10 Top Architectural 3D Rendering Books to Read
10 Top Architectural 3D Rendering Books to Read

With the numerous advances in technology, all professions had to go through some significant changes over the last 10 to 20 years. Architecture wasn’t an exception, and today, architects do their daily work in a completely different manner than they did only 40 years ago.

A large part of this is due to the popularization of architectural visualization. Namely, architects don’t have to spend hours and hours sketching and creating blueprints since 3D models do a better job at representing an architectural idea.

However, 3D modeling and rendering are only now taught at colleges and universities, and older architects are merely familiar with this concept. Most architects who can’t do their own 3D rendering now have to hire CGI artists, which costs them a fortune.

So, if you’d like to do your 3D renders or just expand your knowledge, check out these top 10 architectural 3D rendering books.

1.   Architectural Visualization: Its Relevance to the Unbuilt World

The first book on our list was written by Michael Secrist and Sarah Jones and was released in 2018. In comparison to the books following this one, Architectural Visualization: Its Relevance to the Unbuilt World isn’t the technical book written as a tutorial for architects, designers, or artists. Instead, it explains the importance of architectural visualization for any building or renovation project.

Namely, the authors explain how a project’s success depends on the communication between the architects and artists. As this book explains how to communicate with CGI artists effectively, both architects and employers can greatly benefit from this book.

Essentially, its readers will have a better understanding of architectural visualization and all of the necessary steps.

So, architects who aren’t proficient in architectural visualization can use this book to communicate more effectively with visualization companies for a project to go smoother. Additionally, employers can use this book to better understand their project as to why certain things have to happen and participate in it if necessary.

2.   Real-Time Rendering

A collection of 4 editions, Real-Time Rendering is the result of several experts combining their forces and joining together for this book. With three books behind it, the latest edition focuses on the most contemporary techniques for excellent rendering results.

You don’t need any previous knowledge about rendering to easily understand this work since it begins with the mathematical essentials and gradually progresses towards the advanced techniques often used in the highest quality games.

Although its primary focus is on the rendering in video games, not many architectural books go into great detail about rendering as much as this book does. Also, all the techniques covered in the book are quite universal and applicable to any rendering purpose.

With 24 chapters, the authors of this work go into great detail, describing each step of this complex process. So, after reading this book, you’ll have extensive knowledge about rendering, processing, transformation, light, illumination, shading, texture, colors, VR, AR, and many other things.

Additionally, the book is written in an easily understandable manner, filled with examples and references to other helpful works. So, if you’re serious about detailed rendering, Real-Time Rendering is a perfect choice.

3.   Revit 2020 for Architecture: No Experience Required

The third book on our list, Revit 2020 for Architecture: No Experience Required, is just what it says to be – a perfect book for all beginners without any experience looking forward to learning Revit for architecture.

Autodesk Revit is most likely the best BIM software for architectural purposes, and it’s no wonder a large majority of architects are using it for 3D visualization. If you’re using or planning to use Autodesk for your 3D renders, then this work written by the BIM Services Manager, Eric Wing, is for you.

Revit 2020 for Architecture will guide you through the entire Revit world and help you create high-quality architectural visualizations. It starts with essential elements, such as getting to know the Revit interface and how to use its basic features on an example.

The book starts with model creation, then progresses to window and door placement, then to different views, perspectives, angles, plans, and, of course, 3D perspective. With 17 chapters in total, after completing this book through simultaneous project creation, you’ll master all the necessary tools for a detailed and high-quality architecture 3D render.

4.   Light: Science and Magic

It is primarily intended for professional photographers, Light: Science and Magic, which deals with the detailed analysis of different photographic lighting options. However, this book does wonders for architects, especially if we’re talking about 3D architectural visualization.

Namely, Light: Science and Magic captures the essence of how different lighting can affect the quality of the finished picture. Even the most expensive equipment won’t deliver breathtaking results if you don’t have the necessary lighting knowledge.

The same goes for 3D rendering, as even the most modern tools and advanced tech software won’t create excellent 3D renders by themselves. You need to possess a certain level of knowledge and expertise, even in lighting.

Reading this book can drastically increase any architect’s 3D modeling skills, which is crucial for creating appealing and eye-catching 3D renders. If you’re an architect looking for ways to improve your lighting skills and make your 3D renders stand out, then this book is for you.

5.   The SketchUp Workflow for Architecture

Another book based on the specially designed architect software is The SketchUp Workflow for Architecture. The second edition of this book, published in 2018, focuses on the premium 3D design software SketchUp.

The author of this book, Michael Brightman, is an architect with many years of experience and successfully executed projects behind him. Due to the high demand and popularity of the first edition published back in 2013, this famous architect wrote a new, updated edition 5 years later.

The second edition of The SketchUp Workflow for Architecture is intended for all architects, landscape architects, property developers, and interior designers worldwide.

Based on the widely used SketchUp program, this book acts as a tutorial for one of the most popular architecture visualization programs. Following this book, you’ll quickly understand and get the hang of all SketchUp tools and options, including modeling, visualizing designs, and even creating the required construction paperwork for any kind of project you might be working on.

6.   Digital Modeling

With a more universal approach to 3D modeling, Digital Modeling by William Vaughan explains all the techniques and methods for creating realistic 3D models. This work isn’t intended for any particular field, so artists using 3D software for all kinds of projects can benefit from this book’s content.

When it comes to architects and 3D modeling, Digital Modeling teaches the essential skills and techniques used in a variety of different 3D programs. After reading this carefully explained book with excellent examples, you’ll have no difficulties creating architectural models of any size, type, or style.

Besides providing its users with extensive knowledge relating to detailed and top-quality 3D modeling techniques, this book also deals with the necessary skills required for landing any job in this unique and quite versatile industry.

In simple words, if you’re an architect wanting to extend your knowledge and skillset in the 3D industry and effectively present it to your potential clients, read this book to find out how.

7.   AutoCAD 2020 Instructor

Another excellent publication created explicitly for the Autodesk programs is AutoCAD 2020 Instructor. From 2019, this book serves as a perfect guide for Autodesk 2D or 3D modeling. This is what makes this book set apart from the rest on this list. It can be used during various 2D or 3D modeling courses and classes or as a self-learning tool.

Written by three great authors, James A. Leach, Shawna Lockhart, and Eric Tilleson, this work is suitable for a wide range of skillsets. Based on the Autodesk menu organization, the book starts with some essential Autodesk commands and features, only to slowly progress towards more complex tasks and procedures.

AutoCAD 2020 Instructor is among the most used modeling and rendering books in history, with its wide use in universities. Because of its in-depth analysis, detailed explanation, simple approach, and numerous figures and illustrations, it’s no wonder this book reached such success worldwide.

8.   Digital Lighting and Rendering

Digital Lighting and Rendering is another book with great success and extraordinary acceptance by the public. With two editions behind it, Jeremy Birn wrote the third and so-far the latest edition to replace the older versions with two editions behind it.

Although published in 2013, this book is still packed with useful advice and techniques about rendering. It has a more traditional approach than most of the newly-released publications, which some people prefer. The tips and tricks mentioned in this work are universal and applicable to numerous programs and software used for lighting and rendering, as it doesn’t focus on only one program.

For architects, this book offers a thorough and in-depth explanation of every process, which is great for all beginners. After reading Digital Lighting and Rendering, you’ll have an improved and more efficient way of utilizing the tools for better lighting angles and quality of your 3D models. Furthermore, you’ll also refine your rendering skills and create more believable 3D projects.

9.   Great Talks About Photo Realism

Great Talks About Photo Realism is a book with a completely different approach to 3D visualization. It combines the stories of 9 different 3D artists into one big compilation surrounding the 3D world and CGI topic. With different stories, approaches, and ways of thinking, the readers gain access to techniques and methods of 9 outstanding 3D artists, all functioning in their own way.

Learning about 3D modeling, architectural visualization, and rendering doesn’t have to be monotonous and boring. For architects, this is a chance to explore the world of 3D and CGI in a more inspiring and storytelling manner. Nine artists carefully describe their stories, paths to success, methods, and much more during many years of hard work, ups and downs, and most importantly, persistence.

It’s a great way to get introduced to 3D artistry and become inspired by some extraordinary artists worldwide. Besides mesmerizing stories, this compilation is also filled with useful information required for 3D modeling and rendering.

After reading this book, we’re sure you’ll become motivated to start your own 3D rendering experience with great aspiration and ambition following you through each step of this journey.

10.                        Light for Visual Artists

The final book on our list is primarily intended for visual artists, but anyone working with light can surely benefit from it. Light for Visual Artists focuses on the role of light, its effect on the atmosphere of the picture, and which emotions it evokes in viewers.

As an architect, you’ll aim towards the efficient yet effective use of lighting in your 3D models and renders, so reading this book can assist you in the ways of achieving that.

Even if you’re a complete beginner in the 3D industry, don’t be intimidated by this book. It’s filled with illustrations, step-by-step guides, and easily understandable language, which all make this work appropriate for people on all levels of lighting expertise.

Additionally, the book stays strictly on the topic and doesn’t wander off – it’s a concise, quick, and easy read for anyone trying to improve their lighting use.


The books mentioned above serve a great purpose for anyone trying to get into the 3D rendering world or simply improve their skills. All ten books are equally good, and it’s up to you which one you prefer or need more for your architecture projects.

Either way, make sure to carefully go through the list and purchase the titles that can help you achieve great results in the future.