Can I Learn Architectural Rendering on my Own?
Can I Learn Architectural Rendering on my Own?

Architectural rendering has transformed the way we think about architecture forever. It’s a process that allows designers to recreate an architectural design before the construction phase even starts. That way, everyone involved can fully visualize a building and make sure it’s built according to plan.

However, mastering the craft of architectural rendering is not easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to master all the software tools you need to create a photo-realistic 3D render.

Most architects use 3D rendering in their work, and many of them learned how to do it outside of school. If you’re looking to become a 3D designer, here are a few tips that will help you get there sooner.

Official education isn’t crucial

Even though architectural rendering is a complex process, most designers learned their skills outside of school. While there are plenty of advanced courses in 3D rendering in many architecture universities in the past few years, the vast majority of professionals are self-thought.

With that said, you can’t even think about 3D modeling and rendering without a keen eye for details and an excellent spatial awareness. After all, you have to imagine how a design will look in the end before drawing the first line.

If you’re great at drawing buildings and models, you can learn how to create designs in 3D. It will probably take a few years until you master every step of the rendering process, but your effort will be worth the time in the end.

If you think that you need to go to a college or a special 3D rendering school, you’re wrong. Doing so will probably help you learn the ropes faster, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t do everything yourself if you just try hard enough. It shouldn’t be too hard to find tutorials, expert tips, and detailed explanations online that will help you learn how to become a 3D rendering master.

You will have to put in serious effort

Learning new skills is never easy, and learning how to create photo-realistic designs using software is more complicated than most people think. Mastering rendering software with all of its tools takes a lot of time, but when it comes to 3D rendering, you have to learn other skills as well.

For example, you have to understand how different design elements correlate to each other. The biggest problem for most 3D designers is the correct use of shading and colors.

Once you start working on your rendering skills, you’ll encounter problems during every design phase. Every step will come with its own challenges, and that won’t stop even when you master the process. Every design is unique, and many of them usually require you to think outside the box.

Becoming a true architectural rendering pro takes a lot of time and effort, so don’t expect it to be easy. If it was simple, everyone would do it. One last tip, once you pick the rendering software you want to use, you should stick to it until you master every tool.

Be meticulous and don’t skip any step

One of the most important things to keep in mind when learning how to design buildings in 3D is that every detail matters. Sure, you might be better at some steps than others, but the most important thing is to focus on everything with the same care and meticulous approach.

Let’s say that you’ve put a few days into creating a realistic model of a building or interior, but you don’t take the time to pick the right colors and lighting. The result won’t be believable or impressive, even though it looked perfect until the last few steps. Also, don’t forget that the surroundings have to be as believable as the model itself.

Many different details can make or break a 3D render – something as simple as picking the right angle for the design can be crucial in the end. The choice of textures is also essential. You don’t want your final results to look perfect. It’s the small imperfections in texture and shapes that make a design believable.

The truth is that an architectural render requires a lot of time and focus to create. You’ll be competing against people who are much better in 3D rendering than you are, so every single element counts.

The good news is that you’ll get better over time, so you’ll be able to speed things up, but even so, you should take the same approach for every project. Don’t be afraid to experiment with textures, shapes, lighting, and shadows, and in the end, you’ll be able to create some awe-inspiring designs.

Find good online courses

One of the best things about the internet is that you can find tips, tutorials, guides, and walkthroughs on pretty much anything you can think of. The same goes for 3D architectural rendering. There are plenty of free online courses you can use to learn the basics of architectural rendering.

Once you figure out how your software works and get a better idea of the steps you have to take during the design phase, you should consider joining a paid online course.

These courses are usually held by real architects and 3D rendering experts with years of experience in the field. You can learn the most by working directly with recognized professionals, but don’t expect it to be easy or cheap. 3D architectural rendering is extremely popular these days, and since time is money, you will have to invest in learning new skills.

You should also be aware of the fact that one course won’t be enough. The best thing to do is to join special courses that focus only on one step of the design process. Start by joining a modeling course, followed by a photography course, lighting course, and so on.

The more skills you master, the better your final result will be. It will probably take you years until you’re able to create a realistic render, especially if the design is complex. You should keep joining courses even when you become a 3D designer, as new tools and practices are introduced all the time.

Learn through videos

Since architectural rendering is a visual practice, you can learn the most from watching videos. There are tons of YouTube channels where professional 3D modelers and designers share their knowledge, helping others learn advanced skills in the process. The best thing about these videos is that you’ll also learn the terminology and possibly even get access to documentation for further reading.

Most of these videos are about 30 minutes long, and each of them explains a specific part of the process. You should start with videos that explain how each tool is used and work your way up from there.

Apart from good motivation, you will also have to be very patient as some more difficult tasks take a long time to master. If you don’t get it the first time, you will have to replay the video over and over again until you do. However, if you’re serious about your intentions, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

No matter how good you become at rendering, there will always be something new to learn and play around with. Most professional designers spend a lot of time looking at other people’s methods online, as that helps them learn all of the tricks of the trade. The internet provides you with access to all the tutorials you could ever need.

Read rendering blogs

Just like videos, rendering blogs are an excellent source of useful information. As the industry keeps evolving with time, architects from all over the world find new ways of creating complex designs that were simply impossible before. They keep pushing the entire industry forward, so there’s always something new you can learn.

Architecture and rendering blogs can help you learn new skills and perfect your existing knowledge as well. Not only that, you’ll get a chance to experience the entire thought process behind a design, which is often more useful than any online tutorial. Some bloggers are happy to answer questions and help you with specific tasks, and that is also beneficial in the long run.

The bottom line is – the more sources you have, the better designer you will be. That’s why you should use everything available if you’re keen on becoming a professional 3D rendering designer. The lessons never stop, and you’ll learn that soon enough.

Check out other people’s work

Every artist can run out of inspiration after some time, and when that happens to you, looking at other people’s work can make a huge difference.


Well, as you may already know, every 3D designer has their own recognizable style that takes years to develop. However, once you reach your maximum, you might feel like all of your designs look similar. That’s perfectly normal, but whenever it occurs, productivity and creativity plummet.

The good news is that you can find thousands of architectural rendering design websites and pages on social media networks such as Facebook and Instagram. Some of them post the latest renders from the most famous architects and renders from all over the world. That gives you access to an unlimited number of ideas and designs that should help you get out of your comfort zone.

As an architectural designer, you can’t possibly think of everything yourself. Looking at other people’s work might spark a few ideas in your head and help you deal with more demanding design elements you couldn’t figure out alone.

The moment you start sorting through a sea of 3D renders, you will find a few solutions you never thought possible. That can help you think outside of the box and come up with your unique solutions.

As we mentioned earlier, architectural rendering is a practice that requires you to keep learning new skills and styles constantly, even if you’re a successful professional. Other people’s ideas will help you change the way you think and vice versa.

Talk to professionals

Last but not least, it’s always a good idea to connect with other like-minded professionals directly to exchange ideas and experiences. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a few architects and 3D rendering experts willing to share their knowledge.

What’s more, you will encounter people like that during every step of your learning stage. It’s almost impossible not to communicate with other professionals and reach the same level as them.

No matter how simple or complex a design might be, you are bound to run into hiccups and challenges you simply won’t know how to handle. In cases like those, two or three heads are better than one, which is why you should focus on connecting with as many designers as possible.

You can meet people, designers through their online classes, YouTube videos, blogs, websites, 3D rendering conventions, and so on. Getting a professional to look at your progress and the current project can help you get a different perspective on things. Sometimes that’s all you’ll need to find the solution you were looking for.

Once you get familiar with the software and other elements, talking to a professional might help you land a bigger project, or you might even get a job offer if you’re really good. The possibilities are endless, as long as you want to improve your skills and become a better architect.


The process of becoming a professional 3D architectural renderer is a never-ending process that depends only on you. If you’re looking to create a successful career as a rendering expert, you don’t have to go to any particular school. However, you will have to spend a lot of time and work hard to master the tools needed to get the job done.

With the right motivation, social connections, and access to high-quality resources, there is no reason why you couldn’t become a famous 3D designer. Good luck, you will need it!