Building ArchViz Projects with UE4 & 3ds Max

Building ArchViz Projects with UE4 & 3ds Max

Ricardo Pedro da Silva provided a nice breakdown of an archviz project by Chaos Force Studio created in Unreal Engine 4, 3Ds Max and Phoenix FD.

Ricardo Pedro da Silva provided a nice breakdown of an archviz project by Chaos Force Studio created in Unreal Engine 4, 3Ds Max and Phoenix FD.

Hello! I am Ricardo Pedro da Silva, a 3d artist at Chaos Force Studio, a studio owned by me and my colleague, Fernando Damasceno where we started to offer computer graphics services mainly for games and architecture visualization, while also working with other associates in non-commercial projects. You can contact us if you want help with your game or visualization.

We’ve done an archviz demo to show prospective clients some of the graphics features and possible interactions inside a scene. You can check it out here:

You can download this scene to play with it here.

So I am going to do a breakdown of some of the interesting resources we’ve used for put this scene together fast and some ideas that may speed up your workflow.


Softwares we’ve used were Unreal Engine 4 to assemble the scene, 3Ds Max to model some assets, Phoenix FD plugin on a very small simulation. For fast results, we have used some stock assets we’ve acquired or get for free on the internet, editing as necessary. And all blueprints of the interactions we’ve made from scratch, part of a library of archviz tools we’re developing for our projects.


We’ve modeled the entire architecture and some of the most tricky assets, like the tap water. It was done in PhoenixFD as a simple simulation using the tap water presets. I’ve created a small ball to use as the source, smaller than the tap hole. After that, I set the simulation to a dynamic grid and decreased the resolution to a low value, tested and went increasing until I get a homogenous water flow with no breaks. Then I converted to editable poly, sent to an external software for automatic retopology since the resulting mesh that came from the simulation looks like a voxel soup (one I recommend is Instant Meshes which is free if you don’t have or don’t want to go to Zbrush, Modo or another). Then the mesh was ready for making the UV, which I laid out vertically (can be horizontal) to pan the water normals inside Unreal Material.

Outside compositing

Since the scene is inside a closed space with no chance of moving outside, we have not played much with lighting and environment besides the necessary to get the mood we needed, which was a very cloudy sky with rain. There was no need of clouds or skydome. Instead, we get a plate with a photo of buildings of the style we are creating – in this case, a European style, and put outside, testing the bounds of the camera movement inside before for better position.

For a better immersion, we’ve also added ambient sounds of cars outside to simulate a street with movement. With the basic Unreal sound, you can play with spatial attenuation to make the sound fade farther from the windows.


There aren’t many secrets about it. We’ve used some assets we had here of rain particles and animated rain with alpha, with goes in the window glass material. Ambient sounds of rain looping are edited from free videos from the internet

Again, since we are in an open space, there is not much need of rain. Normally, fog and rain blends over distance, creating a haze coat over anything in the background, so we just put rain particles close to the windows, but with the need to set fog to have a close start distance and a high density. If it was a outside or a game scene, this same trick can be used as long as it follows to the player, to avoid the need for a lot of particles, optimizing the scene.

Lighting & Lightmass

The techniques here were developed or tested by Fernando from what he learned from the community and his experience working on many different scenes and lighting inside UE4.

One of the problems inside UE4 in archviz is light leaks. For fixing this, normally many users edit the lightmass.ini to reduce this by up the bounces and sampling. We haven’t touched that, and for setups like this one, you may not need. We didn’t use Directional Light, so we removed the biggest contributor to light leaks. Of course, this isn’t for any setups. It works well with interiors because we can instead simulate lights with the normal lights only where we want them to come from, and assuring the photons come inside by using the Light Portals.

Another thing he discovered is that when you render the lightmass with everything white, light bounces make a more clean illumination.

Another trick he uses sometimes when possible is 2 planes. One white and another with one side face, one empty for the light enter, and the inside with texture to block the light.

We’ve also have not used a skysphere, because we have used boards with an image that fills the entire camera view radius outside the window.

As it is common, a Lightmass Importance Volume to assure the lights are calculated only inside its bounds.

To avoid longer render times, we didn’t go too crazy with settings and lightmaps size, so for example, you may not see much contact shadows or sharper shadows. This may change accordingly to each project needs. We are also looking forward to the release and reviews of V-Ray for Unreal Engine 4, and it’s comparison to UE4 lightmass. It may be a good alternative for us in the future.

Post Process

As you can see, there isn’t anything special about the Post Process besides 2 things. We’ve used a sharpen function, which you can easily find on UE4 forums. This is because UE4 image by default looks a bit blurred. The second one is the LUT. Since the scene is static and doesn’t change time, an afternoon LUT helped a lot give the color difference.

And I believe that is it. I hope all this information be useful and help people with their works. We are very glad to have our work published here at See ya!

Ricardo Pedro da Silva, 3D artist

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