3D Painting with Piranesi 5

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Industry News
3D Painting with Piranesi 5
by Susan Smith

This week Informatix announced the latest version of Piranesi, Piranesi 5. This new release sports a completely new user interface.

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Marco Crawford is an architectural technician and until recently, CAD manager/CAD facilitator for ttsp in the UK. He has just relocated to Edinburgh, Scotland where he still consults for the company. Crawford is a long term, established user of Piranesi and MicroGDS, CAD system developed by Informatix. The CAD system is the prime system within the practise and is used as a full blown CAD environment, but it is also an extremely good modeler and renderer and can export directly to Piranesi in all the file formats. MicroGDS is used to create the models for export to Piranesi.

AECWeekly: What made you decide to use the Piranesi product?

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Marco Crawford: For many years I have combined being a perspective artist with a career in architecture. One of the main faults I found with the virtual reality images created by most modeling and rendering packages, was that the resulting images lost the feel of the design being a concept and still evolving. Clients were being presented with design images which seemed to them to be final and excluded them. Piranesi allowed me to return to the sketch and loose feel required in the early stages of the design, but gave me the speed of productivity which I was not able to achieve when creating these images using traditional mediums such as air brush, marker pens etc.

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AECWeekly: Have you used other 3d painting tools in the past or do you use others concurrently with Piranesi?

Marco Crawford: I am not aware of other 3D painting tools which have the same capabilities as Piranesi. I have heard of other packages which mainly provide PhotoShop type tools, but do not have the built-in intelligence that the Piranesi EPX files have. I generally used Paint Shop Pro to create textures or cutouts I may need for use within Piranesi.

AECWeekly: Did you beta test the current release, Piranesi 5, and if so, what do you think are its most important features?

Marco Crawford: I did Beta test Version 5. The biggest change for existing Piranesi users is the completely re-designed interface. I believe this will take existing users a little while to get used to, but it is a big plus for new users. The new features that I consider important are as follows: the ability to record a style as it is being applied, multiple cut-outs, the style selector, new brush selection options, the new lighting tools and even to an experienced user the new "Help Assistant" is extremely handy.

AECWeekly: Have you been instrumental in giving feedback on the Piranesi product releases?

Marco Crawford: Yes, myself and many other existing users regularly contribute to Beta testing and provide feedback to Informatix about features we feel are needed to further enhance the product. We are also able to comment about the workability of new enhancements. As existing users using the product in real environments, we are able to provide constructive criticism which Informatix always take on board. I am pleased to say that users do have a big input into the product.

AECWeekly: How would you like to see the product evolve in the future?

Marco Crawford: This is a hard question, as with every release I marvel at the new functions and procedures which Informatix add to Piranesi, ideas which I would never have thought of myself, always thinking that it seemed pretty darn good as it is. I would imagine that the product could expand into more animation. Currently Piranesi can create linked MOV files with hot spots for 360 degree panoramas, which can have all the quick- to-add entourage, softens and sketch feel of the 2D image. Currently the hardware we use is not the perfect vehicle for the Piranesi tool, as we use a mouse and screen. The ideal is a tablet style touch screen with a pen. This would let artists have a greater sense of interaction with the product. There are tablet type screens currently available and Piranesi does function with them by providing pressure sensitivity on the stylus, etc. The ones I have sampled are not very good at the moment. As the tablet screen hardware develops and improves, I would like to see Piranesi exploit this area more by providing specific environments to allow a greater interaction between the artist, the product and the art work.

AECWeekly: How does the price point compare with other similar products on the market?

Marco Crawford: I believe that for what Piranesi provides in sophistication, features, ease of use, reliability, and sheer pleasure, it is more than reasonably priced.

AECWeekly: Can you describe a particular project that you've used Piranesi on that has made a large impact on those involved, i.e., stakeholders, owners, designers, etc.?

I work for a medium to large architectural practise and create the majority of the visuals within the organisation and every image is post processed in Piranesi. It is a vital element in the process of presenting ideas and design concepts to clients. The client base is mainly large corporate organisations. It is therefore essential to present professional standard images quickly. The best example I have was a scheme we were presenting for a redevelopment of a town centre. The brief called for concepts and ideas to be submitted to generate interest and funding for the project. Myself and one of the architects sat together in front of the PC and from a simple sketch plan created a simple model. This was then exported to Piranesi where it was enhanced and developed with myself and the other architect bouncing around ideas. The end result was a series of images which were conceptual, loose but full of life. All of this event took less than one day from the initial loose felt pen site sketch plan to the final images. This was literally designing on the fly and on the screen with MicroGDS and Piranesi.

AECWeekly: Is it necessary for Piranesi to interface with Autodesk, MicroStation or other CAD programs?

Marco Crawford: Piranesi already has an interface with many CAD and modeling products, MicroGDS (an Informatix CAD system), MicroStation, Form*Z, Cheetah3D, Art*lantis, ArchiCAD, and the now famous SketchUp along with other CAD packages, all have direct output to the Piranesi EPX files format. Other products can output an EPX file by using various plug-ins. I understand that the developers of the individual CAD and modeling systems have chosen to support Piranesi by providing export directly from the core product. Autodesk have not yet provided a direct export facility, but by exporting a 3ds file and processing through Piranesi’s sister program, Vedute, which is the translation program supplied on the installation disk, it is possible to create an EPX file.

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