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3D Blueprint Tutorial

Alex Hogrefe

Yesterday, while watching golf, I saw a commercial that folded paper out of
a book into buildings that turned into a town which then grew into a city,
etc. The commercial caught my attention not only because of its execution
and concept, but also because the illustration style was simple and clean
using only paper as the material. This inspired me to experiment with a
blueprint style that maintains some of the great qualities of blueprint
drawings, but also gives the appearance of the design projecting off the
page 3-dimensionally. There are many subtle things going on with this
image such as faded guidelines similar to what you would see on a hand
drafted drawing as well as textures meant to appear as imperfections left
on the paper from the blueprint chemical processes.

To get started, 3 images will be generated which will be used in Photoshop.

Two of them will be exports from Sketchup, and one will be a basic
rendering from Kerkythea


1. In Sketchup, save a view/scene that you want to use for the illustration
that way you can get back to the same view later if need be.

2. Switch the Face Style to “HIDDEN LINE.” Under View>Edge Style,


3. In the Styles dialogue box, select the “EDIT” tab, choose the “EDGE
STYLES” icon, and check “EXTENSIONS.” Set the length to 8 pixels.
4. EXPORT the image as a JPEG, “FILE>EXPORT>2D GRAPHIC.”


The point of this second export will be to imitate guidelines seen in hand
drafted illustrations back in the good old days.

5. Select “VIEW,” and check “GUIDES.”

6. With guides turned on, begin creating guides that accentuate important
axis or angles in the image. To create guides, measure something with
either the ruler or the protractor. Whatever is measured will then turn into
a guideline.
7. With the guides in place, go to FILE>EXPORT>2D GRAPHIC and save
the image as a JPEG. Again, use the face style “HIDDEN LINE” and leave
only “DISPLAY EDGES” checked for the edge style.


This Kerkythea rendering is very basic with minimal setting changes. The
rendering itself only took 10 or 15 minutes to finish because of the limited
use of materials.

8. To begin, export the model from Sketchup using the Kerkythea plugin.
Be sure that shadows are on and that the view you want is set. In the export
options, follow the settings below double checking that “CLAY” is set to
9. Open exported model in Kerkythea. At the top, select
“SETTINGS>SCENE.” In the scene settings dialogue box, choose
“INVERSE” in the attenuation drop-down box. The setting will give you
soft shadows similar to what you would get on a cloudy day.
10. That’s the only setting that needs to be changed. Time to render. At the
top, select “RENDER>START.” In the dialogue box, DO NOT change the
resolution. However, do change the “SETTINGS” to “07 PHOTONMAP -

11. Let the rendering cook for a few minutes. To preview and save the final
rendering, choose “WINDOW” at the top and check “RENDERED
IMAGE.” With the preview box open, select the “SAVE” button to save the
image to your hard drive.
11. With the 3 images complete, it’s time to combine them in Photoshop.
Begin by opening the first image (Sketchup export with extended lines) in

12. Next, open the Hue/Saturation dialogue box by going to

first check “COLORIZE.” Shift the “LIGHTNESS” slider to the right to
lighten the black background to a grey color. Next, move the “HUE” slider
till you end up with a good blueprint color.

13. Drag in the other Sketchup exported image of the guides and move this
layer to the top. Again, INVERT the image so that the line work becomes
white on a black background.
14. With this guide layer still selected, change the “LAYER BLEND MODE”
(drop down box in the layers pallete) to “SCREEN.”

15. Open the Kerkythea rendering and drag it to the top layer. Desaturate
the image by choosing “IMAGE> ADJUSTMENTS> DESATURATE.”

16. The image is a little flat. Adjusting the levels will fix that. Adjusting the
contrast would also work, but I prefer levels because of the added control.
Choose “IMAGE>ADJUSTMENTS>LEVELS,” and move the sliders until
you end up with lighter and darker tones similar to the second image
17. Making sure the Kerkythea rendering layer is on top, set the “LAYER
18. The illustration is almost finished. The last step is to add some texture
to imitate the texture created from the blueprint chemical process. To do
this, I just went online and found a “grunge” texture similar to the one
below. Open the texture in Photoshop and move the layer to the top.

19. Finally, set the “LAYER BLEND MODE” of the grunge texture to
That’s it. The first time I created this illustration, it took me about 1 1/2
hours to make including testing different settings and waiting for
Kerkythea to render. Now that I have the workflow down, I’m guessing it
would take about 30 minutes to create subsequent illustrations. The
techniques are pretty basic, but it’s finding the right combination of layer
blend modes and textures that give the final illustration a unique