Key Differences Between 2d and 3d Rendering in Architecture
Key Differences Between 2d and 3d Rendering in Architecture

With the overall advancement of our technology, 2D and 3D renderings became possible. The similarity between the two lies in the fact that they both allow you to make breath-taking architectural renderings.  Also, they both allow clients to see visualizations for particular projects.

However, they tend to produce different results in the end project. Namely, we can view a 2D rendering only from one angle, and rotating the representation is not an option. On the other hand, when it comes to 3D renderings, we can view the same focal point from literally any angle.

Making changes to 2D and 3D renderings differs quite a bit. Changing a 2D design is much easier. This is because a 3D rendering is more complex and has more features and elements that we need to alter to accomplish a particular change.

The creation process of the two differs as well, which we’ll delve deeper into further in the text. For now, it’s enough to know that creating 2D renderings requires an in-depth understanding of geometry. This is because 2D representations incorporate shapes, lines, and symmetry.

3D renderings, next to what 2D renderings require, also require a thorough understanding of mathematics. Without further ado, let’s look at architectural rendering more closely and see what makes 2D and 3D rendering so close yet distinct.

What is rendering in architecture?

Professionals from different backgrounds such as landscape architects, engineers, architects, clients, construction companies, and other specializations indulge in urban environments and architecture designs in general. Some even work on cinematic rendering for holograms.

Each of the mentioned categories of professionals has different needs and objectives when it comes to architectural rendering. For any project from the architectural branch to be successful, a “shared understanding” is essential to be reached between the two parties involved.

First and foremost, architectural rendering is a thorough process that involves transforming an architectural model into a realistically depicted visualization. We can expect a photorealistic image, clearly communicating relevant information, which helps avoid any misunderstandings.

The designers can present a particular project to their clients via a series of these renderings, which, in turn, are perfect for giving insight into the project before the construction phase begins. These renderings also allow changes to be made throughout the process, saving precious time and money.

How changes are made

Each of the two options (3D rendering and 2D rendering) has its advantages, strengths, benefits, and weaknesses. Both of them require professional artists to provide a project that can meet all the client’s requirements.

However, when it comes to making changes between the two types of rendering, there is a big difference that lies in the ease of making them. We can modify most 2D images with a lot less hassle than their 3D counterparts. For 2D renders, we also use much less complex software to create and modify them.

3D rendering is more complex, so the changes to it, in turn, require different skills. Furthermore, you can’t change only one element in a 3D render. All elements are interconnected at all times, so changing one can lead to altering all of them.

Better and more advanced software is also required for this since 3D rendering relies heavily on mathematics. Thus, changing such complex algorithms simply needs a better, more technologically advanced program.

On the other hand, a 2D image incorporates geometry (only lines, shapes, and symmetry), so we can safely say that 2D rendering is much simpler. As a result, you can change just one instance (or element) of a 2D rendering without affecting the others.

Still, it would be wrong to say that 3D rendering is “better” than 2D rendering. Quite the contrary – they are both equally important and have specific purposes. Yes, making changes for 2D rendering is more straightforward, but the visualization that comes with 3D designs has its benefits that 2D doesn’t.

To name just one, a client would always be more satisfied with seeing a 3D model he can interact with rather than a 2D one that doesn’t offer this option.

The process of creation

Creating 3D renderings, as opposed to 2D renderings, has a sort of a “head start”. In fact, the process of 3D renderings includes direct image control, which allows you to make changes without having too many complications.

Even though these two processes overlap considerably, both having the lighting feature and other aspects of 2D design, the software used for 2D models is much simpler. This is because one type of 3D rendering is built upon 2D rendering tech, but the other type is real 3D which differs from 2D significantly.

These differences include much higher perspectives of 3D rendering, as well as significantly better camera angles. The results that show these differences would be the following:

  • A 3D rendering would have a much more comprehensive look to the viewer;
  • 3D models put much more emphasis on details;
  • Details of 3D models cover each pixel involved in the image;
  • A perspective that offers high-quality depth is present only in 3D renderings;
  • The light and the shadows will appear to be much more natural in a 3D model;
  • The output of a 3D rendering process will be more dramatic and closer to reality;

Therefore, even if the processes of creating a 2D and 3D model overlap, the results will show significant differences when we get the completed project. Naturally, for 3D rendering, you’d need to find the best rendering software available on the market to make your rendering procedure as easy as possible.

Different perspectives

Different perspectives in two-dimensional and three-dimensional renderings are probably the fundamental difference between the two. This difference is based on perspective change and flexibility in this particular aspect of project design.

Namely, as mentioned in the introduction, 3D renderings, at their core, are all about mathematics and working with camera angles. But, on the other hand, there is no 2D rendering that allows you to work with camera angles.

Simply put, 2D rendering has nothing to do with math. 2D rendering is all about shapes and symmetry. Determining the right angle, which only 3D rendering allows, is not that easy to accomplish as one might think. After making a decision, we can make no changes afterward.

The camera angle is not just about which direction your camera will face. It’s more about provoking emotions and portraying spaciousness in your 3D rendering. Therefore, both interior and exterior designs have to be examined closely to find the right angle.

For exterior designs, you have to think about architectural components but also about the sky’s lighting. There’s also much to think about for interior ones. Some of these decisions include which part of the room you will put at the center or making that room look spacious and grand.

Knowledge required

A 3D visualizer should have well-polished relevant skills. First of all, such an artist would have to be familiar with and capable of handling CAD. In addition, that artist should also be capable of making a model and supervise a project with minimum sketches.

For this job position, artists need other skills as well. For example, skills working with camera animation, texturing, lighting, visual projects, and 3D architectural modeling. In addition, a 3D visualizer must also be able to create photorealistic animations of interior, exterior, and landscape visuals.

As far as a 2D visualizer or animator is concerned, they also have to be very skillful.

They have to develop storyboards based on a particular script, and that’s something 3D visualizers don’t need to deal with. Furthermore, they have to know how to create models, illustrations, and drawings.

They have to work well with choosing a style, general look or animation, and color palettes. And finally, they have to be able to work with setting up exposure sheets, animation, music, dialogues, etc. Their primary tools are pen and paper or computer software that includes models, puppets, or flipbooks.

Regardless of whether we are talking about 2D or 3D animators, they all have to work well with post-production since this inevitably comes up at a certain point.

Different benefits

The benefits of 3D and 2D rendering can be seen in numerous instances. For example, there are many business benefits of 3D rendering. Other than that, some of the most common uses are the following:

  1. 3D rendering is always attractive to clients – When you offer your clients a walkthrough of a design in question, it’s appealing to them to be able to see a very realistic rendering months before the project completion;
  2. 3D and 2D rendering offer the creation of exact drawings and representations – A hand-drawn sketch may seem fine, but it is nothing compared to a 3D rendering. The latter offers a highly presentable design and allows you to visualize everything in advance;
  3. You can troubleshoot before completion – Before the “building” phase of a project commences, you can spot all the possible flaws of a 3D rendering and correct them before it costs you money designated for construction.
  4. It’s cost-effective – 2D and 3D drawings are very cost-effective, and since “time is money” 3D rendering will also keep money in your pockets by allowing you to make updates throughout the project construction;
  5. It boosts the marketing experience – In real estate, usually, emotion makes all the decisions rather than pure logic. Being able to see the design, if you are a potential client, that will look heartwarming and realistic, will definitely make you invest in that particular project;

After all, 3D rendering is now somewhat of cultural heritage in architecture since it has been taking part in many well-established businesses for quite some time. There are, of course, other benefits to these, but for our purposes, this will serve as quite enough.

How to choose the right option

To determine the best option between 2D and 3D rendering, one must thoroughly analyze the differences between the two. Having tackled most of those differences above, you may want to look at some factors that will further help you make the right choice.

First of all, you need to decide which of these two types of renderings you would be more comfortable using. If geometry, in general, is closer to your understanding than mathematics, then 2D renderings should definitely be the way to go.

If, on the contrary, you have a better grasp of the space around you, and understand spatial orientation, then 3D rendering would be more suitable for you. In both cases, do not forget to consider future prospects and think about the current clients you have.

An architect always has to know how to convey all ideas clearly. So, for example, if what you witness is a client who gives a better response to a 3D rendering, even if they are not your favorite, you could focus on understanding their angle and improving the delivery of the products that the client in question requested.


As a process, rendering has had quite an evolution in our modern times. Earlier, only 3D model rendering was plausible, which was completed only by 2D artists. These artists are either creative designers or technical drafters. Now, much more can be achieved, as we have seen above.

We hope that this in-depth analysis of the differences between 2D and 3D renderings should have by now helped you be an individual that can tell between the two and know when to use which one. Like we have mentioned, there are numerous similarities, but the differences are also apparent.

In a nutshell, architectural rendering is a process through which two-dimensional or three-dimensional images we create for a particular architectural design. Both are essential, and both can illustrate a realistic representation of a building or a specific place before starting construction.