What to do if you don’t have good 3D modeling for Beyond CAD

While Beyond CAD excels at what it does- provide outstanding visualization for civil projects- it is limited in the fact that is a visualization engine. Beyond CAD, Twinmotion and other visualization engines are built specifically for projects that already have 3D CAD files to import. Visualization engines do not offer 3D modeling but only visualize 3D files modeled in other software like Civil 3D, Openroads, Revit or Sketchup.

This differs from software like InfraWorks or Conceptstation. These planning tools do offer some built in modeling features but also allow for importing of other 3D models. These planning tools are also lacking in what they offer for visualization due to their planning-level offering.

Beyond CAD works incredibly well if you have good 3D design files but what can you do if you don’t have good modeling for your project? This may be due to a variety of factors including early phase design that doesn’t require detailed modeling, limitations of design software or lack of modeling talent on the project.

Fortunately there are a few options available to overcome a lack of detailed modeling and hopefully one or more of these can work for you as you continue to work Beyond CAD into your design and visualization workflow.

The first option is to simply hire out the modeling. Civil FX a Division of Parametrix was founded and sold by Beyondware founder Sam Lytle and is our preferred partner for 3D modeling. This team of talented artists and programmers can either model and visualize your project from start to finish or simply model it so that you can do the visualization stage yourself in Beyond CAD. This option will require a budget which may not fit all scenarios. 

Another option is to have the design team spend a little more time in modeling if time and budget permits. There is often a gap between design modeling (ie just enough detail to get the project built) and visualization modeling (detailed modeling including curbs, gutters, sidewalks and so on). Talented designers can often push the design model closer to visualization quality and if they are unable to, some practice, planning and time will ensure they will be ready for visualization level modeling in future projects.

The final option for those that don’t think their project files are good enough for high quality visualization is to use the assets and techniques available in Beyond CAD to fill the final render with content other than the ‘low quality’ modeling. For example, if your roundabout project doesn’t have perfect striping, start the project renderings with cameras higher up in the air and add traffic. The distance and movement of traffic will make it so very few will notice the striping deficiencies. Also add animated or posed pedestrians from the asset library and combine close-up renders of them will draw emotion into the render in addition to telling the story of the project. 

Visual graphics (such as animated pathways) and trees are also wonderful when used in moderation to add to the visualization while distracting from deficient modeling. Carefully watching the tutorial videos for Beyond CAD will help you learn how to use these features to draw incredible visualizations out of sub-par modeling. Scene effects such as blueprint or sketchy looks can especially cover modeling deficiencies. These options work especially well if you are in early stages of the project and no one will be expecting photorealistic renders.

So while Beyond CAD can really make good modeling shine (and vice versa) it is the perfect tool with some incredible tricks for simplistic or rough models. 

What about the buildings and other surrounding context?

A final note that will be covered more extensively in future blog posts- what to do if you don’t have good surrounding buildings and other existing infrastructure? Here are short answers to the options you have available:

  1. Hire Civil FX to model the existing infrastructure
  2. Use the buildings, trees, power poles, custom sign creator and other assets and features in Beyond CAD to fill in as many of the gaps as possible
  3. Use drone-captured 3D photogrammetry and import this into Beyond CAD (Google Earth style) for some of the most affordable and realistic existing context you can get for your project.