Making of: Barts Square project by The Boundary in collaboration with Iain Banks

Another great making of, this time from our friends from The Boundary in collaboration with Iain Banks. It was written by Henry Goss, who is the founder of The Boundary together with Peter Guthrie. The studio is based in London and specializes in high end visualizations.

Making of: Barts Square project

The Boundary + Iain Banks - Barts Square Project
Click on the image to see whole project gallery

The Boundary, working in collaboration with Iain Banks was provided a unique opportunity with the Barts Square project (click for gallery) to challenge our usual work flow and test something new. Our typical workflow involves modelling in Sketchup, exporting to 3ds max, rendering with Vray 3.0 and post production in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom.
Ever keen to embrace new technologies, both Iain Banks and The Boundary have been experimenting with Corona Renderer for some time but had not found a project suitable for testing it in a commercial ‘real world’ setting. Barts Square seems the perfect project being largely interior shots a large number of images and a good time scale allowing for experimentation.

The Boundary + Iain Banks



The Boundary - Barts Square Project

Initially all modelling was done in the usual way using Sketchup for basic geometry, exporting in .3ds format and importing to 3ds max as a single mesh.




External environments were photographed and mapped onto planes with an alpha map in a Corona Light Material’s opacity channel to cut out the sky.  To boost the illumination of these back drops in dusk shots the light material’s multiplier was increased to suit the scene.  This also worked well for reflection maps if the brightness of the context needed to be increased.

The Boundary - Barts Square Project

The Corona Material Converter (by Martin Geupel) , which is a script which comes with Corona, is excellent and transformed Vray materials into to Corona materials virtually without a hitch. A few minor amendments were required and tweaking of levels etc. One thing that seemed to be required was to change any normal maps to Corona Normal Maps rather than Max or Vray normal maps for best results.

The Boundary - Barts Square Project

The Boundary - Barts Square Project

A very useful feature which is missing in Vray is the built in Rounded Corners function in the material settings. This allows you to control the rounded edge of a simple object without having to affect the bump map. The VrayEdgeTex does a similar thing but is in the form of a map which has to be comped with other bump maps and can be a little more involved with complex materials.



The Boundary - Barts Square Project

Lighting setup for the external light global lighting was done using Peter Guthrie’s HDRI skies available at his new shop: the Vray HDRI loader was used in this instance as we are used to working with it and it is logical in terms of the horizontal rotation of the map being 360 degrees.
The bitmap loader can also be used of course. Make sure the mapping type is set to Spherical. We have also set the Inverse Gamma somewhere between 0.7 and 0.85 to give a bit of contrast to the light. Generally the processing multipliers are 1.0 and 1.0 and the lighting levels are controlled in the scene by the camera or in the Exposure and Colour Mapping roll up in Main Settings. In this instance the overall multiplier was set to 0.1 with the render multiplier set to 10.0 which worked out the same but provides a visible preview in the material editor.
Typically in Vray we would instance this HDRI into a visible dome light but as Corona does not need this feature we simply instanced it into the environment slot in Environment and Effects.

The Boundary - Barts Square Project

The Boundary - Barts Square Project

Internal lighting was done using a combination of Corona Sphere, Rectangle and Disk lights with some light materials for spotlight filaments etc. IES information can be added to any type of Corona light shape rather than having a specific IES light type. We found disc lights were effective for spots with IES data added and used rectangle lights with no IES for more general lighting slots, wall washers etc. Intensity, temperature and visibility are simply controlled in the light setting.




The Boundary - Barts Square Project

Camera setup started with a Vray Camera with a Corona Camera Modifier. A Max camera would work equally well but we tend to use the shift features of the Vray cameras a lot which avoids the need for skew modifiers required on a max camera for achieving the same result.

The camera can then be setup in the CoronaCameraMod settings in much the same way you would control a Vray physical camera. DOF is controlled by the F-stop and focal distance as normal. We tend to use the Vray Camera Target as the focal point rather than overriding the focus with a numerical value but both give the same result

Rendering is where the real flexibility and power of Corona come in.

Rendering is where the real flexibility and power of Corona come in. Rather than having to setup your exposure and white balance prior to render this can all be overridden in Exposure and Colour Mapping during render time. One very useful aspect of this is that it allows depth of field to be controlled by F-stop and target distance alone without having to consider the real world implications of exposure values – just make sure that ‘Use photographic exposure’ is not checked.

For these interiors we found a highlight compression of 5 with a contrast of 4.0 worked well and gave a nice punchy result whilst maintaining a certain softness to the images. We did however play around with this a lot and found it to be very flexible.


Render Settings

The Boundary - Barts Square Project


The Boundary - Barts Square Project

All assets in these scenes were from the usual favourite places and again we found the Corona Material Converter script to work excellently with all of these assets as many of them come with Vray Materials as standard.

The Boundary - Barts Square Project


Post Production

The Boundary - Barts Square Project

Finally, there was very little post production in these images as we managed to achieve the results we wanted straight out of Corona. One thing we played around with was steam in the bathrooms using simple photoshop brushes which can be downloaded for free from many places. I understand that there are moves afoot to make these kind of effects possible in Corona with fog and volumetric effects. Definitely worth looking out for.

The Boundary - Barts Square Project

Henry Goss

15 thoughts on “Making of: Barts Square project by The Boundary in collaboration with Iain Banks

  1. Hi All,

    I am amazed by the quality of those renders and makes me seriously consider Corona for my interiors. I think there are a lot artist out there looking at Corona and wondering if it’s ready to be used in commercial projects. You’ve just demonstrated that it is ready. Great job and thanks for the breakdown. As most of the people I’d like to know what were the rendering times and resolution and if you got a completely noise free image. It would be great if you could highlight any problem you had switching from vray and if there are any tricks to use when dealing with glasses and other features…

    Kind Regards,


  2. It is amazing. Just one thing, how you can used 1847 hdri map when sun is so low on hdri map and renders have so different shadows, sun must be very high.


  3. Great work.
    I would see a step by step tut on how the scene was exported from sketchup in the 3ds format without any geo and texture issues.
    Please 🙂

  4. Beautiful job guys!

    I Just want to know how do you manage to make any change to your model onced it’s been exported to 3ds Max? I mean if there’s a wall or part of the geometry that needs to be updated.


  5. why export to 3ds format from sketchup to max? do have any geometric issues in max?
    why not import skp from max itself ?


  6. I love this project, the renders are stunning. Ive been experimenting with Corona but haven`t found a suitable setting for the render setup to make the renders this sharp and without noise. Any insight on that? Any chance you could share the settings? I would love to use Corona as an everyday renderer. Cheers and beatuiful work

  7. With Corona for SU in the pipeline, i wonder if it will be possible to achive simillar results with SU and Corona only?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *