January 28, 2022

Different Styles in Architectural Visualization

In today’s world, rarely does a new building or structure begin construction without a review of the 3D renderings. A 3D architectural visualization combines 2D plans into 3D models that can be better reviewed, imagined, and understood. The rise of rendering technology has begun to standardize styles in architectural visualization across the industry with certain styles taking the lead over others.

> Architectural visualization

How has the development of rendering technology influenced architectural visualization styles?

While manual, by-hand architectural renderings do still have their place in conceptual design phases, most architectural visualizations have made the transition to digital methods. Much like other technologies, modeling and rendering software has exponentially advanced in its capabilities throughout the 21st century. It is not uncommon for a 3D rendering to be confused with a photo of an actual building.

Along with an increase in capabilities, access to rendering software has become more convenient. Many leading software are instantly available for download accompanied by hundreds of user-oriented tutorials.

With plentiful access and advanced capabilities, more individuals and firms than ever before have begun offering architectural visualizations to their clients and sharing their different rendering techniques within the industry. This has caused the standardization of architectural visualization styles across the board.

What styles can be used in 3D visualization?

Digital 3D visualizations can be placed in a variety of classifications – one of those being architectural rendering styles. Dozens of styles, characterized by their different rendering techniques, have become their own category due to a rising popularity including:


  • Semi-Realistic - Also known as photo-realistic, this technique is the epitome of architectural visualization styles. The goal is to create an image identical to the real-world, with more ideal lighting and dramatic backgrounds, to give a valid illustration of what the project will become.
  • Watercolor - The focus with this technique is less on architectural elements and more on how the project will feel and adapt to its surroundings. Through layers of colors and textures, these renderings take on the look of a handmade, watercolor painting.
  • Whodunit - What may feel like the inside of a dreary novel, this technique uses low saturation, high contrast, and cool-toned colors to highlight modern and minimalist styles. Buildings rendered with these architectural visualization styles often feature walls of glass that reflect the dark blue and green tones.
  • Mad Max - This style utilizes lighting methods to make the project the center of attention. By darkening and/or blurring the background attributes and adjusting lights and shadows, maximum focus is placed on the building front and center.
  • David - The emphasis here is in the details. There are no imperfections displayed with this technique creating an idealistic, Utopian feeling of peace and tranquility – perfect for visualizing parks and gardens.
  • Katherine Heigl - Named after the actress, this style showcases the lives of everyday people. The focus is to realistically display the people that will use the project in their natural element – done so with a high saturation of color and an abundance of light.
  • Theodore - Natural light is of the essence for this architectural rendering style. The features bring in a sense of warmth and coziness making this visualization ideal for interiors and office spaces bursting with light.
  • Gondry - Sometimes referred to as the collage, this rendering type uses mixed media to represent the personality of the artist. Named after the filmmaker Michel Gondry, these renders can combine sketches, 3D assets, photography, and other elements to best portray the project.



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What are the most popular architectural rendering styles?

Of the different rendering techniques listed above, the Watercolor, the Semi-Realistic, and the Whodunit are extremely popular choices among architects and visualization artists for their practical application across all project. types.

Realistic architectural visualizations: What are the advantages?

  • For architects & designers: A 3D rendering is a better proof of concept than a handmade sketch. Renderings also make it easier to quickly vet through initial design concepts before going down the wrong path.
  • For builders & contractors: While the 2D project drawings provide all of the necessary project details, an architectural rendering can provide a quick comparison between the design intention and what is actually being built.
  • For owners & investors: Whether you need to secure funding or pitch a project plan, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. The architectural visualization allows your audience to better understand your proposal.
  • For community members & boards: Oftentimes, new building projects affect the entire surrounding community. Realistic renderings help community members understand the true impact of the project.

How do you find the perfect style for your architectural visualization?

This will ultimately be a balance of what your client wants and the personal preference of you or your firm. Many companies consistently use one of the styles in architectural visualization so much so that it becomes part of their brand. Additionally, the type of project and project location may hold some weight in the architectural rendering styles ultimately chosen.

Typical architectural visualization software requires separate modeling and rendering actions. To reduce the steps in your design process, check out Enscape!  Enscape will quickly increase your production and reduce your limitations as you create state-of-the-art architectural renderings.


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