Equipping Yourself With the Right Tools as a 3D Visualizer
Equipping Yourself With the Right Tools as a 3D Visualizer

Every design project goes through multiple stages, with 3D animation usually being the final step. It’s important because it shows the final design in its true glory, and it’s used to present the project to potential customers and clients.

3D rendering is a time-consuming process that puts your computer under stress. While most 3D visual programs put the strain on your CPU, some of them are designed to put your GPU under stress and keep your processor free for other tasks.

Not all rendering software works the same, and there are many different extensions and plugins you can play around with to make sure that your projects get a unique look. With that said, you should know that the market is full of rendering programs, so picking the one that fits your style could be a complicated task.

You first have to find the right software, and then expand it with various plugins to get what you need. Below you will find a list of the best rendering software and architecture apps that will allow you to create some amazing 3D designs.

Rendering and Visualization Software

Radeon ProRender

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on render software as there are dozens of free options with advanced features you can use to create breathtaking 3D renders. One of them is the Radeon ProRender by AMD. It’s quickly becoming one of the most popular 3D rendering programs that utilize both your CPU and GPU.

The software is designed for AMD GPU users, and it offers a complete experience that allows you to get the most out of your PC. Since it uses both your PC’s GPU and CPU simultaneously, you can use it to create real-time rendering using any software of your choice. As a result, you will improve your workflow and efficiency, especially when designing complex scenes.

The software comes with an interactive denoiser that cleans your final renders to perfection. The best thing about it is that it works with all popular 3D rendering software, including Maya, SolidWorks, 3ds Max, Modo, Unreal Engine, and many others.


If you’re looking for a unique GPU-based rendering software that’s super-easy to use and that comes with a real-time preview system, FurryBall is an excellent choice. The software allows you to edit scenes while getting previews of potential renders without waiting for the final render. That allows you to improve your workflow and get things done much faster.

The software is used widely for VFX rendering and animated films. It has a standalone rendering viewport that can be integrated with other software, including Cinema 4D, Maya, and 3ds Max. FurryBall is an excellent program that makes rendering jobs much easier, especially if you’re a beginner.


Arnold is a CPU-based rendering software that was widely used by Sony Pictures studio called Imageworks. It’s a raytracing render software that provides real-time rendering that allows you to make changes on the go.

Everything you do is then included in the calculations, allowing you to get more work done faster. The software will enable you to do anything you can think of, which provides unprecedented control over the final design.

Today, Arnold is widely used for creating effects, as it supports volumetrics. Another great thing about it is that it comes with an intuitive node-based material editor with hundreds of presets with more being added regularly by the entire Arnold community.

The software also works with popular plugins such as Houdini, 3ds Max, Katana, and Maya.


Artlantis is somewhat of a special 3D rendering software developed for the needs of designers and architects. It comes with a massive selection of presets with indoor and outdoor lighting allowing you to make super-fast renders.

All the materials available in this software are physically based, allowing you to create some breathtaking photorealistic designs. When you consider that it also comes with advanced shaders, you will have plenty of rendering options for your projects.

One of the unique features is the built-in render manager you can use to distribute the rendering load over multiple computers connected through a local network. That speeds up the final render and makes it easier for designers to prepare multiple projects simultaneously. Artlantis enables you to produce ultra-high-resolution 3D renderings, as well as VR objects, sequences, and iVisit 360 panoramas.


Corona came out of nowhere and became one of the most popular photorealistic 3D rendering software because it’s super-easy to use.

Unlike many other similar programs that come with hundreds of tools and complicated UI, Corona keeps things simple, allowing you to get things done quickly with little or no setup needed. It’s a CPU-based software designed to improve workflow and make all rendering projects more straightforward than ever before.

The beauty of this software comes from its flexibility when it comes to realism. It allows you to turn off various characteristics to keep the load off your PC. The emphasis of the renders is more focused on art than realism.

That means that you can play around with colors and reflections at will. It’s one of the simplest 3D rendering software on the market, making it a popular choice among designers worldwide.

Architecture apps

AutoCAD Mobile

AutoCAD is the most famous 3D app, and now it’s available for mobile devices as well. AutoCAD Mobile works the same way it does on computers. Architects can use it to create, edit, and share their work on mobile devices. It works well as an extension of the standard desktop software, allowing you to share your work on multiple platforms in DWG format.

It’s currently the most popular mobile app among architects as it offers all kinds of advanced features. They include working on projects on the go, support for multiple layers, and an easy way to improve existing designs anywhere and at any time.

Once you’re happy with the changes you made, you can upload your new designs in the desktop version of the program, allowing you to save time in the process.


Graphisoft’s BIMx is the best option if you use ARCHICAD for your designs. The app allows you to share your projects directly with clients, and it offers full control over all BIM projects. The work you do is shared through a could interface that allows you to continue working from other devices at any moment.

Bix shines as a tool that makes the switch between the design studio and the construction site seamless. Constructors can use it to check what needs to be done without using any printed plans.

The software allows access to all BIM content, including construction drawings, 3D models, and so on. It utilizes the hyper-model technology that allows easy navigation in all 2D and 3D projects. It’s also compatible with Google Cardboard VR, which gives you an immersive experience that makes it easy to visualize any design in 3D. The app works with both Android and iOS devices alike.

Autodesk FormIt

Autodesk FormIt is an excellent choice for all 3D sketching and environment analysis designs. It is a part of the Autodesk Architecture, Engineering & Construction collection that includes other software such as Autocad, Revit, and a few more.

It offers a similar set of features as SketchUp, but with a more intuitive 3D sketching across multiple platforms. The conceptual design allows you to focus on all conceptual problems such as defining location, layers, scenes, materials, massing, etc.

After that’s done, you can continue your work in Revit at any time. The tool comes with dozens of 3D sketching tools, advanced geometry, and seamless integration with Revit.

It also offers an impressive set of advanced features like compute integration with Dynamo, advanced materials, BIM 360 integration, and integrated energy analysis. It’s the perfect choice for architects who want to improve their designs on the go.


ARki is different from all other apps on our list because it allows visualization of 3D projects in augmented reality. That means that you can see your designs in full 3D, which allows you to get a better idea of how they look in reality.

The app is so good at what it does – it has already received multiple awards. It has proven to be a powerful tool for making interactive presentations and storytelling, and it’s used by professional architects far and wide.

The app allows you to import multiple models and create dynamic layers. The full-scale option can bring your 3D models to life in real-time, making it the perfect tool for presentations. ARki allows you to import projects from different software, including Maya, Blender, SketchUp, ArchiCAD, Revit, and many others.

You can use the app to visualize models of any scale, and it also creates shadows and lighting effects. Imagine looking at your design on a 1:1 scale through your tablet’s screen. The future is here!


Sketchbook is an app by Autodesk, and it offers an intuitive way of drawing and painting objects no matter how much experience you might have. If you like to draw, Sketchbook will blow you away. It works great as a professional tool for architects, but it’s also easy to use if you only want an app you can use to draw and paint.

The app comes with a few advanced tools, such as the time-lapse recording tool that captures the entire drawing process on the screen. You can create short time-lapse videos that show exactly how much effort it takes to come up with a design.

The captured video can then be used in ads, social network pages, and other forms of marketing. It’s an excellent app that can help you create impressive sketches on your way to work and back.

Equipment and Space

Every architect needs enough room to be able to do his job. While many professionals design most of their projects in 3D software, most ideas are born on a piece of paper. Designing any kind of architecture is a long, detailed process that usually starts with a classic sketch and a rough design on paper.

Here is a short overview of the most crucial equipment every architect needs to become successful at what they do.

Drafting Table

Every architect needs a drafting table to draw projects. These tables feature a flat surface with a soft rubber cover and a slide ruler. Drafting tables are specially designed to allow you to make perfect horizontal lines that are always parallel.

While these tables are widely used for technical drawing, most architects prefer to use it for free-hand sketching. With that said, it’s one of the most important pieces of equipment for every architect.

Messenger Bag

The messenger bag is a purse with enough room for everything an architect needs. It’s the bag an architect takes to work, construction sites, and anywhere in between. The bag has enough room to fit a sketchbook, tape measure, scale, tablet, drawings, notes, and other items you might need on the job.

iPad or Tablet

If you’re one of those who like to take their work outdoors, getting an iPad or a tablet is a must. Why? Well, these small devices allow you to work on your designs wherever you want. They are very handy, and you can also use them as a laptop to take notes on meetings, sketch designs, and so on.

When you start using one of these devices, you will use far less paper, pens, and other equipment.

Not to mention that everything you do will stay saved on the device, which means you can just export your projects and continue working on them on your computer. You won’t have to worry about losing your papers, as everything you need is saved on the device itself.

Once you switch to using an iPad or a Tablet, you will improve your workflow, and your job will become much easier.

Multiple Types of Pens

Every real architect has a wide selection of different pens in their bag. While pens are quickly losing their importance, you will still need at least three different types. You will surely need a pentel sign pen, really a remarkably versatile tool that allows you to draw super-thin lines very accurately. Keep in mind that these pens become less accurate over time, so change them frequently.

Then, you’ll also need a pilot razor point pen that feels like using a pencil. It also leaves a mark that looks like a pencil, but the difference is that you won’t ever have to sharpen it. It’s ideal for sketching and drawing when you’re short on time.

Lastly, you’ll need a red pen to be able to highlight important areas of your sketches. It will also allow you to add accents to original designs, and you can fill in some areas to make them more visible. It’s a useful tool that will help you speed up the design process using advanced tools and software.


Designing buildings and 3D objects can take a lot of time and effort. However, today, things are much easier than, let’s say, 20-30 years ago, because architects can use all kinds of advanced software to render and visualize their designs quickly.

Some programs even allow you to use augmented reality to get a super-realistic view of your projects and make changes before any construction starts. By combining everything on our list, you will be able to create some incredible designs, but only if you put your mind to it.