Bringing Physical Samples to Archviz Rendering with Substance

ZUH showcases blind and screen materials for fabrics manufacturer Serge Ferrari

Hi there! We are Zina, from Russia, and Hugues, from France. We are both architects by training and proudly work today as 3D artists. We created ZUH Visuals a bit more than two years ago. We are located in the beautiful city of Nice, in the South of France.

ZUH is a company that creates visual content for architects, designers, and manufacturers. We specialize in high-end photorealistic digital imagery and propose a vast array of solutions to depict concepts at their bests (still images, films, virtual tours). 

Variations of the same composite screen material, “Soltis”, showcased within different archviz projects:

Partnership with Serge Ferrari

We first got in touch with Serge Ferrari last summer. They wanted to launch an advertising campaign to get the individual consumers to know their products. The main idea was to explain that their products, composite screen and blind materials designed for architects, were also made for everybody willing to have quality fabrics protecting their house. 

They initially gave us a brief, explaining that we should put in correlation an office building and a private villa, in which the same fabrics were used. We oversaw the design of the buildings in their environment to highlight the usage of their product. They sent us A4 samples of their fabrics so that we could scan and digitize them, thanks to Substance Designer. 

This first campaign went great, and since then we’ve continued a great adventure with them. As Serge Ferrari is creating fabrics for a lot of different applications, we’ve had the opportunity to work on projects of various scale and program, including stadiums, public libraries, office buildings, private villas, and others. 

These images have been used for their own catalog and advertising purposes on social media, as well as for a digital exhibition. 

The importance of the images, which are very realistic, lies in the fact that Serge Ferrari is producing fabrics with intricate details and extraordinary technology. They could look simple from a distance but, in the end, they are the fruit of long research resulting in products protecting you from the sun and/or sound, that will stay in an immaculate state for years. 

The point of the images that we’ve created was to showcase their products in real-world applications, and representing them correctly was the key to a successful collaboration. 

Substance for archviz

We both learned about Substance about five years ago and dived into it a bit more after attending a Masterclass at the State of Art Academy in Venice. The guys there showed us what it was possible to achieve using the magic of the nodes in Substance Designer, and since then we’ve been hooked! 

The thing is, with traditional material scanning using, for example, a photo or a scan and retouching them in Photoshop, we couldn’t get the level of detail and the proper maps we needed to achieve a realistic look. The fabrics that must be showcased often span large areas, and we absolutely needed to get rid of any tiling effect. 

We found in Substance Designer the possibility to recreate these materials from scratch (using scanned images as reference) and get the proper depth needed to achieve realistic seamless textures. 

The great thing about Substance, too, is that we could export super-detailed maps for close-up shots and bigger ones for further angle images. The flexibility that we had was a real benefit, all by having 16bits depth displacement and normals of each material. 

Substance Source is our library of choice when it comes to look-dev, but not only for that. Sometimes we need a particular texture that we can’t find online, but we often find one that resembles it on Substance Source. The possibility to download the graphs of most of the textures is amazing, and by tweaking them according to our wishes, we can meet our requirements and deliver what’s expected of us. 

The amazing collection provided allows us to speed up our workflow and deliver content at a fast pace. 

Breakdown

3ds Max + Corona Renderer:

“ZUH delivered us with highly qualitative renders and videos. They combine architectural skill with fast and qualitative 3D rendering which brings a real added value for our company. The final result is beautiful, realistic and perfectly fits our original briefing (type of building, architecture, environment, fabric texture and properties, furniture, lights). Their production was well-received internally and externally by our customers. In addition, 3D imagery brings a lot of new possibilities in terms of digital tools (configurator, virtual showroom) and helps us to gain time for product presentation, not having to wait to shoot real project reference buildings.

Some 3D-reluctant colleagues are even using their pictures from now on, and still thought they were shot in real!”

– Axel Garioud, Marketing communication manager at Serge Ferrari 

For more information on how to scan materials around you, do check our Your Smartphone is a Material Scanner article.

We always think about Substance when working on a new project. Substance Designer is a software of choice in our pipeline, and we’ll continue using it for a long time. We’d also like to dive a bit more into Substance Painter, which looks amazing to us, but we’ll have to find time to implement it as our schedule is often full. 

We are working in a rapidly evolving industry, and so we believe that being flexible and using different software tools to reach your goal, is crucial. The quality of rendering is evolving every year, and staying open-minded regarding the evolution of our work seems very important to us. 

We really love the hard work carried out by the Substance by Adobe teams to push the boundaries of parametric material creation; we’re really thankful for that. If you’re near the French Riviera, give us a call to grab a fresh beer on the beach! We’d be pleased to meet new people from the community! 

All images courtesy of ZUH and Serge Ferrari. For more beautiful archviz renders, go on Behance or visit www.zuhvisuals.com.