Pros want the best. When it comes to the tools used by 3D visualization artists, they better be the sharpest, fastest, most powerful pieces of technology available in order to produce images and animations that spearhead the frontier of design visuals.
However, the recent growth in the visualization industry has paved the road for an expanding variety of modelers, renderers, image editors, and post-production suites, making it difficult to sift through which ones are the best. And while this conversation sometimes bleeds into the subjective, there’s no denying the fact that some software is simply more powerful than the rest.
This list aims to collect the top visualization tools used specifically by design professionals. Architects, interior designers, and graphic designers are among the most particular when it comes to software. Here is what the pros are using, and why you should consider investing in these programs, too.
Rhino is SketchUp on steroids. It’s a professional modeling tool that has been a favorite for architects and industrial designers for decades, providing an endlessly flexible user interface with scripting capabilities that allows the imagination to run wild. It works seamlessly with a number of high-grade renderers, making it a refined visualization experience that doesn’t take a lifetime to master.
Rhino allows tinkerers to tinker and creatives to be creative. In addition to visualization, it makes for a handy design tool that can move work forward and result in a better end product for both the client and the designer.
There are dozens of great rendering engines out there, but few tailor their entire experience towards architects and design professionals like Artlantis. It was developed for the sole purpose of helping building designers showcase their work without any of the complicated fluff and bloat that some of the more widely integrated rendering programs possess.
Artlantis makes rendering fun - almost like a game - which is why it appeals so much to architects and designers. It focuses on lighting, experience, and texture to round out an experience that doesn’t detract from the most important aspects of the process: the design itself.
I’m lumping Creative Cloud into one visualization tool because depending on the kind of work you are doing, you’re going to be using these programs with much different frequency. Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are the big three for architects, offering tools that allow designers to refine their presentations and polish every last rough edge of their work.
Creative Cloud is always updating their software, ensuring users they have the most up to date, bug free, and effortlessly engaged programs on the market. There simply isn’t another design suite out there that offers the range of capabilities of Creative Cloud. Adobe has come a long way, and this is their opus.
There was once a time when the words ‘SketchUp’ and ‘professional’ couldn’t be uttered in the same sentence without a few sideways look followed by raucous laughter and finger pointing. Today, however, SketchUp is installed in almost every design professional’s machine because there is no 3D modeling tool out there that even comes close to it on speed and efficiency. SketchUp is the ultimate design tool, letting architects see their work as it is being conceived.
SketchUp is entirely free to use, and interfaces well with rendering plugins for pretty much any rendering engine you can think of. It is a communication tool that lets designers speak with their clients on an even playing field, eliminating the need to verbally explain everything. It makes designs better, clients happier, and projects more successful.
If you’re looking for the most high-end, top-of-the-line rendering software in the world, you simply can’t stray away from V-Ray. It is a professional tool through and through, transforming unbuilt designs into fully realized 3D worlds. V-Ray is the best, and it has been the best for over two decades, offering realistic volumetric lighting, fast rendering, and incredibly realistic ray tracing.
V-Ray isn’t easy, so unlocking it’s full prowess will take time. However, that’s what being professional is all about, and for those who spend the time to master the renderer will be rewarded with rendering and visualization work that cannot be topped.