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3D Architecture Programs You Should Be Using

Architects need very specific programs to help manage the design process. Here are 5 of the most essential.

For architects and interior designers, your ability to communicate your ideas to yourself and the outside world is one of your most important avenues to success. In fact, it’s the lifeblood of any design firm, and making sure you have the proper tools to produce images, animations, and other 3D visualizations is just as important as the design itself.

Unfortunately, there is an overwhelming amount of software out there bogging down the ability to find the right mix of speed, intuitive interface, and end results. This list aims to outline a few programs every architect or interior designer should have installed on their work machines, giving a wide variety of toolsets that won’t leave any gaps in your ability to produce believable results without sacrificing time spent on the design.

Here are 5 architecture programs every architecture firm should be using.

1 | AutoDesk Revit

Revit had a tough time coming out of the gate when it was introduced to a stubborn community of 2D CAD users. It was slow, clunky, and didn’t provide the accuracy and level of drafting detail that the likes of AutoCAD did. However, as more firms have accepted the fact that BIM is different for a good reason, Revit has blossomed into a powerhouse in construction document production and management.

Revit allows architects to digitally construct their ideas before having to physically construct them, giving a 3D visualization tool that isn’t concerned with the final product, but more with the process itself.

2 | SketchUp

Few programs offer the speed, ease, and stupidly understandable suite of tools that SketchUp does. It’s completely free to download and use, and lends itself to establishing a streamlined design process with constant visual feedback. Not only that, but recently SketchUp has seen an influx of powerful plugin support from vRay, Maxwell, Lumion, and other rendering software that transforms Google’s 3D modeling program into a visualization beast.

There are few reasons not to have SketchUp on your computer, and to use it regularly when working out the visual and spatial kinks in your building designs.

3 | vRay

vRay has always been synonymous with 3D rendering and visualization, and for good reason. It provides unparallelled flexibility when it comes to camera, lighting, and material settings, giving pros everything they need to produce mind-bending photorealistic renderings and animations. These days, vRay supports plugins for just about any 3D modeling program worth a salt, so no matter what you use as a 3D design tool, vRay has your back.

Your clients and the general public will be amazed in the work you’ll be able to produce with vRay, strengthening trust and your ability to deliver a true-to-concept design.

4 | InDesign

Most people think Photoshop is the one Adobe product visual designers can’t live without, but I’d argue InDesign has even more to offer for architects and interior designers. It’s toolset focuses specifically on layout and communication, allowing architects to use their visual images and diagrams to tell the story of their design. It’s much easier to use than Photoshop, but offers some of the same composition and diagramming elements in a package that is quick to digest.

InDesign gives architects the power of storytelling, which is what you’ll need to have if you want people to understand why your design matters.

5 | AutoCAD

Why would you need to still be using a 2D CAD program when you just mastered the inner workings or Revit? Well, BIM is a software type that still has its holes, so using it in conjunction with a program like AutoCAD is a smart way to keep your designs on track. 2D CAD offers the ability to create detailed sets of shop drawings and instructions in a way 3D drafting never will.

In addition, AutoCAD is worthwhile to use when starting the design process because it allows you to quickly block out floor plans when organizing interior space. It’s time to face the facts: 2D drafting will always be something architects need to be able to do.

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