Total Integration - Mattia Sullini    

  Fact File  
Mattia Sullini

Vue xStream, Photoshop, Modo 203

"I believe quality can be provided even for smaller tasks, if you have the right tools. Vue definitely is one of these tools."

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The project "Facing the Horizon" is a business project created for Architettura&Restauro di Leone Bottai. It took one week to complete this project.

About the Artist

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Mattia Sullini is a 30 year old Italian freelancer, living in Florence. He has been working with Vue starting from version 6 and refers to himself as being an amateur.

Mattia has been working for Archviz for about seven years. Soon he discovered that he prefers working for projects of other architects rather than being an architect himself. He got into 3D during the first years of his architecture degree. Due to the fact that he has always been quite enterprising, he never attempted any real 3D course. He has assimilated his skills through trial and error. This made him experiment with several 3D applications, before he chose his favourite pipeline that includes Modo, Rhino, and a mixture of Vue and Maxwell.

"I am always trying to provide something more, something better, something newer than what has already been seen. I believe quality can be provided even for smaller tasks, when you have the right tools. Vue definitely is one of these tools."

About the Project "Facing the Horizon"

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"My project had to be approved under the environmental impact. Literally, there would have been no other way than using Vue to achieve such a photorealistic compositing. Well, I could have used my traditional applications with billion of 3D trees looking almost identical to each another. I would have found an hdr to simulate the environment... but for such a small project, this would have exceeded time and costs for my client."

"Using Vue, I was able to provide a very good quality picture in a third of the time I would have needed otherwise."


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Having decided which views are the best to describe this project and having evaluated the impact on the surroundings, Mattia went on site to take some pictures. He used these pictures to composite the panoramic views, paying attention to the plans of the point he was shooting from for a trustable camera positioning in the virtual model. The starting point for this project were his 2D .dwg files and the topographic survey of the site.


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Mattia created a rough mesh of the terrain from Archicad following the curve level of the survey. He didn't model yet the changes shown on the original plans, because he found it would have been almost impossible to project the terrain movements correctly on such a complex site in 2D. So he exported the mesh and used it as a background to recreate it in Modo. Having the complete model of the survey ready, he started to alter it according to the project.

First, he placed the plates shaped as silhouettes as a ground projection of the building. These were used later as a sample to position the models he created separately. He then placed the plain projection of the road and modified it to second the slope as much as possible. As a last step he extruded and booled both excavations and fields to make the resulting mesh more gentle.

Setting up the Scene

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Now he imported the terrain and the buildings inside Vue, through a .lwo format. He reorganized the models with an one layer/one material ratio and imported them smoothly into Vue. He positioned the building models and added a plane inside Vue to be used as a sea surface. Texturing has been a mixture of maps and procedurals, unvaluable on large surfaces to avoid the tiling.

Then he chose the species he needed to populate his terrain as similar as possible to the one already present, slightly modifying both through the plant editor and by changing the maps for the foliage from some pictures he took by himself. Populating the scene with the brush has been really quick. He just needed to overpopulate the boundaries of the model so that he got enough margins to break and vary the limit between virtual and real image. A couple of test renders had been enough to fine-tune both textures and plants according to the reference photos.

"While camera positioning has been quite easy since I perfectly knew the position from where I shot, matching focal length and azimuth was just a little more complicated, even if not that much having the base photo as background."

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"The last thing I needed was to find the correct setting for the atmosphere. While setting sun position had been quite easy, knowing site's orientation and daytime and checking how shadows were projected, finding the right atmosphere has been quite hard. Vue allows such a wide range of settings you sometimes feel overwhelmed but in these cases both experience and repeated attempts are your best friends."


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Merging the result with the base picture has been maybe the most delicate part that Mattia solved working exclusively in a non-destructive way through alpha maps and adjustment layers to allow further and finer modifications. Terrain has been set to 60% transparency to better merge it with existing ground colours and the thick tree belt allowed him to play with foliages masses and shading and to find right the path where virtual and real had the closest aspect.

"No special effects or tricks as you can see, I just hope this could be something inviting for those that believe you need to be an artist or a genius to get pleasing images."

Current Projects

Mattia Sullini is currently working on another composition. The environmental aspect is predominant, since it is an old concrete factory built at the beginning of the last century. The factory can be seen everywhere between Florence and Prato.

For more information, plaese feel free to contact Mattia Sullini via email:

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