A 3D visualization view of a pedestrian street.

This 3D rendering presents a pedestrian street along with people, nature, and architecture. It’s a textbook example of exterior visualization done right with all of the pieces combined properly to create a complete picture.

Learning From an Example: How to Execute 3D Exterior Renderings

Today, architects, graphic designers, and all other visual experts have access to modern technology and some of the most advanced tools for their digital creations. As technology changes and evolves with time, present-day visualization companies can offer their clients realistic and detailed exterior renderings.

However, many professionals have already noted that getting such renderings isn’t easy since they must invest plenty of time, effort, skills, and knowledge to achieve satisfactory results. As clients raise their 3D rendering expectations, no one expects anything less than a replica of a high-end DSLR shot.

Fortunately, there are several tips and tricks you can implement to make your 3D exterior renderings stand out. This article will go through the four most essential elements for achieving that. Once you master them, executing pitch-perfect 3D exterior rendering will be a piece of cake.

Details are important.

First things first, details play a crucial role in exterior renderings. Although attention to detail is often linked to interior renderings, this feature is equally important for their exterior counterparts. Creating a high-quality visualization and immersive experience is relatively easy when renderings contain numerous realistic details.

Glass reflections, such as reflections on window panes, are just one example of making your exterior renderings more detailed.

Different colors and shapes of leaves on the trees, irregular sizes and directions of grass blades, and clouds in the sky are other examples that will elevate the results of your 3D renderings and make the final products more realistic.

Furthermore, if your 3D rendering contains some vehicles, numbers on license plates also create a nice touch and give a fuller picture of the whole concept.

Paying attention to these and other details is extremely important. Every element is responsible for making the 3D rendering more life-like, which will allow your clients to envision the product in the desired space. If the rendering lacks these details, impressing your clients with your architectural skills is also less likely.

Give all the elements context.

No architectural piece is placed in the middle of nowhere. Even if it is, the building is surrounded by streets, trees, a desert, or any other type of landscape. Therefore, publishing the exterior 3D visualization without considering the surrounding elements doesn’t give the clients enough contextual information.

The primary purpose of external renderings is to show clients how the whole project fits into the surroundings and how the building looks from the outside. Whether the rendering showcases a natural or urban setting, it’s crucial to insert appropriate environmental features into it.

For instance, adding neighboring houses, nearby roads, cars, and people is more than enough to create a warm and inviting neighborhood. That will effectively show how a particular project compares to other buildings, both in size and style.

Additional information such as territory, landscape, and private gardens will only further emphasize the building’s impact and ability to co-exist with all the houses, streets, and landscape features already in place.

Create an atmosphere and proper lighting.

Yet another vital element of exterior 3D rendering is lighting. The sun’s position can make a world of difference, even if you’re unaware of its impact. Namely, it dramatically affects the realness of the project, so missing out on some great lighting and positioning possibilities can nullify all your project efforts.

Too many or no lighting effects will create visual errors in your 3D renderings. Although mastering 3D lighting needs is challenging, having the best sun position in your projects will deliver desired results to your clients.

The same goes for shadows. Once you align the sun’s position, you also need to align the shadows accordingly. Making sure all your shadow positions are synchronized with the sun’s position is the only way to create life-like 3D visualizations.

Make sure not to place the shadows in the focal point of the rendering but as a background. That means they won’t steal away from the central element but complement it exceptionally well.

Closely connected to lighting, the atmosphere has an equally important role in 3D projects. You can manipulate the lighting to create the desired atmosphere in your renderings. For instance, rainy and gloomy clouds in the sky that prevent direct sunlight unarguably create a different atmosphere than clear skies and sunny days.

Make your composition realistic.

Finally, you’ll need to do everything to make your composition as realistic as possible. That includes people, vehicles, and many other details that make a difference between a “good” 3D render and an outstanding one.

People and vehicles are necessary elements when designing a project in an urban area. However, you’ll need to go much deeper than that. Include people of different ages, genders, and varying facial expressions to create a feeling of inclusivity. Make these characters perform various activities – walking, standing, sitting, talking over the phone, or window shopping.

When it comes to people, it’s also helpful to pay attention to their clothing – sunny and warm spring days usually call for T-shirts and trousers, without the need for jackets, hats, scarves, and boots. If all people in the rendering are similarly dressed, the composition will be much more realistic.

Urban areas are also famous for their numerous vehicles, so don’t forget to include cars, bikes, and other types of transportation in your project. Adding people to these vehicles is a handy trick to make your clients feel part of the scenario.


A lot goes into executing the perfect 3D exterior renderings. From designing an architectural masterpiece to inserting all surrounding elements and details in the picture, there’s a lot to consider and include in these projects.

Creating exterior 3D renderings might seem overwhelming at first, but numerous tips and tricks can help you streamline the whole process. After incorporating the recommendations from this article, we are confident you’ll design impressive exteriors in no time.