Architectural Visualization

AMD or Nvidia, Which is Better for Architectural Visualization

The battle between AMD and Nvidia rages on. See which one of these giant graphics card providers is better for your architectural visualization rig. Read on to find out more.

Ever since architects switched to new digital solutions to do their jobs, they’ve made great progress in architectural visualization. This new approach has brought many benefits, as now clients can really visualize models and designs in advance before any construction has been done.

This allows clients to find mistakes, suggest changes, and really experience what their projects will look like once they are done. They can do all this with utmost comfort and give the green light with absolute certainty without worrying about whether they’ve made any mistakes.

With 3D visualization and VR technology, even people with no knowledge of architecture can understand the designs by immersing themselves into the models on a realistic level. To create such great visualizations, architects need the necessary skill, right software solutions, and quality hardware.

The most essential part of hardware are graphics cards and today we are going to dig deeper into how they help create better visualization and renders, and which of the two leading manufacturers is better for this purpose.

Price differences between AMD and Nvidia

The most common belief of anyone who is even slightly interested in this long-lasting feud between the two manufacturers is that AMD gives affordable options, while Nvidia has higher prices and high-end performance. However, how accurate is this claim actually?

For example, many benchmarks show us that AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 performs better than Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, even though it’s cheaper by over $200.

This is because cryptocurrency mining is a major factor that nobody considers and it boosts the prices of Nvidia components. When it comes to 3D visualization, this is not an important factor as you won’t be mining. However, the mining scene has drastically slowed down, meaning that the prices are once again back to normal.

This means that no matter if you are looking for a high performing graphics card or a budget solution, when you compare the prices and performance of AMD and Nvidia cards, you will see that they are pretty equal.

At the same time, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for discounts and promotional offers so that you can get a better price. To sum it up, there are no price differences.

What are benchmarks and why they are important

Learning about which graphics card to choose for 3D visualization, no matter if it’s AMD or Nvidia, wouldn’t be possible without understanding benchmarks and why they are so important.

To put it simply, benchmarks are tests performed on GPUs using a software solution specifically designed for this purpose. This kind of software runs a lot of different tasks with a specific graphics card, during which it measures the workload and the performance of the GPU.

Chances are that you’ve found many different subjective opinions online but benchmarks put a stop to this and give you objective results on how different graphics cards perform with different tasks. This is pure empirical data that you can rely on to make the right decision.

Even though there aren’t any benchmarks done for the specific use of 3D visualization, as this is still a fairly new use, you can find a lot of benchmarks on 3D modeling, animation, and rendering which basically monitors the same aspects that are required for architectural visualization.

Make sure to look for those kinds of benchmarks on the cards you are interested in and compare them.

Comparing their performance

When putting together a machine for quality architectural visualization, the most important thing about your graphics card is its performance.

Naturally, everyone will want to find the cheapest possible graphics card with the best possible performance. Very soon the new Nvidia GPU will be launched, coming with great performance with lots of CUDA cores and GDDR6 memory.

This brand new card might bring a major upset in the battle between the two rivals. But then again, whenever this happens, the other side comes up with something new to keep their customers happy and the cycle continues. The AMD’s Vega has only been out for a couple of months and during Pascal’s launch, GTX 1080 TI was unmatched.

However, RX Vega 64 is better than GTX 1080 in a couple of aspects – rendering textures and their details and complex shading. Like we mentioned earlier, AMD and Nvidia are very close with the performance they provide, regardless of whether we’re talking about cheap, medium, or high-end cards.

The differences in performance are slight – some might be better in a certain area by a small margin while being equally lacking in other areas.

Dedicated memory is very important

A quality graphics card can help you speed up and improve your architectural workflow with its RAM memory. This is because as soon as you try to render your visualization, it will all be dedicated to that process.

It resembles a shared process – the 3D software you use for visualization will use the memory of the GPU, while your CPU’s memory will be used for other applications and programs running in the background.

When your RAM and the whole process are dedicated to finishing your render, visualization, or model, you’ll be able to save a lot of RAM and CPU power so that the system and other programs can work as well. If not, you will be in danger of having crashes during renders, which could lead to the loss of the entire project.

Getting a GPU with more cores will give you more power

Similarly to CPUs, the number of cores is also important with graphics cards and the more cores you have, the better the performance. With graphics cards, the number of cores is far greater and they can have thousands of them.

To get the best core technology when choosing an AMD card is the Graphics Core Next or Navi architecture. When it comes to Nvidia cards, look for the CUDA cores.

Not only does a higher amount of cores help process information but a lot of the 3D software solutions used for architecture are designed for these kinds of cards, as they can use multiple cores to optimize simulation or visualization processes.

Which cards to use for architectural visualization

As we mentioned earlier, graphics cards are the essential hardware component for architectural visualization, no matter what software you are using.

Apart from giving you vital information that can help you decide, we will also give you suggestions on which cards to use. To ensure that you put out top renders, you need a quality graphics card and no skill can make up for it.

Simply put, your work will be ruined with a bad graphics card and your clients or stakeholders will never be able to see the full extent of your skill. Since we have concluded that there is no difference between AMD and Nvidia products when it comes to performance we are going to give you a single card from both manufacturers that you can use for this line of work.

Our top choices for high-end performance

If you really want to create the best possible architectural visualization and models, then you’ll need the absolute best cards. These cards give you a lot of internal memory that will help you process complex models and great speed, this is why they are our top 2 choices.

The amazing performance of these two cards, vast memory, and speed can help you get renders finished very quickly, process large models and designs, while making sure they look amazing with all necessary detailing.

AMD Vega 64 with 8GB memory

GeForce GTX 1080Ti with 11GB memory

Our top choices for medium performance

These options are not too expensive but you will lose some of the available memory that can be used for processing models. Even though their memory might be the same as with AMD Vega 64, the difference in processing power is a lot different and this is why they give less memory overall.

AMD RX 580 with 8GB memory

GeForce GTX 1070Ti with 8GB memory

Our top budget choices

In case you don’t have the money to invest in graphics cards that will give you amazing performance, there are still options that can give you reasonable performance without having to spend a lot of money. Even though you will have to wait longer for your architectural visualizations, these cards will still be able to handle them and give you solid details.

AMD Radeon RX 480 with 4GB memory

GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB memory

AMD or Nvidia? Either.

The current situation where the performance of these two giants is pretty much the same doesn’t give us any clear favorites. It’s all about subjective preferences and tiny differences that might make some people choose one side over the other.

However, this great battle between the two sides has always brought us more new solutions, more options, and cheaper prices and this is why we should be grateful for them. No matter which card you choose, it will do a fine job for architecture visualization.

Ancient Architecture, Draw Inspiration for Your Architectural Visualizations

Do you have trouble finding inspiration for your architectural visualizations? You’re not alone, as many architects often face the same challenge. But when in doubt, you can always dive into ancient architecture, so take a look at the most remarkable and timeless structures of the ancient world.

Throughout history, architects have relied on their sketches, drawings, and paintings to try and communicate their ideas to their clients and help them visualize the end results. Thanks to technological advances, they can now create photorealistic architectural visualizations that truly bring their ideas to life, showing exactly what their structures will look like.

However, there comes a time in every architecture’s life when inspiration and creativity are hard to come by. A time when they meet their creative block and simply cannot come up with any new and innovative ideas to create a visualization that will stand out from all the others.

When you don’t know how to reignite your creativity, you should definitely look into ancient architecture. Awe-inspiring as it is, there’s no doubt that it will spark your creativity and inspire you to produce visualizations that will make your architecture stand the test of time.

Here are some of the most remarkable ancient architecture structures that you can draw timeless inspiration from. The first four of them were included in the famous Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that undeniably deserve to be found on the list.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three Giza pyramids, and actually the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that still stands today, remaining intact for the most part. Constructed from circa 2580 till 2560 BC, it was built as a royal tomb to the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu.

The Pyramid has been an inspiration source for numerous architects over the years, even today. The first pyramid structure to come to mind is definitely the world-famous Louvre Museum. There’s also the Luxor Las Vegas, a 30-story hotel and casino in the shape of a pyramid.

You can also find similar pyramid structures in Memphis, Tennessee, and Astana, Kazakhstan, which include the Memphis Pyramid arena and the Palace of Piece of Reconciliation (also known as the Pyramid of Peace and Accord), respectively.

One of the most fascinating structures inspired by the ancient wonder is the new building in New York City called VIA 57 West. Designed by the Danish architecture group Bjarke Ingels Group, the VIA 57 West is a residential building that isn’t exactly a pyramid.

According to Bjarke Ingels, the Great Pyramid of Manhattan is a hyperbolic paraboloid, with the roof that is “the height of a handrail” at its lowest point and “the height of a high-rise” at its highest point, and it has a parabolic dip in one side.

As you can see, something as simple as the shape of a pyramid (not to say that the Great Pyramid of Giza is simple) can spark many innovative ideas that perfectly match the modern world.

The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus

The Temple of Artemis, located in the ancient city of Ephesus, which today lies on the edge of a small town in Turkey called Selçuk. Dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis, it was built, destroyed, and rebuilt two times before its final destruction in 262 AD.

The first version of the temple originates from the Bronze Age and was destroyed by flood in the 7th century BC. The second version, designed by the architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes and constructed for 10 years (from around 550 BC), was destroyed in 356 BC by an arsonist who burned it to the ground.

The third and final version was built for many years by the Ephesians, starting in 323 BC, but it too was destroyed when the city was invaded by the Ostrogoths.

When you look at the columns of the temple, you cannot help but think of several world-famous buildings and structures, including the U.S. Capitol Building and the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., the Federal Hall in New York City, and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Let’s not forget two more very similar ancient structures – the Parthenon in Greece, constructed from 447 BC till 438 BC, and the Pantheon in Rome, constructed around 126 AD.

You can implement columns almost everywhere and give your designs a timeless look and feel that exudes power, elegance, luxury, and style. Play with them in your visualizations and you may come up with something that no one has ever thought of before – you can never know until you try!

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

Designed by the Greek architects Satyros and Pythius, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was built between 353 and 350 BC as a tomb for a satrap in the ancient Persian empire Mausolus and his wife (and sister) Artemisia. It was located in the area that is today the city of Bodrum, Turkey, and destroyed in an earthquake in the 13th century.

Made entirely of white marble, the mausoleum was one of the most remarkable structures in the ancient world that continues to spark inspiration for plenty of architects to this day. The iconic tomb featured 36 Ionic columns situated above a huge base of steps and topped by a pyramid roof.

As you can see, you can combine both the pyramid shape and columns to get to a brilliant structure that inspires true awe. One great example is the General Grant National Memorial in New York City, commonly known as the Grant’s Tomb. It was actually inspired by the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and houses the remains of Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia.

Its architect, John Duncan, featured Doric columns at the bottom of the structure, Corinthian columns in the middle, and a dome at the top. Completed in 1897, it is still one of the biggest mausoleums on the planet.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

The first ever lighthouse in the world, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, often referred to as the Pharos of Alexandria, was built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 284 and 246 BC. It was gradually destroyed by three earthquakes, from 956 to 1323 AD, but it managed to stand the test of time for more than 1600 years.

Standing at about 380 feet above the ground, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was the second-tallest structure in the world for a very long time. It featured three limestone tiers: the square base, the octagonal middle tier, and the cylindrical top section with columns.

The lighthouse was an inspiration for all the lighthouses in the world constructed later. However, it was and still is an inspiration for residential and commercial buildings. Just take a look at the Empire State Building. What do you see? Its shape definitely reminds of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, with its several tiers and the top that really does look like a lighthouse.

You can use this kind of design for numerous structures, and you can combine it with the aforementioned ones to come up with something truly unique.

The Dome of the Rock

The Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine in the Old City of Jerusalem, is a real masterpiece. Designed by Caliph Abd al-Malik and constructed between 687 and 691 AD, it is the oldest Islamic monument that still stands today.

It was restored many times throughout the years when many different decorations were added to embellish it and turn it into a brilliant structure that it is today. The interior was enriched with marble, mosaic and faience, while Persian tiles were added to the entire exterior.

Throughout the years, the Dome of Rock, with its breathtaking octagonal base and its stunning rotunda dome, remains the most recognizable landmark of Jerusalem. A great number of architects and artists used it as a prototype model for their numerous projects for over a thousand years.

Some of the buildings for which it was used as an inspiration include the Church of St. Giacomo in Italy, the Mausoleum of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in Istanbul, the Rumbach Street Synagogue in Budapest, and the New Synagogue in Berlin.

There are a number of ways in which you can make all of these designs work for you when creating your architectural visualizations. If you have even a single creative bone in your body, you will definitely be able to draw inspiration from these ancient architecture structures and create wonders of your own. You will be able to carve your name into the pillars of architecture and enter the world of legends, leaving your permanent mark in history and inspiring new architects and artists for generations to come.

As Antoni Gaudí, one of the most brilliant Catalan architects and the mastermind behind some of the most iconic buildings in Spain, once said: “Artists do not need monuments erected for them, because their works are their monuments.”

Why Architects Should Outsource Their Architectural Visualizations

If you are struggling to meet the clients’ demands for pretty pictures and consumable snippets of architectural design, then you must know how expensive in-house 3D rendering can be. Money’s not a problem? Then learn a couple of good reasons more for outsourcing to professionals.

Take a sneak peek into any architect’s wish list, and what you see will always be the same. They are, like any Ted Mosby, hopelessly in love with their calling. No amount of money or gadgets will ever be enough to top what architects ultimately wish for and strive towards: more room for creativity.

Deprive them of that on account of the expensive new Autocad or 3D Max, and they won’t be happy. Sure, 3D rendering and other cutting-edge visualization methods are a part of their process too. But, when push comes to shove, no architect would ever pick a pretty picture over the actual design.

Here’s a list of ten more reasons for outsourcing architectural visualizations.

Outsourcing Costs up to 60% Less

Let’s put one thing out of the way – 3D rendering is not cheap. Nevertheless, it’s something that every freelance architect and architectural firm must invest in. The question is, how much money do you have to begin with, and how does your budget align with your priorities? Does 3D rendering concern you at all?  

Creatively speaking, probably not. But when visualizations become a professional necessity, then outsourcing starts to seem like a tempting option. Does it save money, thus allowing you to spend your budget on actual designs? Absolutely. Outsourcing costs up to 60% less than in-house rendering.  

It Gives You Some Room to Grow

Once you realize that you can’t actually do business and sell your designs without a pretty picture and a complementary virtual tour, outsourcing swiftly turns into the only viable solution. You then send your designs to somebody else for an affordable price and end up with a decent amount of money to spare.

So, not only can outsourcing be described as cost-effective, but it can also change the course of your business for the better. With professional visualizations, you get to attract more clients, while with that saved up money, you get to invest in the design process itself. You can buy more room for creativity.  

You Get Superior Quality for Cheap

How can you be sure that outsourced projects will be professional enough to make you a couple of clients richer? With the right amount of research, you can. When you’re careful about who you’re outsourcing to, you can rest assured that all your designs will be treated with utmost care and respect.

In fact, this is another huge benefit of outsourcing architectural visualizations. Whether you’re not skilled enough in 3D rendering, or you’re simply not interested in practicing it, your results will never be as good as those accomplished by a professional. You’ll get superior quality at a much lower price.

The More Choices the Better

Don’t skip research. The outsourcing pool is expanding as we speak, and you’ll have no problems finding the best match for your designs and work dynamic. Compare that with in-house rendering, and it’s crystal clear that virtually unlimited choices are yet another major advantage of outsourcing.

To recap what we’ve listed so far, outsourcing gives you not only better quality and more money to spare, but also a chance to choose the person you’ll collaborate with. Since rendering companies are booming along with the current IT revolution, you can be picky about software, techniques, and schedules.

There’s No Binding Agreement

Outsourcing is typically a freelance practice, which means that a vast majority of rendering projects is being outsourced on an on-need basis and without any long-term commitment. Coupled with a great number of choices, this gives you an opportunity to work with a lot of 3D rendering service providers.

In case you’re not particularly satisfied with the results of one company, you can simply choose another one for the next design project. On the other hand, when you employ an in-house 3D renderer, then you’re in it for the long haul. Firing them is simply more expensive than keeping them.

Outsourcing Delivers on Time

Speaking of which, one in-house 3D render would hardly be enough to meet all your business demands. Two is already expensive, especially if your team is small and caters only to a handful of clients. But, what happens when that one person your project depends on turns sick or goes hiking?

Having an in-house renderer is simply much less convenient than outsourcing this part of the job to an offshore company. You don’t have to rely on just one person, for starters. Truth to be told, you don’t really have to think about anything at all. You just send your design and wait for the pretty pick.

It Guarantees Consistency Too

Okay, but what if you don’t actually need to employ a professional 3D renderer? How hard can this process be, given the fact that software automates a great deal of conversion? With some time and practice, couldn’t you learn to render yourself? Presuming you could do it, let’s see at what expense.

3D rendering would never be your field of expertise, which wouldn’t only mean that you would need more time to master it, but also that you would never have time to master it completely. The quality of results would be compromised by your dedication to design, or even worse, the other way around.

It Puts You Ahead of Competition

DIY rendering will never earn you a strong competitive advantage, but outsourcing will. Because you’ll have many options to choose from, you’ll be allowed to work only with the best renderers on the market. Your designs will automatically look better on 2D images, exceeding all clients’ expectations.

How outsourcing translates to professional consistency, you might ask. Well, the options grant you a trial-and-error approach, which will inevitably lead you to a rendering company that you can develop a long-term relationship with. Pair your design with their renders, and you’ve got a competitive edge.

Outsourcing Is a Ready-Made Deal

Another expense that most architects forget about when they consider hiring an in-house 3D renderer is the cost of recruiting, onboarding, and training itself. Sure, the hiring process will probably not burn your pocket financially, but it will take up time and resources. That’s never the case with outsourcing.

Professionals who provide these services are already professionals. They’ve identified and established the best rendering practices long before they’ve accepted to collaborate with you, which means that you can rely on them to deliver high-quality results ahead of the schedule and without your guidance.

You Get State-of-the-Art Treatment

Being focused solely on rendering, the companies you decide to outsource this part of the design process to are already equipped with all the best tools and software on the market. Their wish lists are nothing like yours, and they don’t mind investing a lot of money in expensive rendering equipment.

That said, the last but certainly not the least benefit of outsourcing is a chance for your designs to be rendered with state-of-the-art technology, the same technology you would hardly have the budget for implementing in-house. We’re talking VR engines for virtual tours, available at the affordable price.

All things considered, outsourcing your architectural visualizations should absolutely be higher on your list than becoming a second-grade in-house 3D renderer yourself. Trust professionals to do what they do best, and get not only top-notch results but also extra time and money to spend on your creations.

Unreal Engine And Its Role in Visualizing Architecture

Unreal Engine has become one of the commonly used render engines for architectural visualization. As it role becomes more important each day, let’s see what it has to offer to architects and what role it currently plays.

Epic Games, a video game development company, is not only famous for the games it’s produced. It became world-famous by developing one of the most popular game engines ever – the Unreal Engine. In fact, when developing Unreal, one of the most epic first-person shooter video games, the team behind it couldn’t even imagine that their game engine was going to become so popular.

The Unreal Engine broke out of the gaming world and landed into the hands of many professionals – including 3D artists, architects, and designers. Epic Games quickly recognized this opportunity and continued to work on and evolve the backbone of their popular game. This company is now on the 4th generation of the Unreal Engine.

The Unreal Engine

Before we try to elaborate on the role Unreal Engine has in visualizing architecture, we have to share a thing or two about it. Over the years, Epic Games have made Unreal Engine an easy-to-use framework. It is one of those suites that comes with a number of creation tools. The ease of use and flexibility of the Unreal Engine is what made it popular and usable by teams of all sizes.

Built on 20 years of experience, the Unreal Engine brings something unique to its users – high-performance, reliability, and power. In fact, Epic Games has stepped up their game and improved their engine to make it meet even the highest requirements.

This is why you can see Unreal Engine being used in photoreal visualization, filmmaking, and AAA games. Recently, this company has tuned their engine to support the whole spectrum of VR platforms, including PC, mobile, and console.

Thanks to its vast community, Unreal Engine became the first choice of many architecture studios, which had no previous experience with using this type of software. There are many free guides and videos that can help anyone start and finish projects, regardless of their scope and complexity. Even Epic Games wants to help architects use their engine.

Features Support Architecture Visualization

Unreal Engine comes with a number of very convenient features. They were developed to enable the architects and designers to design immersive environments and build them up from scratch. The following ones enabled the Unreal Engine to play a vital role in visualizing architecture.

Photoreal rendering in real-time. Unreal Engine uses physically based rendering. Since it features advanced options, including dynamic shadow, lighting channels, and screen space reflections, the designers can make high-quality visuals right out of the box.

Which is very important when a project depends on the visualization quality and ability to immerse the viewers (stakeholders, clients, and so on).

Film-Quality Post-Process Effects. Every scene created in the Unreal Engine can be post-processed. Architects can adjust the feel and the look of each scene to convey the intended message to the viewers. No matter how complex the project requirements are, Unreal Engine has a tool to enable architects to get the job done.

Especially in terms of visual enhancers. Some of the effects include tone mapping, ambient cubemaps, lens flares, light shafts, ambient occlusion, color grading, advanced blood, depth of field, temporal anti-aliasing, eye adaptation, and so on.

Flexible Material Editor. Unreal Engine empowers architects to design magnificent objects. The surfaces of the objects are rendered in high quality. This enables the architects to make a stunning presentation of the materials they intend to use in the construction.

This benefits architects who have to adapt their design to the client’s requirements. The physically based shading helps in displaying the layer material better as if it were real.

Landscape system. Creating open world environments in these type of tools is hard. This is not the case with the Unreal Engine. The landscape system enables architects to quickly set up and build any kind of terrain they prefer and start building their design on top of it.

The complex designs, such as neighborhood, or building complexes, are easily achieved thanks to the engine’s efficient memory use. The Landscape Grass and Foliage features are there to help the architect add grass, flowers, trees, bushes, and rocks in a few simple mouse clicks.

Marketplace Ecosystem. The Unreal Engine comes with a unique marketplace. Architects can easily find high-quality textures, add-ons, plugins, and other assets to streamline their workflow and deliver breathtaking designs.

Unreal Engine’s Role In Visualizing Architecture

Technological innovations have always been used by the architectural visualization industry. In the past, architects had to put huge financial resources aside to hire experts who specialize in using visualization tools. Not to mention the hardware and infrastructure requirements of this software in the past.

The Unreal Engine removes all this from the equation. It‘s an easy-to-use tool with medium hardware requirements. At the same time, it packs everything an architect may need – real-time rendering and experimental visualization. According to CGArchitect, the Unreal Engine has become the fourth most commonly used rendering engine for architecture visualization.

The Unreal Engine has caught the attention of the designers thanks to the toolkit it brings to the table. Designers can now use it not only to create simple scenes but to enable interactivity as well.

With lighting effects and material editor, the Unreal Engine helps designers highlight structural integrity and architectural design. With VR support, architects no longer need to master their presentations. Instead, they can simply put on a VR headset on their clients’ heads and sit back and relax.

It’s also important to note that this is not an expensive technology. This puts small design studios back in the game, as they can now deliver cutting-edge visualization experiences and become more competitive.

Thanks to the virtual tour and embedded building technology information, architects no longer need to have hours of conversations with the construction companies. Any contractor can simply put on a VR headset and inspect the design and the specifications on their own.

As the building design industry moves forward, the Unreal Engine slowly but surely finds its way into it. In fact, large firms have been using it for years now. By becoming less demanding and easier to use, the Unreal Engine will definitely become the go-to tool for designers who want to leverage the power of immersive visualizations.

3D Architecture Presentation Techniques

Architects are always looking for new ways to present their work. Here are some of the most commonly used 3D presentation techniques.

Architecture offices are always finding new ways of using 3D rendering to not only grow their practices, but build better buildings. From very early on, architecture students are taught the foundational elements of design communication, and how best to present ideas to people who might not know a t-square from a french curve.

As technology propels 3D modeling and rendering towards the frontier of architectural visualization, new and interesting presentation techniques are always floating to the surface of a vast sea of precedents. Architects are using these techniques to show the world what they can do, and convince clients to spend money creating architecture, and not just a haphazard amassing of concrete and steel.

The following techniques represent the best of old and new world presentation drawings. Some things simply never go out of style, but it’s important to acknowledge what the next crop of designers are doing to get more out of pixels and polygons.

1 | The Hero Shot

Perhaps the most well known presentation drawing is the one that demands the most attention. The hero shot is the image of the design that draws you in. It should represent most important conceptual aspects of the design, and give viewers an inherent sense of place, perspective, and scale. The hero shot is vibrant, colorful, dramatic, and should be the only thing anyone needs to see to understand why your design matters.

2 | The Section Perspective

This is the drawing designed to tell a story about the tectonic qualities of the architecture, as well as the interconnected quality of program and space. A well executed section perspective can give detailed information about building construction and experiential information about how the building will be occupied and used. Be careful, though, because if there’s too much story being told, the message can get lost in a mess of poche’d walls and tree roots.

3 | The Diagram

A collection of strategic diagrams can tell more about the process of thinking behind a design better than anything on this list. They should be easy to understand, sequential, and very specific about the morsel of information they are trying to convey. A diagram can represent massing, lighting, circulation, program, zoning data, or just about anything that’s important to why architecture manifests as it does. Diagrams work great as complimentary drawings to experiential renderings.

4 | The Animation

3D animations and flythroughs are a product of the previous generation of technological advancement. What was once only available to studios like Pixar and Dreamworks became commonplace among professional renderers working in architecture and design studios. The are effective presentation tools that let viewers get a better sense of space, materiality, and how a conceptual work of architecture might be experienced when it’s completed. In recent years, animations have become cheaper, better, and moving closer to complete photorealism.

5 | VR and AR

The bleeding edge of architectural visualization is the recent explosion of virtual and augmented reality technology. Hardware has officially hit the mainstream, which means designers are suddenly flooding the airwaves with hand-crafted virtual reality experiences they can use to literally walk their clients through their designs. Augmented reality still has a way to go, but there are still a handful of talented artists out there doing incredible things with little more than a smartphone and a piece of printer paper.

6 | The Interior Experience

For interior architects and designers, perfecting interior renderings and drawings is the backbone of their business. If photorealism is the end goal, artists must work diligently to make sure lighting, materiality, and entourage are all working together in a natural way. Depending on the design, this can be a challenging endeavor, but one that is rewarded with clients who have a much better idea of how they will occupy the project once it’s complete.

7 | The Sketch

With the rate in which technology is making the life of an architect easier, there is still no substitute for a roll of yellow trace paper and a sharpie. Sketching ideas is one of the quickest, most effective way to convey the essence of a design. Good architects can even use these sketches in a professional presentation to help viewers understand the design process and see without hearing how the designer came up with the end result. Don’t stop sketching!

The Architectural Visualization Dictionary

The rendering industry is full of terms, words, and phrases not everyone will understand. Here’s a short list for beginners to get caught up before diving in.

People in the 3D rendering industry can be known to use a special code of sayings, nomenclature, buzzwords, and guttural groans that might as well be considered a foreign language. For those not privy to the nuances of these terms, listening to colleagues discuss the inner workings of V-Ray’s latest patch notes might bring on sudden migraines and stomach cramps.


The small glossary of terms aims to better familiarize the out-of-the-know among us with the way rendering artists and technicians communicate with each other. For those looking to hire rendering freelancers, it’s best to be up to snuff when trying to decipher just exactly what the heck your perspective employees are talking about.


Of course, this is not a comprehensive list, and there are sure to be dozens of new, trendy phrases and technical terms to pop up in the time it takes me to write this article. Here’s to not knowing.


In alphabetical order:


3D Model - A computer generated collection of planes, lines, vectors, and meshes that are created in a three dimensional space. A 3D model can have materials and lighting applied for the purposes of rendering images and animations.


3D Visualization - An image, animation, or interactive experience represented by a three dimensional depiction, typically generated by a computer.


Augmented Reality - Superimposing a rendered, computer-generated image over the real world via a second screen or VR headset is considered to be augmented reality. It can be used to showcase a building concept as it will eventually be seen as it is constructed.


CPU - Stands for Computer Processing Unit. This refers to the core processing power of your computer. Many rendering engines are able to use only CPU power, making it unnecessary to have an expensive GPU installed.


Draft - Before a finalized rendering is set to be generated, draft views should be created in order to adjust lighting, camera, and materiality before spending the time to produce a high-resolution version of the rendering.


Entourage - The people, objects, foliage, and context that can be added to the rendering of a building or interior to give it scale, relatability, and realism.


Flythrough - A short, rendered animation that provides the viewer with a comprehensive viewing of a conceptual work of architecture.


Frames - When rendering animations, it needs to be constructed of individual rendered images, also called frames. Most animations are rendered at 24 or 30 frames per second.


GPU - Stands for Graphics Processing Unit. In the visualization world, it can be used to describe a type of rendering engine that utilizes your computer’s graphics card to do most of the heavy computing.


Photorealism - The achievement of getting a rendered image to appear as if it was a picture taken of something in real life.


Plugin - An added toolset or rendering engine that can be utilized natively within a 3D modeling program.


Ray Tracing - A type of computer rendering that involves tracing the path of light through pixels, resulting in photo realistic shadows, lighting, and materiality.


Rendering - The computer generated image that results from combining a 3D model with lighting, texture, and various camera angles. Rendering can either be a still image, animation, or interactive experience.


Texture - 2D image files that can be manipulated and applied to objects in a 3D model in order to be rendered as a specific material. Textures give a rendering life, and make it appear realistic.


Two Point Perspective - A type of drawing or rendering that has two points of converging perspective. This is the most common type of perspective, and results in drawings that appear as we see them in real life.


Virtual Reality - A computer-generated experience that allows the user to digitally experience a conceptual building, interior, or urban concept.