Free Resources For Rendering

It is getting towards the end of year which means producing the final visuals. Every year this means searching for images of people, trees, vehicles and other objects and then tediously cutting them out in photoshop.

Below is a collection of blogs that offer these resources free of charge. Hope this list is helpful and please click on the images to follow the link to the original page and thank the people who have helped to create these resources.

Skalgubbar: This is a great collection of people doing a range of activities. Click on each person and then save image as to download a png.


Vyonx/Gobotree: Vyonx used to offer a wide range of free cut out people and trees. These resources have now moved to their new project called which requires a registration to download but is still free to use. A very large selection of people, trees and reference images/textures.


xoio offers cut out people and textures in packages to download as a zip file. Usefully, the people are photographed from a variety of angles allowing easy placement into architectural scenes.



A computer render of the WikiVault system at night
A computer render of the WikiVault system at night
WikiVault is my proposal in response to Brief 02_Template (the details of which can be found under brief). It utilises a reciprocal frame structure created from flat sheet material that can be assembled rapidly on site with only the aid of a jig for lifting. The system is a very efficient use of material particularly owing to the fact that no formwork is necessary in the assembly of the vaulting structure. In addition, the use of a flat sheet material means that it can be easily and accurately pre-fabricated offsite using either CNC machines or laser cutters depending on the scale required. This has the added benefit of easy transportation to the site.
System development summary diagram
System development summary diagram
The structural logic for the system evolved from the mandala reciprocal roof structure and Joseph Abeille’s vault, a solid ashlar floor construction from the seventeenth century.
Software Variations
Software Variations
The value of an open source construction set is that it is easy to use and adapt by anyone. With this in mind I developed a software plug-in for Grasshopper and Rhino that simplifies the system into easily changeable parameters. A series of sliders and any input surface determine the final form of the vault system. I hope to make this plug in available for Grasshopper users as an open-source software once further testing and bug fixes have been resolved.
Physical Model
Physical Model
As part of the continuing development of the WikiVault system I have started to develop a component based library including floors, stairs and modular wall elements to increase the versatility of the system. One obvious flaw is the shelter from the weather of the interior space. In order to address this I have also begun to develop two composite systems utilising a tensile membrane in the first instance and heavy earth construction in the second.
Full details of the initial research and subsequent development of my proposal can be found in the two research documents at the bottom of the page however the gallery below shows some of the key features and images of the system.
The video below shows a timelapse of the physical model assembly without the aid of formwork showing how the vault self-supports as it grows in size.

Brief 01:Test_Research and Development Document

Brief 02:Template_Research and Development Document

Wikihouse at TED London

Designer Alastair Parvin is the Co-creator of Wikihouse, an open-source construction set. He argues in this short presentation, that there is an economics to architecture that we don’t think about, and realizing this can be a game changer.

It is interesting to look at the simple drivers for the Wikihouse project and see some of the constraints set for the project, such as ease of fabrication, material availability and transportability. For more information see the Wikihouse website:

Scan-and-Solve for Rhino

Scan-and-Solve is a plug-in for Rhino which ‘completely automates basic structural simulation of Rhino solids. Unlike other analysis tools, no preprocessing (meshing, simplification, healing, translating, etc.) is needed.’ See for additional information, tutorials and discussions or you can also find it through the downloads list.

Attached are my initial explorations in the student license of the software to analyse a block for use in a reciprocal grid structure. As the images show, the software is very simple to use, simply choose a solid; a material from the drop down list; select the faces to act as restraints and then the loads to apply. View the results as a colour gradient showing displacement values or danger levels within the solid. The software also allows you to visualise the deformation. Unfortunately, you cannot perform analysis on multiple solids within a system currently and the student license is limited to a solid of 50 faces or less.

‘Tired of Life in the Shadows’ – The ‘Glass Town’ of Tirol

External Visualisation

‘Tired of life in the shadows’ arises from a quote from a resident of Rattenberg, the ‘glass town’ of Tirol, Austria. For 3 months every year the town is shadowed by the mountain it takes it’s name from, leaving it depressing and empty. This phenomenon has reached such a level that the town’s residents are struggling with as many as 1 in 5 estimated to be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). As Austria’s smallest town (as few as 450 residents), it’s once booming economy focusing on the production of fine glass and crystal is now heavily reliant on the tourism the industry brings to the area. With the lack of sunlight in the winter months, tourism plummets to almost zero and growing emigration of the residents is only making situation worse.

My proposal seeks to rejuvenate the town, providing a public space for the residents, linking the old town with the railway station and showing off the town’s famous glass works. The proposal covers the dark mountainside in small heliostat mirrors bouncing light into the public spaces below and lighting up the dark shadowy mountain above. Mirror arrays across the skin of the predominantly glass structure of a main public building, are free to move in the wind and rain and direct ever changing light throughout the spaces. Residents and tourists alike are provided a park space wrapping around an open glassblowing workshop showcasing the industry at the heart of the local community, also situated immediately adjacent to the railway and toursit car parks. The key to the proposal is the ever changing qualities of direct sunlight, aided by the refraction and movement of light found in glass and water, as a focus to improve the health and wellbeing of the people reinforcing Rattenberg’s reputation as a cultural and glass manufacturing centre in the region.

For more information the associated research and development document will shortly be available at

The Third & The Seventh

The Third & The Seventh is a beautiful, fully CG animated film made by Alex Roman that, in his own words, “tries to illustrate architecture art across a photographic point of view where main subjects
are already-built spaces. Sometimes in an abstract way. Sometimes surreal.”

Many of you will already have seen the film as it was published roughly two years ago now but for those that haven’t it is brilliant and should be watched full-screen in HD if you can. I would also encourage everyone to watch the making of video and other work Alex Roman has published on Vimeo – (click on the vimeo button in the film player)


Black Light


This is my submission for an Art pavilion at the Burning Man Festival. It is principally concerned with the movement of light and water through tubes around the structure, aiming to create an environment that is visually stimulating encouraging reflection and the reemergence of a child like curiosity and fun in exploration. Different coloured fluorescent dyes are added to water housed in a central ‘spire-like’ tower. The water is steadily released from the tank, controlled with IV drip controllers, throughout the festival and weaves its way around the central space. The movement of the water. although controlled, will be subject to sudden internal siphons, air bubbles in u-bends and constantly changing shadows and refractions giving a chaotic nature to the movement to maintain the experience for the participants of the festival. At night the structure takes on a more vigorous life with UV striplights setting off the fluorescence in the water.

At the end of the festival the water tubes will be sealed and cut into small sections that can be given out to Burning Man participants as a memory of their experience.

Below is the animation (already posted previously on this blog) that I created for the submission to demonstrate the experience of the pavilion.

Black Light

Black Light from Michael Clarke on Vimeo.

This is a walkthrough of my proposal for an art pavilion at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada. The pavilion is a network of tubes filled with water and a fluorescent dye that slowly travels from a central tank around the woven structure. UV lights housed on steel supporting elements set off the fluorescence. This model was an earlier design and as such has since been refined – a better video of the final proposal will follow.

Please excuse the jerky camera and the very dodgy shadows (I didn’t set a target for the sun direction): this was my first attempt at an animation using Maya. These issues will all be improved on the final proposal animation including the addition of sound and people.

The model was constructed in Grasshopper for Rhino and then imported to Autodesk’s Maya to animate. It was composed in Adobe After Effects.

Digital Representation

This is my submission for the Digital Representation module at the University. The first part focuses on learning how to use Bentley’s Generative Components to explore geometry and in particular ruled surfaces. The module tries to give an insight into understanding how to construct geometry and how the process can be developed parametrically. It then explores creating your own object classes and feature types to expand the abilities of the software and increase efficiency in modelling. Finally the module looks at developing an understanding of scripting and the syntax needed to code 2D and 3D computer programmes and models using both Processing and scripting within Generative Components. The second part looks at using the tools to develop our studio proposals, in my case the proposal for a pavilion at Burning Man Festival.

Alternative fabrication methods using sand

Following on from the tutorial yesterday where Jack talked about possibly casting his experiments with sand using a saline solution sprayed onto the forms created here are two further ways of utilising sand to create rigid structures.

Markus Kayser - Solar Sinter

The first is a 3D printer which concentrates the solar energy to form glass structures from the sand the machine sits on. I know many of you have seen this before but I thought I’d post it in relation to this specific topic. The link is to designboom, a great website with daily updates from the latest innovations in architecture, art and design. Check out the link to find further information on Markus Kayser’s printer.

The second is a TED lecture given by Magnus Larsson. He proposes an ambitious project to stop desertification in the Sahara by literally forming a wall across the continent using the desert sands as a bulding material.

If anyone wants to edit this post to try and embed the video from the TED lecture go ahead, I can’t get it to work with their f=video format but that may just be me.