Architectural Visualization and Real-Time Ray Tracing
Architectural Visualization and Real-Time Ray Tracing

Modern architecture is developing more every day, and ways to present the concepts in your head to others are more available than ever. That has always been a problem for architects because the detailed design in their heads sometimes had a hard time showing up on paper in a way that the customer could understand.

That concept of showing your ideas had become much easier when we gained access to new technologies, which we will be discussing below. It’s important to mention that the software is nowhere near as pricey it was once it first showed up, and today it’s much more accessible to anyone.

In this article, we’ll be explaining the concepts of both architectural visualization and real-time ray tracing and rendering and why it is that they work so well together to bring a more immersive and realistic experience to anyone viewing your design.

What is Architectural Visualization?

Architectural visualization is the process of transferring your idea for a project to paper, or what we’ll be referring to in this text, a 3D model. It’s the best way to present what you have going on in your head without misunderstandings with the customer.

Allowing the customer to look at the 3D model cuts down on any second opinions and changes that they would like to implement when the project is already underway, and the building company has already started working.

It’s time-saving, as there are ways to speed up your visualization process, and it will give both you and the customer a clear view of what you have in mind, allowing all the parties involved to make changes while it’s still easy to do so, and without messing with the plans midway through the building phase.

How Does it Work?

The way it works is that you can render your 3D model in a program and include as many details as you want, from the surroundings and backgrounds to textures and lighting, meaning you can make a detailed and stunning visual the customer can explore. That way, they can tell you early on what they like and what has room to be improved in their opinion.

You can even add smaller models of furniture, paintings, and similar accessories to make a virtual tour of your 3D model you can take customers on to show them what you’ve imagined. It’s also not just for the customer; you can also draw inspiration from your work and use the 3D model to think about what could be added or changed around.

Which Programs Are Used?

Here, we’ll be discussing a couple of programs that are the most popular for architectural visualization and why you should consider giving them a chance. The program you use can make a world of difference when it comes to realizing your ideas, and you should find one that goes together with both your architectural and artistic views.


Artlantis is a visualization program specifically engineered for architects and designers to make their vision come to life in a high-definition realistic portrayal. It offers some advanced shaders and photo-realistic models you can implement into your design to make it feel like you are actually there.


FurryBall is a GPU based rendering software that’s very easy to use and accomplish great-looking results. Its main advantage is its real-time preview system that allows you to make changes to your model very quickly and see the preview of how the adjustment would look like without doing the full render. This makes it very time-conserving and lets you make tweaks to your design along the way.


Corona is a fairly new addition to the roster of software you can choose from to bring your vision to life, and it does exactly that without complicated processes to get it to run the way you need it to. The simplified user interface makes it much easier to manipulate your creation to get what you want with it. It also allows you to control which options are integrated into your presentation to keep the load of high-definition rendering on your PC as low as possible.

Of course, there are other programs you can look into and determine which one will be the best suited for your experience and which one you simply prefer. You can also choose software associated with the hardware you are using, as some GPU options provide specific programs tied to them. There are also some free programs that can be used for visualization, that you can give a shot to try yourself out.

Also, many architects and designers lately have been praising Unreal Engine as a tool that can be used, even though it’s initially meant for video game development. It’s yet to live up to its potential as an architectural visualization tool, but it’s definitely on its way to becoming one of the more popular ones.

Real-Time Ray Tracing Explained

Real-time ray tracing is a concept that lets you include realistic lighting into your 3D model by calculating which pixels would be influenced by the light source of your choosing and changing their color slightly to achieve the effect of the model being more realistic. It will give the model depth and shadows that improve the immersion of whoever is looking at it and make the model seem more natural.

The real-time part means that as you move around the model, the light source stays static, but the lighting changes based on the perspective you are looking from. So you can theoretically, in real-time, move around your model and see how the rays of either an external or an internal light source fall onto objects and make the experience seem way more realistic.

Real-Time Ray Tracing and Real-Time Rendering

Combining real-time ray tracing and rendering lets you make changes to your design much more quickly and create things like stunning panoramas and 360° animations of your model. What’s even better is that you can change the lighting to show your 3D model in both day and night conditions and see how it looks in both.

That allows you to play with internal and external light sources to make your model feel grounded and realistic. Real-time rendering has been on the rise lately, simply because it shortens the long rendering process we’ve been using up until now. It lets you see the results of your changes right away.

Immersive Realism

The combination of real-time rendering and tracing in your visualization makes an immersive experience that will help all the parties involved to understand your vision better and see how the final product will look with extraordinary detail and accuracy. The realistic view of your creation can very much help in explaining and promoting it to the client.

With real-time rendering, you can quickly add effects that enhance the realism of your model, and the depth and shadows provided by ray tracing give the viewer depth of field and make them feel like what they are seeing is achievable and can look just like the model.

Giving the customer a more realistic view while implementing their changes fast is an excellent way to ensure they see your model’s potential. Being able to make adjustments in real-time will save so much of the back-and-forth between you and the client, saving both of you large amounts of otherwise wasted time.

Lights Create The Atmosphere

The lighting of the room can influence not just the look but also the atmosphere of the room. When it comes to interior design, natural light can make the room seem more open, vibrant, and even bigger. Using this simple trick can present your design in the best way and enhance the interior design decisions you’ve already made, like the layout of the furniture and the colors that will blend and pop out when presented in natural light.

Lighting isn’t only crucial in interior design, as your model can look much better from the outside as well when viewed in proper natural light. With the improved technology, you can choose to display the model in bright daylight, during a sunset, or even at night.

When it comes to showing your design off in a dark setting, artificial light sources become hugely important. Not only can the model look better and warmer when you show internal light sources from the outside, but you can also add external light sources in certain spots that will accentuate and bring forward certain parts of the 3D render.

You Need The Latest Hardware Support

To use the software that allows you to make your 3D models very realistic and make them beautiful along the way, you need the hardware that can support your efforts. That means that without a strong PC configuration, you won’t be able to use many of the programs that make your life easier.

You’ll need both a strong CPU and GPU, no matter what your preferred program uses, as well as plenty of working memory to make your rendering process and the final product run smoothly. You will need a good CPU no matter what to run your program without it lagging and annoying you in the process. A stable GPU is also necessary to make your vision come to life.

Many people opt for Nvidia’s GPU models as they have a wide array of programs and applications that they are compatible with. However, you can also choose an AMD model and use their specialized programs like AMD Radeon ProRender and OpenCL. Whichever model you go for, it will need to have a substantial memory to render a lot of textures and layers.

It’s the Future

Using these modern technologies truly is the future of architecture, allowing architects and designers to represent their ideas to customers more easily and quickly. It’s expected that innovation will not halt at just 3D visualization or real-time rendering, but it will expand into other IT sectors.

One of the predicted jumps is into Virtual Reality, which could theoretically take your clients on a first-person tour of your model. Just imagine someone being able to walk around and see your design from the perspectives just like they would in the real thing.

It opens up so many opportunities. We are looking forward to what the future brings to the table when it comes to new software that allows us to visualize and render our imagination. There are even possibilities to include 3D modeling and printing into both architecture and construction, which seem very exciting, and sound almost like science fiction.


Modern architecture is unimaginable without appropriately modern visualization, and luckily, there are ways that you can step your game up and create some stunning visuals just by employing a couple of techniques such as real-time ray tracing. 3D rendering does require a lot of time, but with real-time rendering previews and effects, it can be cut down by quite a bit.

The future is now, and the options we have at our disposal to bring our vision to life are countless, so don’t hesitate to use them to the maximum of your capabilities. That way, you can create a model that your client will like and, more importantly, one you will be proud of.