I randomly decided this weekend that I wanted to go all out on a building section. I have been spending a little of my free time detailing an old studio project just to have some new geometry to illustrate and present on the site. I really liked some of the interior spaces and thought it would make for an interesting building section illustration. I was also debating whether or not to keep the illustration abstract or to keep things clean and legible. In the end, I took the legible route but threw in some twists. I also applied some HDR effects to bump up the drama of the image. One thing I want to emphasize is that there wasn't a clear linear path in terms of workflow. I went through many different iterations before I arrived to this final result. 

To generate the above illustrations, I rendered multiple views in Kerkythea using different shadow settings and section cuts (each took about 10 minutes to render). I did this partly because I wasn't sure what the final look would be but also so that I would have multiple styles at my disposal to test different ideas. I ultimately used all of them layering them together which added depth to the image while still maintaining clarity in the overall composition. 

Above, Kerkythea rendering with soft shadows.

Above, Kerkythea rendering with strong shadows.

Above, Kerkythea rendering of the exterior elevation. 

I exported a CAD floor plan and used it to inhabit the blank space below the building section. This is a technique we use a lot in the office because it not only adds interest below the ground plane but also explains where the section is cut and how it relates to the floor plan. 

Above, Sketchup export of the roof plan in x-ray mode. 

Above, Sketchup export again in x-ray mode. I like to use these types of abstract images subtly to give another layer of information and texture.

Final Illustrations

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Reader Comments (28)

Hey Alex, we need a video about this!!! please!!! Hahaha, GREAT WORK MEN!!! THANKS FOR ALL.

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfederico


September 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

nice. like always

September 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermehdi

This is amazing! I would love a tutorial to get this 50's monster-movie look. The texture is unbelievable.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

Great Job!!!! Thanks for sharing

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGuto (Brazil)

simply amazing work as always man! keep up the great work!

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

thanks alex
spectacular technique and the result, serious power chevere
see everything in a step by step video tutorial

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIVAN REKALDE

wow~ I don't know what to say~! It's just awesome~!!!

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterotw

may I know how do you render the elevation in kerkythea?
because when i export the SU file to XML file with a parallel projection view, it can't see any thing in kerkythea....
thanks =D

September 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkira

Simply.. that's GREAT!! O_O

September 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdoardo

Amazing!!! Thanks Alex!!

September 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ

When you bring a model into Kerkythea in Parallel projection, the model is zoomed in extremely close. If you you zoom out really far, the model will come back into view. Hope that helps.

September 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Hogrefe

amazing work man. i just wanted to know what programs do you use to create/ model your 3D buildings.

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSakhi

SIMPLE but GREAT!! Hope the more detailed tutorials! Thanks for your show!!!

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

it looks like a big weapon!! just kidding great job as always alex!

September 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAL

Amazing job. Simply amazing.

I would love to see a detail post between the X-ray export and the final illustrations so we can learn how to get that awesome texture. Could it be possible? (Maybe a youtube video, as you did before)

September 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpaniard

Everything for this model was built in Sketchup.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Hogrefe

hey, ur work are amazing! Please do a tutorial video with this section. It's very useful.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercristi

hey alex! awesome work :) if u have time, could u please do a tutorial on elevations? its seems like you've already covered many types of drawings, but not elevations. just a suggestion :) cheers!

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterT


Work is always great. Always referring to your blog for great production styles. If i may ask which rendering settings did you end up using to get the soft shadows & hard shadows. Thank you sir

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJose A.

Check out my Kerkythea tutorials. Both types of shadows are covered in those videos:

October 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterALEX HOGREFE

All rave reviews and well deserved! And to that I add my own (rave review).
Beautiful work, but more appreciated is the desire to and skill at sharing with your peers.
As someone who teaches drawing (studio arts and design foundations), I would say that in your final rendering it would read better if you separated the floor plan from the section elevation just a bit (even many inches). This little crisp graphic standard would make the final touch. As is, it took me a minute to understand that you were showing a partial floor plan, and not some kind of strange foundation...
thanks for all of your great and generous work

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterschu

Hey Alex,

Great job as usual, but this time i have a question: How do you get these flat section images from SU? Everytime i try to get a section its on a perspective and its never flat as i CAD drawing. Hope you can help me.


October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVcrav

riesci a strabiliarmi ogni volta che guardo un tuo lavoro...eccezionale.

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpaolo.mirko

Hey Alex,
Awesome work. Great site. Just wondering about how you created the CAD floor plan in this tutorial? Did you export Sketchup to AutoCAD, and if so, I'm curious about your workflow.

November 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPete

Hey Alex! Love your works, you're a hero to me. Could you make a detailed tutorial to apply this texture that successfully?

Thank you for everything!

November 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMert

Hi Alex, how do you export section in kerkythea?
thanks for all!!!

January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdoardo

Hi Alex your work is absolutely amazing.
I tried exporting the sectional slice from sketchup in to Kerkythea but I cant stop Kerkythea from exporting the whole model no matter what I do !!
I would be grateful if you could let me know how to do it.
Thank you

April 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShardi

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