Imaging TIPS 
from Diane at DJSquireDesigns.com (also Diane At Depiction)
Imaging TIPS Issue #4 - Creating Steps
Thursday, November 10th, 2011
Imaging TIPs
This Week's TIPS:   Creating Steps... 2 Choices: Find Steps... Or... "Build" Steps From Scratch (So You Can Swap Out Paver or Decorative Concrete Textures When Customers Change Their Minds)
Imaging TIPS - Creating Steps
Greetings!

  

"I totally luv your tricks on the imaging software. I just luv the software period... I need your help! ...How Do You Make Steps &/or step up to a next level to a patio?????"
-- Kym Martinez

www.impressedconcrete.com 

Impressions Decorative Concrete, Inc.

Lutz, Florida

 

In Depiction's Imaging software, there are two main ways of working with creating steps:


1) As Pre-Defined "Objects" - Finding a photo of the right kind of steps at the correct angle for use in a target image (could waste a lot of time looking for them... unless... you already have photos of projects you've already installed -- taken from multiple angles -- and it's pretty much as easy as cutting and pasting them into your image).

 

or... even better...


2) As Layers of "Seamless Textures"  - Building them up "from scratch," so-to-speak.


Although it seems like it would be easier to find a photo of the correct steps you want to use, frankly, you're often better off "eyeballing" the building up of them. 

 

Why? 

 

Because you can easily change the paver or decorative concrete texture of the steps when they are "built up" from scratch.

 

It may appear to take more time, but in the long run, you will have defined the separate areas of the steps that can be easily swapped out with different seamless textures, and as you know, there are real advantages to that... especially with customers who change their minds a lot.
 

(Know any of those?)

 

THE TIPS 'n TRICKS...

 

The trick is, you create the flat surfaces first (like a raised patio, walls, lower patio floor, etc.)... then... create the step's "risers."


You can either create all the risers all in one pass... or separately to tweak the scale size a bit so each riser is a slightly different size getting smaller as you are farther away. (BTW: don't define the treads yet... just the risers!)

 

Then you will apply "perspective" the risers (as if they were Walls because they are upright).  Once your riserrs are about right... finally... create the treads (and perspective them as if they were Pavers) because they are lying down more. 

 

Also, when completed, do use shadows to accent step areas and give them more "depth."
 

You'll "get" the tips as you read further on below and look at the pictures.

 

 Enjoy! 

 

~ Diane

Diane J Squire
DJSquire Designs
805-640-5575
and still diane@depictionsoftware.com 
Please "Like" our Facebook Page: 

DJSD Logo Small 

CREATING STEPS... TWO CHOICES... USE A PHOTO... OR DIGITALLY BUILD THEM...

IMAGING CHALLENGE... 

 
A customer wants to see what steps would look like in their yard.  Do you find them... or "build" them? 

 

This aspect of "finding photos" of already existing steps (or "Objects) is really a topic covered in an earlier issue of Imaging TIPS...

 

See...

 

ISSUE #2 - Imaging TIPS - October 27th, 2011 - Object Libraries

 

But it bears repeating, because, it can be a quick option... IF... you are able to find a photo of the right kind of steps either online (via Google Image Search) or within your own installed project photos...

 

BackYardWeeds - Before 

 

BEFORE PHOTO / Back Yard Weeds... Pretty impressive, eh?

IMAGING SOLUTIONS... 

 

BASICALLY... FIND... OR BUILD...

CHOICE 1 - FIND A "STEPS" PHOTO

If you already have a photo of the "kind" of steps you install for customers...
AND... the photo is at the correct angle -- and color --  for your new target "After Image"... great... go ahead and use it!
 

BackYardWeeds - Actual Wall

  

ACTUAL PHOTO OF ALREADY INSTALLED STEPS (AND RETAINING WALLS)

You can pretty easily define the area you want, turn it into an Object, cut and paste it in the new photo then cover up any "odd spots" with draping plants or containers

of potted plants...

BackYardWeeds - After

AFTER "IMAGE"

This works...

Because the "lifted" steps and walls will fit the position of the target image and work with the customer's paver color choice (could easily use decorative concrete)

"BUILDING UP" STEPS ON YOUR AFTER IMAGE...
  
CHOICE 2 - CREATE "STEPS" BY BUILDING UP THE SEAMLESS TEXTURE LAYERS
 
Creating your steps "from scratch" may take a bit longer initially... BUT... when the customer changes their mind and color choice (as they often do)... it's much, much easier to show off those new step paver or decorative concrete changes...

Front Yard Steps - Before

  

BEFORE PHOTO

 With this project the customer wanted to create a grander stepped up entrance to their front door

Front Yard Steps - Chalkmark

  

BEFORE PHOTO - CHALK MARKED 

 The contractor "maked" the steps area so the customer could agree and get a sense of the intended steps location (centered on the house, not the front door)

Front Yard Steps - Building Risers

  

AFTER IMAGE - BUILDING LAYERS - FLAT SURFACES

 First... define, texture and perspective the flat "walkway" surfaces

 

TIP: The other thing, that helps with speeding up the imaging process when you are going to have lots of "puzzle pieces" (as you often do with the multiple layers of created steps), is to place the square floating texture swatches (seen above) which are defined areas with applied seamless textures you are planning to use for your step project.

 

Include the intended paver pattern, wall pattern, vertical soldier course pattern, horizontal soldier course pattern, and, in this case, we use a "created cropped swatch" of just the soldier course texture (without lines and not seamless) to be used for the step caps you'll see later on. 

 

Having those step and wall "building" swatches hanging around, just makes it easier to "Grab" them whenever a new surface area is defined.

Front Yard Steps - Building Treads

  

AFTER IMAGE - BUILDING LAYERS - CREATE RISERS

 Create your risers first... 

 

And... apply the pattern "as if" they were "Walls"

(In other words when you are inslide the Pattern Library "Click" on the Radio Button for "Walls" rather than "Pavers") 

 

Front Yard Pavers - Click Wall Button 

Front Yard Steps - Riser Scale

  

AFTER IMAGE - BUILDING LAYERS - RISER SCALE

 

ADDITIONAL TIP: When creating a long expanse of risers (not 2 or 3 steps)... define the front area separately from the farther back area.  Ideally, you can set the "scale" of the front steps so the riser pattern is a bit larger than the back risers. 

 

(Helps the perspective look more realistic.) 

Front Yard Steps - Create Treads

  

AFTER IMAGE - BUILDING LAYERS - CREATE TREADS

 Then... create the Treads ...

 

And... apply the pattern "as if" they were "Pavers"

(In other words when you are inslide the Pattern Library "Click" on the Radio Button for "Pavers" rather than "Walls")

 

Front Yard Steps - Paver Button

 

The reason to create the front treads, as one area, then the back, is -- again -- so you can scale the texture size differently so the front looks nearer (and can be 'tweaked" more) and even though you can barely see the back it's still useful to change them separately.

 

(TIP: Sometimes it's a good idea to also "Shadow" the risers so you can see where they end and the treads begin.)

Front Yard Steps - Step Caps

  

AFTER IMAGE - BUILDING LAYERS - ADD STEP CAPS

 To give the Steps more dimension, adding step caps (hard to see now), and when shadowed, will help the steps to "pop."

Front Yard Steps - Adding Shadows

  

AFTER IMAGE - BUILDING LAYERS - ADD MORE SHADOWS

 Adding "Shadows" on top of the risers and on the face of the step caps adds to helping you, and your customers, "see" the steps better.

Front Yard Steps - After 2

  

AFTER IMAGE - BUILT UP HARDSCAPE - STEPS & WALLS

Once you've finished the steps, then add the retaining walls,

and shadows, for definitions and accents.

Front Yard Steps - After 3

  

AFTER IMAGE - FINAL - WITH ADDED PLANT MATERIALS 

So everything is done...

 

BUT... what if the customer now says...

"Oh, I'd like to see a darker paver to mach my house trim!" 

 

After you groan, then, make those new changes...

Front Yard Steps - New Pavers

  

AFTER IMAGE - CHANGES - SWITCHING PAVERS

TIP: Create new floating swatches of the newer paver color choices... then... make an area "active" by clicking on it, pulling up the Pattern Library, and "Grabing" the correct texture from your swatches. 

Front Yard Steps - Paver Option

  

AFTER IMAGE - CHANGES - DARKER PAVERS

With all the steps surfaces defined, it's pretty easy to swap out to show new pavers 

 

Or maybe they want to see "decorative concrete" instead...

Front Yard Steps - Decorative Concrete

  

AFTER IMAGE - CHANGES - DECORATIVE CONCRETE

With the various surfaces defined with "built up" steps, you can see, it is much easier to make changes...and keep potential customers happy. 

ANOTHER FRONT "STEPS" PROJECT...
 
This project came with a sketched out plan that the customer liked the idea of, but was "clueless" as to how it would look...

Beverly Hills - Front Stairs - Before

  

BEFORE PHOTO 

Certainly not an "entrancing" entrance. 

In fact, visitors are confused about how you get up there. 

 

(In basic Feng Shui terms... It's blocked...and probably so are key aspects of the customer's life.)

Beverly Hills - Front Stairs - PLAN

  

THE PLAN 

Contractors can "get" this... Customers rarely can! 

Beverly Hills - Front Stairs - After

  

AFTER IMAGE 

When creating the new "entrance" recall that you are actually "seeing" it at a slight angle (not straight on), so you need to account for that shift in persepctive. 

 

In this case, build the walls first, flat walkway and solidier course second, step "risers" third, step "treads" forth, then accent with capstones, entry lights, planter boxes, plant materials, moved security sign, defining shadows, etc.

 

Voila!

SEE THE ABOVE... AND A FEW MORE "STEPS" PROJECTS...

You can also take a look at the Steps images used in this "Imaging TIPS" Issue -- and more -- in the Photo Galley on my website, DJSquireDesigns.com:

 

djsquiredesigns.com/photogallery/steps

ADDITIONAL CONTRACTOR QUESTIONS...
"I think it would be nice if you there was more ready to use seat walls and fire pits options.  A lot more people are going with the regular dimensional rectangle block with solid and slotted seat walls. more walls and fire pit options would help tremendously in saving time and getting all the designs quicker to the costumer.

 

Your program is great, helps me close way more jobs than I used to.

Thank You!"

-- Erick Bahena

New Era Scapes, Illinois

 

Erick...

 

As I responded to you in a direct email, it suddenly occured to me that other contractors might have similar questions so I'm adding my answer to you here:

 

One of the reasons I'm doing the weekly Imaging TIPS is to help contractors get more out of their software.

 

The reason I specifically wrote...

 

ISSUE #2 - Imaging TIPS - October 27th, 2011 - Object Libraries http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs040/1105747634397/archive/1108232905788.html

 

...Is to show you "how" to start customizing your own software -- your way -- by adding objects you find via Google Image Search or have in photos of your already installed projects... such as fire pits and seating walls... but actually "anything" you can take a photo of.  (Remember to take pictures from multiple angles.) 

 

You are NOT limited to what is already in the software.  You can add to it.

 

Please do relook at that issue. ;-D

 

By the way, over the next month -- or more likely over the December holidays -- as yet another contractor suggested (James Vandenburg at East Texas Brick) I will learn how to make YouTube videos that "show" you how to so some of these things, in addition to tell you about them. (It's a bit of a learning curve for me and will take some time to perfect.)

 

Glad the software is working for you!

 

~ Diane 

GOT MORE QUESTIONS?...
To Send Me A Note: Click Here

 

Or...

 

You can always give me a call and I can coach you through this process.

 

~ Diane

 

(in California) at 1-805-640-5575

 

"Typical" Hours Available:

9AM to 4PM - California Time

Monday - Friday

Skype: djs818 (Pre-arrange by email to connect first)

 

Compare Time Zones: Pacific/Los Angeles to Yours:

www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

 

Check Country Calling Codes:

www.countrycallingcodes.com

~ INSPIRATION ~

 

"Fix your eyes forward on what you can do, not back on what you cannot change."
-- Tom Clancy, Author

  

 

DJ Squire Designs

Join Our Mailing List

Imaging TIPS ARCHIVES...

As we slowly build the weekly Imaging TIPS collection, you can always see past Issues listed here (towards the bottom of the web page): 

 

djsquiredesigns.com/imagingtips

 

NEED COMPLEX 

IMAGING PROJECT  

HELP?

Check Out our digital renderings, computer imaging, and design ideas (and prices) for those times when extra time is elusive, the project is too complex, or you're flat out of ideas on what to do. 
;-D
 
For... DJSquireDesigns.com Photo Galleries: Click Here
Or... To look at the Facebook Page Albums for facebook.com/DJSquireDesigns: Click Here

Questions?  Call... Diane at 805-640-5575
Emails...  diane@djsquiredesigns.com or diane@depictionsoftware.com

 

PRICING   djsquiredesigns.com/pricing