Civiltech’s Digital Rendering Team

At the intersection of art and technology is the exciting medium of digital rendering. Civiltech’s growing digital rendering team and abilities are creating cutting-edge opportunities to serve our clients and pursue new work.

Civiltech’s digital rendering team is part of our Urban Design & Traffic Department and includes Landscape Architect, Phil Hutchinson, PLA, LEED AP; Landscape Designer, John Magill; and Digital Rendering Artist, Jerry Chen. The team produces renderings, 3D models, and graphics for a variety of purposes and end goals.

A primary use of digital rendering is in marketing materials – especially in proposals prepared for the pursuit of new work. Lifelike renderings can clearly illustrate a project understanding or a design concept. In addition, when visually eye catching, a great rendering can enhance a proposal’s graphic appearance and create a strong differentiator.

Our digital rendering team also contributes to active projects. The ability to illustrate what a project will look like when complete is extremely beneficial for public information meetings. Design ideas are often hard for the general public to understand when presented in plan view. Also, when clients can clearly visualize a design concept through 3D renderings, it can lead to exciting new ideas – opportunities that may not have been previously seen. Digital rendering is an effective tool for addressing property specific concerns during land acquisition efforts and can be utilized during pre-construction meetings to help the public understand what to expect during construction.

As a design tool, the digital rendering team can utilize 3D modeling to explain spacial relationships that are otherwise difficult to envision. Designs can be rotated or viewed from different perspectives.

Video animation is an exciting, powerful, and cutting edge tool the team has recently employed to assist our clients. For the Glen Ellyn Central Business District Streetscape and Utility Improvements project, the team created an animation for public meetings to illustrate how the improvements will look and function in a way that people could easily understand. One animation moved through the finished project illustrating how the streetscape would look and feel. The dynamic streetscape animation brought the improvements to life with images of people moving through the downtown and experiencing the new features.

A second animation for Glen Ellyn focused on construction phasing. This video clearly illustrated how pedestrian access would be managed during construction as well as the resulting finished product. The ability to see how the construction phasing will work helps build a partnership and cooperation with stakeholders impacted by the construction rather than the frustration created by impacts that they did not anticipate. The construction sequencing video proved extremely beneficial. A member of the community that was in attendance expressed concerns over perceived negative impacts from the forthcoming construction. When the video ended, the room was silent. Everyone had their questions and concerns addressed.

The Darrell Road Phase I Study for the Lake County Division of Transportation includes a new roundabout. The functioning and benefits of roundabouts can be difficult for the public to understand. For the Darrell Road project, the digital rendering team modeled the roundabout overlaid on an aerial photo then created a virtual flythrough. The rendering not only realistically illustrates the roundabout design, but also includes vehicles moving through the roundabout making the navigation and functioning easy to visualize and understand.

Phil, John, and Jerry all bring different interests and areas of focus creating a multi-faceted dynamic team that can work in a variety of capacities.

Jerry works full time as a digital rendering artist. Coming from a background in architectural rendering, he says that he enjoys applying his talents to roadway projects, landscapes, and streetscapes. He explains that a streetscape design can improve the quality of life for many more people than a single building. Applying his rendering abilities to help a large number of people understand and get excited about an infrastructure improvement makes the job especially meaningful.

As a Landscape Designer, John participates in projects in other capacities in addition to his digital rendering work. But, John says he loves rendering and the ability to create – to take a 2D plan view and convert it to a beautiful 3D image. John explains that 3D is relatable – it’s how we live our lives and relate to our surroundings. John strives to create narratives in his work. He wants people to look into the image, see someone like themselves, and imagine that they could be there enjoying the surroundings. John also views our rendering capabilities as a way to project ideals of sustainability and strong communities and help ensure an equitable transportation hierarchy.

Civiltech’s Landscape Architect, Phil Hutchinson, renders mostly in Photoshop. Phil says that he really enjoys the wow-factor of the work the team produces and that it is exciting to show clients that work. Phil states that it’s exciting to make design ideas come to life – add realism, such as shade and textures.

As the team looks to the future they envision bigger and more complex animations. Animating large and multi-faceted projects with modeling and flythroughs will greatly benefit our clients and the communities in which we work. Also, the team hopes to engage in more integration with engineering design where the animations become a design and study tool for the engineers. But in the moment, with the cutting-edge work the team is producing, the intersection of art and technology is an exciting place to be.