Rendering Software

Architectural Visualization Tools, Software and Best Practices for 2019

The rapid development of architectural visualization is promoted by the newest tools, software, and best practices. Since these tend to change a lot, it is hard to stay tuned to what is best. This is why we give you the best tools, software, and practices in architectural visualization for 2019.

Over the past years, a lot has changed in the world of architecture - tools become more sophisticated and accurate, some of the practices became obsolete, new, more demanding clients entered the market, and so on. Architectural visualization, though, continues to be one of the hottest trends in this field. But it is, as other practices, susceptible to changes because it leans on software solutions on the one hand and the best practices on the other.

If you don't have the time to stay on top of what's new and what's best in architectural visualization, we got you covered. We did extensive research and found out that the following software and best practices are going to rock the world of architects that use visualization to pitch projects and make clients happy.

Best Software For Architects

Did you know that there is even rendering software older that Win 3.xx? Architects may like or dislike using it, but working on modern projects without appropriate software tools is impossible. Here are a few of the best architectural visualization and rendering tools.

Maxwell

Maxwell is one of the best tools in the business. Beside the complex functionality and a plethora of features, what made this tool very popular is the fact that it is free to distribute and use. It provides incredible opportunities to both experienced and novice architects. The user interface is really beautiful and intuitive. Also, the Maxwell community is pretty large and surprisingly supportive. Which encourages beginners to start using this tool.

Maxwell is a standard tool students use on countless universities because it is simple to use while incorporating advanced rendering tools. The only downside is rendering optimization, so expect to have longer waiting times with this tool. Nevertheless, Maxwell will remain one of the most used tools in 2019.

Blender

Blender is another free to use and distribute software. Many would argue that free architectural visualization and rendering tools are pretty much useless, but Blender is living proof of the contrary. It features very powerful rendering tools making designing skyscrapers, bridges, and houses a walk in the park.

Unlike Maxwell, Blender will require you to spend more time mastering its functionalities. There are a lot of guides and tutorials out there, and the community is always standing by to lend a helping hand to anyone who hits a wall.

Autodesk Revit

Autodesk Revit is another tool that we are going to see in architects’ toolboxes in 2019 and beyond. This is one of the most powerful software tools an architect can get their hands on. It streamlines the workflow by introducing prebuilt models and textures that are ready to use. Autodesk Revit also comes with a number of advanced rendering capabilities to help you make breathtaking architectural visualizations.

Unlike Blender and Maxwell, you will have to purchase a license to use this tool. Their customer support is one of the best in the industry and the community behind Revit is huge. There are more than enough free learning materials to get by.

Lumion 3D

With the increasing number of outsourced architectural projects and remote workers, the need for a tool that can keep everyone and everything under one roof become real. Lumion 3D is here to help managers in the word of architecture stay on top of all projects because Lumion 3D is compatible with all other 3D rendering tools.

Lumion 3D doesn’t have a steep learning curve. Its intuitive and simple user interface, advanced rendering options, and fast rendering will turn working into a joy. Professionals will have to buy a license to use Lumion 3D. On the other hand, it is completely free for students.

Octane Render

We can not go on talking about tools used in architectural visualization without mentioning Octane Render. This software tool is one of the most powerful and popular tools used in the industry. It comes with everything other tools have - awesome interface and different rendering tools. But unlike any other tool, Octane Render has its own amazing rendering engine to make those visualizations look and feel outstanding.

Besides the impeccable functionality and a library of prebuilt materials and textures, this tool is optimized to use hardware resources to the fullest. This is why rendering times are significantly shorter than in other tools. Both professionals and students alike will continue to use this tool in 2019.

Punch Home Design Studio

Punch Home Design Studio features incredible architectural visualization tools. On the other hand, it is designed with ease of use in mind, allowing even the less experienced to hop on and get the job done. Home Design Studio is an excellent option to start learning architectural visualization and rendering. When we take into consideration this tool’s capabilities and its price, it is safe to say that Home Design Studio will remain one of the commonly used tools in 2019.

The only downside of using this software is hidden in its name. You can only use it to do amazing room visualizations, landscape, and home renders. But for architects who focus only on this niche, this tool packs more than enough to get projects done.

Architectural Visualization - Best Practices

With more and more architects entering the market, and clients becoming more demanding than ever, staying on top of the best practices has never been more important than today. A slightly better presentation done by your competitors can turn your clients away from you. Here is how to make sure that this doesn’t happen and that your projects see the light of the day.

Render For A Natural Viewpoint

Creating beautiful architectural visualizations that incorporate everything required by the project can do nothing if clients can't relate to them. There is a simple trick to make it easier for the clients to experience your designs better - render for a natural viewpoint. This doesn’t mean that you cannot include renders to show off the lighting and overall design. But make sure that the first person view actually respects the laws of a natural viewpoint.

The More Details The Better

Architectural visualizations have gone far away from showcasing only the building’s exterior and interior design stripped of all the details. All visualization and rendering tools we listed above support bringing more details into the designs. If you want to stay relevant in 2019, make sure to incorporate materials, textures, lighting, furniture, plants, appliances, and other relevant things into your designs. Your competition is already doing it.

Panoramic VIews Are the Flavor of The Year

You have to acknowledge the fact that clients want more! This is why you should create a detailed architectural visualization of the panoramic view. This can help clients relate to your design even more and see how the building will look like in the urban landscape. While this may appear more like visual art than an architectural project, it will help you wow your clients and make sure that your project gets a green light.

Incorporate Neighborhood In Architectural Visualisation

While panoramic views provide a general impression of whether the building goes along with the existing urban landscape or not, you will need to do more to help clients experience your design. This is why architects are often including building surroundings in their renders. This allows clients to take a stroll around the building and see those benches, parks, garages, and pedestrian walkways firsthand. The same rules apply here. Include as many details as possible to make the render as closer to the real experience as you can.

Make The Presentation Count

While your designs may appear like works of art, you should always keep in mind that they can be easily built. This is a really important thing to consider especially if a client said that he is bringing a potential developer to the presentation as well. This is why you should pay close attention to all the demands of your clients. Make sure to include renders of spots where you met those demands so that you can take them there and showcase your work in an instant, should the questions arise.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality has become, well, reality for many architects. It is particularly useful for describing and showcasing spaces that would be impossible to achieve in any other way. Virtual reality will not only impress your clients and help them visualize projects in an intimate way,  but help you identify and rectify problems before the building phase begins.

It is safe to assume that architectural visualization is not going anywhere, at least not in the foreseeable future. The tools, software and best practices we listed here will remain hot in 2019, some of them even beyond. Architects who want to stay in the game will have to accommodate these new changes and incorporate these tools and practices into their day to day activities.

7 Most Popular Architecture Rendering Software Solutions for 2019

Choosing a rendering software can be difficult because of so many available options. Here are the top 7 most popular solutions and reasons why so many people use them.

The art of visualization and rendering have gone far in the past ten years or so. With new technologies and software solutions, the digitalization of architectural workflows has peaked. Today nobody does these things manually anymore, but on a computer.

This doesn’t mean that architectural visualization has become easy, as it requires a lot of knowledge to use a certain software solution and have all the tricks up your sleeve. However, the rendering software that people use today is much more powerful than earlier iterations.

Today, there are so many options available that they’ve been categorized by the industries they are used in. We are going to talk about the seven most popular architecture rendering software tools for this year.

1. V-Ray

There is no real information on which software is the most widely used, but when it comes to V-Ray, it’s definitively near the top. When you walk into a designer’s or architect’s office, there is about a 50% chance that they are using V-Ray. It comes with a fantastic library of materials and textures and gives astonishing realism to renders.

This is software is designed to help users recreate reality starting from shadows, lights, and colors. V-Ray is a serious tool that has a lot of different options and offers a lot of versatility. This is why beginners who don’t have a lot of experience using similar software will easily get lost in V-Ray.

What’s even better about V-Ray is that it’s compatible with all the other popular architecture rendering software, meaning that it can be used through them as a plugin. Many argue that this program offers the best options for shadow and lighting customization and we all know how important these two are for quality renders.

2. 3Ds Max

Even though many people criticize 3Ds Max for its rendering capabilities, it is still the most popular software out there. Although all the other tools and functionalities of 3Ds Max are solid, its rendering is shaky and its onboard and 3D modeling software work in conjunction.

What’s good about 3Ds Max is that it is well-optimized to be used as an interface with Autodesk products like Revit and AutoCAD.

However, if you are using Revit to do 3D modeling, the onboard renderer in 3Ds Max can come in pretty handy. While Revit comes with renders, it is limited with almost no flexibility, and its end results are very poor quality.

All the Revit models can be imported into Max and they can be manipulated with the emphasis on texture and help you create much better renders than you could in Revit.

3. Blender

Blender is a potent software tool for making architectural renderings and this is why a lot of architects use it. There are two reasons why Blender is so popular, it’s completely free and it works quite well, especially when you consider the fact that it costs nothing.

Many people think that Blender is just a toy and that it can’t do any serious work just because it’s free, but this is not the case.

What’s even better is that it’s an open-source program that can be altered to the liking of the architect. If we are talking about quality, Blender is one of the top 5 solutions, as it has countless tools and features, all of which have a practical use in making your designs more realistic.

Even though it’s a full-blown professional designer’s kit, it’s not difficult to learn how to use Blender, even for beginners. There are a lot of people who learned to render on Blender and continue using it today. Apart from that, it has a great online community built around it, so whenever you are stuck, you can find answers online.

4. Revit

When you say Revit, everyone in the architecture community knows what you are talking about. There is no need to explain to someone what Revit is or what it’s used for. Revit is not a top-notch rendering software, but it can still be used to create some of the most realistic visualizations, especially if you’ve worked with it for a long time and know it like the back of your hand.

Revit comes with a lot of different tools and features, as well as textures, models, and materials. It has great rendering overall, but the issue with this software is that you really need to know how to use it properly to get good results. It’s definitely not the best, but it has some solid capabilities.

A lot of professionals use it on a daily basis for their work and they are able to create amazing renders. However, it takes time before you get used to using it and learning how to take advantage of its features and tools. It can also be very unintuitive at times.

5. Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D doesn’t have a long history like some of the rendering software we mentioned here, but it’s growing in popularity and there is already a community built around it. The reason for this is that all the new 3D designers are using it because it is very fast and intuitive. It has great tools and features that allow the creation of highly realistic renderings.

Even professionals that give it a try fall in love with it because it is very powerful, while at the same time simple and easy to use. Cinema 4D has an intuitive interface with procedural workflows and a good help system that can actually give quality guidance. It’s a great tool to create renders that will help your work stand out from the rest.

Still, it takes time to learn everything there is to Cinema 4D but it has a good learning curve and even though it might take time, it’s not confusing in any way. One of the biggest issues many people have with this software is that it is very expensive and many people can’t afford to pay for its license.

6. Maxwell Render

Maxwell is also one of the great rendering solutions that had a lot of users for a time, but soon enough, everyone realized that it was very slow. Since most people didn’t have the patience to wait that long, they decided to switch to faster solutions. However, apart from this one major downside, Maxwell is a great rendering software that allows users to make ultra-realistic renders with amazing details.

Many users still can’t get over Maxwell simply because it has an amazing lighting engine “unbiased rendering” that relies on modeling techniques from real-life, rather than resorting to digital tricks to create something realistic. This is why it takes so long for it to render anything and for those who are willing to make this trade-off, Maxwell will be a great solution.

This is why the developers add Maxwell Fire, which is a fast engine designed to help users see previews of their renders before they hit the “render” button. This way, the user won’t have to waste a lot of time rendering to see how his project will turn out.

7. Octane Render

This rendering software is fast, one of the fastest ones out there. Many argue that it is, in fact, the fastest as it produces realistic, quality renderings in no time. This is one of the reasons why more and more people are starting to use it. In the last couple of years, it has grown significantly in popularity because of its lightning fast engine that doesn’t sacrifice the quality of renders for its speed.

It also comes with a wide range of powerful tools and features accompanied with extensive libraries of textures and materials that you can work with out of the box. Octane Render is built to work flawlessly on Nvidia cards and this is why it works so much better than most software solutions that rely on CPU.

It also incorporates new technology that can easily take care of complex issues like subsurface scattering, motion blur, and depth of field. At the same time, when you compare its price to other similar software solutions, Octane Render is quite affordable.

These are the seven most popular architectural rendering software solutions. If you choose either one of these you won’t be making a mistake. However, it is up to you to look at their pros and cons and, of course, their price range.

Most of the rendering software out there comes with a free trial option, so you can test them thoroughly before you make your final decision. Choosing a quality piece of software is as important as learning how to use it, so make sure that you take the time to consider all the options carefully.

4 Limitations of Current Rendering Software and What We Can Expect in the Future

Rendering software is a powerful tool used by many professionals. However, these tools also have their limitations which are bound to change in the future.

At the moment, there are many renderers available for designers and architects to choose from. Essentially, all these software solutions are designed for the same purpose. But at the same time, they are all different, and won’t give the same results. It’s not a simple topic, as there are many things to know about rendering software.

The latest tools are updated very often and with the new hardware options coming out each year, they have to keep track and provide new solutions. Even though 3D rendering has gone a long way, these tools still have many limitations.

Still, the rapid development of technology means that we are likely to see these tools improve in the future and overcome current issues. Even though different tools have different limitations, we will try and present the most common problems that occur today and talk about what you can expect in the future.

1. Rendering is still fairly slow

Most architects are used to the fact that they need at least the whole day to finish one render. We are talking about the moment when you decide that the project is finished and you simply press “render” and wait for the devices to process your work.

Even though computer technology is constantly improving and devices are more powerful, there hasn’t been a significant reduction in time needed to complete a single render, as rendering software is also getting more complex and requires more resources.

Of course, if you want a simple render without many details, effects, and materials, you will be able to finish the render quickly, but for professional work, it still takes too long, no matter how powerful the workstation is.

As standards grow and professionals try to be competitive, the current computers are simply unable to provide fast rendering.

2. Rendering software can be really demanding

Most modern rendering software comes with big demands in terms of GPU, CPU, and memory overall. Some tools are even impossible to use if you have an average computer, as they simply won’t run – and even if you are able to run them, they will work really slowly, making it impossible to work properly.

We are talking about professional tools that experts and successful companies use, not just any rendering software that can provide some outdated results. So, for an architect to meet the current standards, they must be prepared to invest in a powerful workstation that can run these complex solutions.

Many starting architects don’t have the money to afford rendering software that would help them improve their work and compete on the market. This “luxury” is reserved for already established professionals and people working at large companies that can afford to buy state of the art computers.

3. Some renderers work best on certain hardware

Choosing a rendering software is not easy. There are plenty of options available and to make the right decision, a person needs to do their research and learn about their pros and cons. However, this is not everything that needs to be considered.

Some of the rendering software is specifically designed to work better on certain GPU brands and models, which means that they won’t give the same render results if done on different devices. For some solutions to truly reach their potential, the user would need specific recommended hardware.

It’s important to read up on the software you’re looking at to see if the developers recommend a certain GPU and why, which is very limiting, because you would not only need that exact GPU, but you would also have to use only that particular software.

4. Not many solutions offer pre-rendering

Pre-rendering or render preview is a feature that allows the user to see what their project will look like when rendered. Looking at your work while in the project can’t tell you how it will look when rendered, which is why most architects have to render their work and wait for the process to finish before they can see the end result.

This takes a lot of valuable time that could be used more productively. Additionally, if there is something wrong with the render and it requires revision, the process will have to be repeated. You essentially waste even more time just because most tools don’t allow previews.

It has become a form of art and a skill for architects to realize when a render is finalized and visualize how it will actually turn out, which requires extensive experience with certain software but even then professionals have to revise their work and waste time.

What we can expect in the future

Future 3D rendering and architectural visualization will take this process to a whole new level when it comes to speed and quality. Brand new CGI software will not only allow architects to finish designing projects fast, but it will also be easier for them to implement architectural ideas while construction is ongoing.

Here are some of the technology innovations that will shape the future of architectural work and 3D rendering overall.

1. New VR software for real-time project design

With architectural VR solutions, architects will get a digital space where they can cooperate throughout the design process. Multiple professionals will be able to work in real-time on the same task. Designers will be able to use this space with standalone or headsets connected to a PC.

Currently, the best tool of this kind is called InsiteVR and it comes with collaborative markups, mute controls, scaling, voice communication, and cloud models which are synchronized. Architects can join in and work together on building 3D models, making the whole process faster.

These solutions will greatly enhance the design of large projects which require the expertise of different specialists.

2. The construction process will speed up with rapid prototyping

3D printing and rapid prototyping are similar concepts – they allow CGI artists to create their 3D models and print them directly.

Effective and fast prototyping is already used actively for manufacturing and testing construction equipment and products. In the future, 3D visualization will adopt rapid construction, which are mass-produced constructions prototyped with 3D printers.

These kinds of constructions will be built part by part, and then these parts will be assembled. Most of the new visualization and rendering software solutions will support this feature, and this will lead to a much faster process of design and construction.

Additionally, there will be much better communication between models and actual construction.

3. Presentations will become immersive with AR

Compared to VR, which is designed to provide the experience of a new reality, AR serves as an overlay in real-time. With various portable devices in the future, there will be more sophisticated 3D visualization tools that allow architects to showcase products at any given moment.

No matter if we are talking about the beginning, the middle, or a completed project, it will be easy to display it to customers and stakeholders.

They will even be able to demonstrate the whole building process in a live presentation. With quality 3D visualization and AR, customers will be able to see every tiny detail of the project and understand how the whole thing will be implemented.

4. All software will support real-time rendering

Real-time rendering can be a confusing term. It means displaying many computer-generated images in the form of live animations without any broken textures or noticeable lag.

Let’s take video games as an example, as they are similar to architecture projects. When a player is moving, all the images move and they pan instantly, but this is not a simple process.

A lot of processing power, coding knowledge, and digital engineering are required to create a smooth and realistic virtual experience. With the increase of hardware power, the computers in the future will be able to process these kinds of effects within rendering software in real-time, thus improving the whole process of designing and showcasing a project.

These are some of the issues current 3D rendering software solutions have, but also a glimpse of the innovation and development we are seeing in this industry. Ever since visualization and rendering went digital, they have changed and improved in a short period with fast technological development. We can only expect this trend to continue in the future.

15 Amazing Rendering Software Resources Every Architect Should Check Out

Whether you’re still learning the ropes or trying to deliver high-quality results using a cheap rendering tool, the following resources are worth checking out.

When it comes to architectural rendering, one can never know enough.

The worst thing that can happen to you as a rendering artist is to lend a huge project that requires a technique you haven’t mastered yet or materials you don’t have. Do you decline the offer and miss a chance to go big? Or do you accept and try to figure it out on your feet?

You’ll go for the second option, of course, so you’ll need to be resourceful.

After superior technical skills and outside-the-box thinking, this is probably the third most important characteristic of any 3D rendering artist. It’s crucial for building your portfolio and business, as it directly translates to how much you learn and develop on an everyday basis.

Today, we’ll talk about two types of resources for rendering artists:

● Learning resources that will help you develop new rendering skills quickly.

● Online catalogs of 3D models, textures, and materials to use until you do.

The following is a real smorgasbord of useful tools and reliable libraries every architect should check out. If you don’t need them now, bookmark them for later. Your big breakthrough project is coming any day now and you’ll want to be ready when it does.

1. Rendering Lessons & Tutorials: 3D Total

3D Total probably has a perfect answer to every rendering-related question you’ve ever asked (and then some.) Boasting both creative contests and a comprehensive gallery of free materials, this site is your go-to source of great textures and inspiration.

But that’s actually not what we’re recommending 3D Total for. This amazing site also offers free rendering lessons and tutorials, as well as an engaging community of artists and teachers interested in sharing their knowledge and advancing the field.

2. Rendering Hub: LuxRender & SketchUp

There are much better tools for photorealistic visualization and modeling than SketchUp. That being said, this simple software still provides a nice alternative to the much popular Blender. It is a good choice for beginners who are learning the basics of the craft.

Now, SketchUp is a lightweight, quick, and budget-friendly solution on its own, but its full potential can be unlocked through integration with another tool, LuxRender. The two pair seamlessly, allowing you to produce quality renders straight from your model.

3. Ready-Made 3D Models: GrabCAD

As a 3D rendering artist, you never really stop learning new tricks. Professional development in this field takes years of experience, just like professional-looking renders take years of accumulated 3D models. Until that time passes, GrabCAD is at your disposal.

GrabCAD hosts not only one of the most comprehensive databases of ready-made models but also one of the best search engines. Whatever you need for your projects, you’ll be able to find here, and quickly, so that you can spend your time improving your skills.

4. Open-Source Modeling: Blender 3D

Every architect has a different learning curve, and you’re not an exception. There isn’t a one-fits-all solution for getting better at 3D rendering, but there is an all-in-one rendering program that can help you produce great results at any stage of professional development.

Blender 3D is a modeling and rendering tool that every architect knows about. We’ve all used it at some point, mostly because it is completely free to download and use. Over the years, the platform has grown into an industry-standard for beginners and professionals alike.

5. Collaboration & Networking: CGarchitect

There’s no shortage of helpful resources at CG Architect, nor lack of support and guidance. Launched as an online place for architects to hang out and exchange experiences and ideas, this brilliant site has quickly become the social network for architectural visualization.

You’ll hardly be able to find a more welcoming community anywhere in the industry, especially because CGarchitect relies on the kindness of strangers to deliver top advice and insiders’ tips on anything related to the practice. No need to say, it’s free to join.

Free Textures & Models for Architectural Rendering

As your reputation grows, you’ll be expected to create models from scratch. But while you’re learning the ropes of architectural rendering, it’s always good to have a reliable library of copy-paste-friendly texture resources and materials you can use for your projects.

In our experience, the following are the best and most useful on the market:

6. Xoio-Air

Although smaller than most on our list, Xoio-Air takes the cake when it comes to the quality-price ratio. Without a dollar spent, you can use it to access gorgeous cut-outs and textures and add value to your photorealistic visualizations in a blink of an eye.

7. 3D Textures

A similar description can be attached to 3D Textures as well – a host of free yet quality textures and other materials for post-production are here at the tips of your fingers – but this trusty architectural resource is actually much more than meets the eye.

Let’s begin by saying that 3D Textures is huge, much bigger than you’d expect from a free 3D texture library. You’ll be able to find cool materials for interior and industrial design too, along with diverse PBR textures with diffuse, occlusion, and other maps.

But there’s more. 3D Texture collaborates with Blender 3D, which means that you can also use it as a learning resource with a myriad of in-depth rendering tutorials. 3D Texture will let you download cool textures and then teach you how to use them as well.  

8. TurboSquid

For concrete, steel, stone, and wood textures, look no further than TurboSquid. Boasting one of the most popular online databases for architectural rendering, this trusty resource keeps expanding at the speed of light. Plus, its friendly contributors are always willing to help.

9. Poliigon

As TurboSquid’s main competitor, Poliigon keeps it fresh by offering both free and paid content. Its catalog of free textures is not in any way inferior by quality, only smaller than the library offered to its premium users. Also, Poliigon earns bonus points for its frictionless UX.

10. Textures.com

A similar offer can be found on Textures.com, though this popular database employs a different (and more convenient) subscription model. All its 3D textures come with a price tag, but the service allows you to download and try out up to 15 textures for free every day.

We’ve also loved Textures.com for its hierarchy system. Unlike many other online resources for 3D rendering, it comes with categories and subcategories that are effortless to navigate. You can search its robust database by keyword or if you can’t think of any, by meta tag.  

11. Texturer.com

Diversity is a key selling point for Texturer.com, as this library offers just about anything you might need for rendering, from people to pets to vegetation. It’s a great place to start looking for high-quality textures and materials if you’re specializing in interior design.

12. SWTEXTURE

The checkerboard effect is easily one of the most frustrating obstacles rendering artists face at the beginning of their career. It happens when you use stock-quality textures, but you won’t find any of those in SWTEXTURE’s unique catalog. On the contrary.

This site offers nothing but textures that leave no trace of tiling, which is pretty much crucial for any photorealistic visualization project. To help you navigate its offer, the site posts daily blogs that focus on specific types of textures. It’s both helpful and fun.

13. Tony Textures

Tony from Tony Textures creates engaging blog posts as well but doesn’t focus on specific types of textures only. Though we’ve seen more impressive 3D texture resources on the internet, this one grabbed our attention with its collection of user-friendly tutorials.

14. Flying Architecture

You’ll hear architects describing Flying Architecture as the Amazon of the rendering industry. They are not far from the truth, considering what this comprehensive site has to offer to both beginners and professionals. And need we say, it’s gorgeous just to look at.

Along with a truly superb gallery of textures, materials, and cut-outs, Flying Architecture also offers a plethora of top-notch tutorials. A lot of them are about VIZ Render, though, as users of this rendering tool are somewhat of a niche audience for Flying Architecture.  

15. 3DXO

Another great 3D texture resource to check out is 3DXO, a modest database of free-to-use models that compensates its lack of diversity with the amazing quality of textures. 3DXO users rank materials themselves, which can be a huge time-saver when you’re in a rush.

Whether you’re still learning the basics of architectural rendering or trying to complete a project on a tight budget, these resources will certainly come in handy. They are a valuable addition for those relying on low-cost rendering programs to deliver high-quality results.  

But that still doesn’t mean that these resources (at least some of them) can’t be of help to rendering professionals as well. When it comes to budget-friendly solutions, they are considered an industry staple. Be it as it may, checking them out doesn’t cost anything.

Best case scenario, they’ll help you grow as a rendering artist.

Unity vs Unreal The Clash of the Titans for Architectural Visualization

If you'd like to improve your architectural visualization presentation, it's clear that you should learn one of the best 3D animation programs – Unity 3D or Unreal Engine. However, you should compare them and choose the best solution before you make a decision.

While technology advances, architectural visualization is becoming more complex, and investors and clients are getting even more demanding. Standing in the middle of the battlefield, architects and 3D artists always have to choose the best software solution to achieve hyper-realistic results and stay ahead of the competition.

It's known that architectural visualization has the most powerful influence when it comes to selling projects, and that's why you have to carefully consider each decision.

Among numerous software solutions available on the market, there are always a few that work almost equally well, so we can't decide which one to choose. Right now, if we're talking about the best architectural visualization programs, we have to choose between Unity 3D and Unreal Engine.

Let's learn something new about the mentioned engines and compare features, preferences, and results! That appears like the only way to choose the most suitable solution for architectural visualization.

Platforms

The modern world of architectural visualization requires access to various platforms, compatibility with the latest equipment and gadgets, as well as the possibility to use the software on various devices. The wider platform access you have, the larger your customer base will be. Let's compare these two engines.

Unity 3D:  Windows PC, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8, Tizen, Android TV,  Samsung SMART TV, Xbox One & 360, Web Player, WebGL, SteamOS, PS4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, and VR (including Hololens).

Unreal Engine: Linux, Windows PC, Mac OS X, SteamOS, Android, iOS, VR, HTML5, Xbox One, and PS4.

Unity 3D vs Unreal Engine – 1:0

Interface

Ease of use is usually the first and the most important factor while deciding what software to use. Of course, the quality of the end product is also very important, but if the software is too hard to use, the chances that most people will actually use it are low.

Although both interfaces are quite similar, beginners should start with Unity 3D. Movable and resizable toolbars are the positive characteristics of both programs, but Unity 3D is unmistakably simpler to learn and use.

User experience is crucial in determining the better solution, and we can freely say that Unreal Engine takes second place behind Unity 3D. Unity 3D is faster – assets take a shorter time to save or import, and, unlike in the Unreal Engine, simple tasks don't require any extra steps.

The secret of Unity's fast response lies in the fact that it can run on Windows XP, while Unreal Engine requires at least Windows 7 64-bit.

Unity 3D vs Unreal Engine – 2:0

Graphics

When it comes to graphics, both engines support 2D and 3D animation. Physically-Based Rendering, Global Illumination, Advanced shaders, Volumetric lights, and Post Processing are also common features for both software solutions, but, we must say that one engine is much better than the other in terms of graphics.

Unreal Engine can help you achieve any type of visual style, allowing you to create complex particle simulation systems. Moreover, the advanced dynamic lighting, which is a crucial element in architectural visualization, is much better in Unreal Engine.

In comparison with Unity 3D, Unreal Engine is capable of creating much more accurate and smooth lighting. Moreover, it's important to mention shadows, too. A polished look and nice falloff of shadows will make your renders more realistic.

Unity 3D vs Unreal Engine – 2:1

Asset Store

Sometimes, the opportunity to import ready-to-use 3D models, environments or textures can save you lots of time and even improve your end product. It's important to mention that both Unity and Unreal have asset stores.

However, the number of assets in Unity's and Unreal's stores differs. Unity 3D has a better asset store, where you can find everything from the ORK Framework for creating RPGs, extensions for AI control, to intuitive animation, motion capture software, and GUI generators.

Unity 3D vs Unreal Engine – 3:1

Material Editor

In the beginning, only Unreal Engine had a material editor, but recently, Unity 3D released a beta with a material editor included. However, Unity's material editor is too complicated and hard to learn and use, and it requires specific graphics settings.

The Unreal Engine's material editor is similar to 3ds Max's or Maya's editor. Using the node graph, you can edit and adjust materials quickly.

Unity 3D vs Unreal Engine – 3:2

The Quality of End Products – Visualization

When it comes to the quality of visualization, we can freely say that Unreal Engine is way ahead of Unity 3D. Thanks to its fully integrated and ready to use post-processing, visualizations done in Unreal Engine have smooth cinematographic quality. Various grading, volumetric, and lens flares effects are also a plus for this engine.

Animations of architectural visualizations done in Unreal Engine are more realistic because of Unreal's ability to produce high-quality and realistic natural and artificial lighting, as well as the landscape around your building. When it comes to interior design, you can highlight all the imperfections and achieve hyper-realism simpler than ever.

Unity 3D vs Unreal Engine – 3:3

Pricing

Another important factor while choosing your architectural visualization software is pricing. Pricing, both for Unity 3D and the Unreal Engine depends on your funding.

If you're just trying to practice for fun, then you can use any of these for free. On the other hand, if you're earning lots of money, you can consider the following pricing methods.

Unity 3D – If you decide to use Unity 3D, you can download a completely free version. However, there is a Unity Pro with broader features. If you want to upload your free Unity 3D to Unity Pro, you'll have to pay $1,500, or you can pay $75/month.

Unreal Engine – Recently, the Unity Engine went entirely free. If you're a student or educator, you can download your free version and enjoy. However, Unreal Engine, unlike Unity 3D, has royalty fees of 5%.

Unity 3D vs Unreal Engine – 3:4

The Bottom Line

When we've compared all the features of Unity 3D and Unreal Engine, we have to say that both engines are awesome! Depending on your goals, you should pick the most suitable solution and start creating advanced architectural visualizations even today.

What do you think, which software is a better solution for architectural visualizations? Let us know in the comments!

Chaos Cloud

Running an architecture firm is a daunting task! Learn how to become better at project pitching by leveraging architectural visualization. Stand out from the competition, get more clients, and stun them with the visuals of your architectural designs.

If there is anything architecture firms struggle with that is project pitching. Getting investors interested to the point when they actually want to give you their hard-earned money and support your project is a tricky business. You have to consider all the options available for you to stand out from the competition and play the right hand.

Sometimes whiteboards, presentations, and the 3D physical model are not going to be enough to cut it. Today we are going to explore architectural visualization as one of the opportunities you have. Let’s see how it can make project pitching easier and put you in a position to get more investors interested in your designs.

Move Though the 3D Exterior

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then 3D renders of your design are worth a novel. Quite often, the investors are worried about how the building’s exterior will look like. And, more importantly, how it will fit in the surrounding area. Presenting them with sketches or even with a physical 3D model won't be enough for them to experience the exterior to the fullest.

3D architectural renders really shine in this department. You will be able to incorporate all the surrounding structures into your designs, including buildings, trees, lawns, benches, and so on.

The clients will be able to take a take a virtual walk and see what the building will look like once it is finished, and how it will make the entire area look more engaging and beautiful.

Experience the Interior from Natural Perspective

When it comes to the interior of your architectural designs, you are very limited in choosing the methods of showing it to your investors. A 3D physical model that can have its parts removed or sketches of the interior are all viable ways to do it. But the question is: “Will it be enough to make your investors give you a green light?”

Architectural visualization can help you with this as well. Since you can have an entire building’s interior rendered at a time, you can take your investors on a virtual tour of the building.

Let them experience it from a natural perspective and see for themselves how it feels to walk the hallways and rooms of your design. This is an efficient way to show them that your design is worth their money.

Delight Investors with Details

The details in your architectural designs can help you complete the experience and tell a story to the viewers. The sketches and models are very restrictive in this case. Putting details in the models may overcrowd them and make them appear messy and overstuffed. You can play with sketches, though, but it will require you to spend a copious amount of time doing so.

Architectural visualization is a real savior here. You can incorporate all the details you want and do it fast as well. Whether it is the furniture, lighting, plants, tapestry, wall textures, or colors, you will be able to add it to your design. This is a great way to show your design in its full light and delight the investors, making their decision an easy one.

Generate Breathtaking Panoramic Views

Presenting the clients with panoramic views by using any of the old school methods is borderline impossible. And there are clients who specifically demand to see the building in the environment. For instance, they might ask to see how it sits adjacent to the local river, hill, neighborhood behind it, and so on. Failing to deliver this will cost you precious projects.

But, on the other hand,  if you decide to use 3D software for architectural firms, you will be able to generate realistic panoramic views of your building from whichever angle you want. A visualization of a panoramic view is great, as it allows the investors to take a look at the building from whatever height they want to.

Prove That the Demands Are Met

Many investors closely cooperate with potential developers as well. In many instances, a developer representative may be present when you are pitching your project to make sure that your design is realistic to the point that it can easily be brought to life. On top of that, there are specific demands and conditions investors might require before they can greenlight your project.

With software that makes architectural visualization possible you will be able to deliver renders and get instant approval. If investors want to check a specific thing, you can take them directly to your solution in a matter of seconds.

Make Changes in Time

Very rarely do investors say “great job” when you pitch a project. More often you will have to answer dozens of questions and make adjustments they want you to. Answering the questions is easy, but making changes is really hard, especially if you have access to limited assets and resources. This is where architectural visualization can really help you.

First of all, it will help you completely showcase your project to investors so that they can identify the things they would like to see changed. And secondly, you will be able to make those changes very quickly via appropriate software and send them new renders. This means that they won’t have to make room for you in their busy schedule to get the things they asked for.

Build an Overwhelming Portfolio

If you choose to use 3D rendering software for your projects, you will eventually build a large portfolio of designs which you can use as marketing material. You can share it on your official website and social media platforms. Doing things in this fashion will also help you build a reputation of a trustworthy firm that puts the requests of the investors and clients first, and complies to them in very short notice.

As you can see, architectural visualization can help you a lot in terms of pitching your project to investors. You can take them on virtual tours, present them with landscape renders, incorporate details in your designs, and make all the necessary changes efficiently.