Associated Engineering - Case Study

Creating Realistic Landscapes with Textures and Shadows using IRender nXt

AE 75 logo.png
To start 2021, we’re talking with Dan Chartrand from Associated Engineering whose headquarters are in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  

Just in case you needed a reminder… it’s in western Canada

AE was originally founded in Edmonton in 1946 and has grown to over 1,000 staff in 21 offices across Canada. Services include planning, engineering, environmental science, landscape architecture, project management, and asset management, and the company participates in world-class projects in Canada and around the world, for both public and private sector clients.

AE has received numerous awards over the years including the Schreyer Award twice, the highest award given to consulting engineering firms in Canada. And for eleven consecutive years they have been recognized as one of Canada's Best Managed Companies as awarded by Deloitte Canada, recognizing AE’s strong business performance, innovation, growth, and dedication to staff.

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Hello Dan, tell us a little about yourself
I am a Landscape Architectural Technologist specializing in landscape design, 3D modelling (SketchUp), and creating models for use in client meetings and presentations.

What sets AE apart from others in your niche?
As you might be able to tell from our logo (above), Associated Engineering is celebrating its 75 anniversary this year and the driving factor behind our success over this time is simply down to our relationships with our clients.

When did you start using SketchUp and IRender nXt?
I first started using IRender in 2016 while attending school at NAIT for LAT (Landscape Architectural Technology). I was introduced to SketchUp and IRender and fell in love with the versatility, final product, and ease of use that goes with using both programs.

Are there any features in IRender that you find especially useful?
I find IRender especially useful for texturing. Being in the Landscape discipline, I feel that IRender is especially useful for illustrating near accurate representations of different types of vegetation, concrete patterns, pavers, among other elements found within Landscape Architecture and Design. The inclusion of shadows and showing models to scale is especially useful when conveying a design to clients. Seeing a side-by-side comparison of a SketchUp model with and without IRender is a night and day difference and helps to elevate the image to the next level.

What elements do you pay most attention to when rendering?
Textures such as different types of grasses, trees, and different materials that are found in IRender and not SketchUp, scale, and the use of shadows are what I pay most attention to.

Please give us some background on a recent project you’ve done for which you’ve produced renderings using IRender nXt. 
Due to the privacy policy that we have with our clients, I am unfortunately unable to include any images. However, I’m excited to describe a recent project where I created a model for Medicine Hat in Alberta showing the conceptual design for a parking lot that is being converted to a marketplace, using requests from the client that were to be included in the design. These requests included a long canopy with potential to have solar power, sea cans for vendors to set up their shops and wares in, different types of concrete patterning, coloured and stamped concrete, permeable pavers, minor planting, and gathering spaces were all included in this model.

When creating the renders, I rendered some of the views twice. I did one with the overhead canopy, one without. I then dropped the view with the canopy over the top of the view without into Photoshop, and dropped down the opacity of the canopy view to illustrate what the canopy would look like in the model without it becoming overpowering while able to still see what is happening further away.

Using the different scenes, I set up all of my views as I wanted them, copied them out twice where necessary, then it was just a matter of turning off different layers.

The IRender Batch Render option came in handy for this, because I was able to render out multiple views overnight, which allowed me to save time and budget on the project.

Do you receive any feedback on the renderings/your work?
I have received a lot of praise and positive feedback for the finished product on multiple projects in which I have utilized IRender.

Thanks, Dan!  We will continue this conversation with Dan in Part 2 where we will provide solutions to specific challenges he faces with several functions in IRender nXt.

Checkout Associated Engineering's website
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