: what are your favorite tools for visualizing new and designs?

If you wanted to communicate how a proposed intersection or roadway redesign would look and feel to the public, what would you use?
I'm looking specifically for examples of tools that are fairly easy to use by non-experts and can create realistic renderings suitable for engagement.

Thank you!

@DrTCombs Remix is one I just started to use and love because it makes it so easy. but I have also just used PowerPoint or Illustrator to do 2D or 3-D renderings

@femmeUTCD oh, that's awesome. have you tried using remix for intersections? I've found a few that'll do cool stuff with streets, but not for intersections.

@DrTCombs it struggles a bit with the L'Enfant-designed complex intersections I deal with but there are ways around it

@DrTCombs I'd love to know, too, because I keep trying to reimagine local spaces but my doodles aren't very compelling! But I'm not a planner, just a user of the space with some ideas that I'd love to communicate.

@DrTCombs When I worked adjacent to the Viz group, they used to use 3ds Max (which is a really intimidating interface) for 3D renderings and Illustrator for Photosims. Bentley and Autodesk have tools to quickly and (much more easily than 3ds Max) build 3D models - ConceptStation and Infraworks, respectively. These tools pull GIS data and use it to build a model and have some quick and easy "proposed" building tools for roads and trees. I don't know if they have good active transpo libraries tho

@DrTCombs I remember seeing this simple web-based tool that shows a cross-section of a road, and you can easily add and move around things like bus stops, cycle paths etc. But I can't seem to find the link now 😔

@gendor Streetmix does that really well, but only for street cross-sections. I'm hoping for some options that also can do intersections. Bonus points if it has the ability to integrate existing imagery (so if you have a statue on one corner of the intersection, say, you can have the same statue in your visualization).

I hope I'm not looking for a unicorn.

@DrTCombs Ah yes, Streetmix, that's it!

Regarding existing imagery, that reminded me of this post using a helmet cam to create a 3D model of a street: (not exactly what you were asking, but maybe a breadcrumb to find what you're looking for?)

@DrTCombs StreetMix is the OG that is still really good at what it does, we use it in open houses to educate visitors about trade-offs. I liked Remix Streets but didn't find too much added value in it. 3D renderings especially next to their base image of current conditions are great, but I haven't seen a tool that outputs them well easily. I end up using Illustrator for a lot of road design work.

@alexkgellis Yeah, StreetMix is great (and open source to boot). Only drawback is that it can't do intersections too.

We're using a lot of sketchup, but it is just so painfully manual.

@DrTCombs I haven't used SketchUp for work yet! I should give it a try. I think maybe it could be especially good in combination with good base images, Illustrator, and Photoshop.

@DrTCombs How non-professional are we talking? Enscape has definitely flattened the visualization learning curve a LOT, but it still requires considerable professional knowledge (need to have a model to visualize, etc).

@daniel_meyers ooooh, I see Enscape is available as a plugin for SketchUp. It all looks a bit overwhelming to me at first glance, but I'm curious to give it a try. Thank you.

(these people have considerable subject matter knowledge, but not so much 'making computers do what they want them to' knowledge)

@DrTCombs I just sketch over Google Streetview images in Apple Keynote. It’s more conceptual but is effective enough to show before/after possibilities. Here are some examples:

@DrTCombs This is something I'm tempted to do for a road near me. I'd probably draw over a satellite image using Inkscape, or maybe Blender3D. The latter definitely has a steep learning curve though.

@SamP20 Oh yeah I spent a hot minute trying to figure out Blender3D before I realized I was in far, far over myhead.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

A Mastodon instance for transportation professionals!