If you have just entered the world of architectural visualization, the broad spectrum of software solutions and tools might upset you. However, we've prepared a list of useful, cost-friendly and easy-to-use architectural modeling and rendering programs that can work well both for professionals and beginners.
The very first contact with architectural visualization is often the same for all architects and 3D artists: high expectations and not enough skills can be the motivation for progress, but also a reason to quit.
Numerous 3D modeling and rendering software solutions and post-production tools, and very often, the wrong selection of programs can cause lots of stress and dissatisfaction.
However, you should start with a simple visualization software solution, and you'll learn over time and improve your skills. With that in mind, here are 7 powerful 3D modeling and rendering software solutions that you can use even when you become a professional.
Top Five 3D Modeling Software Solutions
A hyper-realistic visualization won't be possible without detailed and high-quality 3D models. The oversaturated market offers lots of 3D modeling programs, but the chances that you'll start with software that is too complex or useless are huge.
The following five 3D modeling programs are easy to learn, and more importantly, these are suitable both for beginners and experts!
1. AutoCAD Architecture
Even before you start working on your very first 3D model, you have to draw your object in 2D. One of the most popular floor plan drawing tools among architects is clearly Autodesk's AutoCAD. However, the developers of this helpful software tried to simplify some processes. AutoCAD Architecture is, as its name suggests, AutoCAD specially designed for architects.
However, this tool is more than vector software – AutoCAD Architecture allows you to create 3D models while working on your 2D floor plans.
AutoCAD Architecture has integrated tools and functions, allowing you to draw custom walls, roofs or stairs, but also to add pre-created 3D models of the doors or windows. More importantly, everything will be technically correct, and therefore you won't waste your time on fixing your technical drawings.
If you're a student or educator, you can get your three-year license for free!
ArchiCAD, software designed by architects for architects, is another favorite tool both for beginners and professionals. As a BIM and CAD PC program, ArchiCAD can generate 2D floor plans, 3D models, and even hyper-realistic visualization.
Moreover, in the beginning, architects often add lots of superfluous data in their 3D models, and ArchiCAD can store huge amounts of data, which ensures a great experience.
This software is an excellent choice for those new to architectural visualization because it provides its users with easy building design, quick and accurate construction documentation, and cost estimation, simultaneously eliminating the factor of human error.
With Facade Design workflow, ArchiCAD enables you to create modern buildings without investing lots of time and effort!
3. Google SketchUp
One of the most simple to use 3D modeling software tools is Google SketchUp. A basic toolbar contains only fundamental options and features, but as you develop your skills, you can add various helpful tools that will simplify all the processes of 3D modeling.
The best thing about SketchUp is that you can finish everything very quickly. If you need furniture, textures or other 3D models, you can download them from the 3D Warehouse library.
For the best experience, you can tour your projects using mixed reality, virtual reality or augmented reality, and moreover, SketchUp's interface is so simple and customizable that you can use and create amazing buildings even if you're a beginner.
Besides, SketchUp is useful when it comes to technical documentation. With a single click, you can get sections through your 3D model, but you also can export 2D facades of your building.
When it comes to rendering, SketchUp is compatible with one of the best rendering software tools – V-Ray! So, using this incredible software, you can finish all tasks without lots of training, but you can also add various extensions and improve your work even more!
Download your trial version and see for yourself!
4. Rhinoceros 3D
Rhinoceros 3D is a common choice among beginners, especially when it comes to modeling of complex buildings. Thanks to mathematical representations of 3D geometry – NURBS or Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines, you can create organic forms or surfaces from 2D lines, curves, arcs or circles.
Rhino 3D has a simple interface and it belongs to the group of easy to learn and use 3D modeling programs. Moreover, Rhinoceros 3D is compatible with CAD files, so you can import or export models or 2D drawings.
Rhinoceros 3D allows you to draw 3D models entirely naturally like you're using a digital paper and pen! Using this excellent software, you can create complex and beautiful solutions more easily than ever.
5. Autodesk’s 3ds Max
If you want to start your career using the very best 3D modeling software, Autodesk's 3ds Max should be your choice. 3ds Max's interface is similar to AutoCAD's, but it is more complex.
Specially designed for 3D modeling, 3ds Max includes numerous features and options. However, when you start using it step by step, you'll learn how to use the basic tools first, and then you'll slowly develop your skills.
Autodesk's 3ds Max is designed to facilitate various processes of 3D modeling and animation, but it's also suitable for rendering using Mental Ray. However, if you'd like to use the golden combination for 3D modeling and rendering, you can download V-Ray for 3ds Max and achieve hyper-realistic renders smoothly.
In combination with the latest tech equipment, you can use VR headset and edit or tour your 3D models in the virtual reality world.
Autodesk's 3ds Max can help you achieve and design even the most complex ideas, and that's why this is the No. 1 software solution in architecture. Moreover, you can download your student license and enjoy your free software within an hour!
Best Rendering Software Solutions
No matter how good your 3D model appears, it won't be hyper-realistic without any rendering. That's why we've found these two rendering software solutions.
One of the most commonly used rendering software, compatible with 3D rendering software such as 3ds Max, SketchUp, Maya, Rhino 3D, Nuke, Revit, Katana, Cinema 4D, and Modo, is the one and only V-Ray.
V-Ray allows you to add textures to your 3D models and create high-quality images. Each material can be edited, which means that you can adjust bump, transparency, opacity, luminosity, and many more preferences. Moreover, using V-Ray, you can add natural and artificial light to your model, and improve the authenticity of the landscape around your building.
V-Ray is suitable both for interior and exterior rendering, it's easy to use, and you can achieve magnificent results!
Even if you're a beginner, you’ve surely heard that rendering can often last more than it should. However, unlike other programs, Lumion will produce your images within a few seconds. Besides being the fastest software for rendering, Lumion also has lots of other benefits.
We should start with the fact that Lumion is the most comfortable to learn and use. You can choose numerous textures and materials from the library divided into two main groups – interior and exterior textures. Moreover, all textures are pre-edited, so you don't have to waste your time on editing materials, but you can if you want to adjust it more.
Another incredibly helpful feature of Lumion is the landscape. You can choose several areas, but you can also add your model in a real environment using the latest version of Lumion. Moreover, sky and clouds are also included in the pre-selected environment, but you can edit that and add rain, fog, or other effects.
However, that's not all. Lumion has a library with hyper-realistic 3D models, which means that you can add people, animals, other building or the entire city, vehicles, street signs, but also furniture, plants, and other necessities for the interior design.
Thanks to Lumion's transparent interface, the process of rendering will appear like you're playing Sims. Well, Lumion is definitely the best rendering software, both for beginners and professionals in architectural visualization!
The Bottom Line
If you choose the right combination of 3D modeling and rendering software, you'll enjoy visualization! It might appear too complicated at the beginning, but you should give it a shot. The visualization is a common language among all nations, so you should learn how to use some of these software solutions!
What's your favorite 3D modeling and rendering software combination? Let us know in the comments!