Rotimi Seriki – How 3D Texturing Conveys Design Intent

HOK Visualisation Manager Rotimi Seriki walks us through his work, including the Seattle Tacoma airport terminal extension project.

  • Architecture

Rotimi Seriki shows us how he uses the Substance toolset to illustrate design intent, helping all the involved parties to visualize an architectural project as close as possible to the final result.


My name is Rotimi Seriki. I grew up in Southwest Nigeria. Like most people who end up working in art and design, I used to draw a lot when I was a kid. Consequently, I fell in love with architecture while I was still in high school. When I turned 18, I moved to the United States to study architecture.

I am currently a visualization manager at Hellmuth, Obata, Kassabaum (HOK) Architects in San Francisco. I help facilitate the production visualization materials that help our architects, designers, and engineers sell our ideas to prospective clients.


My 3D background

After moving to America at the age of 18, I decided to study architecture in college. One day while I was still in college studying architecture, I decided to walk into a bookstore on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. While I was in the store browsing through the magazine section, I discovered 3D World Magazine. After drooling over the artwork on the pages of the magazine, I decided I wanted to learn more about how to create renderings and artwork that I saw in 3D World Magazine.

I discovered Substance back in 2009 while reading one of the monthly issues of 3D World Magazine. At this time I was already using 3D modeling programs like Maya and 3ds Max. I was looking for software that could help me create better textures. That’s how I discovered Substance Designer.

3D pipeline

My pipeline currently includes Revit, Rhino, 3ds Max, Substance Designer, Substance Painter, Photoshop, and Unreal Engine 4. All of the design models I get comes from either Revit or Rhino. After I get the Revit models, I use 3ds Max to prepare a 3D scene that can be used for creating 3D visualization. During the scene prep, I often use Substance Designer to create custom textures that can be edited easily if I need to do so. I also use Substance Painter to custom texture for 3D objects in the scene.

The Airport Terminal project

The airport terminal project is a terminal extension project at the Seattle Tacoma airport in Seattle WA. My role in the project was to produce some visualization materials that will help both the client and the contractors working on the project understand the design intent by HOK.

So the project started in Revit. And from Revit, I exported the model into 3ds Max; where I created a 3D scene from which I generated 360 panoramas. I also prepared the 3ds Max model for export into Unreal Engine 4.

On the airport project, Substance Source was a great source of inspiration/reference from which I created concrete, metal and carpet textures that I used on the project. I usually start by downloading and opening the Substance Source material in Substance Designer. Once I am in Substance Designer, I edit the material graph to meet my needs. Once I am satisfied with the results in Substance Designer, I export the textures for use in other software packages like 3ds Max or UE4.

The Container Cabin project

On the Container Cabin project, I wanted to expand my knowledge of UE4 and Substance Painter. I used Substance Painter heavily on this project because it helped me create the look I was looking for with ease. The project started in 3ds Max, where I modeled all the elements that were imported into Substance Painter.

Once I got into Substance Painter, I created the textures I needed through the use of standard methods of using smart masks and hand-painted masks. Once I was satisfied with the results, I channel-packed the textures for use in Unreal Engine 4. The ability to quickly paint and pack the textures for use in UE4 was very important for me on this project.

The Brillhart House project

I found this project while reading one of the monthly releases of Architectural Record magazine. I liked the simplicity of the design and decided to create a 3D illustration of the building. I started by gathering references online and then I used those references in 3ds Max to create a 3D scene.

My original idea was to import the model into UE4 and render the scene. However, I had a limited understanding of game engines at the time. So I ended up sticking to VRay and 3ds Max. Since the shutters in front of the house were a big feature, I hand-painted the wood texture in Substance Painter in other to achieve the look I wanted. I used the same method on several objects in the scene. Overall, I was satisfied with the result I got from using Substance Painter.

Tips & tricks

When it comes to using the Substance products in archviz, my advice will be to keep it simple. Knowing what tool to use and when to use them will help you be efficient on all your projects. On my projects, I use Substance Painter on objects that are really close to the camera and Substance Designer textures for all other objects in my scene.

Substance for future projects

Since a lot of the projects I work on these days end up in Unreal Engine 4, I have to generate complex materials that I can use in both UE4 and offline render engines like Vray. Also, having the live link tool between Substance Painter and UE4 helps me a lot while I am still trying to put my scenes together.

I would just like to thank the whole Substance team for creating Substance and for giving me the opportunity to share my work with the community. I get inspired daily by what people like Daniel Thiger can achieve with Substance.

Image courtesy of Rotimi Seriki and HOK.

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