“The Thornsbank” (beta) Craftsman Style Rule for CityEngine & ArcGISPro

“The Thornsbank” (beta) Craftsman Style Rule for CityEngine & ArcGISPro

The interest

This all started a while back with an interest in American houses, specifically the ‘Craftsman’ style homes which you could buy from places like Sears of all places…. As an Englishman I’m not fully versed on all North American architecture but this idea of picking elements of a house from a catalogue seemed like something I should look at doing in Esri CityEngine.

Rabbit Holes

This is not the CityEngine model I was aiming for….

So that’s what I did.  In classic CityEngine professional style my first attempts got very very complicated as I added more detail (you’ve seen the nice renders of these for a while now on this blog and even the banner here, I really really like them).  The second attempt I produced an all singing all dancing rule file to create thousands of different ‘Craftsman’ style house typologies.  The trouble is, without a big PC and a good understanding of CityEngine these were only going to be usable by those of us who sort of know CityEngine in a professional capacity.  This is always a problem I have with CityEngine much like Alice I often go deep down a rabbit hole and get lost in the wondrous and slightly crazy detail (it’s not a bad thing just a bit distracting!).

Third time lucky?

Yes you can adjust the path to meet the steps….

The end result on my third attempt is something very much simpler and easier to understand and something that can be wrapped as a Rule Package.   As a Rule Package it can also be used in ArcGISPro too.   I’ve initially conceived of this rule file as primarily use on auto-generated Lots in Esri CityEngine (those are created from centre lines of roads forming blocks), but I can make it work on points and footprints too (just not on the first release).   In CityEngine you have the nice ability to use the handles feature to interact with the model without having to muck around with the attributes in the inspector.  Here I am finding it quite tricky, which attributes are important to have as ‘handles’?  If you do everything the model becomes cluttered, so I am going with a ‘less is more’ approach to see how it works.

Okay enough already! When is it released, and how much will it cost?!  

I’ve got a beta trial coming for this which I hope some lucky few will help me iron out the kinks.  Then I’ll look at selling it, my thinking is Rule Packages get sold cheaply (less than £50 probably) but if you want the source code naturally you have to pay more, and it’s this price I’m struggling with.  perhaps others can suggest an approach?

If you want to be part of the beta leave a comment below, or register on our new web forums (not just CityEngine but all 3D stuff) and head on over to the Thornsbank specific forum page.

I end this post with some additional screenshots of the rule working in ArcGISPro and a CityEngine WebScene.

The first BCS 3D Cartography Award and 3D SIG Meetup 2018

The first BCS 3D Cartography Award and 3D SIG Meetup 2018

Well it had to happen eventually, we’ve got our first British Cartographic Society 3D Special Interest Group (or 3DGBCS) meetup coming at the end of March, hosted at the Ordnance Survey offices.   Nicholas Duggan has been leading this and will have finalised the details shortly, be sure to keep an eye out for it on social media as well as here.

Now on to more news: we’ve had tremendous support in setting up the 3D Group and we want too extend this.  As such we have setup an award specifically for 3D cartography of any sort from any industry or profession.  This bit is important really as the term 3D can be all encompassing and we didn’t want to limit who entered, you don’t even need to be a member of the BCS.   In our work we’ve seen representations of the world in 3D from many industries just look at the entertainment industry for a wide range of 3D technologies and let’s be honest mapping/cartographic techniques.   In urban planning and architecture 3D representations of the world around us provide important context for proposals.  With smart cities a 3D basemap is considered integral to the bringing all this city data together.

3D Cartography Award 2018

The first annual 3D Cartography Award Sponsored by GD3D® the 3D geospatial brand from Garsdale Design, is a new exciting award open to everyone in any industry creating interesting, informative, exciting 3D cartography (real or imagined) using any technique and/or medium!

Currently we find 3D representations all around us, whether it is a web map, a survey plan, a planning visualisation, or even a computer game. This can come in many forms from a simple isometric drawing through to full haptic virtual reality.

We don’t care what industry you are in or what software you use, whether you are a surveyor, cartographer, GIS user, artist, engineer, data scientist, or other, we just want to see your amazing 3D representations and hope the entries will challenge everyone’s perception of what 3D cartography is!

There are many interpretations of what 3D cartography is, so we don’t want to limit entries. We propose an award for an overall winner based on communication of the intended message, legibility, simplicity, visual impact, and composition. There will also be commended awards for those we see as having merit in particular areas, science, statistics, visualisation, urban, natural environment, fictional, and other.

Entries will be considered by a panel of judges, appointed by the GD3D® team at Garsdale Design and the BCS Awards Committee. The panel will include a range of people from different areas of expertise in the 3D data industry. The panel will judge the quality and design of the map in relation to the purpose for which the map was produced.
The winning entry will be announced at the BCS-SoC Conference in September 2018. The award comprises a crystal trophy to be retained by the winner and a certificate. The winning entry will be put forward for the BCS Award. Those commended will receive a certificate.

All entries will be exhibited at the BCS-SoC Conference and the winners will be published in The Cartographic Journal and on the BCS website following the Awards Ceremony.

We don’t want to limit the entries but as guidance below is an example list of entry types. This list is not exhaustive, and the judging panel will consider other formats as appropriate:

  • Web map
  • 3D print
  • Game executable
  • VR formats compatible with HoloLens, HTC Vive, Apple & Android
  • GIS format
  • PDF
  • Paper
  • Mobile Application (Android or iPhone)

The entry form is available here.

Our GD3D data service

Our GD3D data service

You will have seen recently news of our (GD3D) new data agreement with our friends at CyberCity3D.  Not only for data sales but also a data streaming service on the ArcGIS Marketplace.   This means a subscription fee for access to city datasets for use in ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Earth or ArcGIS Online, we’re calling it ‘Context as a Service’.   We’ve had so many interactions with clients who want the 3D context for a proposal site but are looking for cost effective ways to get it without paying per square kilometre large sums of money.    We’ll also be adding extensive UK coverage of our baseBuildings 3D datasets a low cost alternative to LOD2/2.5 buildings in addition to the CyberCity3D library.

I’ll write a longer post soon about it all and how it fits with our CityEngine work!  In the meantime you can read our ‘press release’ here.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Warm wishes to all our readers out there! 2017 was a bit of a challenging year for many reasons, but with a new year ahead of us and big plans in the works 2018 should be interesting at least!

On the horizon finally, a proper launch of GD3D not just a 3D data service on the ArcGIS Marketplace but also a seller of the occasional rule files for CityEngine and ArcGISPro use (the craftsman style is coming!), please stay tuned or sign up for updates here.

Making the ‘Craftsman Rule’ more interactive….

Making the ‘Craftsman Rule’ more interactive….

In CityEngine you can use a feature called ‘handles’ to add visual controls to your models.  This means you don’t have to interact with specific numbers or values in the inspector.  It also means many more people can use your rules as they were intended.   The real issue here is how much control do you give you users via this method? 

As you can see there is a balance to be had between being highly configurable and being too configurable (i.e. too many attributes to muck around with!).

Early days on the handles, but I’m getting there!

Many people have reached out to me asking whether this rule file will be available for sale sometime.  The answer is probably!  Drop me a message if you’re interested and I’ll let you know how it goes.   Or keep an eye on twitter, LinkedIn or this blog for more updates.  I suspect I will have to stop sometime.

Procedural modelling the UK high-street

Procedural modelling the UK high-street

Some of our latest CityEngine work is looking at the high street and in particular here at home the UK high street.   Commercial buildings in a typical UK town are a mixed bag of traditional older buildings with some often badly maintained concrete buildings and the odd brick built modern monster designed and built in the 1980s.  More recent buildings like glass a lot …  We’ve been creating rules to describe building frontages, not all are pretty but that’s kind of the point! 

This set is early work for a project that we’re helping on for the Transport Systems Catapult based in Milton Keynes who are helping out the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) creating simulated virtual environments to test out way-finding technologies.  Stay tuned for some more outputs! 

City 3D GIS Building Renders

City 3D GIS Building Renders

Further to my CityEngine Quick Render post I thought I’d put through some of our GD3D buildings (sourced from CyberCity3D and processed for use on the ArcGIS platform sold via ArcGIS Marketplace) through the same process.  I think they look quite nice!   My next task will be to start showing more than pretty renders of buildings, I hope to add some metrics in and the do more nice imagery.

All this rendering of 3D models whilst not new to me is something I do very rarely, other people can do better but as with everything it is nice having some skills ‘in-house’!

CityEngine Quick Renders

CityEngine Quick Renders

I’ve been playing with my new ‘Craftsman’ style CityEngine rules in other workflows and pipelines.  The one I’m working through at the moment is some experimental renders, I know there are a lot of issues here but I’m not yet interested in spending hours working and tweaking my rendering program to get ‘just’ the right level of detail and dirt (there are better professionals than I for that).  It’s still amazing to me that these are proper GIS based models (they mostly designed to work with GIS data in ArcGISPro) with real dymanic metrics being now used to produce something that looks quite good (well I think it does).

I like how these renders make my craftsman style models look like something you may print out via a 3D printer.  Okay it I know it looks toy-like, and is somewhat dated in terms of visual renders etc.. (I’m not a entertainment industry/graphic artist professional) but I still like it.  Also apologies for over use of Depth of Field effect….