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I was just wondering if someone could tell me what was used to create this model:
Also, does anyone know whether or not I can download a free or cheaper version of whatever was used to create this?
Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks!
If you want free modelling software, try blender.
I think 3dmax should be able to give you a free trial or student version.
I'm pretty sure there is not enough information in that picture to know what software was used, however I bet Photoshop was involved. You can also try Gimp for a free and open source alternative.
Could be a number of things.....
My best bet would be 3ds Max with mentalRay. And then photoshop....
I think you can get free trials of a lot of rendering software. If I were you I would put your bets on sketchup and learn it well. You can at least make the model and then export it into 3ds max.
Honestly you can probably buy cheaper previous versions of Max 7 thru 9 on craigs list dirt cheap. At least you won't have to worry about the thing expiring....
Probably several packages used in unison. The buildings and site were probavly modeled in a BIM package like ArchiCAD or Revit. Then the model passed to a secondary 3D modeling / rendering package to place materials, set normals, model entourage, etc. Then, perhaps (and likely, judging from the light quality) to a ray tracing package like Mental Ray or Maxwell. Also, could have been entouraged and rendered in Artlantis. After that, it probably went to Photoshop for additional fine tuning and formatting... and likely a few 2D image additions (like sky, distant objects, etc).
Producing a good rendering is the combination of several distinct skills:
2. Material / texture creation and application
3. Lighting setup
5. Camera placement
6. Artistic judgement
Gotta' say.. that's a very pleasing image you posted.
This one was done ArchiCAD > Artlantis > Photoshop:
I'd put 'artistic judgement' at the top - the algorithms only get you so far.
The outdoor rendering actually kind of looks vRay-y, with some minor details put in for extra-realism - the ocean waves look like they've been enhanced, and the background sky has some brightness enhanced to the right (notice that there isn't a continual softening of the buildings as they recede into the background, which you would expect more from accurate atmospheric effects).
The buildings may be simple masses with textures applied, like Google Earth; it would be computationally intensive to build all that and then render it with high levels of detail, and also pointless.
Everything else looks like texture effects, with appropriate levels of contrast applied to give a particular feel to the beach, etc. This would be done in something like Photoshop.
I'm not sure what you'd use for outdoor environments - Kerktyhea and Luxrender seem more appropriate for indoor environments, and take some extra effort compared to outdoor stuff for Vray or even default 3dsmax.