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Architectural Visualisation – How I got started

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





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