SST_1809 – Camera Match

CameraMatch is a huge timesaver. First, CameraMatch saves the time that it would take you to model the existing surroundings. Second, CameraMatch saves you the time it would take to match your current view to a photograph.
Many people think that they should only use CameraMatch for large projects. I believe this is wrong. CameraMatch is ideal for large projects, but it is also very helpful on small projects. It really does not take very long to set up a CameraMatch project, but showing your client the design and its context is so much better than just showing the model. CameraMatch can be used for exterior projects, architectural projects, urban design projects, landscape projects, and interior design projects.
Table of Contents


CameraMatch is more than just a single tool, it is a presentation concept.  While there might be several tools to use, the main function of CameraMatch is a presentation tool.
CameraMatch combines a photograph with a Vectorworks model. An important part of this is that you only need to model the parts of the design that are changing. CameraMatch removes the need to model the existing scene, which can save you hours or even days of work. My experience is that your first project will pay for CameraMatch through these time savings.
The most important part when using CameraMatch is the original photograph. The photo must have some horizontal and vertical reference lines. These lines are used to calculate the camera position, elevation, and lens. Without a good range of lines, it will be difficult for CameraMatch to synchronize the model with the image.

Beginner Concepts

Control Lines

CameraMatch uses mathematics to calculate the correct camera position and perspective. To do this, it needs to have six reference lines. There has to be a combination of vertical lines, as well as left and right vanishing lines.
The trick is to look for parallel lines.
You need to know the measurement of at least one line, so when you go to the site, make sure your photo includes the six control lines and at least one measurement.
Typically, the red lines should be converging toward the right, the green ones toward the left, and the blue ones represent the two verticals.
The further away from each other the control lines are, the better the results. If the lines are too close, CameraMatch finds it difficult to calculate the perspective. When the lines are far apart, they are less likely to be almost parallel. It is when any pair of lines is almost parallel that you will have problems.
Let’s look at some examples. In each case, I will show the original photo and the control lines that could be used.

  • Domestic project.


  • Possible control lines.


  • Commercial project.


  • Possible control lines.


  • Commercial Project


  • Possible control lines.

When you take your photograph, watch out for lens distortion. Lens distortion (or barrel distortion) does have an effect on CameraMatch.  This kind of distortion is the “fish eye” effect that most lenses have, in which straight lines are not straight in the photo. This distortion can cause the location of vanishing points to be incorrect. In addition, Vectorworks cannot render images with this distortion, so you’ll never get a near perfect match unless you correct the photo image first. The CameraMatch manual has some more information on this and some inexpensive applications to correct the distortion.
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Tips for Finding Control Lines

If your scene does not have some obvious control lines, you can add your own:

  • Straight segments of white or orange conduit can be carried to the site in a car and they do not take up much room. Ensure that the segments are all the same length, that way you can use one of the segments for the measurement.
  • Carry a large piece of chalk so that you can draw lines on the road or footpath to create your control lines.
  • I have heard of one user that has several pieces of conduit with corner parts so that he can assemble an orange cube. The cube can be dismantled for easy transport, and assembled quickly when needed.

Real Project 1

I want to show you how quick and easy it is to add an object to a scene. Because many people think they can only use CameraMatch for big projects, they don’t use it for small ones. But these small projects are ideal to show your clients what your ideas will look like in a “real life” setting.
In the first project, I want to add a seating area to this airport. This is a really simple model, but it might be difficult for the client to visualize the new seating in its context. CameraMatch is ideal for that.
Here is a model of the seating I want to place.
Here is a photo of the location.
Remember, the picture you take has to have the six control lines in it, and ideally several measurements.
A tip from Matt Panzer is to carry a couple of long stakes or chalk. You can place these in the scene, and use them to create guidelines.

Step 1 – Place a Reference Object

The Reference Object is used to link the 3D model to the photo. When you place the Reference Object, it has to relate to a position it the photo, so it is crucial that you have a suitable location.

  • Go to a plan view of the model.
  • Go to the Menu
  • Choose View >CameraMatch > Place CameraMatch Reference.


  • Name the Reference Object. Make the name clear.


  • Move to a known location on the model, e.g. the front corner, corner of a building, corner of a column, etc.


  • You can place the object directly and then move it, or you can set a datum and then measure to the correct location. If you do not get any snaps, try zooming in or out a small amount.


  • Click once.
  • Rotate the object to the correct orientation.
  • Check the rotation of the object.


  • The red and green lines have to match the control lines that you are planning to put on the image.

When you are placing and checking the CameraMatch Reference Object, it is useful to have the 3D Axis labels, but after checking, you can turn this option off so that you do not see the Reference Object in your rendered view.

Step 2 – Create a Viewport

CameraMatch only works as part of a viewport. To use CameraMatch, you need to create a viewport. You do not need to worry about the settings on the viewport, as CameraMatch will take care of setting up the viewport to match your photograph. CameraMatch will also allow you to import the photograph after you have made your viewport.
One tip from Matt Panzer is to turn off several classes at this stage to make it faster to render. You can turn the classes back on later, when you have correctly set up the views.

  • Create a new viewport.


  • Place the new viewport on a sheet layer.


Step 3 – Place the CameraMatch Object

This is where the parts come together.

  • Right mouse click on the viewport.
  • Choose Edit Annotations…
  • Go to the Menu bar
  • Choose View >CameraMatch > Place CameraMatch Object 


  • This opens a dialog box.
  • Click on the Import New Image… button to import your photo.


  • Locate your image file.
  • Click on the Open button


  • Don’t worry too much about the compression—click on the OK button.


  • Make sure the Reference Object has the same name as the one placed earlier.

There it is. All the control lines need to be adjusted, and the reference point needs to be accurately located. This is easier if you turn off all the Snaps.

  • When you move the cursor to the end of one of the control lines, the cursor will change to the interactive scaling cursor.
  • Click once.


  • Click once more.
  • Move the cursor to the other end of the control line.
  • Remember to use the Snap Loupe (Z key) to zoom in.
  • Click once.


  • Move the cursor to the required location. Remember to use the Snap Loupe (Z key) to zoom in.
  • Click once more.
  • Edit all the green and red control lines.


  • Edit the blue control lines.

The light green and pink cube is the preview object. It is a useful guide to see if your control lines are accurate.

  • Find the reference point.


  • Move the reference object to the same location on the photo that relates to the location on the plan.
  • Check all the control lines.


  • Go to the Object Info
  • Choose the control line that you have a dimension for.


  • Set the dimension.


  • Click on the Set View to Match
  • Check the view.
  • Exit the Viewport Annotation.


  • Go to the Object Info
  • Set the Rendering
  • Update the viewport to see the result.


  • Go to the Object Info Palette.
  • Click on the Image Effects button.


  • Image Effects allows you to change many of the settings on your rendered views.


  • Adjust the settings to suit your design.


  • Click on the Apply button and update the viewport.


Real Project 2

In this project, we have a building to which we want to add balconies. Instead of modeling the entire building, I have only modeled the balconies and seating area on the ground floor.

  • The strategy for this project is the same as the previous one.
  • Create the viewport.
  • Place the CameraMatch object.


  • Edit the control lines.
  • Set the length of a known line.


  • Set the Reference point.


  • Set the view to match.
  • Check everything to make sure the lines, angles and references are in the correct locations.

Update the view.

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