Our todays Making of is featuring the Port of Barcelona render by Glessner Group. Visit the Glessner Group website to see more projects.

Project Overview

Client / Architect: Willy Müller Architects [WMA] Project Location: Barcelona, Spain Duration: Approximately 72hrs Team: 3 Render Professionals

Final Render [Port of Barcelona]


Additional Information More renders by Glessner Group are featured on Willy Müller Architects website.

Camera #1 [view from boardwalk]


Camera #2 [view from adjacent boat]


Camera #3 [view from port]


Camera #4 [aerial of Barcelona Harbor]


Project Work Flow


(1) – 3ds Max 2011

(2) – V-Ray 2.0

(3) – Photoshop

(4) – After Effects

Project File Overview


Featured Camera View


Behind the Lens


The camera set-up in this featured render, Port of Barcelona, was intended to capture the essence of what it feels like for the observer as they walk along the waterfront of the Barcelona Harbor. In these screenshots it is noticeable that the foreground and background dominate a large portion of the viewer’s field of view.

RenderThat_3DSMax_Barcelona-Habor_08 RenderThat_3DSMax_Barcelona-Habor_09

The horizon line was composed as the focal point of the scene – to accent the concept of ’where sky meets water’ – the architecture, large ships, people, and model elements were all centralized near the port building.

Textures of Reality


The foreground is clean and not cluttered with people or objects. This minimalist layout helps to prevent the viewer from being visually distracted by a person (or object) in close proximity to the camera view.

With having a clean foreground, it was also very important for the texture of the foreground material to have high-definition in the texture mapping. This material incorporates a variety of maps into this ‘wet paver texture’ as outlined below.

These intricate mapping properties were created to show (1) the textural depth of the dry pavers, (2) the reflectivity in the wet puddles, as well as (3) the subtle variances in the material’s overall specular quality, as it absorbs the surrounding atmospheric light levels.



Reference the following tutorial ‘Wet Asphalt with Puddles’ by Slava123 to achieve a similar texture and mapping technique. This is a great tutorial tool to use as a reference when wanting to create an exterior texture with a wet surface similar to the one Glessner Group’s render professionals created in this project.

Simulated Environments


As designers of computer generated realities, we realize that inspiring ideas and concepts come from a variety of daily influences. Constantly we observe and analyze our perceptions of reality around us.

Observations of textures, light distribution, and other factors affecting our perceptions – both with the naked eye or the slightly distorting lens of a camera. All of these factors need to be constantly explored to learn and discover new approaches and render techniques.

Model Technique


Setting Snapshot


So hemisphere vs. Cylinder…

Our render professionals prefer to use the ‘hemisphere technique’ when creating the background imagery and lighting in our exterior renders. The rendered result produces the same panoramic appearance as the open-top cylinder; however the hemisphere background creates a dynamic lighting result. There are render projects where using the cylinder is a quick and convenient background element to use, it just depends on the project.

Overall when using the hemisphere approach, the lighting can be better controlled within the environment. Especially when wanting to emphasize atmospheric changes to show gradient light levels on the sky’s surface, environmental noise, or atmospheric reflection and refraction.

Concept: “where sky meets water”


Remember that 1998 satirical comedy The Truman Show; where actor Jim Carrey’s character, Truman, is unknowingly living in a large domed-shaped constructed reality TV show? When first trying the hemisphere lighting technique, our idea was simple – if you want to construct the realistic illusion of an artificial world, simply use the Earth’s geometry. It worked for Truman, right?

Okay, perhaps a more scientific example would be better suited – such as referencing the environmental lighting principles behind helidons (or sky-domes) that are used to accurately study daylight simulation – but why get too technical.

The initial idea behind the hemisphere background lighting technique was simple, yet the render results go beyond the basic environmental lighting set-up.

Project Coordination

Architect to Render Artist:

Modeling software and BIM (building information model) programs have been increasingly used in the design development process by our clients. Having pre-production models as a reference helps dramatically to assure model accuracy, easy project set-up, and quick project time.

For this project, we had a team of three render professionals working directly with the client and the entire render project was completed in 3-business days or approximately 72 hours.

Screen Shots:



Shaded Wireframe


Rendered Wireframe (w/ vray lighting)


Basic Lighting Techniques

VRay Surface Lights – building interior

Omni Lights – exterior illumination

Free Lights – exterior light poles

VRay Lights – bollard accent lighting

VRay IES Lights – accent lighting

VRay Material Light – hemisphere sky material

RenderThat_3DSMax_Barcelona-Habor_17 RenderThat_3DSMax_Barcelona-Habor_18 RenderThat_3DSMax_Barcelona-Habor_19

Color Filters:

Basic VRay Surface Lights were used to represent the interior lighting fixtures. The large VRay Lights have a slight color filter. These color filters help to give the final render a more realistic appearance. When glossy surfaces are illuminated at dusk or dawn, they will typically reflect a mixture of vibrant surrounding hues – such as blues, purples, and amber hues.

Omni Lights were used to brighten the overall luminosity of the port. Some of these lights have a color filter so that the specular color will slightly wash the building façade. The Omni Light settings shown below are for the blue-hued Omni light.

Omni Lights (exterior illumination)

RenderThat_3DSMax_Barcelona-Habor_20 RenderThat_3DSMax_Barcelona-Habor_21 RenderThat_3DSMax_Barcelona-Habor_22

The large Omni Light shown below was placed in this location for additional light reflectivity on the wet surface material. In the final render image, this lighting effect really brightens the surface and due to the perspective angle, the light is perceived to be a reflection from the light source at the horizon.

Free Lights (exterior light poles)


VRay Light (bollard accent lighting)


VRay IES Lights (accent lighting)



Image Enhancement

The finishing touches with post-production image enhancement are always essential to the quality of our final renders. These image adjustments were completed in Photoshop and After Effects. The render artists were able to quickly and easily enhance the raw render image (shown below with flat and muted tones) to get those certain design and lighting features to really come to life!

Raw Render (without modifications)


Levels (Photoshop)


Water Texture Overlay (Photoshop)








Enhanced Lighting (After Effects)


Thank you! Any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.