Composition and Camera Placement for Interior Rendering

Composition: Architectural Interiors

There are many rules of thumb when it comes to camera composition, but in this Tutorial we'll focus on the Rule of Thirds and a few other helpful tricks in 3dsmax.

After the model is constructed, it's important to spend some time discovering possible camera locations and compositions. Many times there is already a desired view contemplated, but even so, there may be a more creative way to achieve the same or better result.

In the case of L5, we set up several shots within each interior space to find the most impactful composition. One of the great things about 3dsmax is that you have any type and size of camera lens imaginable. If you want to shoot an ultra-wide fisheye or a close up zoom, it's only a click of a button. In general though, we urge people to set up cameras that mimic real world lenses; it adds to the effect of a photo-real result.

Interior spaces can be a challenge to photograph depending on the size constraints. For instance, it may require a very wide angle camera to see a small bathroom or bedroom space; however, setting up an extremely wide camera to show the entire space should not be the default solution! (Also keep in mind that the most common camera lenses have a field of view of 90 degrees or less.) Often, employing a narrower field of view and focusing on specific details or vignettes of the space yield a more artful result.

One technique that 3dsmax users have that traditional photographers do not is the clipping plane. Occasionally, pulling the camera further back and just behind a wall, then clipping through it will allow the use of a more natural camera lens. One-point perspectives are particularly effective in this case because the clipping plane can be parallel to the wall(s) that you clip through. And if the clipping plan won't do the trick, then grab some vertices and move the wall!

Wide Angle View - Camera Location from Top View

Wide Angle View (21mm)

Wide Angle View (21mm)

Clipping Plane - Top View

Narrower FOV - (37mm)

Narrower FOV - (37mm)

For interior shots, more than exteriors, the camera is placed at a height that is lower than eye level. The camera may only be 3 or 4 feet off the ground as opposed to 5 or 6. This helps keep the perspective lines more natural since most of the elements such as furniture are closer to this height. It also helps keep the perspective of these elements from getting overly distorted when using a wide angle lens. And the last benefit is that it helps to capture more floor than ceiling.
 View showing Horizon Line and Rule of Thirds

For L5 the shots were composed using the Rule of Thirds. Essentially, the Rule of Thirds consists of dividing an image into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal and two equally-spaced vertical lines. The intersection of these guide lines become points of interest in the composition.

That is not to say that the area must fall directly on the lines or their intersections for the rule to apply, but being mindful of their relationship can provide for a more dynamic composition. (It helps keep the subject from the direct center of the page, which can sometimes lead to a less and exciting composition.)

Here are some examples:

And in this one, with the Dutch angle camera, another rule of thumb is apparent, which is the Diagonal Rule. Simply put, linear elements arranged along diagonal lines are perceived as more dynamic.

Watch out for tangents! Composing interior images requires a keen eye for detail. Due to the abundance of objects, such as furniture, decorations, accessories, etc. there are plenty of chances for objects to appear tangent to each other. It is best to overlap objects or to leave space between them; otherwise you'll end up with tangent points that create an awkward graphic relationship in the composition. When photographing an interior shot, the photographer may spend a good portion of their time perfectly arranging the elements in the shot as opposed to actually taking the photo. Luckily, it's lighter work in 3dsmax. Some items will need to be placed differently for different views, and smart use of the XForm modifier can keep you from needing to create multiple versions of your Max file.
View with objects that are tangent to each other.

View with corrected overlaps and spacing.

It is important to keep reflections in mind when composing a scene. In the view above, the white block on the right is too dominant and plain, but because that surface is actually a mirror, it adds another level of interest.

  Final View

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  1. This is amazing tips, thanks for sharing.


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