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7 Tips for Better Architectural Rendering

These 7 tips will help beginner and professional rendering artists alike create better architectural renderings and visualizations.

Architectural rendering is a very specific, highly nuanced niche in the visualization world. It requires not only an understanding of how to model, render, and animate in the digital space, but an overarching knowledge of how buildings are designed and constructed.

The best architectural rendering artists have a background in architecture and a passion for making their designs look great even before they are built. However, an architecture degree isn’t necessarily required for those 3D artists who are looking to test their merits in the world of architectural visualization.

To help you gain a grasp of what makes the modeling and rendering of 3D buildings so unique, we’ve collected 7 useful tips that will make your forays into the sub-industry that much better.

1 | Get To Know Building Design

If you haven’t spent 5-7 years of your life scraping together the will power to collect a professional degree in architecture, then the first thing you should do is better understand how buildings are designed. Read books. Talk to architects. Look over building plans, drawings, schematics, and construction documents.

The more you understand about how a building comes together, the better you’ll be able to not only model those buildings, but get the most out of a true-to-life visualization.

2 | Capture the Experience

Whether you’re creating visualizations for public or client consumption, the end goal should always be to explain something profound about what experiencing the finished space will feel like. This is no easy task, but should be the most focused-on element of any architectural drawing or animation.

Adding human elements for scale can go a long way to helping someone feel like they are a part of the artwork. If the drawing is just a building, people without a design background will have a much harder time understanding the experiential qualities of it.

3 | Spend Time on Lighting

There’s nothing that will take the viewer out of the experience of a 3D rendering faster than poor quality of light. We are trained every waking moment of our lives to identify real-world lighting conditions, making it plainly obvious for anyone with working eyes when things are even a little bit off.

Spend a large allocation of your budgeted time working on lighting models in order to best recreate the physical conditions in your renderings. Software has been developed to be very good at reproducing photorealistic lighting, but it’s up to the artist to understand how best to implement those tools in their work.

4 | Build a Quality Texture Library

Many rendering programs come equipped with a library of good, off-the-shelf textures and materials to populate your visualizations with. However, not all of them are great, and it’s important that you work from a moderately-sized library of your own cultivation you trust with your most high-profile work.

You want to have textures you can rely on, so down the road you aren’t fumbling your way through new textures when up against an important deadline.

5 | Think About Composition

Just like when taking a photograph or creating a work of art, composition is the fundamental backbone with which the rest of the work sits. With architectural visualization, the rendering or image starts with composing a scene that will be aesthetically engaging and interesting. This can be achieved through perspective, diagonals, using the ‘rule of threes,’ or any number of ways that help people understand a virtual space.

Use the 3D model to create several test scenes that allow you or your peers to accurately critique which ones will achieve the best composition from a basic geometric perspective. Work on adding detail from there.

6 | Be Bold

Photorealism is a tried-and-true gateway to effective architectural visualization, but if you are looking to create a name for yourself in the industry, consider doing work that bleeds on the edge of creativity and take some risks. Of course, you don’t want these decisions to distract from the architecture itself, but sometimes radical visuals can help explain a design better than a true-to-life depiction ever could (especially in the conceptual phase).

7 | Establish Your Own Process

Architects and designers are good at what they do because the adhere to a rigorous process of design and development that leads them confidently to solutions for difficult problems. Rendering artists must instill a process of their own on their work to ensure the resulting images and animations are consistently up to the standards they promise.

Your process is the only thing that keeps you on track during any given project. Develop one that lets you build upon your good ideas, and you will always create architectural visualizations that measure up to the competition.

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