A Guide on Including People in Your Exterior 3D Visualizations
A stunning residential neighbourhood with pedestrian-rich pathways and park areasA Guide on Including People in Your Exterior 3D Visualizations

Exterior 3D visualizations showcase how particular structures look from the outside, often including aerial views and close-ups to highlight all details like textures, materials, and various design intricacies.

That’s all well and good, but the best 3D renders provide context. Contextual elements like people, animals, vehicles, trees, blooming flowers, and birds flying in the sky can convey a warm, friendly atmosphere. They can bring every 3D visualization to life, setting the mood and making the place more inviting.

Adding 3D people models to your exterior 3D renders will awaken your clients’ imagination, helping them envision themselves living or working at the visualized location. Your creations will evoke positive emotions and warm up every client to the project.

However, it takes time to master this skill; it’s not as straightforward as you may think. You can’t place 3D models of people everywhere and expect flawless results. Too many contextual elements can distract viewers from the focus point (e.g., apartment complex or office building).

You must strike a balance and choose suitable models to create your clients’ desired atmosphere.

Before diving deeper into this matter, it’s crucial to know that people shouldn’t find their way to your every 3D visualization.

Not all visualizations should include people.

Contextual design elements like people work like a charm in architectural visualizations, including residential properties, commercial buildings, and public spaces.

Take the 3D render above, for example. It shows a lovely residential neighbourhood with paved pathways, lush trees, evergreen and flowering shrubs, garden areas, and people enjoying their time. You can see couples taking a leisurely walk, children playing, a woman jogging, someone riding a bicycle, and a family gardening.

All those elements convey a warm, cosy, family-friendly atmosphere inviting you to become part of it. The render looks so realistic that you can smell the greenery and feel the cool breeze on your face. You can’t help but imagine yourself living there.

That’s the point of these hyper realistic visualizations that turn excitement and curiosity to the maximum.

However, while people can make a particular place more welcoming, some visualizations might work better without them.

Unless your client specifically requests including people, omit them if it doesn’t make sense to populate a particular 3D render. If it doesn’t benefit from that context, focus on the structure your client wants to build, including any other element that fits the environment.

Additionally, if you don’t have the appropriate entourage for a particular environment, you might not want to populate it. Adding 3D people models perfect for urban spaces to a visualization of a barn on a greenfield would look far from realistic. 3D animal models might hit the bullseye in that situation.

Create a narrative.

Merely adding people to your exterior 3D visualizations isn’t enough to make them realistic and trigger positive emotions. The entourage you use must create a narrative to convey the right message and leave your clients in awe.

The 3D render above is a perfect representation of that. It tells a story of family, community, togetherness, comfort, and safety. It paints a picture of a carefree environment and ties back to the residential complex’s purpose and the target audience’s needs.

The best thing about it is the multi-layered narrative. The primary story with several families unfolds in the foreground, while the background introduces a bicycle rider and someone relaxing on a patio.

Still, even a single narrative can bring life to your visualizations and leave your clients with the intended takeaway.

Choose a style and stick to it.

You have two primary options when creating exterior 3D visualizations: focusing on usage or opting for an editorial style.

The former is typically what most clients ask for – showcasing how their target audience will use a specific place, like in the 3D render above. You can use it to highlight a particular building or space’s features and benefits, presenting it in the best possible light.

The editorial style puts people in the foreground. Think editorial photography in fashion magazines, for example. It focuses on people, making them the eye-catching focal point. However, they connect to the overall building’s brand and primary idea.

Consider placement options.

Once you have your narrative and style, it’s time to place your 3D people models in suitable spots to tell your unique story and highlight the essential elements.

Let’s refer to our 3D render again. It shows groups of people in different positions showcasing what you can do in that neighbourhood, including walking, gardening, exercising, playing, and hanging out.

The effect would be entirely different if all the actors were in one place, shifting the focus away from the buildings and making the visualization feel unbalanced.

Always consider what your clients want to see to place your people adequately. Experimenting with composition, including the horizon line and the path guiding the viewer’s eye, will help create a dynamic, visually-pleasing scene.

Show practicality and functionality.

Showing a particular structure or environment’s practicality and functionality is crucial to help your client make an informed decision. People in your 3D render are ideal for showing how the space will function.

That’s pretty self-explanatory, and our 3D render shows it perfectly.

Adding 3D people models for the sake of it isn’t nearly enough. Considering their placement, body language, and facial expressions is the key to presenting how actual people will use a specific building or spend time in a particular environment.


People in your exterior 3D visualizations are ideal for adding meaningful context and breathing life into your 3D renders. They add the human touch that evokes emotions, sets the mood, and makes you want to experience a specific 3D atmosphere in real life.

However, too many contextual elements can distract viewers, and their placement can make or break your 3D renders. So, always create a balance that helps tell the story and present every project in the best light.