Kensington Church Street Bedroom

The power of post production

This luxury bedroom rendering is in a development on Kensington Church Street. The image was done whilst I was at River film. It was a close collaboration with visualisation artist Denis Zhitnik.

Under my direction, Denis did the 3D work creating the base render. When this was done I did the post production. First I added the background and then the glass. The background panorama was shot from the roof of the previous building on the site before it was demolished.

The final stage was to grade the image and give it the golden sunset look.

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You can drag the slider left or right to compare the base render or the finished image. If the image is not displayed please click “read more” below.

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Real or Photograph?

I recently came across this image on the internet. It’s a shows the lobby at 6 Pancras Square. It struck me because I was not sure if it was a photograph or a CGI. Turned out it was a photo. Then I was struck by the likeness we achieved in the images made before the building was finished!

You can see for yourself. The top image is the photograph and the bottom two images are CG images I created.

Photograph of the atrium at 6 Pancras Square

Photograph of the atrium at 6 Pancras Square




6 Pancras Square lobby

6 Pancras Square lobby CGI

6 Pancras Square Atrium

6 Pancras Square Atrium CGI

What did the original photo look like?

I am often asked this question when I show people my work, and this view of 22 Bishopsgate makes a great example. Swipe to the left to reveal the original photograph, while the finished image can be seen on the right. Notice the changes from the photograph the finished work.


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You need lots of photos!

On the right of the image, you see the main back-plate photograph as shot from Bishopsgate. I say main back-plate because I like to shoot many exposures to increase my options when I am back in the studio. This maximises creative control. Using different images I was able to remove the cars and clean up the foreground of the image.

Why I removed the cars

The foreground was cleaned up purely for artistic reasons. Having an open foreground changes the composition and thus the dynamic of the image. It is immediately calming, the image is more peaceful. The open space in front invites the viewer in, the eyes are lead to the focal point; 22 Bishopsgate. This image shows just how vast 22 Bishopsgate will look as you approach from Liverpool Street. With a cluttered foreground 22 Bishopsgate will merge with the background and the image will be confused. The viewer will not know instinctively where to look. To do this properly we need lots of shots, each time grabbing a different clean area of the street as the traffic moves.

Changing the look

Apart from the appearance of 22 Bishopsgate the another notable change is in the look and feel of the image. I knew what I was after before I arrived at Bishopsgate to shoot the back-plates. I wanted the image to invoke the feeling of late afternoon, low summer sun. As you can see the backplate turned out to be very blue, so the warmer look was all done in post-production using Photoshop.

A note on the glass used for 22 Bishopsgate

I want to briefly mention the glass as this was such an important part of these images. The glass looks to be a little different to most buildings and that’s because it is! My brief for 22 Bishopsgate was to use the same type of glass the Shard has. The best way to simply describe the nature of this glass is to say that it is more extreme in its behaviour. This means that when it reflects it reflects more, yet when there is little or no reflection it is clearer than other types of glass.  This has the effect of the surface being brighter when it reflects the sky, and conversely more see through when it reflects the surrounding buildings.




Verified Views

I can now report that Martin Richardson images has successfully completed their first set of verified views.  Other terms for verified views are verified visual montages (VVMs) or accurate visual representations (AVRs ). The images we have just done are to support an upcoming planning application for a key development in Bristol.

Here is how we did it….

First we carried out our own in house photography to shoot a selection of back-plates. At the same time we carefully noted camera/lens data, and  camera position. Then using data from Longdin And Browning  Surveys Ltd fed into a proprietary script we generated cameras in 3D space. The cameras were located in exactly the same place relative to the 3D model of the scheme as the real life camera positions would be if the scheme was built. This means that when we place the rendered CG image of the scheme over the back-plate it fits precisely in the right place.

The next step is the lighting. For this we match the time of day and weather conditions. With this done and using our already generated 3D cameras we were then able to render images of the scheme. Because of the position of the cameras relative to the scheme the perspective of the renders look as they would if shot through through the lens of the camera that shot the back-plates.  With Photoshop we then composited the CG renders into their relevant back-plates. We make sure that the scheme sits correctly and any parts that would cover the foreground are masked. This allows the foreground to show in front of the rendered scheme as it should. We then make final colour and tonal corrections to balance the elements of the image.

Using this method we produced a set of highly accurate photo-realistic verified views and all to a very tight deadline.

At this time we cannot reveal any details to you at this stage. Hopefully this will change very soon and we can update the blog and reveal the images…..


Photo montage of 22 Bishopsgate from St. Pauls' at sunrise

Sunrise over the City from St. Pauls Cathedral featuring 22 Bishopsgate

22 Bishopsgate at dawn

In my previous role as head of arch-vis at River Film, I completed a series of images of 22 Bishopsgate. These photomontage images were designed to illustrate how 22 Bishopsgate would relate to the city around it.

Although completed for some time this image only recently came into the public domain allowing it on our website. This image shows how of 22 Bishopsgate would be seen from Saint Paul’s Cathedral at dawn.

22 Bishopsgate project brings a rare opportunity…

22 Bishopsgate would be a major addition to the London skyline. Because of it’s importance to London, the views from the cathedral are carefully protected. Considering the size of the scheme it was no surprise that a view of 22 Bishopsgate from the top of Saint Paul’s was required.

I was lucky enough to be able to gain access to the Stone Gallery and the Golden Gallery at Saint Paul’s Cathedral. It was from the Stone Gallery that I was able to photograph the sunrise over the City. From these photographs, I would create the backplate for the photo-montage image of 22 Bishopsgate you can see above.

I was there to start taking photographs at first light, the first exposure was at 5:41 am. I continued shooting until 8:30 am. It was a beautiful experience from start to finish. I walked through the Cathedral in the dark before sunrise, I walked through the Whispering Gallery, the vast Cathedral was perfectly silent and still. I climbed to the Stone Gallery and set up to photograph a glorious sunrise over London, the city towers silhouetted by the ever changing sky. It was fantastic and the knowledge that I was capturing such beautiful backplates made the shoot one of the highlights of my career.

Planning and patience…

While there is always an element of luck to get the right conditions my chances of success were maximised by planning and organisation. I waited for the best weather, got there early and was prepared to stay for several hours shooting almost constantly. This meant that back in the studio I had my pick of many stunning images to use as a backplate. The lighting, the clouds the colours, are ever changing as the sun rises. With such great material, the options for a project like 22 Bishopsgate are wide and truly exciting. I hope you like the image. As I said earlier this is one in a series, there are still two more to come…

I would like to thank Oliver Caroe for getting up so early and allowing me access for a such a long length of time to get what I needed.




432 Park Avenue

It’s been a very busy six months and now we have new work filtering through to show.

432 Park Avenue was one of the first projects we did. As it was a  retail project it required a degree of creativity, designing and implementing the retail spaces and shop facades.

This was a lot of fun playing around with different elements and designs. There is quite a mix in there including a gold-plated dinosaur! As always we had to create fake versions of real shops so whilst we had to be creative we also had to achieve a recognisable look for each retail space.

The project was done for River Film and Wordsearch and I had the pleasure of working directly with Matt Flynn.





From Head of Architectural Visualisation to starting a Studio

Many of us sit at our desks thinking of starting our own business but it is very hard to take that first step. It is the hardest step of all. The safety and security of a job is difficult to give up when faced with an unknown alternative. There is no guarantee of income and security. You could say it is fear or lack of confidence, whatever it is I was in that position in my role as Head of Architectural Visualisation at River Film

“Can you come in for a day?”

I did not plan my time at River Film, it just happened about three and half years ago. River Film was getting going with architectural visualisation under the umbrella of Wordsearch. I was asked me to come in to help out for just a day, and then invited for the next day. Then for the week, and then a month, and from there it became indefinitely. When I joined there were two other artists in the studio and it began to grow. Soon we were six, and not long after I was head of Arch Vis. The company just grew and grew, and there I stayed for three years overseeing this great group of around twenty five artists, helping to grow the studio.

A recommendation from Miller Hare

I had briefly worked with River the year before joining them. About five years ago I was working at Miller Hare when David Groundwater contacted them. He asked for someone that could sort out an animation to be recommend. It needed to be rendered and finished in a weekend. My name was put forward.  The work went well and that was start of my relationship with River and David Groundwater.

Below is an image I created at Miller Hare. Incidentally the client was Wordsearch which is the parent company of River Film.

Architectural visualisation at Miler Hare. Singapore Skyscaper - Market Street

Market Street Singapore

Flic Models and the credit crunch

Before Miller Hare I was freelancing for a while. This was following the credit crunch around 2008. unfortunately the place I was working at; Flic Models, the place I learnt 3D and became a 3D artist went out of business.

Architectural Modelmaker

I was originally an architectural model maker at KPF before moving to Flic Models around 2002. It was there that I got the opportunity to learn 3D. I persuaded my boss to let me do a three day government subsidised course in 3DS Max. It was the start, I was completely hooked on 3D. It was a new beginning and I literally saw the world through fresh eyes constantly analysing lighting and the way different materials reacted to it.

When a moving card was needed to send out to customers to inform them of Flic Models’ and therefore Flic Digitals’ move to a new address I created the image below. Everything including the van was modelled from scratch and is 100% 3D. Vray was used for lighting and rendering. It remains one of favourite pieces of work.

Flic Models movig card

All CG 3D rendered image based on the game of Monopoly

Self taught

It takes years to become an expert at 3D visualisation, a three day course can only show you a few things. If you really want to learn you have go away and put in the effort. That is exactly what I did. Over the coming months I taught myself everything I could. I was determined to be the best I possibly could and I still am. I started Flic Digital as an architectural visualisation service to offer alongside the existing model making business of Flic Models. Flic Digital was relatively successful, I had two juniors working with me who I trained. We had interesting work with various commercial commissions including planning work for a hotel for David Archer Architects.

My previous experience as a model maker provided me with a excellent grounding to be an architectural visualiser and I was able to produce images like this after teaching myself for just over one year.

Early architectural visualisation. Chiltern street Hotel planning image

Chiltern Street Hotel


A desire to be my own boss

So there I was Head of Architectural Visualistion at River Film. It was a good job to have but I always had that desire to be my own boss. I felt unable to make the move, until I met Stuart Lipton and things started to change.

Working with Stuart Lipton and Karen Cook from PLP Architecture on 22 Bishopsgate made me realise that I could do it. I could start my own business if I wanted to. So that is what I did and here I am. It has not yet been a year, but so far so good, things are going well. We are doing great projects and great work. I say we because I now have a team of very talented freelancers.

For more on recent events and work please read my latest bog posts.

Martin Richardson