Archiform 3D
      -  3D Techniques & Technology   -  Architectural Renderings – Demystifying the rendering process

    The process of 3D architectural rendering is completely misunderstood by most of our clients. That is because it doesn’t follow any other artwork process, requiring a whole new set of skills and process to to be learnt.

    Architectural rendering, which used to refer only to hand painted artwork, is now more commonly known for 3D artwork. Although the words are the same the process of 3D architectural rendering couldn’t be more different to hand painted work. Note that we have also included on this website a brief history of architectural illustration through to 3D architectural renderings.

    Hand painted architectural renderings are set up, colored and lit on a flat surface. 3D architectural renderings are set up as virtual reality scenes inside a computer and then through intense calculations an image is created. The process of these calculations is called “rendering”. If the terms we use are getting confusing then you can use the glossary below as an aid.

    • A 3D wireframe scene is created. This can be likened to a building made from matchsticks. All faces and structural elements are in place but no materials, colors or lighting. This is well prior to a finished architectural rendering.
    • Then we apply colors and textures to the surfaces, such as floor coverings, fabrics to the sofas, etc. This still doesn’t look like artwork but it’s taking shape. We can still move objects around and make any alteration needed during this process. The architectural rendering has the items needed in place but still doesn’t look finished.

    Alterations to a 3D architectural renderings

    The old fashioned hand painted artwork required that an artist paint over the original. Sometimes the alterations were so extensive that a complete re-paint was needed. With 3D we only need to alter the affected area of the architectural virtual reality scene and then we re-process (re-render). The alterations can happen at any stage of the process with relative ease. Archiform 3D’s build/price by scene workflow ensures that alterations take a minimum amount of time. While the re-processing time requires little or no attendance by the artist it may take a few hours or computer time.

    As an example of timing, assume you wanted to change the color of the sofa in the above images. It would take less than 5 minutes for the artist to change the fabric, and then about 10 minutes for him to see a preview of the final rendering with the alteration. It may then take a few hours to render the final image, which would be some on a different computer and not require any attendance.

    Alterations to 3d architectural renderings only take large amounts of time if the scene has been animated. This is not due to any additional manpower requirements but due to the extended rendering times. An animation consists of hundreds or thousands of still renderings combined to create motion video. One small change to an animated scene can mean days of re-processing! It’s best to ensure all your alterations are done prior to a scene being animated.

    Modern terms relating to 3D architectural renderings

    • Render (verb), rendering (adverb): The computational process of creating an image from a 3D scene. This process can actually be viewed on screen as the image is gradually created.
    • Rendering (noun): The final image created from a 3D scene.
    • Renderer (noun): The software used to create the final image.
    • Render farm: A series of powerful computers linked together to increase processing power and therefore decrease the time needed to render an image.
    • Architectural rendering: A piece of 3D artwork derived from architecture.
    • 3D architectural rendering: an architectural rendering that is created from a 3D virtual reality process.
    • Animation: motion footage through a 3D scene. Also referred to as fly-through video. We have dedicated pages that refer to animated fly-throughs.
    • The scene is then lit and rendered. This process takes a lot of computer time but the results are lifelike. Your architectural rendering now looks real and is ready for sales and visualization.