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Best Architectural Visualization Techniques

Architectural Visualization Techniques: Bringing Designs to Life through Digital Tools

One of the biggest challenges architects and designers have faced over the years is in getting across their plans and ideas to clients and stakeholders. As professionals they can envision and transform their 2D drawings into impressive physical structures but they need approvals from clients, communities, or authorities before beginning their project. For over a decade now, easy to use 3D visualisation software is aiding this process. Architects are able to transform their 2D plans to photorealistic 3D renderings with actual materials, textures, camera movements, lights, shadows and reflections to present their creations exactly as they envision them to their prospective clients for a buy-in, before beginning execution. Here we will take a look at a few tools and the features offered by them.

So put it succinctly, architectural visualisation is the art of generating realistic 3D visualisations of buildings, interiors, landscapes and various other environments using specialised software. This has now become a popular approach with several design studios and firms using it to visualise different projects before commencing construction.

The process – The process of 3D visualisation is done in various stages. Designers use either 1 software for the entire process or more than 1 depending on the results they desire. The first stage is to create a plan which is essentially done in 2D with dimensions. This file, usually an AutoCAD file, is then imported into a 3D software. Some architectural software allows basic 2D designs too. This is then converted to 3D, textures and lights are added and materials are assigned. This process is called 3D Modelling. Then, cameras are placed and the camera path is assigned. This process is called Animation. Lastly this vector file is converted to photorealistic images, a process called Rendering. So the process is as shown:

2D Design a 3D Modelling a Texturing, Lighting & Animation a Rendering (to create a video or image file)

Let’s look at some of the popular tools that can enable this.

Blender: One of the most popular tools out there is Blender. This is an open source 3D modelling program, completely free and exceptionally powerful. Users can create 2D technical plans and then transform them to 3D models. You can model, animate and render with the rich set of tools available. The software has a long learning curve but it is worth the effort considering the results.

Archicad

Archicad goes beyond 3D modelling and rendering and is also a BIM (Bill of Materials) software, built for designing buildings. Archidad offers powerful tools for creating 2D drawings and also creating realistic 3D renderings from them.

Autodesk Revit

One of the most popular software solutions for Architects, Revit is from Autodesk, a world leader in CAD and 3D software. Revit is a BIM software that offers construction firms everything they require – planning, designing, construction and building management. Revit is the right choice for those needing advanced engineering and architectural tools and it also integrates with AutoCAD. Those requiring advanced renderings could import their files into professional renderers like V Ray.

V-Ray

V-Ray is perhaps the industry’s most popular renderer. The V-Ray suite can be used to render a building, a huge apartment complex or even a city and is used extensively even for feature film special effects. V-Ray does not have design and modelling tools and a prepared file must be imported into the software.

Other popular solutions used in architecture include design programs like SketchUp, D5 Render, Enscape 3D, and Cedreo. So architects have a range of tools and options to choose from and they can select a tool based on their project’s requirements. These solutions are available on a subscription model making it easy to access. Of course you have a good repository of tutorials and books available for you to master the products and gain proficiency.

Dayananda Sagar College of Architecture (DSCA), part of the Dayananda Sagar group of Institutions offers one of India’s most reputed UG and PG programs in architecture. Our UG program B.Arch is a 5 year, full time program, and our PG program M.Arch is a 2 year, full time program. DSCA is equipped with the most modern infrastructure, facilities, and studios, backed by highly qualified and experienced professionals with rich industry experience.

The department has a well-equipped studio with advanced computer systems and popular 3D visualisation software. Students are exposed to these tools, the aspects of design and visualisation on these platforms. Students also get to interact with industry experts from both the government and private sector and gain insights on a wide array of topics related design, construction and sustainability. Successful graduates from DSCA are highly sought after by some of the leading architecture and design firms and real estate developers in India and overseas.