Architectural rendering is a kind of art that can turn your 3D models into photorealistic images and really bring your designs to life. In order to do that, you need architectural rendering software, but there are so many different solutions out there that it can be challenging to choose the right one for your needs, not to mention your budget.
That’s why we have put together the following list of top software solutions currently available and, hopefully, you will find at least some of them compelling enough to try them out. Your budget and, most of all, your personal preferences are the two primary factors that will help you make the right choice, but you can be sure that all the following solutions are very high-quality and more than worth checking out.
V-Ray is definitely the one architectural rendering software to rule them all. It is the most powerful 3D rendering solution on the market right now and it is suitable for both newbies and professionals. Beginners might find it a bit intimidating at first, but this piece of software is very user-friendly, so mastering it is not actually so difficult.
V-Ray has a very extensive set of tools and features under its hood and provides a vast array of models and textures you can work with, not to mention that it boasts high speed and a seamless integration. There’s a steep learning curve when it comes to its numerous advanced features but, again, it’s fairly easy to get the hang of them, not to mention that it is incredibly worth it.
Being arguably the best architectural rendering software, you might expect a hefty price tag, but you’ll be happy to know that V-Ray plugins have very competitive prices. For instance, you can get a V-Ray for 3ds Max Workstation license for $850, but you can also take the software for a free 30-day test drive to see how it fits your needs before you make a purchase.
Blender is also one of the most powerful architectural rendering software solutions out there and the number one choice among a huge number of architects. The main reason why it is so popular? It’s completely free!
This open-source piece of software is entirely free of charge, but don’t let that cloud your judgement and make you think that Blender is less great than any other software solution on this list. Quite the contrary – Blender is one of the best and most capable 3D rendering software you can work with and it has a huge number of features and tools that can easily bring all your designs to life.
There’s a bit of a learning curve involved, but you can master all the features in just several hours. What’s more, Blender has a very capable online user community, so you can quickly find solutions to any problems that you might encounter along the way. Its user community is incredibly resourceful and helpful, so you will never have trouble finding your way out when you get stuck at something.
Maxwell is yet another giant in the architectural rendering industry and a very popular choice among both professionals and beginners. It is also open-source and completely free to use and distribute, not to mention that it is incredibly user-friendly.
With a very simple user interface and a plethora of features and tools, Maxwell could be just the thing you need to create beautiful photorealistic images and animations. You can quickly and easily learn to use it, which is precisely why a great number of architecture students choose to start their rendering adventures with this software before moving onto other more complex solutions.
Maxwell also has a user community that is very helpful and resourceful, so you can easily get the right help you need in case you run into some problems with the software. The only drawback to this software solution is that it is a bit slow at rendering, but that shouldn’t put you off since Maxwell is capable of producing truly wonderful renderings. It’s definitely worth the time.
Octane Render is one of the fastest architectural rendering software solutions currently available. It can produce fantastic, high-quality renderings in less time than any other rendering software, which is exactly why it is gaining more and more momentum as we speak.
It has become quite popular over the past few years due to its incredibly fast rendering engine that can produce very high-quality renderings, as well as due to its extensive set of powerful features and tools and a huge pool of materials and textures to work with.
What makes Octane Render’s rendering engine so powerful are Nvidia graphics cards (GPU), which is why it stands out from many other unbiased rendering solutions that use CPU. It also stands out because it can seamlessly handle complex problems, such as depth-of-field and motion blur and subsurface scattering, which is not a case with other similar software solutions.
You can get a license for Octane Render for $399, which is more than a reasonable price when you consider all its features and the strength of its engine.
Autodesk Revit certainly doesn’t need an introduction in the architectural rendering community. It is one of the most recognized pieces of rendering software that can help you create realistic visualizations quicker than you know it.
Revit has a very impressive set of features and tools, as well as a large array of models and textures to work with, not to mention pretty great rendering capabilities.
This is not as good as the previous software solutions, but it’s definitely worth the time and money if you are looking for something for your daily job that is incredibly easy to use. If you are a professional and know exactly what you’re doing when it comes to architectural rendering, you can quickly get the job done with Autodesk Revit.
This Building Information Modeling (BIM) software provider offers free 3-year educational licenses to students, but professionals have access to flexible subscription options. You can get the software for $280 a month ($2250/year), but there’s also a free trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee on annual plans.
Viz Render is another great product from Autodesk that is very popular among both architecture students and rendering professionals. You can create beautiful architectural visualizations with this software, but it is not one of the most powerful solutions on this list.
Despite that fact, Viz Render has a great set of features and tools that truly challenge the other software solutions listed here and it is very easy to use. Moreover, it works really great with other Autodesk products, such as AutoCAD and 3ds Max, which makes it worth both the time and effort.
The best part about Viz Render? It is completely free of charge, so you should definitely take it for a spin to see how it will fit your needs. You never know – it might be the perfect solution to suit your personal preferences.
Lumion is yet another very powerful architectural rendering software that boasts extremely fast rendering and can easily turn 3D models into amazing photorealistic images and videos. It has a very easy-to-use user interface and a learning curve that is incredibly friendly, which makes it one of the best rendering software solutions when it comes to actual usability.
Apart from being an absolute pleasure to use, Lumion stands out from other similar 3D rendering pieces of software in that it is compatible with almost every modelling software available. This is a huge plus for all the professionals who regularly deal with clients, students or peers who have their own personal preferences regarding 3D rendering software.
There’s absolutely no reason for anyone not finding Lumion attractive and remarkably useful, but students might find it more convenient than professionals because Lumion offers free educational licenses for students.
For professionals, Lumion offers licenses for a basic version at $1499 and for a Pro version at $2999, but there’s also a free trial with no purchase obligations. The only drawback is that the trial version contains only about 15% of the full content library and that it works on 7 days in total during a 30-day trial period.
Corona Renderer is not as popular as the other names on this list, because it is a relatively new software addition to the architectural rendering industry. Nevertheless, it has already proved to be more than worth being placed among all these powerful software solutions.
Although Corona lacks some features, such as velocity render, it is one of the fastest rendering software solutions currently available. It’s not as fast as Octane Render or V-Ray, but it does produce excellent renderings in considerably less time than other similar tools.
Corona Renderer creates very clean animations and fantastic light effects and software updates and patches are provided by the development team on a regular basis, so you would never have to worry about any potential vulnerabilities or hiccups.
The software also enables full integration with 3ds Max, so you can very easily employ complex 3D models without ever worrying about compatibility issues.
A standard license for Corona Renderer has a price tag of $530 (paid annually), but you can also choose one of the three monthly subscription options available at $24.99, $29.99 and $44.99.
Cinema 4D by MAXON Computer GmbH is one of the lesser known products in the architectural rendering community, but it is one of the fastest and easiest-to-use rendering software solutions available right now. Its set of features and tools is outstanding and can help you create marvellous renderings, which is precisely why more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon and harnessing its remarkable power.
If you are not a beginner but a professional who already knows their way around producing architectural renderings, then Cinema 4D could be just what you’re looking for. It’s very fast and stable, has a very intuitive user interface, and its powerful help system and procedural workflows make it truly stand out from the crowd.
There’s a steep learning curve so, in order to effectively work yourself over it, you would need to invest some time and effort into mastering all the features and completely getting the hang of various little details.
However, Cinema 4D comes with a very hefty price tag, but it can definitely be worth the investment if you are searching for something different that can help you bring your own unique style to life. If you can afford to pay $3510 for the software license and you’re ready to invest a lot of time into mastering the software, then you should go for it, but be sure to check out the free trial version first, so that you can make the right decision for your needs.
Artlantis is an excellent architectural rendering software solution for professionals who want to truly impress their clients. Its large set of useful features and a user-friendly interface can help you quickly and easily make fabulous 3D renderings that will certainly be more than satisfactory.
Its lighting features (both indoor and outdoor) and various luminous materials provide a huge number of possibilities for lighting scenes, especially because all the materials are physically based to help you get amazing photorealistic results.
The software also has a built-in render manager that can help you seamlessly deal with the computing load and distribute it evenly among all your local PCs, which is exactly what makes the producing of renderings extremely fast.
There are two versions of Artlantis available – one for creating high-res still images and the other for creating high-res animations, 360° panoramas, VR objects and still images. The license for the former is available at €500, while you can get the full license for the latter for €990.
If you choose any of these architectural rendering software solutions, you can be sure that you will be making a smart choice, because each and every one of them is definitely worth the time and effort (and the money when it comes to the paid ones), as you will enter a whole new world of 3D rendering possibilities and create magnificent renderings that will blow everyone’s minds.