The Dos and Don’ts of Architectural Visualisation

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The Dos and Don’ts of Architectural Visualisation

Human beings have been building shelters since the earliest prehistoric period.

While our ancestors built theirs out of twigs, leaves and grass, arguably, the same principles of communicating design and construction were applied then, as now.

Although, luckily, the technology we use to do so has moved slightly beyond cave drawings.

Architectural visualisation is the process of seeing the design before the actual building phase. It can come in the form of basic sketches, 3D renderings, or interactive virtual tours.

Used by builders, architects, real estate agents, and interior designers to provide clients with a better representation of the service or product these professionals are selling. Architectural visualisation is a valuable tool in aiding to clients to realise the potential of their end-product.

Different Forms of Architectural Visualisation

With the advancement of technology comes the change in the way architectural visualisation is executed.

2D drawings

These used to be the norm in selling homes and buildings. Although more advanced software paved the way for more realistic structural renderings – basic sketches and flat floor plans continue to be of value in the industry.

Since 2D drawings do not always provide an accurate depiction of the property, 3D architectural visualisation started gaining momentum.

3D renderings

Can provide clients with photographic views of a home or building, allowing them to view the structure’s interior or exterior with a life-like definition and clarity.

3D virtual tours

On the other hand, provide a 360-degree view of the building and its surroundings. Using the latest 3D rendering software, these virtual tours can take clients inside, outside, and around a building. The best part is that clients can change and adjust certain elements that do not agree with their preferences.

Being a more convenient and cheaper option for design, architecture, and engineering, it’s no wonder that 3D visualisation has even found its way into non-traditional industries, such as gaming and entertainment.

In fact, the global market for 3D visualisation software is projected to grow by 24.3% every year from 2017 to 2025, with an increase in value from $577.4 million (£427.04 million) in 2017 to $4,068.8 million (£3,009.24 million) by 2025.

The Do’s And Don’ts of Architectural Visualisation

If you’re looking to enter into the world of architectural visualisation or want to establish yourself as the go-to 3D artist in your field, it takes discipline, creativity and the dedication to constantly improve your craft.

But if you want something a little more concrete, we’ve distilled a few essential do’s and don’ts to follow to benefit both your personal and technical development:


1. Execute the work

Ideas are only as good as the execution. While not everyone is gifted with producing emotionally-moving pieces of art on the fly, everyone can put in the hours needed to learn new techniques and see a project from start to end.

2. Travel

There is more to experience outside the four corners of your office or home. The real world can provide the inspiration for that next big project. So go out, travel, and experience all the architectural glory the world has to offer.

3. Educate yourself continuously

Education is not finite. Technology evolves at a dizzying rate and the software you are using now may be obsolete in a few years. Make it a point to consistently update your knowledge base by learning new techniques and programs.

4. Cultivate your craft

Everyone in the creative industry has suffered through an inspirational dry spell at some point. It could be burnout, a particular job, or just feeling stuck with the daily grind. The important thing to do is to continue to work through it, challenge yourself, and you never know what diamonds could come out of the rough.

5. Update your portfolio

The only way you can convince clients that you can do what you say you can do is by letting your work speak for itself. Keep track of your projects, upload it to your website, or compile them in a folder.

6. Accept criticisms

Criticism is part of this industry. Instead of taking it personally, use it as fuel to improve.

7. Pay attention to details

The details are what is going to make your visualisation look real and fully immerse your client in the world you’ve created. Is the placement of the shadows correct, what about the lighting?

8. Know when to stop with post-processing

The trap of perfection is just that—a trap. Know when to stop is equally as important as knowing where to start.

9. Stick to the objective

After all the fancy designs and software used, do remember the core of architectural visualisation: to communicate a conceptual narrative. Realistic renderings can sell your skills, but if your design can be better communicated using sketches or physical models, then do so. A great visual does not always translate to better communication of an initial design.


1. Compare yourself to others’ work

There is no point in comparing your chapter one to someone else’s chapter twenty. First, there will always be someone better out there. And secondly, just because they are better does not mean you lack the talent. It simply means you have more room for improvement.

2. Stick to one technique

Creating your personal brand is vital in this industry. However, do not let that deter you from exploring and creating. There are a lot of techniques out there that could best suit your style or can actually make your current one better.

3. Stick to one software

Although we all have our favourite software, testing and trying out other modelling, rendering, animation, and postproduction programs available, can introduce new techniques and skill sets that may improve your work.

4. Be rude

You will encounter people from all walks of life, with temperaments just as diverse. Deal with your clients respectfully, especially if there are cases of disagreement. You would not want to burn bridges.

5. Be afraid of taking risks

Although there are industry-accepted practices, you may want to try thinking outside the box to find your competitive edge. Push your boundaries and explore new styles.

6. Use wide lenses

Wide lenses would allow your clients to view a scene in its entirety. It can show all the furniture, background, and details you worked on. However, this tends to be problematic as it provides a lot of visual noise. It also gives a false impression of how big the room is. It is best if you just focus on one thing in particular.

7. Tilt the camera

Tilting the camera, same with wide lenses, gives a false representation of the dimensions of the room. If clients cannot tell where the horizon is or where the centre of gravity is, they will not appreciate the images you are showing them.

8. Use bad lighting

Lighting should be one of the top priorities in every project. Take the time to make it right, as it would affect your final render. Going too bright will not help either, as it ends up with no contrast. Shadows are just as important as light.

9. Add objects just to fill space

Every element in a scene needs to have a purpose. An empty space does not always have to be filled with furniture. A good tip is to design a building knowing that someone will live in it. It would help you decide which objects to include. Also, think of how these objects would harmonise with the each other.

10. Use too much colour

Having too many colours in one scene distracts your client’s eyes. You want them to focus on your work, and not be distracted by the amazing technicolour dream you’ve set out in front of them. As a rule of thumb, use only three colours per shot.

11. Your Own Rules To Live By

While these do’s and don’ts might provide you with a solid foundation to start with, don’t be afraid of breaking and creating your own rules. Each job and each artist will each have their own set of requirements and essentials, be discerning. Although taking advice can be a valuable learning tool, don’t be afraid to reject it and use your own initiative.

If you’d like to talk more about architectural visualisation, call us now and talk to one of our team about what we can do for you.