10 Advantages for using VRay for architectural rendering
10 Advantages for using VRay for architectural rendering

Architects, designers and artists are nothing if they can’t communicate their ideas. I should rephrase that: architects, designers and artists are unemployed if they can’t communicate their ideas. The first and most important thing anyone in the design industry must understand is that clients don’t think like you do. They need hand holding, dumbing down, and most-importantly, they need to be blown away.

The tools we use to garner that bugged-eyed, jaw dropped ‘wow’ factor response - and also show we are the professional worthy of being hired - are vital to our success.

That’s where VRay comes in. The universal plug in. The fixer. “The Wolf” for you Tarantino fans. It’s the engine behind turning out believable realizations of your designs no matter the 3D modeling software you prefer. Architects, in particular, will find a lot to like about VRay (I’ll get to that in a minute). There are dozens of rendering plug-ins out there, and finding the one that works best for you can be an exercise in patience, trial and error and maddening late nights trying to get your bump-mapped board-formed concrete walls not look like ass before your early morning client meeting.

While I can’t guarantee more sleep and less all-nighters, I can tell you VRay will have those board-formed concrete walls looking better than they ever have. Not only that, there are plenty of other reasons to choose VRay over the rest. Here are 10 advantages for using VRay for architectural rendering.

VRay is fast. Real fast.

I suppose fast being relative to your machine, render settings, and overall size of the model you are attempting to render, but when compared to the competitors, VRay is consistently faster than the rest. This means quicker render times, animations, drafts, etc. It’s great for architects because everyone knows how precious their time is. All joking aside, though, it’s important to have a visualization tool that will let you quickly see if something is going to work before fully committing to a lengthy presentation quality rendering. VRay is perfect for that. On lower settings,

VRay will pump out a series of low-quality images that will give you a feel for material, colour and light so that quick decisions can be made regarding composition and framing. Sure, all rendering software allows you to create draft images, but none operate as quickly as VRay. If you’re on a tight deadline - and I know you are - you’re going to want to be using something fast that doesn’t sacrifice quality. That’s VRay.

It works seamlessly with Rhino, 3DS Max, SketchUp.

And I mean seamlessly. No seams. Not a seam to be found. While VRay may be a tricky program to fully master, there’s no denying its ease of integration with a variety of 3D modeling programs. No matter your cup of tea or flavour of Doritos, VRay will be your huckleberry. After all, VRay is a plug-in, so it would make sense that the success of that plug-in hinging on its integration with a variety of potentially compatible software. This isn’t always the case with competing renderers.

For architects, the integration with Google SketchUp is perhaps the most use valuable feature. While not the most technically refined or sophisticated piece of modeling software, Sketchup presents a fast and easy set of tools that can quickly get ideas on the page. Those ‘sketchy’ ideas can just as quickly be brought to life with the use of VRay. Client meetings once held to iron out conceptual program issues can use real-life visualization with VRay in your back pocket. It’s not a crutch that should be leaned on, but a tool that can elevate your work from good to WOW!

Extensive Material Library and resources.

An architect’s library of materials and finishes is almost as important as his skills as a designer. The fit and finish represents the final touches on the labour of love poured into realizing a piece of architecture. Get it wrong, and all that work is cast aside in vein: ruined by an ill-conceived palate of finish materials and shoddy details. VRay provides a proxy for this problem. The massive material library out of the box sets VRay above the rest. You’ll never design around a material you won’t be able to render with life-like precision.

Being able to mock up finish combinations on the fly takes interior architecture and design to the next level. You’ll no longer find yourself in marathon client meetings trying to explain how certain finishes will look on certain surfaces. You’ll show them. They’ll make decisions faster, be on their way sooner, and leaver you to do what you really love about architecture...the architecture!

A wealth of options.

For those who wish to venture into the bowels of VRay’s more difficult to manoeuvre capabilities, you’ll find the rabbit hole goes deeper than most visualization plug-ins. Some attribute the perceived learning curve of VRay to an overwhelming abundance of knobs, levers, check-boxes, and sliders. While, yes, success can be evasive for newcomers, a grasp of the basics will come quick and easy with the right guidance. For those looking for more than a surface level understanding of what’s capable with VRay, that path is yours for the traversing.

Users eager to fine-tune camera settings, material bump maps and texture, source of light and depth of field will find plenty to tinker with. Ultimately, that’s what comes with a massive cache of options: flexibility. Everyone knows how difficult...I mean particular architects and designers can be. VRay caters to that insatiable need to control every aspect of a design drawing. You’ll be able to tailor make render settings so everything the plug-in pumps out is undeniably yours.

It has a steep learning curve, but in a good way.

VRay is notoriously tricky to get the hang of. The abundance of options and settings, vast material library and unique interface make for a bit of a learning curve. You’ll be putting in a bit of work on the front end to wrap your head around what works well and what doesn’t.

That work is what makes VRay worth the price of admission. For architects, especially, the craft involved in learning a system, tweaking it according to preference and getting the most out of a resource is par for the course. There is a lot to be appreciated about a product that demands expertise and rewards patience.

VRay is simply the best for realistic visualization.

If you want the best - and who doesn’t - there is simply no substitute for VRay. Users and critics alike consistently put the plug-in at the top of the list as far as quality of the end product. The cleanest textures, darkest darks and brightest whites amount to the most accurate representation of real-world conditions. If your aim is to put your clients IN the spaces you are designing in convincing style, VRay is going to be your best option.

Whether you’re entering design competitions or presenting your work to the powers that be, it’s important to keep in mind the value of quality. Quality is a subjective measure, hard to quantify but easy to recognize. When your work just looks better than the rest, it will give the strength of your design the extra layer of polish it deserves, catching the eye and boosting your reputation. Something that - in the end - is all an architect or designer has.

Speed of VRay is great for quick animations.

Animations are an underused method of design communication in the architect’s office. It makes sense why: they are expensive, hard to produce and rarely present the information of the design in the focused and precise manner architects and designers demand. With VRay, however, animations can quickly be produced due to the relative speed with which the plug-in renders. Clients will be impressed because what you show them will be unexpected, and give you an extra advantage when attempting to explain design decisions.

Animations can be set up in SketchUp, which is fairly intuitive and fast. The rendering power behind VRay can then pump out quality frames that make up the fully realized animation, all without the need of a server farm to power it through!

Real-world material rendering is much more...real-world.

There’s nothing worse than a realistic visualization that doesn’t look realistic. Architects often find themselves in design communication purgatory, or the poisonous space between ‘conceptual’ and ‘finished’ that stamps ‘amateur’ all over your project. If you can’t represent a design, how the hell are you supposed to build it? An architect must exhibit skill and capability throughout all phases of the design in order to instil confidence and maintain control. The consistency and precision of VRay makes this possible.

If you’re aiming for realism, you have to nail it. This is where VRay is a tick above the rest.

Light and Shadow are its bread and butter.

“I sense light as the giver of all presences, and material as spent light. What is made by light casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to the light.”  -  Louis Kahn.

If an architect only had two tools to work with, they would be light and shadow. Louis Kahn is one in a long line of master architects who would probably agree. Light and shadow, and how they are represented in an architectural drawing, are vital to unconsciously understanding realism. If the lighting of a particular drawing isn’t convincing, or seems off, it’s obvious. VRay is championed for handling realistic light and shadow more accurately and more realistically than all comparable renderers.

There are plenty of resources for noobs and professionals alike.

VRay is probably the most commonly used rendering product on the market. And if you’ve been listening at all it’s no secret why. As such, there are almost an endless cache of tutorials, lessons, and available courses to take to maximize your VRay experience. With the steep learning curve comes a necessary regimen of practice in order to get the most out of the product. The more guided and focused that practice is, the faster you’re going to get good at it.

If you’re looking for quick tips or tutorials, a quick internet search will yield plenty of hits for video lessons that range from 5 minutes to over an hour. For more comprehensive courses, there are plenty of online schools that will make an expert VRay magician out of you in just a few weeks of self-guided work. Learning the best visualization software has never been easier.