The Basics of Exterior 3D Rendering in Architecture
A view of a street covered in snowThe Basics of Exterior 3D Rendering in Architecture

3D rendering aims to simplify architectural projects by helping everyone understand the design before entering the completion stage. It allows everyone to visualize it with all its essential elements.

In terms of exterior 3D rendering, a 3D artist creates accurate and realistic renders of the outside of a structure, including the surrounding environment, height, color, frame type, windows, etc.

The goal is to create immersive depictions of a structure’s exterior with its design features, including specific roof shingles, foundation materials, paint finishes, facade, and other client requests. Let’s discuss what exterior rendering is and why it matters in architecture.

What is exterior rendering?

Exterior rendering is one of the most common types of architectural rendering, with applications primarily in real estate and architecture. It helps showcase any residential, commercial, or industrial building exterior to prospective investors and potential buyers.

Exterior rendering has gone a long way since the era of simplistic 3D designs of structures and objects on a gray background.

Nowadays, modern 3D artists can generate photorealistic images of entire cities to help clients see how a particular design fits in with the neighborhood and the surrounding environment.

Different types

There are five types of exterior rendering. Let’s quickly review all of them.

Virtual reality tours

Virtual reality is probably the best way to take a client on the most immersive tour by presenting them with the best features of an exterior design.

3D artists use virtual tours to sell any design, whether interior, exterior, or something else. A VR tour refers to a range of panoramic photos that come in the form of a video that includes sound and text, depending on the client’s requirements.

Because of that, VR tours are amazingly effective marketing tools for 3D artists. They also help avoid costly mistakes and make it easier to get clients on the same page.

Augmented reality

AR rendering allows viewers to experience an exterior design first-hand and see how it will look when it’s completed. AR technology allows a 3D artist to take a client on tour around the unfinished project by using the lens of their smartphone.

Thanks to such an interactive experience, a client will be able to see the unfinished project and make any changes before it’s completed in real life.


3D images can also do all the talking for 3D artists regarding the best features of an exterior design project. They can easily highlight the best aspects of an architectural design and allow clients to understand better the main features of an exterior design at hand.

Aerial views

Aerial views demonstrate the entire exterior design of a residential, commercial, or industrial structure. Also known as a bird’s-eye view, an aerial view shows a whole object of any shape and size in a real-life context.

Street views

Similar to an aerial view, the street view also shows an entire structure in a real-life environment but from a different, eye-level perspective. Street views are helpful for mapping even more features of an exterior design to persuade clients to invest in a project.

When used in combination with aerial views, street views can significantly enhance an exterior of a building and capture craftsmanship in high resolution.

Who can do exterior rendering?

Architects are those who usually do the exterior rendering. However, thanks to so many rendering tools available, anyone with relevant skills and knowledge regarding exterior design can do it.

Nowadays, powerful rendering software tools provide incredibly rich libraries of materials and user-friendly features to create immersive and photorealistic renders that depict real-life images of structures.

3D artists, architects, designers, and engineers rely on exterior rendering to take the original 2D sketches, plans, and blueprints and turn them into photorealistic 3D images.

Importance of exterior rendering

Exterior rendering offers an array of benefits, such as:

  • Allowing clients and others involved in a project to get a clear image of an exterior design
  • Making it easier for designers, architects, and 3D artists to get project approval
  • Running client-centric marketing campaigns
  • Fixing mistakes before they escalate beyond repair
  • Streamlining communication with clients to ensure they understand what the project entails and the result satisfies them.

Everyone benefits from exterior rendering, from 3D artists and their team to clients and the construction crew.

How long do they take to finish?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because every project and design is different. However, we can reflect upon the process of rendering.

Depending on the size of a particular project, it could take 2-3 weeks to produce an exterior rendering. However, the timeline depends on the client’s exact scope and requirements.


Exterior rendering is critical to completing any architectural project, which is why it’s one of the most commonly used services in real estate and architecture. It helps reduce costs, avoid costly mistakes, streamline communication, ensure client satisfaction, and get project approval almost effortlessly.

It also makes it easier to get everyone involved in a specific project on the same page and ensure they understand everything they need to do to complete the project. Thanks to the immense photorealistic power of 3D rendering, 3D artists can create designs that can easily exceed clients’ expectations.

On the other hand, 3D renders are a fantastic way to attract more clients and share your works on social media platforms, websites, freelance portals, etc.

If you need exterior 3D rendering services, pay special attention to which software the 3D artist is using, as it can tell you all about the results you should expect.