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We still remember when we were studying and we spent long long nights just finishing our maquettes, and even having help from our family to get every single detail in our maquette. Now, there is nothing that can really replace this feeling, of course, we barely slept doing this but the satisfaction of seeing your project and being able to touch it was worth it. 

So why make a tutorial on making a digital version on a physical model? Well, by now we all know what is going on in the world with this pandemic, and all of the platforms we are using to being able to communicate, and also the effect of seeing a photo of a physical model is still useful in the design process.

So when presenting your project, you may have drawings, renders, diagram plans and if you add an image of the physical model it can really help you and others understand the spatial qualities of your project. 
So, check out this easy tutorial on how to make an architectural maquette using V-ray, see the video tutorial here.

Final maquette image

The project

The project we will be using for this tutorial as an example is the Modern Art Museum in Medellín, Colombia. (MAMM). This project was completed in 2015, by Architects: 51-1 arquitectosCtrl G and it is a reinterpretation of the periphery and favelas of Medellin that pile on top of each other that create rich spatial relations.

The 3D Model

The museum is built on 5 levels, it has shops, cafes, theater, offices, art galleries. These areas need to be closed hermetic, and with special lights. This project has 11 boxes of different heights, that rotate and pile on top of each other. 

Scene set up

We created a big simple plain that simulates the table on which the model is put on, and also we created a vertical rectangular plane that was going to receive the shadows and light, and it will be good as a backdrop for our model. 

3D People

We searched for the google 3d warehouse for 3d people, we downloaded some people and spread them around. 


We used a rectangular light from V-ray and we tested out which one looks best. We also made sure it was facing the right direction, we adjusted the intensity so the image wouldn’t expose or underexpose. 

Make sure that the rectangular light is the only one on, turn off the vault light, and put it to zero. The bigger the light, the softer shadows. And also to avoid your image looking flat, change the angle and the height of the light a few times, to test out which one looks best. 


In this tutorial, the most important part is the material. So instead of changing the materials one by one, we chose the material override option to change the materials all at once. Now if you want to change the materials in a specific place in the model, you may want to use the normal way. 
We selected our desired material which was wood, and good for us it already comes in the material library. 

We didn’t want the background to have this material, so we went to the material, applied to the background, and deselected the option that can be overwritten. It will make the material visible in the final render. 
Also, it’s important to increase the size of the material, taking into account that we are trying to represent a small-scale model where the wood texture will be very visible. 


Before rendering, turn on the depth of field option, then select the point of focus of the camera. 

Point of view

When choosing the point of view, it is important to choose one that it will be logical when taking a picture of the model, and also a field of view that matches it. We chose the aerial point of view because it will be the perspective of a person that is standing and looking down at the model. 


When hitting the render button, we suggest first render in small quality around 400 pixels wide to see which one you like best, after doing this render in high resolution, while rendering, you can adjust the post-production in the meantime, adjust the exposure, the shadows, the color balance, etc. 

Final Result

What did you think of this method? We really enjoyed the whole process, we enjoyed it so much we took a lot of pictures of our model. Try it out and let us know what you think! Tag us! Watch the video tutorial below

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