The Art of 3D Visualization, Explained

In the architectural industry, vision is key. Before reaching the milestone of physical ground-breaking, architects must communicate their vision to any number of clients and developers, convince them of the merits of the design, and entice them to envision the project’s final form and function. So, how does an architect do it?

Favoring tools like CAD (computer-aided design) and, yes, even pencils and paper (and occasionally the Ames Lettering Guide, an unassuming marvel of a tool), architects find a harmonious working balance between engineering precision and freeform creativity, both necessary for drafting successful blueprints and traditional renderings. At their best these illustrations are truly works of art. But even at their best, for the layperson, they may still end up being that one dreaded thing: indecipherable. A seasoned engineer or architect can visualize, with remarkable clarity, a fully designed building from just an arrangement of lines and measurements but for the layperson it’s all just…lines and measurements. That’s where 3D visualization comes in.

What do 3D Visualization artists actually do?

3D visualization artists, trained in the skills of both architecture and 3D modeling, are the conduit that connects what the architect can see and what the architect wants you to see. 3D visualizers take the cryptic CAD files, the detailed blueprints, the sketchbook landscapes, and transform them into fully realized images of uncanny realism.

The advantages of 3D visualization over traditional 2D illustrations will become immediately apparent by taking a look at any of our visualization projects. With the precise dimensions, materials, and location information provided by the architects, we can create interior rooms swimming with natural light and rich with textures, or entire city blocks of sparkling glass facades, rolling greenspaces, and humming city life.

Large-scale projects like Cambridge Crossing (pictured above) call for 3D visualization artists to create entire neighborhoods.

And the visualizer’s arsenal holds more than just software like 3DS Max (for 3D modelling), VRay (for image rendering), and Photoshop (for everything else). With additional tools like ground, aerial, and drone photography and video, the level of accuracy and realistic detail with which these artists can insert a building that doesn’t exist into real-world surroundings is astounding.

Building the Scene, Visualization for Architecture

3D Artists aren’t just producing a single snapshot of a space. Their process assembles a flexible system that opens the door for nearly endless experimentation with lighting, landscapes, floorplans, decor, you name it. Want to change the species or tone of wood on those dining room chairs? Done. Want to see how the natural light from a south-facing glass-walled lobby will reflect on those marble floors at 3pm in late August? Done. Want to swap an interior room’s rustic, neutral linen textiles for Day-Glo green and ruffles? Well…yes, that can be done too.

This malleability becomes indispensable for things like test-fits and space-planning – these are methods that property owners use to demonstrate how an (often) empty space can be utilized by any number of tenants, from financial services firms to tech startups to doggie day spas. And if the owner already knows what type of tenant or even the specific tenant they would like to attract, the 3D visualizer can create a bespoke scene incorporating building amenities, furnishings, branding colors and signage, all targeted towards a single client.

Architectural Visualization Services

3D artists are increasingly bringing these scenes into the dynamic and interactive world of virtual space. With virtual and augmented reality technology the artists can transform a static view into an explorable vista. And with the exponential growth in the speed and processing power of modern web browsers, these interactive spaces are easily accessible on desktops and even mobile devices without the need for special downloads or hardware – but, of course, if you really want to go the whole nine yards you can don a VR headset and fully immerse yourself in these virtual spaces.

Now that you have a more holistic and well rounded view of what can be done, how it is done and why it is done this way — what next? Well if you are in commercial real estate or architecture and don’t have the time to spend on learning yet another software solution, we are here to help. Tangram 3DS is a premier visualization studio based north of Boston and we provide high quality renderings, animations, VRs, video services and so much more to our clients in the AEC and CRE spaces. If you need help on a new development or simply want to learn more about what we do, contact us today!

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