January 28, 2022

What is an Aerial Rendering?

An aerial rendering is a digital image or video of an architectural project seen at an angle from above — a bird’s-eye view. In the past, getting this valuable aerial perspective on a project was an expensive and time-consuming process. Creating aerial imagery often required a photographer to rent a plane or helicopter, and the architect to painstakingly craft a single image to fit the selected photo. Today, that’s all changed.

> Architectural visualization

With drone technology and design software, it’s easy and affordable to create multiple original 3D aerial renderings for architectural visualizations. In this overview, we’ll discuss how these renderings help gain your client’s confidence, elevate your design, and improve your business.

How are drones used to create aerial renderings? 

Drones are becoming increasingly popular in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. They’re versatile tools making it easier for professionals to inspect project sites, document and model topography, and quickly create convincing architectural aerial renderings.

Typically, to create a 3D aerial view of a building, a camera-equipped drone captures photographs or video of the project site from different angles. The selected images are loaded into photo-editing software alongside an architectural rendering of the building from an aerial perspective. Using your software’s built-in tools, you can align the two images to create a composite 3D bird’s eye view rendering. But that’s just the start. To make your architectural visualization convincing, there are a few more key things to consider.

How do you create the perfect aerial site rendering? 

When it comes to crafting seamless 3D aerial site renderings, it’s all about the details. Most critically, the lighting must be right. If it isn’t, the visualization won’t be convincing — or worse, it might be confusing.

Most design software features a geolocation function that can render a building with lighting that matches the specific date and location of the drone footage or Google maps data to recreate on-site conditions. If you’re adding people, vehicles, foliage, or other objects to your rendering, like one of the nearly 3,000 assets from Enscape’s library, ensure that the asset’s perspective and shadows match the original drone imagery. The building’s coloring can also be fine-tuned using photo-editing software to fit the site photo more closely.

When done right, the aerial image is an incredibly useful tool in the design process.


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What are the advantages of incorporating drone shots into existing designs, and how do they benefit the design process? 

Drone photography lets you capture the surrounding context with incredible detail and accuracy. And with their small size and maneuverability, drones can be used on almost any site, from narrow city lots to open plains and everything in between. For architects, that means being able to create realistic 3D aerial visualizations to understand the surrounding context better and make more informed design decisions about how the building will fit its site — or how it will stand out.

Getting aerial perspective on the site may reveal new design opportunities or unexpected challenges. But there’s another advantage to using drones in your 3D aerial site renderings that may be even more important: it improves communication with clients.

How do aerial renderings help communicate with the client? 

Good communication is one of the most valuable skills an AEC professional can have. That doesn’t just mean being able to speak or write about your project; it means being able to show customers your ideas. The proliferation of satellite imagery and GPS changed the way we see and understand the world. Today, many customers expect to see the now-familiar, aerial view rendering of projects fully and realistically represented on its site. It’s something they instantly understand, and can help answer any questions they might have. Will I have a view? Will there be shadows from neighboring towers? How does it compare to the building next door?

Using aerial renderings in architectural visualizations is one of the clearest ways to address client concerns and communicate your design’s impact.

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"Enscape is a game changer as clients are immediately able to understand and experience our vision, eliminating the subjective interpretation of sketches and the resulting misunderstandings and redesign."

Brian Comeaux
Project Architect at Lake|Flato

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