Not Experienced with Rendering? 4 Techniques you Can Use Instead

If there is any word that describes what architectural renders look like nowadays, it would be: impressive. The immense world of rendering has allowed people to engage in virtually-built environments, exploring each space and experiencing what they might hear or feel as they walk by one room to another without being physically present in the project.

The main purpose of a render is to help viewers visualize what the final result of the project will look like. Whether it is for presentation or construction purposes, architects need to translate their visions in a way that helps people who were not involved in the ideation process understand the space and the experiences that come with it. However, not all architects have the proper skills or the time to create such hyper-realistic environments, but with the exceptional quality of visuals being produced nowadays and the rising demand, it has become somewhat mandatory for every project to be presented as a realistic 3D render. So if you are one of those architects who don't have the skills nor time, here are ways you can present your project as an immersive visual experience that translates its identity without resorting to 3D software.

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By definition, architectural rendering is the process of creating photorealistic images and 3D models using computer software. To create these virtual scenes, many elements are operated, such as lighting, viewpoint, reflection, surrounding environment, textures, and materials. And truth is, there are many ways to present these elements without real-time rendering and realistic shots. These substitutes can be divided into four categories: Hand Drawn, Hybrid, Digital, and Physical 3D Modelling.

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Monochromatic Sketches and Drawings

Sketches and drawings are some of the oldest forms of 2D visual art. In the field of architecture, free-hand drawings were used to convey perspectives, compositions, textures, patterns, and architectural ideas. Traditionally, these drawings were monochromatic, letting the shading and shadowing depict the depth of a space and create the illusion of light, shadow, and perspective. And according to many architects, sketching is still considered as one of the most important communication and illustration tools that fills the gaps between the documentation process and production.

Not Experienced with Rendering? 4 Techniques you Can Use Instead

Medium: pencils, pens, charcoal, graphite, and/or markers on any flat surface.

Hand Sketches and Watercoloring

Towards the end of the 17h century in France, engineers and architects began utilizing color in their drawings, developing colored symbols that could be understood by workers to designate materials and landscape. And as watercolors and new methods of painting were being developed in Belgium, sketches began to be published with a more artistic style, integrating landscape, backdrops, and people, leading to the first photo-realistic renders. Considering how aesthetically engaging these drawings were, architects began to sell their work as art pieces, and still do to this day.

Medium: Pencils, pens, ink, watercolors, and/or paint on any flat surface.


Axonometric Perspective and Free-hand Coloring

Put simply, an axonometric perspective is the process of transforming the drawing from a 2D into a 3D by extruding the floor plan drawn on the CAD program. This orthographic projection is used to illustrate the geometric & structural appearance of a project and understand it more thoroughly. Oftentimes, this 3D file is then exported to the rendering software to begin with the visualization process. However, if this is where it gets difficult for you, printing out the axonometric perspective and coloring over the drawing, either on a transparent sheet or on the drawing itself, can help set the mood of the project and understand all of its characteristics.

Medium: Architecture drawing software, printed out axonometric perspective, transparent sheets, coloring pencils, markers, ink, watercolors, and/or paint.


2D / 3D Drawings and Photoshop (or any similar program)

One of the most popular visualizing styles used in the architecture and design world over the last decade is digital drawing. It is a vast medium with numerous styles and techniques that sits between the hyperrealism of real-time rendering and traditional hand drawing, and allows architects to experiment with collages, colors, textures, and material overlay. In addition to working on computer programs, software like Morphilio facilitated drawing details and rendering elevations, plans, and sections due to the option of drawing digitally by hand on tablets.

Medium: Architecture drawing software and photoshop (or any similar program).

Physical 3D Model

Images from Physical 3D models and Photoshop (or any similar program)

If you are familiar with adding materials on photoshop, using a physical 3D model is one of the most helpful and time-saving techniques. All you have to do is define the project's surrounding environment and how you want the light to flow through the space. Manipulate the light and shadow using a warm-toned flashlight, and take as many pictures as necessary to get the perfect shots. After that, import these images on photoshop and add some materials and people to make the visuals look as realistic as possible.

Medium: Physical 3D Model, flashlight, camera, photography accessories, and Photoshop (or any similar program).

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: Rendering, proudly presented by Enscape, the most intuitive real-time rendering and virtual reality plugin for Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, Archicad, and Vectorworks. Enscape plugs directly into your modeling software, giving you an integrated visualization and design workflow.’ Learn more about our monthly topics. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.