How to create 3D wayfinding maps by yourself?

May 28, 2022

How to create DIY 3D wayfinding maps? It is not that hard as it may sound.

Following post will give you an overview on how to create 3D models for wayfinding software. In addition we will share you videos of the modeling process.

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

Maintain a clean quad topology and keep poly count low, no need for edge beveling and subdivisions, when the situation does not require it.

The floor, outer walls, inner walls, details, locations, stairs, elevators, locations and greyed out areas must be separate objects, please do not combine them into one.

Its also recommended to group objects of the same kind and name them accordingly.

The following videos will show some tips and tricks to make your workflow faster.

The solidify modifier will help you create quick walls for your model. You can either first model the walls and then apply solidify or do it the other way around.

Using the Archimesh addon (comes with Blender) you can make great looking stars with just a couple of moves.

NB! When you are in the process of cleaning up your Blender file like shown above, sometimes the spare material doesn’t disappear after using the purge function. If that happens then just restart your Blender project.

For a more in-depth guide go to Blender Modeling Tutorial.

Read more about modelling guidelines.

We hope you got a better understanding of how to create 3D wayfinding maps.

As always we are pleased to help you for creating a wayfinding solution for you or your customer. If you like us to make the maps, please also look our floorplan campaign and don’t hesitate to contact us.

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3D Wayfinder had guests from Tartu Art school

October 2, 2017

Our office was really crowded last week when we had visitors from Tartu Art School. More than 20 people who have just started their studies to become 3D modellers.

uus

Tartu Art School is the only school in Estonia that teaches 3D modelling and visualization as a vocation. As a part of their curriculum the students visit different companies to see how their skills could be used in the future.

Since 3D models have such a big part in our work, it is also important for us to introduce our company to potential future employees or users of our app.

photo_2017-10-02_11-59-01 visitors

So we talked about what we do and how we do it and how students could use our product. 3D Wayfinder is currently used for mostly way-finding applications. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be used in variety of cases. It’s also perfect for presenting architectural models or – why not – make a virtual art gallery.

It is interesting and useful for us to see what kind of applications the students can find for 3D Wayfinder. So we can make it more flexible and beneficial for a wider range of customers.

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Guidelines for creating 3D models

June 14, 2016

We have listed some guidelines for creating 3D models, that look nice and run smoothly in web-browsers. 

3D Wayfinder uses regular 3D models, so there is no special format or way how the 3D floorplans should be modeled. As 3D Wayfinder works in web-browsers through WebGL technology, then in order to get better results the 3D models should be optimized. Read below for some useful tips and tricks on optimizing 3D models for the best performance.

For example keep the 3D geometry simple and use textures, that can be repeated:

Guidelines_for_creating_3D_models_repeating_texture

An important element of 3D floorplans are different kinds of vegetation (trees, bushes etc.). They help to make the floorplans look more life-like and in some cases are also important for navigating on the map. It is easy to use transparent textures on the simple planes, just never model out the leaves or branches:

Guidelines_for_creating_3D_models_transparent_PNG_texture

With 3D it is possible to create really life-like buildings, but when using 3D for maps, it is always good to keep the models simpler. For this we suggest removing un-important furniture and making the walls as low as possible without losing the general idea of the height of the room. This way the visibility of the visualized path is far greater.

Guidelines_for_creating_3D_models_lower_walls

You find the full list of guidelines for creating 3D models are added 3D Wayfinder page here.

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Separating materials from geometry

June 7, 2016

Until now all the materials in 3D Wayfinder have been replaced with each 3D model update. Now it is possible to keep the materials and their attributes’ values. This will save a lot of time, when creating a nice-looking 3D wayfinding application. See how to separating materials from geometry.

Separating_materials_from_geometry_in_3D_Wayfinder_software

We have added a small feature to our 3D model converter. That enables to replace the 3D models without overwriting the materials. This means, that all the changes that were made in 3D Wayfinder for the purpose of tuning materials, are not lost when replacing 3D models. See it in user manual.

3D modelling software packages are different and the way 3D models are exported also varies. In most cases you need to change the color of the materials (diffuse and ambient color). After the creation of the model to get good looking 3D floor plans. We are now supporting specular shader, transparency etc. that might not come directly from the converted models. All these material attributes can be changed in 3D Wayfinder, but these values were replaced each time the geometry was updated. Now there is the option to keep the materials and their values, when replacing the 3D model.

At the same time we have added ambient attributes to each material when uploading the 3D model for the first time or when replacing the model. So there is no need to enter the “ambient” attribute anymore, just change the color.

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Exporting 3D models from 3ds MAX

February 5, 2016

3ds Max models cannot be used directly in 3D Wayfinder, as .max format is closed file format and our importer doesn’t support it. But exporting 3D models from Max is not complicated.

3D Wayfinder supports following formats for 3D models: .fbx, .dae, .lwo, .obj and .3ds. But as we are using ASSIMP for model converting it is possible to try also other formats. With 3ds Max, we recommend to use  .fbx or .dae formats.

To exporting 3D models from Max follow these instructions:

1. When exporting models always select what You want to export and then “export – export selected”.

export_3ds_max_selected

2. Set proper export settings.

If You want to export .fbx use these settings on the picture:

fbx_export_from_3ds_max

Pay attention that “triangulate” has to be selected and up axis is “Y-up”. Otherwise the 3D model will be flipped in 3D Wayfinder.

If You are exporting .dae then use only OpenCOLLADA exporter and these settings:

export_dae_from_3ds_max

There are some minor differences with .dae and .fbx files. You just have to test, what suites better. All the materials can be tuned in 3D Wayfinder Administration panel (see the tutorial), so you don’t have to worry about ambient colors, transparency or other material properties.

We recommend that the whole building should not have more than 100 000 polygons. For kiosk applications (where it is possible to use better GPU-s) you can also have much larger models.

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New reflection feature in our 3D engine

December 18, 2015

FRAK WebGL engine has now built in Cubemaps and reflection shader. This gives 3D Wayfinder access to use reflections of surrounding area.

We have added built in cubemaps and cubemap reflection shader to FRAK WebGL engine. In addition reflection with cubemaps is efficient way to create reflective surfaces like glass or mirrors.
Also cubemap reflection is a rendering method. It means that reflective surfaces reflect the cubemap textures.

Cubemaps_and_reflection_shader_frak_reflections_webGL

It will be available for 3D Wayfinder in near future. This will be the effective way to create large glass walls or buildings. It make them more realistic. It might be used also for expensive shopping mall floors.

Next feature in FRAK will be specular map to mark efficiently reflective areas.

Cubemap demo can be found under FRAK repository.

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3D Wayfinder is sponsoring CG Architecture Challenge

October 29, 2015

CGTrader is organizing challenge called “CG Architecture Challenge”. More than 240 thousand 3D enthusiasts and designers have been invited to participate. 3D Wayfinder has set awards for each challenge subcategory. Award will be given for the best 3D CG model or visualization uploaded during the challenge period.

The challenge will take 3 months and there will be 3 individual winners in each architectural category. Categories are: Best Architectural Interior Model; Best Architectural Exterior Model; Best Architectural Details Model and Best Architectural portfolio. Read more from cgtrader.com. In addition winner in each category will get 3D Wayfinder Pro account for a year.

CGTrader is a 3D model marketplace for computer graphics and 3D printing. For example 3D artists and designers share and sell their models. Then they get valuable feedback, learn from peers, and interact in a designer-friendly environment.

Here are 2 winning works from last year challenge:

Best 3D Architectural Exterior model 2014
Best 3D Architectural Exterior model 2014.

1st Runner-up in Best 3D Architectural Exterior model 2014
1st Runner-up in Best 3D Architectural Exterior model 2014.

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Preview of inserting external 3D models to floor plans

June 17, 2015

Currently we are developing features to insert external 3D models to floor plans. With this it would be possible to add these “little details” (like escalators, benches, trees or even cars). That make the floor-plans look realistic. The best thing is, that it doesn’t require any 3D modelling skills. So all our users can detail the floor plans by themselves.

3D object library can be opened in Editor window with object thumbnails:

3D_wayfinder_add_3D_models_from_library_to_add_3D_models_to_floor_plans

Added objects appear on the 3D scene. The good part here is, that the same model can be used inside the scene many times. Therefore it doesn’t increase the downloadable model sizes as each model will be loaded only once.

3D_wayfinder_add_3D_models_to_scene

3D models to floor plans can be resized and moved inside the 3D Wayfinder.

3D_wayfinder_add_3D_models_rotate

With external 3D models. We will definitely provide common library of models we are using to detail the floor plans. For example these will include trees, cars, different indoor plants, escalators, tables, stairs and so on. See our user manual.

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Faster loading with JSON 3D model format

May 25, 2015

Now the JSON 3D model formats are also implemented in 3D Wayfinder. This gives us better browser-side loading time as browsers’ native JSON parser is faster, than parsing binary models in Javascript. The average gain in loading time is 55%, which means that 3D Wayfinder is loading more than 2 as fast as before.

Below are testing results with 2 different project. It seems, that the improvement affects more larger projects.
We have made a minor change in loading logic also. Now the application will render the 3D models before all the textures are downloaded. Textures will appear as they are loaded. This allows to start using 3D wayfinder as soon as the 3D model files have been loaded.

Here are the initial test results for 2 projects:

1. Project: demo
———————————————–

Project statistics:
Visible faces (opaque/transparent): 5653/646
Visible renderers (opaque/transparent): 10/24
Visible batches (opaque/transparent): 10/4

Total geometry loading time (measured by floors):
Binary format: 1666.570ms + 1941.258ms = 3607.828ms
JSON format: 846.446ms + 945.121ms = 1791.567ms

Loading times without network transfer time:
Binary format: 1211.667ms + 1149.466ms = 2361.133ms
JSON format: 46.198ms + 31.087ms = 77.285ms

2. Project: Large customer project
———————————————–

Project statistics:
Visible faces (opaque/transparent): 229533/6459
Visible renderers (opaque/transparent): 629/13
Visible batches (opaque/transparent): 49/13

Total geometry loading time (measured by floors):
Binary format: 23673.256ms + 13435.160ms + 4924.420ms = 42032.836ms
JSON format: 10225.722ms + 2929.486ms + 3642.354ms = 16797.562ms

Loading times without network transfer time:
Binary format: 20016.574ms + 11549.349ms + 3087.721ms = 34653.644ms
JSON format: 226.997ms + 136.840ms + 70.465ms = 434.302

JSON model specifications can be found from FRAK Github repository.

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Support for JSON 3D model format in FRAK WebGL engine

May 12, 2015

We have released a new version of FRAK WebGL engine with support for JSON 3D model format. This decreases the browser-side loading time as browsers’ native JSON parser is faster, than parsing binary models in Javascript, as we used to do so far. Of course we will continue to support binary models also.

FRAK JSON model specifications can be found from FRAK Github repository.

3D Wayfinder JSON file format


Initial testing shows, that compressed JSON files are the same size as binary files, but browser side parsing is many times faster.

Here are testing results for parsing with different 3D geometry:

RGB box (12 poly)
With binary format: 250 ms
With JSON: 10-60 ms

Axis Test (3440 poly)
Binary: 300 ms
JSON: 36-60 ms

Wayfinding demo ground level (20069 poly)
Binary: 1265 ms
JSON: 50-70 ms

Browser side parsing time varies a bit, but even with larger models it should be less than 100 ms.

Support for JSON models will be available in 3D Wayfinder in near future. This will probably make the 3D Wayfinder application (with models) loading time smaller about 50%. Of course it will depend on the project size, textures, internet connection etc.

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