Top Architectural Visualization Styles You Need to Master as an Expert
And interior visualization of a large bedroom bed with a cat on it and a large leafy plant in the corner next to it.Top Architectural Visualization Styles You Need to Master as an Expert

Architectural visualizations have become critical in all modern interior and exterior design projects. They allow you to familiarize your clients with the design before they even sign off on the idea. They can help you catch problems before they get out of hand, streamline communication between team members, create compelling marketing campaigns, and enjoy various additional benefits.

However, not all architectural visualizations are the same.

Every project is different, created to impress different audiences, attract different investors, and please different clients. So, every architectural visualization must convey its unique message.

You can ensure that your design stands out from the rest by adopting a distinct style of architectural visualization. Fortunately, you have plenty of choices there, and the following are just some of the most eye-catching architectural visualization styles you’ll need to master as an expert.


Semi-realistic style, also commonly known as photorealistic, is the most common style you’ll come across. You’ve likely seen it hundreds of times before – it’s the definition of architectural visualization.

This style is marked by its hyper-realistic elements. Everything from the interior and exterior of a building to the trees and grass by the driveway, the clouds in the sky, and the general surrounding neighborhood is designed to look as lifelike as possible.

This style is known not only as “photorealistic” but “semi-realistic” because you would include more dramatic weather, for instance, or better lighting than you could realistically experience in real life.

Katherine Heigl

When you think of Katherine Heigl, what comes to mind? In all likelihood, it’s one of her vibrant, lighthearted, romantic movies. That’s precisely what this style of architectural visualization tries to evoke.

The main identifier of this style would be “people in action.” Whether you’re designing interiors or exteriors, you’ll want to showcase people using the space in the design – a family playing a board game in the living room, a person putting on makeup in the bathroom, or a jogger in the middle of their run by the building entrance.

You’ll also want to use plenty of light and vibrant, over-saturated colors to make the atmosphere more dreamlike, romantic, and idyllic.


The Gondry is certainly a unique style, but mesmerizing nonetheless. Inspired by the director behind movies such as the “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, by Michel Gondry, this style is eclectic, dynamic, and eye-catching.

You'll use various elements to create architectural visualizations in the Gondry style – photos, images, sketches, 3D renders, and more. Together, they create a comic-like or collage-like effect that’s simply breathtaking.


If you mainly create architectural visualizations of interiors, you’ll need to master the Theodore style. Named after Joaquin Phoenix’s character in the movie “Her,” this style is defined by its use of plenty of bright but diffused natural light that almost appears blinding.

It’s perfect for spacious designs such as train stations, large office buildings, malls, and the like, highlighting the design’s vastness but simultaneously making it appear warm and inviting.

Paranormal Activity

Architectural visualizations done in the style of paranormal activity are almost blurry. The designs are well blended, the colors almost mash together, and there isn’t a single element that stands out and demands attention. Everything blurs together to create a dreamlike effect.

Most commonly, this style is used for exterior design. You’ll recognize it by its lightweight, somewhat translucent elements, slightly gloomy weather, and bright yet not vibrant light.

Though many designs created in this style feature solely the building and natural elements like grass and trees, you can always add people to make your design a bit more dynamic.


David, named after the character in Spielberg’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” is marked by perfection. It’s a hyper-realistic style where every single element is nothing short of perfect. Everything from the blades of the grass to the reflections in the water, the shapes of the design, and the curvature of the trees is flawless, giving it a surreal, utopian look.

This style is most commonly used for luxury hotels, buildings, gardens, and parks.


Before advanced architectural visualization software and tools, designers only had access to pens, pencils, and watercolors – this style pays tribute to those times of yore.

The watercolor style looks more like a classic painting than a modern architectural visualization project. Its main elements include somewhat faded, somewhat blended, and yet bright, vibrant colors.

As you might’ve concluded, the focus isn’t so much on highlighting the features of the design but rather on setting the mood and helping the viewers develop an emotional connection with the design.

Real World

Most similar to the semi-realistic or photorealistic style, the real-world style aims to present designs as they are. With all the blemishes, faults, and imperfections they may have.

You’d use realistic textures, colors, lights, and shadows. If the interior wouldn’t have much natural light in real life, you shouldn’t include natural light in the design. If a nearby building would cast a shadow over the backyard, you’d add realistic shadows in your render.

The aim of the style is to stay as true to the real world as possible and set realistic expectations for the viewers.

Most commonly, this style is used for commercial and residential buildings as it can help your clients understand what they can expect.

Mad Max

The Mad Max style is futuristic, bright, and bold. You’d use high contrast, plenty of shadows, but even more light to highlight the scope and beauty of your design.

Most commonly used for renders of the exterior of big-scale projects, the Mad Max style aims to present the design in context. You’d render the surrounding neighborhood, keeping it mostly in shadows while keeping the specific project brightly lit.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll present the design from the aerial view to truly showcase its beauty.


Finally, the whodunit style is the most dramatic of the bunch. It’s cold, dark, and menacing, created to demand attention and make the viewers feel like they’ve been transported to another dimension.

The defining characteristics of this style are gray, stormy clouds, cool color tones, and plenty of deep blue and green to add some tension. You’d use high contrast and low saturation to make the design as dramatic as possible.

Usually, you’ll use the whodunit style for modern, minimalistic architectural designs.


These diverse architectural visualization styles all serve different purposes. Some are created to set the mood, others to highlight important features. Others still give context to the design and make it that much more realistic. However, all of these styles serve the purpose of moving the viewer and inspiring an emotional response.