How Recom Blacksmith Landed Among the Most Desired CGI Studios Delivering Top Quality Architectural Visualizations for World-known Clients

RECOM BLACKSMITH is a CGI post-production studio offering creative retouching in fine art, fashion, and still life to full CGI architecture and automotive visualization.  The creative team works in Bulgaria but barely speaks its native language. The reason? They have an impressive list of clients from all over the world and continue to impress us all with the achieved success and uncompromisingly work quality.  Today, the founder of RECOM BLACKSMITH, Ivoslav Stanev, is here to reveal more about the secrets of the perfect render, the tools, and the inspiration in his daily workflow.

The long and winding road

Eight years ago, Ivo decided that he wanted to work in one of the most boutique visualization companies. However, his first interview did not end well. “I played with open cards, and my dream was to return to Bulgaria – they did not like it.”- says Ivo. 

His skills helped him to make it to the second interview. “At the second interview I was more prepared – my return period could not be defined, and I had a great desire to be part of this team. They liked the persistence, and the workaholism did the rest – it turned out that we were involved in the same dough and we liked each other so much that we decided to make an office in the village of Trudovets.”- admits Ivo.


Created with V-Ray for Maya by RECOM BLACKSMITH


After wandering into other professions – Ivo wanted to become a programmer first, but since it didn’t work out, one fine day he opened Maya while on the train. “From there – with a bang and with a jump in the cold water I entered the industry quite quickly.”- says Ivo and continues: “My first project came in 2-3 months. Of course with the help of a friend who believed in me more than I did in myself. Thanks to him I was able to get in touch with BOSCH. I didn’t believe I would be able to sell my idea. After I came out of the presentation and it became clear that they liked my idea, I suddenly realized “hell, I don’t know how to do this thing”! It was a very fast slippery slope, if I hadn’t done it, it would have made a very bad name for me and maybe it was a great catalyst to bite to the end and deliver on time.”

The art of winning big clients

The devoted work and the natural talent for visualization come with big clients too. Here is what Ivoslav Stanev says about this journey:

“You need to have really good projects (and not just one photo, but also a great production) that prove that you can handle big clients, and you have to trust yourself. If the client feels insecure, it is possible to reverse the project. This is different, of course, from admitting that you don’t know something.”


Created with V-Ray for Maya by RECOM BLACKSMITH


Ivo says he doesn’t have a favorite project and shares:

“In most cases, I’m never completely happy with my projects – maybe it’s a bug in the system. They don’t look real to me, and that probably makes me always look for other programs and ways to improve my rendering. Let’s just say this bug helps.”

Another important issue when it comes to working with big clients is… yes, speed. Ivo admits that speed is probably the most important technical factor. “For example, for automotive visualization, we always use vRed, because the software is uncompromisingly fast and stable. Customers do not want to wait and their time is precious – real-time is the future.” – says the founder of RECOM BLACKSMITH. –

Also adjusting the light in real-time gives the opportunity to be very accurate and creative without losing the inspiration. Slow lighting is a creative killer.” – continues Ivo.

The master and his tools

Being good at your own work means that you know a lot of software programs in order to filter and stick to those that can help you deliver great results. Ivo’s list is quite long and includes Autodesk Maya, V-Ray, Arnold, Renderman, Clarisse ifx, SpeedTree, vRed, E-on Vue. He admits having his favorite software for different types of visualizations. It is V-Ray for Architecture, Clarisse Ifx for the environment, vRed for automobile visualizations. The few things Ivo admits he wanted to learn earlier are Houdini and Arnold. 


Created with V-Ray for Maya by RECOM BLACKSMITH


“V-Ray has potential for development. In the architectural visualization it has established itself quite solidly and the integration with Maya is successful, but for heavy productions, there is still room for development.” – states Ivoslav Stanev. “Of course, there is no perfect software and maybe there will not be, but one of the most important things for good development is: to clean the bugs quickly, not to interpolate at the expense of quality and cleaning of unnecessary features.

Programs need to be easier to maintain so that artists can be artists and not waste time on technical issues.”

So here comes the top 3 features of V-Ray for Maya, according to Ivo: “Quick preview and work with materials. I would like to enter a GPU, but unfortunately, it still does not give the same result as a CPU, and this is a dream of all of us.”

Additionally, every master is looking for the perfect visualization. For Ivo, basic knowledge of architecture is required as well as photography – it helps the eye to develop and gain a sense of good and real light.


Created with V-Ray for Maya by RECOM BLACKSMITH


Into the big game

RECOM BLACKSMITH has completed some great interior visualization projects with OTTO

However, there was a challenge. The company was very large and needed automation. Ivo steps in for such a project for the first time. For the year 2019, the rendering number was impressive –  27,000. To make the whole work possible, Recom Blacksmith used scripts to automate the process. “We were able to get our render engine to understand information from stacked .xml tables to determine the rendering of the correct configurations.” – admits Ivo.  



Something more, OTTO is an example of how such a large and old company is moving from analog to digital photography.

Ivo shares: “I don’t know if it will completely cancel the photo and to be honest, I don’t want to, but the advantages are great.” And we can see the trend in the eCommerce sector every single day.



How to do it right with copyright

Ivoslav Stanev – just like most of the creative artists – is sensitive about the copyright topic. “These are our salaries. I would not want anyone to steal my product and sell or distribute it for free.” – he admits. The topic is really serious and complex. “For example, Pixar gives Renderman for unlimited testing and this helped me a lot to look closely at their software. In commercial projects, it is already a matter of morality to buy. If a software does not withstand production and is not improved by the manufacturer, then I will want my money back.”- says Ivo.


Created with V-Ray for Maya by RECOM BLACKSMITH


The beginners in the architecture industry should be really aware of this problem too. Alongside the legal software programs usage, here is the main advice for the mastery of skills from the founder of RECOM BLACKSMITH:

You already have all the information on the Internet, years ago we didn’t have this luxury and we had to deal with it in many ways – which of course developed a different way of thinking and solving problems. Learn architecture and collect a lot of references to find your style. Go outside and observe the world around you. Shoot and watch movies. This will develop your most important weapon – the eye. The software is just a tool.”



How ALL In Studio use SketchUp to Create Unique Personal Spaces Without Compromise

ALL In Studio, founded by Arch. Pavel Yanev in the 2011 year at Sofia is well known for its brave innovative ideas and specific trademark. The greatest studio’s passion is to create a personal space with a character without any quality compromise. For less than 10 years ALL In provided a rich portfolio and numerous awards –  an international prize from London for “Best single-family residence”, nomination for “Building of the Year” by ArchDaily, 3 times first place “Interior of the Year in Bulgaria” and many more.


Detail and idealism is the moto that actually describes their approach to architecture and interior design.


ALL in Studio uses SketchUp and LayOut to present the pre-initial projects and to help their client to immerse and sense the atmosphere of their new home. Achieving the best results is a complex task that requires many different skills to make every space unique. And SketchUp is the most appropriate and easy language for visual and verbal communication in every project.



© ALL in Studio. All Rights Reserved.



Let’s take a peek at one of ALL In’s pre-initial project and see the beauty at the beginning of a dream come true. The first step is choosing and combining materials that correspond with the spirit of the space and reveal the concept in the best way.



© ALL in Studio. All Rights Reserved.


In this case, the architects choose a dark color pallet with dominant, rich on texture stone and copper accent.


The space is divided into day and night zone with visual difference between relax zone and kitchen.


© ALL in Studio. All Rights Reserved.


The first thing that catches an eye in this bright apartment with a contrast of darker materials for the floors and kitchen is the masterpiece kitchen island. The Interior links the imaginary lines between floor and celling as the lighting complements the spatial geometry. The client can choose between several elements and zones proposals.


© ALL in Studio. All Rights Reserved.


© ALL in Studio. All Rights Reserved.


© ALL in Studio. All Rights Reserved.


The natural materials creating a sophisticated luxurious space at the night zone

The decision about the relaxing zone is open master ensuite and minimal spatial separation. As the suspended ceilings add depth, the mirrors create the illusion of a bigger spatial volume.


© ALL in Studio. All Rights Reserved.


© ALL in Studio. All Rights Reserved.


© ALL in Studio. All Rights Reserved.


Hope now you’re inspired to take your projects to the next level. Remember that attention to detail is not about perfection, it’s about constant improvement.


More about All In Studio:

Arch. Dimitar Tzanev (IXDesign): “Everything in life comes at the right time, you just have to be patient.”

IXDesign is a Sofia-based interior design studio, providing services for Bulgaria and the EU. If we are to sum up their creative approach in one word – it is innovation. The studio itself is a natural continuation of the work of Comet – a studio created back in 1992, whose main focus is the production of stainless steel products and afterward changes its activity to the design and implementation area. And that is when IXDesign is created. Let’s meet its manager – architect Dimitar Tzanev.

Architect Dimitar Tzanev | IXDesign

Welcome to our Space. If you have to describe your company – IXDesign in just one sentence, what would the exact words be?

The most innovative interior design studio which offers great quality projects and innovations for a reasonable price.

You’ve worked with some impressive International brands like Hyundai, McDonald’s, Nike, Adidas, etc. What is the key to winning a big client?

We believe that when you offer the best possible quality projects and you combine all your work with innovations like VR technology, the clients are more than happy because they have everything in one place. For us, the most important thing during the whole process is the trust and respect between our company and the clients. No matter how big or small a client is, he gets the best possible services with no compromise.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

What are your plans for future development?

We think that we can expand our work in the EU, the USA, and other countries around the world. What makes us so confident in our experience, knowledge to complete the whole project instead of just offering nice looking renders. 

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

How did your professional career start?

I started in our first company specialized in stainless steel production, where I was occupied in the lower levels of the production process. Later on, I had the chance to join the management board as a CEO. I inherited the place of my father, who taught me that the only way to be successful is to start from the bottom and learn and learn.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

How would you describe a typical working process?

We start from scratch and develop it to something real, special, and unique. All projects are just like our babies. We truly devote our time, attention, and passion for each one. Maybe that is the reason I don’t have a favorite one, honestly. 

Additionally, we have a whole list of partners from around the world who provide us with really interesting and unique materials, furniture, and basically anything we need to complete a project in a superb way.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

Tell me more about your interior design projects – is there something special during the work process?

I don’t think that there are any peculiarities. My personal design process can be summarized in one word – comfort. I work in the way I feel most comfortable. Maybe the most different thing in my workflow is that I start every time from 3D and sketching, and after that, I move to 2D and CAD. But that is just my way of doing things. The right method is the one that makes you most productive. 

My father taught me that the only way to be successful is to start from the bottom and learn and learn…

How important is the speed when you work with clients and how do you balance their usual rush and the quality you aim to deliver?

The speed for one project is a very important part of the whole process. We have state-of-the-art rendering farms that provide us with hundreds of CPU cores and power to render in ultra-high quality of our projects. And yes, all clients are usually in a rush. That is why we’ve built our computers’ brains to work as fast as possible. However, we have never made a single compromise with the quality of a project.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

What is the best way to present a project?

I think the key is to present in the most simple way of understanding. For example, we have 3D printers for modes, we make sketches, VR presentations, videos of the projects so that it is clear what we present. To be honest, most of the clients appreciate very much the 3D visualizations and VR presentations. So in one sentence – the best way to present our project is the one that says everything but with simplicity for better understanding.

Is there a secret for perfect visualization?

Everyone knows that the devil is in the detail. So the small details make the perfect visualization.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

Everything in life comes at the right time, you just have to be patient.

Let’s have a look behind the scenes. How do you make the magic happen, what software tools usually help you?

We use a lot of software programs. However, there is no day-off for SketchUp, V-Ray, Photoshop, Lightroom. For animations and VR presentations we use Twinmotion and Eyecad3D.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

What is the main advantage of SketchUp for you? 

It is intuitive, it also gives you the very best response of materials and textures, and speed – SketchUp is just faster than all the other 3D software programs.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

Select your TOP 3 SketchUp features that saved tones of work?

  1. Quick and easy way to import DWG files.
  2. A very good look of the project even before rendering.
  3. The ability to use Layout is just awesome.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

And what about V-Ray? 

I think V-Ray is still the perfect render on the market. It may look a bit complicated but once you become a master of V-Ray, you can achieve amazing results.

Select your TOP 3 V-Ray features that saved tones of work?

  1. You can create real-looking materials and textures.
  2. The ability to have render elements and use them in Photoshop.
  3. Very good and accurate auto functions. 

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

Why is it important to use legal software?

From the position of a creator, I am very sensitive to the copyright topic. There are a lot of people who can simply steal your work – software, design, product…

Above all, using legal software is a kind of appreciation for the hard work of the people who’ve created it. Plus, you don’t violate the law that way. Everyone should use legal software. Currently, there are a lot of options for paying over time and it’s totally worth it.

Created with V-Ray for SketchUp by IXDesign studio

What would be your advice for all the beginners in your industry who want to master their skills?

Everything in life comes at the right time, you just have to be patient.

Do not rush. Learn as much as you can because the interior design is a combination of so many things – aesthetic, nature, materials, light and etc. And most importantly – never quit. Work hard, study harder and if you are dedicated to that career, no one can stop your success.


Find IXDesign here:


Around the World with SketchUp

This month, we’re taking a trip around the world to celebrate all the places your projects are taking shape. From Barcelona to Bangalore (and everywhere in between) SketchUp users create noteworthy designs, often influenced by their unique surroundings.

We want you to share how your surroundings inspire your designs using #SketchUp_Global on social media for a chance to be featured. Here’s a round-up of our favourites. 


First up, Diyar Aydoğan imagines a tranquil escape from the bustle of London, UK.



Soaking in the southern hospitality. Ten Over Studio creates this 3D animation to capture a unique meaning of “home” in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA.


OPM Render Studio shares a glimpse of this snowy scene.




Step into this forest house, hidden away in the pristine hillsides of Peru. By Alets Alvarado.




Doig Architecture takes us to Melbourne, Australia with this design featuring gorgeous views out to Port Phillip Bay.




Onxy Design Collective has us daydreaming with this mountain getaway in Park City, Utah, USA.



An oasis in the city. Maria Alarcon designs a rooftop in the heart of Barcelona, Spain where the hardness of stone and wood blend with the freely growing greenery.



This southern California, USA home truly has no bad angles. Architect Steve Giannetti combines a worn, antique look with natural materials to create a timeless and fresh space. Animation by Voxl.Vision.




Nad Design transports us to this lush getaway on the coast of Indonesia.



Now that’s an office! We love this interior by Tacata Arts in Bangalore, India.





Up next: we’re highlighting Doddy Setiawan’s tropical home featuring gorgeous green accents, inside and out.



We’re wrapping up in Brazil with a bucket list kind of view from Marco Corrêa.


Thanks for joining our trip around the world! Remember to get involved using #SketchUp_Global.  

Stay tuned for our next design theme.

I Come from 3ds Max, How do I Survive SketchUp?

Good question, my friend. And it is one asked often, even not always verbally, but we see it in the eyes of many faced with the challenge of switching from 3ds Max to SketchUp. There are many reasons for this switch. However, let’s focus on today’s discussion. 

Here, we will talk about what you can do, as a 3ds Max user, to make SketchUp more suitable for your needs and the workflow you are used to. 

Many 3d artists and visualizers with previous experience in other software come to SketchUp skeptical and unwilling to adapt. Although a misguided assumption, there is a serious belief in the industry that SketchUp is not as powerful or as versatile as 3ds Max for architectural visualization. Although in some cases this is the truth, many projects and visualizations can be done with ease and sleight of hand in SketchUp, sometimes even faster than the original platform used. Don’t get me wrong, everybody has his own way of working and there is nothing wrong if the results are good quality ones. But in 3D, like in real life, sometimes we are faced with a new platform and we should do the best we can with what we have. 

I also come from 3ds Max. I get your point, I understand you. That’s why I’ll present a few ideas and workflow tips on how to use SketchUp to its best ability from the perspective of a native 3ds Max user. And let me put a disclaimer here – all software is good if it gets the job done. These are personal tips that I came across from years of mixed pipelines, various artists and different projects happening on diverse platforms.

First things first…

Forget about poly flow. Or at least the way you are used to it. In the website Quora John Bacus (, one of the people behind the design of SketchUp, he describes the software’s modeling as “a polygon mesh modeler, using a winged-edge data model”. So there is the concept for a polygon in SketchUp, but it is definitely not the one you are used to as a 3ds Max user. There are no vertices and there is no need to add a couple of edges to extrude something. It is okay to just extrude. Really. It is. 


Second. A sphere is not a base SketchUp model. In fact, it is in a way complex next level model that you need to work for. Don’t go looking for it. The closer you will get to a sphere with a few clicks is a cylinder. Get over it. There are ways to do a sphere, so life will not be sphereless. 

Now, it is time to dive into SketchUp and see what we are presented with.

No matter the scale you chose, there will always be a character greeting you in the viewport. That is a Trimble inside joke and it is always somebody who works in the company. It’s a funny joke, and I’m sure that the person is flattered but after some time this puppet can become more annoying than anything. Especially if you plan on rendering at some point and are using V-Ray for that, the colors of the puppet will be read as V-Ray Materials filling your Asset editor with more unneeded info. This is because Marc (SketchUp 2019) is a component and a component is quite a big deal in SketchUp. I’ll go over that in a moment, but for now, I suggest you save a preset where this component is just missing.

And now when you open your preset it will be nice and clean. Sorry, Marc and everybody who came before and after you, it is not personal. We appreciate your presence anyway!

Next comes next.

Components. And groups. And layers. And the Outliner. And how SketchUp manages geometry.

Groups and components are part of the founding fathers of SketchUp. Without using them, the chances are you’ll end up in deep dark forest far away or worst – will have a really hard time editing anything that you have modeled. Since most pieces of geometry become one just by touching in SketchUp, by adding groups you put some boundaries between them. In other words – group every piece of geometry that you consider a whole element. Then come components. Imagine them as… instances may be. They are geometry groups which are linked together and if you change one you change all of them. Although, they cal also store materials, be written on the hard drive and easily imported in any new scene you have. I recommend these videos for understanding a bit more:

Layers work pretty similarly to any software with layers, with the only set back being that if you want to move something to a layer you have to individually place it in it. The Outliner is quite an advantage for the newer versions of SketchUp as it resembles even Autodesk Maya’s Outliner. Or, said in 3ds Max terms – the Scene Explorer. This is basic geometry management in your new best friend. 

You have the basics. Now, fill up with patience and let’s explore a few major tips that will save your nervous system from any unnecessary damage.

Shortcuts. Besides the basics that Google’s 1st page will provide.

A major one that most SketchUp users miss and it is quite native to 3ds Max is zoom to selection. There is a right mouse click menu option, but since 3ds Max offers the “z” key for that, it is a great idea to add it to SketchUp as well. You can add a shortcut from Window / Preferences / Shortcuts, but in order to have the option to add a Zoom to selection one, be sure to have something in the scene clicked on. Otherwise, it will not show as a possible shortcut function.

Another useful one is the fact that if you extrude a face inside SketchUp (shortcut is P) it will NOT create an additional edge. If you want that edge (as we said in the beginning, it is not necessary for SketchUp) you just need to press Ctrl while extruding and you get your edge.

And hey, you’ve noticed – there is no gizmo. No pivot you might call it. The main issue with that is how hard it can be to move only in a specific axis. This is achieved by a shortcut as well. After selection the object (group, face, edge, etc – works for anything) and starting to move it (shortcut is M) just press the arrow on your keyboard. Up is for the blue axis, Left is green and Right is red. Then, you are moving only in that direction. 

This also works when adding a loop on an already created piece of geometry, although that might be a bit more complex as there is no Swift Loop option. You need to select only the edges of the end face and move and copy them on the inside. This will create the extra loop in a way.


And speaking of moving and copying, nope, it is not Drag + Shift. It is Move + Ctrl. Of course, Ctrl + c; Ctrl + V work, and there is also the lovely option (which I hear AutoCAD users are familiar with) called Paste in Place. The best news here: works between different opened SketchUps as well.

And if you want to bevel an edge, just use Follow me…

Plugins, or in SketchUp terms – Extensions

After we have set our shortcuts, one of SketchUp’s major capabilities is the Extensions Warehouse. Imagine it as all plugins available for SketchUp situated in one place, available from the native interface. And even better – many of them are free. Thanks to those extensions SketchUp can really live to a great potential. Without extensions… well, I have tried it, and I would say I don’t recommend this approach. And again, many are free and work really well.

A few notable ones for dear old 3ds Max users:

Select’n’Isolate – – 3ds Max equivalent: Alt + Q, or Isolate selection

SUbD – – 3ds Max equivalent: Turbo Smooth Skimp – – Importing any universal 3d geometry like obj and fbx

There are many additional ones we can talk about and in the future, but let’s not get overwhelmed. I encourage you to go and browse yourself. And if you find some interesting, feel free to share in the comments! 

And… the cherry on top.

SketchUp has a library of many many models. It’s a part of the interface. Moreover, totally free.

The library is called 3D Warehouse and it is your new best best best friend. Have in mind that some 3ds Max users, even presented with wonderful sites like Evermotion and Turbo Squid still download models from the SketchUp Warehouse because it is convenient. So, enjoy. Here are the basics:

From then on, you should arm yourself with a lot of patience and most importantly – be positive and inspired to try new stuff. SketchUp is a very powerful software bringing 3D to many different people. It is great for beginners but can speed up and ease the workflow of seasoned professionals as well. It can be fun, very productive and especially easy for making corrections and managing different stages of a model. 

So, it is awesome. Have fun.


Author: Kalina Panteleeva