Architectural 3D Rendering: 5 Steps Every Professional Should Take
A large futuristic building surrounded by treesArchitectural 3D Rendering: 5 Steps Every Professional Should Take

Architectural 3D rendering is slowly replacing time-consuming and expensive photography. It opens up a new world of possibilities, helping 3D artists turn any idea into a high-quality visual that tells a compelling story. Their clients can see how their projects will look and what emotions they’ll evoke, helping them make informed decisions.

That’s all well and good, but where do you even start? How to create a breathtaking, photorealistic architectural 3D render to impress a client and stand out from the crowd?

Take the following steps to design fantastic visuals and make your portfolio shine.

1. Adopt the latest trends.

You can’t evolve as a 3D artist if you don’t keep up with the latest trends. You may have exceptional design skills but trends ebb and flow, reshaping the face of architecture. What matters today might not be relevant in the future, while new ideas might transform the world as we know it.

Stay up to date with architectural design trends to remain relevant, hone your skills, leave clients in awe of your work, and inspire fellow 3D artists.

For instance, immersive technology is all the rage these days. You can use VR and AR in the conceptual stage to show clients how particular designs and engineering will come together. Interactive AR and VR experiences are ideal for showing how ideas turn into reality.

Another emerging trend in architecture is addressing climate change and depleting natural resources. You can develop sustainable designs that save energy and reduce waste.

Adopt every trend focusing on improving architectural designs, never forgetting that storytelling is the key to triggering positive emotions and unlocking the full power of 3D visualizations.

2. Add natural imperfections.

Unplanned imperfections can ruin a 3D render, but their strategic counterparts can do wonders for the design.

Look around you. Is everything you see symmetrical? Is every object clean, glossy, and geometrically perfect? Of course not; even your body is asymmetrical.

Creating a perfect 3D render means embracing those imperfections. They will make it more familiar, realistic, and engaging.

Don’t focus too much on arranging objects in a perfect line and placing them at the same angle. That won’t make the composition life-like.

Streets aren’t squeaky clean, so put a smudge of dirt here and there, ensuring it doesn’t draw the attention away from the essential elements. It should only add context that enhances the story. Think about the texture, too. For instance, poured concrete isn’t seamless; it has tiny bumps and patches.

Use the bevel technique to add a slight rounding effect to various objects’ edges and corners. Ultra-sharp corners and edges don’t look realistic – not even knives have them.

If you look at the 3D render above, you’ll see the green spaces have that bevel effect along the corners to appear more natural. You’ll also notice that no two trees are alike, as nature intended.

Copy-pasting objects won’t do you any favor, primarily when adding multiple elements in the same category, such as trees, bushes, and flowers. After all, they’re not clones in the real world.

3. Create a beautiful composition.

Correlating artistic and conceptional principles to create a balance is the key to designing visually-appealing 3D objects. That harmonious composition is vital to organize single elements in a strategic, natural way that makes a whole, capturing and holding the viewer’s attention.

Always start with the compositional center that instantly grabs attention, such as the building in the 3D render above. Accentuate it using different shapes, colors, or contrasts like the metal strips hugging the two towers in our render and the surrounding trees’ green, pink, and orange leaves.

Be careful not to put too much visual weight on one part of the image. For instance, our 3D render visually balances out the right-hand compositional center with dark clouds in the upper left corner, preventing it from looking empty and bland.

When in doubt, use the rule of thirds, or better yet, the golden ratio.

4. Have a consistent theme.

You can’t switch from one theme to another in a single 3D visualization. Trying to tell multiple stories would lead you nowhere; it would only confuse your client, maybe even making them opt for another 3D artist.

Consistency and interconnection are your best friends.

Take the 3D render above, for example. The tree leaves tell you it’s summer, while the visual temperature and sunlight reflecting on the building indicate dusk.

Consider the time of day, season, and weather conditions when adding natural and artificial light, placing shadows and reflections, and choosing colors for the sky and vegetation.

Carefully think about every object – they shouldn’t look out of place.

5. Add small details to improve realism.

Imperfections and thematic elements help enhance realism in 3D renders, but other details also play their part.

People, animals, vehicles, vegetation, and other elements can bring your 3D renders to life, adding context and setting the desired atmosphere.

Street lights (ensuring they’re on only when depicting a building at night), street signs, and fallen leaves under the trees are more contextual elements that make an architectural structure more life-like and inviting.

Be careful not to overdo it when adding contextual elements because you wouldn’t want to distract viewers from the focal point and the actual story.

Don’t forget to scale your objects correctly; triple-check to ensure they match their real-world measurements.


Architectural 3D rendering may seem challenging to a beginner, but it’s an exciting process that quickly drives away all insecurities and fears of making mistakes.

It’s a rewarding journey that helps you hone your skills, learn from mistakes, and join the ranks of the best 3D artists of our time.

You have plenty more to learn than the tips above, but they’re fundamentals that every professional follows. They’ll help you mesmerize clients and always get the green light.

As they say, the devil is in the details, and mastering these will help you breathe new life into all your architectural designs. They’re your springboard to a bright future brimming with lively, attention-grabbing, photorealistic renders.