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Interior Designer Software for 3D Visualization

Interior design software has come a long way in the last 10 years. Here are the programs you should be using to create powerful 3D visualizations.

Interior designers represent a niche sector in the design, architecture, and construction business. They are concerned with how clients live, work, and inhabit the indoor spaces they so frequently occupy. Interior designers work with furniture, materiality, light, and color to establish a conceptual backbone they can then execute around.

And in order to best communicate their ideas, they lean on the ability to create believable 3D renderings and animations that give their clients information needed to make decisions and feel confident in their designer’s talents.

Interior designer software for 3D visualization has come a long way in the past 10 years. Even designers who’ve spent their lives bringing their work to life with pens, colored pencils, and markers are coming around to the idea that things can simply be done faster, and more effectively in the digital realm. The programs on this list are perfect for someone looking to make that transition, and should be considered in all interior design offices.

1 | SketchUp

While not exclusively tailored to interior designers, SketchUp is a 3D modeling and visualization program that just about any designer can find value in. Not only is the learning curve as shallow as they come, SketchUp comes loaded with a vast suite of 3D models ready to be picked and added to your interior scene. Chairs, light fixtures, appliances, and textures are available to anyone who downloads the base program (which is free, by the way).

In a matter of hours, you can have a beautifully realized interior model to start reinforcing the internal feedback loop and communicating with your client to figure out what’s working and what’s not. SketchUp works well with just about every piece of rendering software on the market, so if you’re looking to up your 3D visualization game to the next level, look no further.

2 | SU Podium

The perfect compliment to SketchUp, SU podium is the easy-to-use rendering engine that’s been specifically developed to work natively within the modeling program. There is a free version of SU Podium, but investing a bit of money into the premium version will give you access to high-quality, render-ready 3D models of just about anything you can think to populate your scenes with.

If you’re planning to use SketchUp for your 3D modeling, consider getting SU Podium a foregone conclusion. The two programs work so well together, it’d be a shame to your workflow and your rendering work not to dive into both. While Podium isn’t the most flexible rendering engine around, it’s one that can be picked up and learned without much previous experience.

3 | Photoshop

Learning Photoshop might seem like an insurmountable task. I can see why. The things this ‘photo editing’ software can do boggle the mind, and make any entry into the program a fear inducing endeavor. Worry not, learning a few basic tools will unlock the power of quick and easy 3D visualization faster than you can say ‘Adobe.’

Photoshop is no longer simply used for post-production touch-up. Interior designers can use it to do just about anything a rendering program can do. Start with a basic 3D model (possibly created in SketchUp), then go to town. You can add lighting effects, textures, people, lamps, furniture, and just about anything else you can find a picture of. Get creative with Photoshop and the sky’s the limit to what you can do from a 3D visualization perspective.

4 | Roomsketcher

If you’re looking for software specifically tailored for interior designers, look no further than RoomSketcher. It’s tools and interface make it easy to create basic floor plans, interior elevations, and eventually fully realized 3D visualizations. This free 3D modeling and visualization program comes with preset plans, or the ability to quickly create your own.

One of the most impressive features is just how quickly you can move from a 2D floor plan to a 3D representation of the space. Not only is Roomsketcher user-friendly, is just plain fun. Your clients will be impressed with your ability to translate their vision into something they can see on the screen, before they see it in their living room.

5 | Planner 5D

Planner 5D was developed to be the one-stop-shop for interior design visualization. There aren’t many particularly jaw-dropping features here, just an efficient and user-friendly design program that gives interior designers all the tools they need to visualize their work. If photorealism isn’t exactly your thing, Planner 5D is a perfectly fine alternative to fumbling around with more complicated modeling and rendering software.

And the results are good. You’ll be creating professional looking drawings and diagrams that do exactly what they are designed to do: communicate with clients. If this is your first time engaging in 3D modeling or design software, Planner 5D is the perfect place to start.