Design Visualization

First Looks: ArchVision Composer & Adobe Photoshop CS

14 Dec, 2004 By: Ron LaFon

A winning combination for design professionals.

ADOBE PHOTOSHOP CS, the premier photo editing and manipulation software application on the market, is the product against which other software is measured. ArchVision Composer is a recently introduced application that lets users add ArchVision's RPC (rich photorealistic content) to 2D renderings and photographs. Via a Photoshop plug-in included with ArchVision Composer, the two applications work together with a great deal of flexibility for those who create visualizations. The plug-in also works with Adobe Photoshop Elements, so it's not necessary to have the full Photoshop CS application to take advantage of this synergy.

 You can easily bring ArchVision Composer projects into Adobe Photoshop CS.
You can easily bring ArchVision Composer projects into Adobe Photoshop CS.

Setting up an image in Composer involves opening a background image, dragging the horizon line to where it should be in the image, then adjusting the RPC object to match the background. Composer automatically scales RPC objects as they are placed and moved around the background image. Users can rotate, scale, and adjust RPCs inside Composer, and can add such elements as shadows. Composer supports all RPC content, including 3D+ RPCs such as parking lot cars. ArchVision offers a number of libraries in RPC format, with content such as people, trees, fountains, and office clutter.

Once users adjust the image, they can render to a remote application, such as Photoshop CS, which opens the composite image with the layer information intact. The background scene and RPC objects are on separate layers in Photoshop and can be adjusted independently within Photoshop. Users can use any of the extensive range of tools within Photoshop to, for example, apply filters (all Photoshop third-party filters are accommodated), adjust color balance, and create duotones.

ArchVision Composer & Adobe Photoshop CS
ArchVision Composer & Adobe Photoshop CS

By selecting an included RPC object and making it the current layer, users can apply any of an extensive range of effects to the RPC file, or apply them to the underlying background image by making it current. The Photoshop image can be saved to a PSD file—Photoshop's native file format—with all of the layer information intact. When saving the Photoshop PSD file, the program gives the option of compatibility with other versions of Photoshop so the project can be worked on at a later date, layer by layer, if desired.

For a final version, layers can be flattened (this combines all the layers and the background image into one complete image) and then saved or exported in any of the numerous file formats supported by Photoshop CS. When an image is saved with the layers flattened, it can be manipulated as a total entity, but the layers can't be separated out for individual attention. Such images can be manipulated within Photoshop or brought into ArchVision Composer to form the background image for another project to which to add more people, cars, and plants, for example.

Moving projects between ArchVision Composer and Photoshop CS is fast and easy, and the manipulation of individual layer components is smooth. Start with ArchVision's extensive RPC library, use Composer to adjust and add them to 2D images, then send the images on to Adobe Photoshop, which offers an extraordinary range of tools for image modification. The result is an amazingly powerful combination of tools for design professionals.

ArchVision Composer retails for $249. Adobe Photoshop CS is available for $649, though generally available at a discount from resellers. RPC content varies according to the package needed—see ArchVision's Web site for more details.

About the Author: Ron LaFon

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