects amongst my own work are usually the personal projects that I do for fun and to learn new skills. I think my favourite project is the soon to be published one I'm working on right now!
Do you do, or have you done, any 3D work outside the ArchViz field?
No, my main skills are architecture related. I might consider taking on some kind of product visualisation project, but I'm more interested in architecture.
Your images always have a great attention to detail, and in many cases are believable to the point where the viewer is unsure of whether this is a rendering or a photo. What aspects of the real world do you look for to be able to achieve this?
I always try and make my materials as realistic as possible, and usually make them from scratch using my own photographic references (although arroway.de are a very good resource for a lot of things). Apart from that, I think a lot of my work looks realistic because of careful framing and lighting. The materials and small details are often just OK, but if you present a convincing overall image then you can get away with being a bit lazy with small details!
Allandale House (click to enlarge)
Could you tell us a little about how you typically work on a project? Modeling, Lighting, Materials, Software etc.
Since I work very closely with architects I usually start every project in SketchUp and work the model up until its ready to bring into 3ds Max. I tend to demand a lot of organisation, tidiness and efficiency and my SketchUp models reflect this. I make heavy use of components, and really need to get more into SketchUp's dynamic components. Once the building is modelled, I bring it into 3ds Max, give it basic white materials (and glass) and start playing around with lighting. It's at this stage that I start experimenting with camera views too. At the end of every project I have amassed a library of development test renders which are fun to go back though and see how the project developed.
Work in progress test renders showing the project development. (click to enlarge)
Are there any plug-ins or applications that you find indispensable?
SketchUp, 3ds Max, Photoshop and Lightroom are my main apps, then the plugins I use most are V-Ray (of course), V-Ray Scatter and just started using Photolooks for Photoshop which seems very promising.
There are several workflow “camps” out there at the moment: Linear workflow vs. standard sRGB workflow etc. What kind of rendering workflow do you use, and why?
I don't use true LWF in that my output from 3ds Max is not an unclamped full float image but I do use gamma 2.2 and also reinhard colour mapping to help control burnt out highlights. I don't do much post processing at all so I like the rendered image from V-Ray to be as close as possible to the final image.
Is there much post processing involved in your work?
I prefer to build a sort of virtual set where I can really explore the building from different angles. Trying to decide on a camera view before you have gone through this exploration phase misses out on all the fun I think, and maybe doesn't give the best results. As a result of building almost everything in 3d, there is little need to do much post processing. At most I might correct colours slightly, add some creative effects like vignetting and linear grads. I tend to do most of this in Lightroom as I like to treat my renders as if they are raw files from my camera, but with the release of the Photolooks plugin for Photoshop I've been experimenting a bit with that. It's a whole different mindset though, from photographer to film colorist, not sure I will be able to adjust.
Selected work (click to enlarge)
Do you do animation work?
Although my workflow lends itself to animation work, I haven't had the chance to make anything that I've been proud of, still waiting for the right client!
You have a lot of good photographic work on Flickr. Do you also do Photography commercially?
Thanks! I do, but not very often, I prefer to concentrate of visualisation and instead use photography to supplement my visualisations. Some jobs call for photomontage work, in which case I prefer to take the background shots myself, as well as photos of the surrounding environment for reflections and sometimes a spherical HDR for lighting.
Do you think your experience in photography plays a large part in the final result of your renderings?
Absolutely, the importance of composition and lighting cannot be understated. I always try and get the lighting and exposure perfect for every shot, and go through multiple options for composition before I settle on one, even to the length of printing out variations and choosing the best. It's often hard to compare on screen, and especially hard when viewing a wireframe or shaded image in your 3d application.
Selected work (click to enlarge)
Finally: you are Scottish, but live and work in Falun, Sweden. How did you end up there?
Via New York and London, but mainly because my girlfriend is Swedish!
Peter is a freelance visualisation specialist based in Sweden. He started with arch viz after training and working as an architect in the UK. Architectural photography is his main source of inspiration but enjoys the freedom and possibilities that working in 3d offers.