Making of Arrival

nookta‘s work was featured on the blog before, with the making of the Mediterranean House, and today I’m happy to share the making of their latest Best of Week 20/2015 – “Arrival”. It is their in-house project based on architecture from the 60’s in California, USA. Following the modern movement architecture, discovering the creations of Richard Neutra, Donald Wexler and Pierre Koenig, which inspired them immensely. “Arrival” describes the revitalization of an abandoned place. A place where time has passed and things were left behind. This image is the best I’ve seen from nookta on many levels, and it is great to share the making of it here with you. Enjoy!

We are very pleased to be able to share our work with you and we do hope our tips will be of value to you. Special thanks to Ronen for the invitation and for his great engagement in keeping us informed on further developments in our field of work.


When starting a project it is very important to take our time in researching reference images. These images serve as a guideline for proceeding working steps. You can thus concentrate on the essentials and save a lot of time!

Beside technical aspects they also help us to mentally visualise a project.


When doing our 3D modelling we started from rough cubic structures on to tiny details. The functionality of the architecture did not have the highest priority while creating an image, thus enabling a free choice of layout. On the other hand it is necessary to systematise an architectural model.

We therefore introduced a grid for the construction. For us it was important to create an architecture that is modern, light and simple even though we use a rigid grid. In this we were inspired by modernist architects like Donald Wexler, Richard Neutra and Pierre Koenig.





For this project, we wanted to go into high detail. Elements such as supporting framework, flooring panels, window profiles and lighting were taken directly from the reference images.

Tools such as “roundcorner” and “vertextool” greatly simplified our work.

The following shows how we constructed the ground and ceiling panels.

we first compiled components with identical parameters. These were then made distinct. Further components with identical parameters were created. Again distinct. This process was repeated several times until an irregular image was achieved.

We then used Vertex Tools on the individual components for further irregularity of the panels. We divided individual panels into 5 cm grids, decided on the edges and with a radius of 2 meters we finally shifted the contraption in z-direction over 1cm – 2cm spans. Our flooring panels were thus deformed perfectly. Almost like Floor Generator, only homemade.

Concrete walls and stairs were done similarly.

For the outdoor scene we used several Proxies. Plants are from XfrogPlants (Luckily we had desert plants included in the package). Palm trees were only used for shadowing. Our own 2D palms were more realistic.

Curtains were done with Marvelious Designer. We exported vraymesh data out of the curtains because their data was high poly. Further objects, like rocks and furniture, were taken from 3D Warehouse. Other furniture came directly from manufacturer pages and subsequently edited with artisan tool.

The Story and Final Process

We decided to portray a hot summer‘s day, which for California would be quite appropriate.

SketchUp‘s sun system is easy to operate. Light and shadow are precisely adjustable to our needs, which is why we decided to make do without a V-Ray Dome Light. Adjustments were kept very basic. For post production (using Photoshop) we also rendered these channels : Diffuse Filter; Raw Light; RenderID and ZDepth.

The following concerns the Final Perspective…

As you perhaps noticed, the position of chairs and diving board was rendered afterwards. Of this we unfortunately have no screen shot as we failed to file the final adjustments to the model.

Here, the positioning of objects is important as with these we try to give the final image depth.


And now to the Final Lighting…


For creating material components we took our time and experimented a lot. In fact, some of these were created quite accidentally by exchanging mappings. We decided to add dirt, dust and rusty spots subsequently in order to have more free choices for post production.

The Final Raw Rendering :


Final Picture

The following are guidelines we referred to while keeping an eye on the production process.

In order to create image depth we worked with FG, MG and BG elements. Framing was also used. The positioning of cold colours within warmer shades also added to image depth. The project theme “Table and Chairs” was positioned within the golden cut.





Before starting on the background, we edited the raw rendering with Camera Raw Filter to correct general features such as curves, colours, contrast and intensity.

Because contrast and intensity are again edited during final adjustments, it is important to not have areas 100% black or white. One of the most important elements is BG which lets the observer determine the scale and gives depth to the image.

At this stage, we took our time to compile good reference images. The background is composed of several mountain segments which have to have equal grain and exposure. We really enjoyed the adding of texture to the surfaces.

In starting post production, it is helpful to have available all the masks for surface editing and to use them subsequently. On some surfaces we painted texture with custom brushes, others were done with various blending modes.

We made sure to achieve an irregularity on surfaces thus improving their vividness and real look & feel. Final retouching only consists of colour adaptions, contrast adaptions plus a very slight soft focus filter.

Very often, during long periods of working on an image the eye turns blind to minor adjustments. It helps tremendously to mirror the image frequently while working. Because our premises are at a fictional site, the direction the house is facing was of no importance.

More important was how we liked the image, which is why at the end we kept it mirrored.

Sometimes it’s hard to let a project go. “Arrival” was one of them… It was great fun working on it but now the time has come to say goodbye. Here is the last shot from this project that was posted on the forums today.

Desert House_Arrival_Night_small

Thank you very much for taking your time to reach this point. We do hope that this tutorial has been of help to you and of course we look forward to your comments and criticisms.

They help us to learn and improve! See you soon

Bahadir (Nookta)

Bahadir Ozbek

nookta is a German based Architectural Visualization studio founded in 2012 they have strong focus on aesthetics and style.

14 replies
  1. ArchaviStudio
    ArchaviStudio says:

    Great article. Definitely didn’t think that this was made in SketchUp! Are there any tips for using Artisan on low poly furniture from the 3d warehouse? I’ve tried it before, and It usually ends up looking horrendous. Thanks!

  2. VictorPineda
    VictorPineda says:

    Could you please be more specific on how you used  reflection and specular maps in materials? thanks

  3. PiotrZ
    PiotrZ says:

    Hello! Great image! As VictorPineda, I would like to ask what settings you’ve used to reflection and specular maps?

  4. juanjovargas
    juanjovargas says:

    So nice explained and amazing how SketchUp was used there, thanks for posting more stuff for SketchUp lovers 😀

  5. CanhMTran
    CanhMTran says:

    Awesome tutorial. Can you explained why did you create double reflection for all material? Thanks:)

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