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Saturday, 2 June 2012

Q&A and Featured Artist _Andy Orban

June featured Artist: Arch Andy Orban

We are very honored to present to the community our featured artist for the month of June - Arch. Andy Orban.  Anyone who is active in the Vray SketchUp forums, either at or, will know this gentleman - a very helpful and knowledgeable when it comes to VFSU. He is also the author of this excellent tutorial that we published also here at SVR.  

Personally we would like to thank Andy for giving us opportunity to interview him and the same time feature his work in this blog. Dear readers here is Andy Orban or better known as "andybot".

SVR: Please tell us more about Andy Orban.

AO: Probably the thing people find the most interesting about me is that I was born in Hungary. My family fled Hungary in the early 80s while it was still under communist rule. We emigrated to the US and I grew up in a suburb of Washington, DC. I first got interested in architecture in high school and that's when I first started learning CAD. I then went to the University of Virginia to earn a bachelor's degree in Architecture. After that I went on to Harvard Graduate School of Design to complete my Masters degree in Architecture. When I finished grad school, I moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, got married, and worked at a series of small firms while I completed my architectural licensure.

Then in 2009 at the bottom of the abysmal construction market, I lost my job. The firm I was working for completely ran out of work. I had seen what was coming, as the projects had already been drying up since mid-2008. Earlier in 2009, I had started my company, Orban Design, with the thought of doing graphic design, website design, and photography. I was ready to give up architecture as things were looking absolutely bleak for the profession. I soon discovered that I would have to spend a lot of time and effort to develop enough skills in these design fields to be able to have a viable business. In the meantime, various local contacts landed me a few decent architectural related projects. Things were very slow for the first year and a half, but the work has been steadily picking up since then.

SVR:  How did you start with SketchUp and Vray SketchUp? Please tell us your story with them.

AO: I first saw SketchUp through a local structural engineer somewhere around version 4. They were talking about what a great program it was, but I saw the cartoony look of the program, and it just didn't look that interesting. I was using AutoCAD and FormZ at the time and wasn't looking for anything else. Then not long after Google bought Sketchup, an intern brought SketchUp to the office where I was working at the time. I started playing with it then, and quickly found how useful of a design tool it is. Then when I found out you could use rendering plug-ins with Sketchup, I started looking around for rendering solutions as well. I tried a few of them back in early 2009, Podium, Imsi renditioner, iRender Nxt, and VRAY too, and used them variously until the trial licenses ran out. I was still using Lightscape and Accurender (an old AutoCAD extension renderer) and I didn't find that any of the SU rendering apps gave me anything I didn't already have. It was when I was working on my own and I had my first large commission, that I went back to VRAY and bought the program in October of 2009. I've been happily using VRAY since. I found Sketchucation in mid-2010, and the amazing collection of rubies has really improved my workflow significantly.

SVR In your visualization, do you have a memorable project, please tell us the story and the context behind.

Thank you, and thanks Nomer for the opportunity to share my story. Hopefully it is a way I can give back to the community and encourage others who are pursuing their dream. In my opinion, dedication, and interest in learning, and making the effort to develop professional relationships are the keys to success. I am also extremely thankful to the VRAY team and the SketchUp developers (paid and unpaid) for giving me the tools to do well what I enjoy doing. The ones that are most memorable to me are where the visualization process helped to further the design. I most enjoy where SketchUp and VRAY are used to iterate and help in the design. That's what I love most about the VFSU workflow is that it is so fluid and dynamic. Another reason I enjoy the more iterative projects is that I can work on improving my skills. These two earlier projects were also in a way test-beds for my learning vray, and I show some very early renders to show in a dramatic way this process of learning and improving.

Some of Andy's early works
courtesy of Andy Orban

SVR: You are very knowledgeable and helpful in various forums to anyone who needs help regarding SketchUp and Vray SketchUp, can you please tell us your advise and suggestions how to approach in rendering heavy scenes?

AO:   The two things I would suggest paying the most attention to are modeling and materials. When you have a heavy scene, every polygon counts. Wherever you can, simplify your models, and if you can use a texture instead of adding 3D details, it can help a lot to lighten your model. Also, be very careful with imported models. I once had a model that was terribly slow to navigate. I turned on Xray mode in SketchUp and found that there were fully modeled bolts inside a deck assembly, each at almost 1Mb. There were about 30, and each a separate component! With materials, adding subtle semi-glossy reflections helps give nice depth, but be careful of how high subdivisions you go, as that can slow render times significantly. Displacement can be very slow, so make sure the geometry of your faces are subdivided enough - larger planes will drastically slow down the calculation of displacement. There are so many little tricks that you can pick up as you go along, and different types of renders will present different challenges.

SVR: Given a chance, what suggestions you can advise to SketchUp and VFSU developers for their future releases?

AO: I'm very excited about some of the hints and promises from the developers. Proxy is probably my most anticipated feature. There are a number of bug fixes that I am confident will come with the new release. Since I have the chance to use the current VRAY engine with the standalone product (through VRAY for Blender) I highly anticipate having the latest and greatest VRAY engine with my favorite 3D modeler.

SVR: Now SketchUp has been acquired by Trimble from GOOGle Inc, how do you feel about this acquisition?

AO: I'm a bit leery of it as Trimble seems to be a rather opaque company, so it's hard to know what will really happen to SketchUp. It's not anything we'll know right away, only time will tell. I'm hopeful the direction will be towards a more robust product for everyone, but it could also go very bad and SketchUp as an open and accessible program could be no more. I am trying to remain optimistic.

SVR: What advise can you give to anyone who is new with SketchUp?

AO: Always the first thing with any program is to find basic tutorials to help you get a handle on the workflow and the ins and outs of the software. The basic SketchUp tutorials are a great resource, I learned a lot from them when I started out. If you have a question when you're starting out, it's probably been answered before, so always try to search for the answer if you can. The nice thing with SketchUp is that the interface is very user friendly and fairly intuitive, so you can get started very quickly. Of course, to go deeper takes time, as with any software.

SVR: Thank You Andy....

For more information about Andy Orban  visit his site HERE
or his BLOG HERE.

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