Architectural visualization is one of the greatest technologies that has quickly enveloped the entire architectural community – never has it been so easy to prepare a project, to the tiniest detail, with the help of sophisticated software; and have it ready and presentable to the clients.
Naturally, all of this has been used for many years, but as computers have advanced, the processing power that is available to designers has also increased. Architectural visualization is any technique that creates images and animations in three dimensions in order to convey a specific message to the client and deliver an idea before it is fully realized.
When it comes to the designer or the architect himself, having such a powerful tool at your disposal is invaluable, as it reduces the amount of work put in into model creation, and focuses more on generating and preserving the idea itself – it focuses on creativity.
This kind of preparation will allow designers to, based on their needs, budget, and the time available to the client, create realistic photo models of the designed solution, or even print out a full 3d rendered model, and have it presented to the client – this way, the clients will know exactly what they are getting.
The process itself is a technical endeavor each architect might solve differently or use a different program, to begin with. It usually starts with simple sketches on a piece of paper, or in any program that allows this kind of idea to be quickly drawn, edited, and deleted. When it comes to transferring all of this to a 3D model, the first step is the modeling itself.
Models in a computer world are made of polygons. A polygon is a 2-dimensional shape formed out of more than 2 straight lines, so a triangle, quadrilateral, or pentagon are good examples of a polygon. These polygons are later assembled in a way, and at an angle that creates a bigger, realistic 3d model.
Each model can be as detailed or simple – a simple model will have a few of them, while an extremely detailed one can have even 20 million of them, and the designer in charge is the one to make that decision. More polygons mean more processing power required to keep track of all those shapes on your screen.
Models made in most popular programs can easily be 3d printed or imported into other programs to be seen in virtual reality – you can add color, texture, and everything else you need to make the object feel more real. A model is a good basis for all of this.
Once the model is fully prepared, some attributes like how lighting works around it, based on the materials used can be added. We’re visual creatures, and we do not even recognize how much of our internal logic depends on these visual cues we get all the time.
We constantly judge our environment based on lighting, we perceive depth, we know how to handle objects and what to expect when we touch them ever before we had the chance to do so – all based on how it looks.
Materials used to envelop a model can depict its properties – it is reflective, glossy, what color does it have. These properties are all created as a 2d map that is simply overlaid over the existing model.
A good texture can feed the eye and the brain and give the impression that we want to convey – this can look fluffy and soft, this can look like a cold brushed metal and give the impression you want.
Lighting plays an important part here, and most of the 3d projecting tools have lighting built into them. This allows subtle shades on the model itself, or how the shadow is cast on other objects around it. Big advancements are implemented here in order to create lighting that behaves like in the real world and considers many things: not only direct illumination but reflections from other surfaces and how it affects the target model – indirect illumination.
Once the model is rendered and the computer has calculated all the parameters we’ve mentioned above – light, material, and shape, it will create a model that can be further edited for the final presentation. Post-processing means working in image editing software to create the final 2d image that can be used as promotional material or in presentations. This is the difference between 3d and 2d models.
3d models can be used in virtual reality and for 3d printing, but in the end, they will need to be presented in 2d as well, and post-processing plays a great role here. Editing colors, and light levels, saturation and the overall feel of the model will give you a perfect image that you can be proud of. This step creates images that are photorealistic – they resemble the real world, and do not have any visible properties of animation or modeling – the picture is as realistic as possible.
Not only do these examples show your skills as an architect, but also create beautiful results – and with technology, this has become an expected industry standard. The better the photorealistic designs are, the client can expect better results from the finished products, and this can be a great way to persuade your clients and win them over.
The primary goal of an architect is the ability to create a design that will appeal to the client – and photorealistic rendering can be of great help here as it will create something that looks familiar, something that both we and the client can judge and understand better. This creates a good basis for future work and makes your clients that much happier.