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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.