[BEGINNER] ArchViz Experiment CAD-UE Workflow

Hi everyone,

In this thread I am trying to achieve a decent ArchViz by learning from trial and error… :slight_smile:
The goal at the end is to have a precise walk-through ArchViz out of a CAD project.
Therefore my main concerns are not only to have a great ArchViz but also have a good workflow.
I also hope this thread can help others…

I recommend going through these basic tutorials first:

EDIT don’t follow the following described steps in that post. They are only leading towards a dead end. New approach mentioned in the post #5.

Even when I manage to apply new materials on each individual element, it wouldn’t lead to great results.
Because of these problems I am sure I am doing something wrong.

After some research I’ve found out that my issues has to be something with the missing UV mapping.
I guess there isn’t a way bypassing the UV mapping of each single element of my model?
If there isn’t a way to bypass it, I then have several questions:

  • How are you doing that and with what program? I know there is a way in Cinema4D but I am not sure if its the fastest way to do it.
    I also think a lot of you guys are working with 3DS MAX. Is there a reason for it? Do you use a plugin to be faster with UV mapping?
  • After UV mapping the model, which I guess leads to several elements, how can you still achieve a precise model in UE?
  • What experience of working with several programs have you made to achieve a great ArchViz? Workflow?

Thank you for your help!


I am working on this as well. It does not work. Remake the model using a 3d modelling software. The model will work, but the issue is light mapping, this needs to be done in a 3d modelling software.

Maybe unreal and cad will have some way to work with each other some day, but for now you should remake the model instead of trying to import it.

One issue i often see with imported CAD Models, is that they are not optimized very well in terms of topology.
But the much bigger issue is UV mapping indeed.

After import into a 3D app of your choice, you will need to edit the UV map to be suitable for games.
There are plently of tutorials about UV mapping for every major 3D app, so not knowing how to do UV mapping is a cheap excuse.

There’s no one click unwrap solution that will work for every model, no matter what program you use.
Depending on the model you’ll have to use a multitude of unwrapping tools to get the desired result.

Again, CAD models are not exactly ideal to learn unwrapping because they might have a bad topology and import triangulated.

Kraid is right…

For now there is not an easy way to import from ArchiCAD to UE4 models or from another BIM software…

I have been working on these myself too… and make it work but you have to invest a lot of time to make all the necessary UVs, its almost like remake all the model again as NathanNaz said…

I understand yor feeling, im architect and i use archicad because it very good at what it was designed for, but for now is not wort it, maybe if graphisoft or someone else make a plugin to import models from archicad that would be great…

I am an architect as well, working in Switzerland, mainly with ArchiCAD and Cinema4D + Vray for ArchiViz. I am seeking a way to do descent walk-able ArchViz as easy as possible. I am not idle or indolent but running a business you also have to think about a fast workflow and time/money.
You have mentioned you made it somehow work. Would you mind sharing at least the names of the programs and plug-ins you’ve used for doing all those steps?

@all Currently I am working on another approach to the ArchViz with those programs and steps:

Step 1: ArchiCAD > Building accurate model > export to Sketchup
Step 2: Sketchup > Using it as an exporter to Blender
Step 3: Blender > UV mapping > export to UE4Editor
Step 4: UE4Editor > Texturing, light, collision etc.

I am sharing my experience as soon as possible… in the meanwhile I am happy for every tiny help/suggestion from your site…
Thank you very much.

If you’re the one doing all of the work, and this process has been successful for you then I’d say do it. But depending the complexity of your project it could be faster to hire a modeler to remake what you’re asking for. Reason being is that you are losing information every time you port from one program to the next. With archviz you want to be baking the lighting which is why the lightmaps are so important.

From my projects (I’m not an architect by the way, so I don’t have control of the CAD files I receive) I think it’s still better to remake it from scratch. If you have 10, or 20 or 30 light map issues and you spent 10, 20 or 30 hours fixing them or more, you could have rebuilt the entire model in that time frame and the end product will probably look better than what you would get with a CAD file.

The sad truth is there’s no easy way, which is why this isn’t being done by everyone. But maybe Epic or Autodesk will get together and solve this problem for the archviz industry to make it less labour intensive to do.

The absolute best way to model for unreal to have the best results is to build ‘‘modular’’ to make sure each part of the geometry gets a decent lightmap. You have to think in advance that X wall is Y size and to get the best lighting/shadow results it will require a lightmap of Z resolution. It comes with practice but to do that you need to model from scratch. All other methods will give average results at best. IMO

And by the way, that is how games are made… Modular assets placed in ways that you don’t notice it.

There’s a reason why we haven’t really seen more complex scenes than small apartment made with unreal heh! A huge project, that wasn’t modeled specifically for unreal, is a nightmare to transform and bring to a usable state to lightmass.

Yeah, I learned that the hard way, doing it, modular assets is best for lightmap, in archicad or any other cad software you dont model that way.

When i began to import models to unreal I just import everything like that, i mean, if my project had 100 columns i imported all of them to unreal, and of course that didnt work… lot of trouble with lightmaps and a lot of other problems, is just that we architects didnt understand the modular approach, well i learned…

Now what i do is that if i know that i have 100 of the same column, i just import 1 to 3dmax, then remake the column with lightmaps, then import to unreal as FBX, in unreal just place the same column 100 times as just how i did in archicad, well that means that im redoing all of my project again but in unreal…

The same with windows, doors, walls, furniture, lamps, beams, etc… if i know that they are going to repeat a lot, or just change a little bit, i just import 1, work on it and use the modular approach altering their dimensions to fit where is necesary, because is not that in unreal im going to use it for constructions plans, i only need it to looks good… the plans i already have it in archicad…

Well im still learning a lot… i love unreal that why im dedicating a lot of time…

The biggest problem that i see is when you want a complex asset, but that depend of the project, or something else like a car, or a piece of furniture that you specifically want to give that special design to your project, you have to put a lot of time to make it looks good, because the lightmaps.

thats why i say there is no an easy way for now…

About my workflow is like these…

Archicad to 3dsmax to unreal…i try to make it simple but is not…

I’m testing out the modular approach now, and I’ll update as to how it goes.

Hi, for those that still have problems or dont understand how is the right way to import their assets, i found a very good tutorial well explained from another fellow archiviz user…Raghu

He has another good tutorial about how to configure lightmass settings with amazing results…

Thanks artur77. I will have a look as soon as I have some free time. I also post my progress as soon as possible but at the moment I am a little bit busy with some projects.