In today’s world of interior design, your ability to accurately and convincingly convey the finished work to the client is of paramount concern. You’re never going to sell your value as a designer unless you can paint them a picture before a single color swatch is send out for bid. Luckily, rendering and visualization software gives designers the tools they need to show rather than tell.
However, for designers looking to dip their feet in the world of digital artwork, the endless swath of available programs can be incredibly overwhelming. Each piece of modeling, rendering, and animation software comes with different strengths and weaknesses. This list of 5 programs should include everything you might need to start producing photo-realistic images that will emphatically show you’re the right designer for the job
Not only is Blender the prohibitive all-in-one visualization program, it gets beamed directly to your hard drive at exactly zero cost to you. It is completely open-source and has been developed over the past decade and a half by the community of artists who use it most. It is both incredibly deep and easy to pick-up - something few available programs can claim. Blender uses a proprietary unbiased rendering engine called ‘Cycles,’ and the results speak for themselves. For interior design, few other programs will provide you with the modeling and rendering tools to show off the best side of your work.
SketchUp is probably the first program you should learn - especially if you are just starting to acquaint yourself with digital visualization. It is incredibly easy to learn, and can quickly give you an idea of spatial organization, materiality, and color schemes. In addition, there is a veritable treasure trove of community built components such as furniture, lighting fixtures, and scale figures you can easily plug into your designs to give them a bit of conceptual pop. Google interfaces seamlessly with renderers such as VRAY and Blender, so going from concept model to photo-realistic finished image is quick and painless.
While not the most high-fidelity piece of interior design software, HomeStyler does have a lot to offer interior designers looking to quickly populate a room with materials, furniture, and lighting. It is a drag-and-drop style program that gives you the power to populate a scene depending on the size of a room, orientation, and window and door openings. It’s great for getting the feel for a space, and for sitting down with a client to quickly run through ideas before moving on to fine-tune things on a more professional looking visualization tool.
If you’re looking for the powerhouse combination of visualization software, look no further. These are the cadillac tools of the visualization business (they’ll cost you just about as much, too). These are the programs most large firms and design offices use to produce their interior renderings, and they come with not only a hefty price tag but a steep learning curve. However, if you’re willing to put in the time (and the funds) you’ll be rewarded with the kind of 3D visualization work that puts you on magazine covers.
If there were ever a dark horse in the race for best 3D renderer, my money would be on Lumion. It is quickly climbing the ranks of visualization software for its ease-of-use and incredibly realistic image results. In addition, Lumion comes with real-time rendering capabilities that allow you to work on a scene, swap out materials and change lighting while live-previewing the finished rendering product. It cuts down on production time, and lets you tweak things with the client on the fly.