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What Is a 3D Architectural Rendering?

Jennifer Voight
Jennifer Voight

A 3D architectural rendering is a two-dimensional illustration that shows a completed architectural structure in realistic, photographic 3D detail, often used to show how a structure will appear before the project has been started. These are generally created using computer software specially designed to create 3D images from two-dimensional illustrations. Architectural renderings in 3D are used by architects and realtors to realistically represent the finished product to a client. This can be a valuable sales tool that allows the client to better visualize the completed project rather than relying on elevations or blueprints.

As a part of architectural rendering or architectural visualization, 3D architectural rendering is a step forward in representing how a finished project will appear when finished. Previously, architects were required to draw the finished product. Computer-generated 3D architectural renderings can be created in much less time than a physical drawing and are sometimes difficult to distinguish from photographs in their realism.

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Woman posing

Three-dimensional architectural rendering is an important tool in selling designs. Some clients have difficulty visualizing a completed project without seeing it first. A highly realistic, architectural rendering of a project can create an image that can affect a client on an emotional level and generate excitement about an idea that previously existed only in the abstract. Sometimes, seeing a photographically detailed image of an idea is enough to persuade a client to commit to a structural plan.

Special computer software is used to create a 3D architectural rendering. Software uses a rendering equation to add detail to a scene file, usually a cad or pdf of a floor plan or elevation. Texture, shading, and other effects of lighting are added to mimic the way that light appears in human vision for a realistic effect. Light-transfer modeling techniques are employed to simplify the complicated task of representing aspects of creating an image. Although four technical families exist, 3D architectural rendering software usually combines at least two to create the best images at lowest cost.

Software for 3D architectural is used by architects and artists who specialize in providing 3D rendering services for architects, realtors, and builders. These services can vary in cost according to the type of software renderers use and the degree of detail desired in the final product. Three-dimensional architectural rendering artists can also provide scale models, 3D renderings of interior elevations, and unconventional views, as at night. If computer cad or pdf files are not available, rendering artists can produce images using sketches or floor plans.

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