I'm currently starting a new urban landscape project (about 1km by 0.75km in size) which is a new city development mixing old industrial buildings and new apartment/office blocks and within this framework I'll be doing the modeling and visualisation for the landscape designer (including simple visuals for design studies up to high end final renders). This project will run from anywhere from 1 year to 10 years because of the scale of the project with different parts of the area being designed individually. So it won't be one run through a completed design, but segments continually in different design phases.
With this in mind I've been searching for an optimum work process that can give me enough flexibility to adjust the model quickly, switch from simple models to detailed models depending on the phase and type of images and somehow have a framework that can be developed over time in case the project does run for 10 years! Normally I work with Autocad and Max and use a combination of primitives and splines (open and closed) to create the landscape. The splines are used to either connect Forestpack (foliage) or railclone objects (gutters and stuff) or to use with Floorgenerator to have the paving as geometry. This works pretty well with most of my regular scenes however due to the scale using floorgenerator will make the models too heavy. So I've been looking into using RC for all the paving and gutter solutions. The design already has a certain base for paving that will be used so I started building RC objects for that. (http://forum.itoosoft.com/index.php?topic=4213.0
) This looks like it will work pretty well however I quickly came across an issue that I'm not sure how to tackle and that generated more questions about how to do this job.
The initial question was simple: How to deal with dry or wet conditions? For a wet road/paving I usually work with a principle similar to this (http://www.cgdigest.com/vray-wet-materials/
) however that, as far as I know, doesn't translate well to a railclone object based on individual paving stones. During testing I added a plane with displacement and a water material to the model but that was rubbish, obviously curved water will ruin all the reflections so was a no go. Then I thought about using the RC on a surface that could be push/pulled with a waterplane going through it but again that didn't seem like a good way to go tbh. The latest idea I had was to create large RC components (maybe about 5x5m) with the paving modelled in it and have enough variation in them with and without pubbles and stuff (manhole, etc) that I could easily switch on/off and randomise. But getting these components to nicely lineup and not being visible as components also seemed like a lot of work that wouldn't be very efficient.
So now I'm really wondering what to do. Displacement is another option but due to the scale of the surfaces it's always seemed like it's better to model these details as whatever advantage displacement offers becomes void due to the size of the scene.
So what would you guys recommend? Any do's and don'ts you kan think of?