August 9, 2017

Archviz From Genesis To The Perfection


Matthew Naj


Architectural visualization or Archviz for short is the process of computer generated visualization of any structure showing how it will look like at the end, even before the first brick is installed.

Simply put, Archviz serves to show the appearance of a building to all parties, from architects and constructors to the end client.

Archviz is not a new technology and has been around for decades just in different forms. Before 3D computer modeling became public, most architectural visualizations were created by hand. Surprisingly we are still witnessing that there are many architectural illustrators who rely on hand work and some prefer a combination of both.


Archviz Production Process

The Archviz process comprises of 6 major steps:

1) Modeling

2) Lighting

3) Materials

4) Rendering

5) Camera motion

6) Post-production


1) Modeling is simply creating the object -in this case, structure- in the 3D world. Every 3D model is build up with polygons. Depending on the complexity of the object, the number of polygons can vary. The general rule says the more polygons you use, the more realistic and smooth objects you have.

Z-brush, Autodesk Maya, and 3ds Max have an outstanding place among the other software.

archviz article new

archviz article modeling explanation

2) Lighting is another very important element in the 3D world including Archviz. Without it, all you have done would be a waste of time!

Most of the 3D programs have lighting features built-in. However, some of them are much more professional and concentrated on lighting aspect such and Maxwell.

Also worth mentioning, advancement in Global Illumination (GI) led to achieving more realistic 3D rendering.

Global Illumination (shortened as GI), or indirect illumination, is a general name for a group of algorithms used in 3D computer graphics that are meant to add more realistic lighting to 3D scenes. It is a system that models how light is bounced off of surfaces onto other surfaces (indirect light) rather than being limited to just the light that hits a surface directly from a light source (direct light).



3) Material. In the real world, our perception of things is a combination of the shape and light and the way light bounces off from those forms. The world of 3D has addressed this dilemma by using materials.

In Computer graphics, materials are an enhancement of texture mapping that allows objects to simulate different types of materials in real life.

Materials are generally images (2D maps), and colors. These 2D maps dictate a certain property of that material how to interact with the light.


4- Rendering. By taking for granted that all the above-mentioned processes have been done properly, now we can go ahead and sew all of them together in the rendering stage. Rendering is the most time-consuming part of Archviz depending on the quality you are after. However, the computer handles the rendering all over but the artist plays an effective role in settings attributes properly and leading toward the perfection.


5- Motion (camera move). Although still images are great in terms of visualization but walking through it is something else which gives an impression of real life especially with a combination of VR/AR technology which we will talk about later on. Here is a good example of walk-through animation:


6- Post-Production is the final yet necessary step of the journey. At this stage by using software like Photoshop -if the output is still images- or After Effects (for video) you can add extra elements such as lights, people or even compose some real-life objects like the sky, part of the city and… to the sense. This step enables the artist to bring in creativity and elegance. Post-production techniques also help the artist in cutting back on the time and efforts during the modeling and rendering process by just adding pre-modeled or real-life components to the scene.

Why we need it?

No matter you are an architect, constructor, real estate agency or even the end buyer, there are occasions you find yourself in need of Archviz.

Architecture is a total concept, and in Architecture Visualization we see the way concepts work in an enforced way that is applied onto a structure.

Architecture Visualizations enables us to see the difference between the theoretical principles of concepts and the practical application of these in an organization.

There is no doubt that construction is an expensive process. Any alteration to layout or materials while construction is underway, causes extra charges and crossing the deadlines. That’s why nowadays we are witnessing raising demands for Archviz because it gives an accurate vision of a structure, even before the first shovel meets the ground.

You can talk about an apple, describing its appearance, taste, smell and all the other features it possesses but you can’t get even close to the impression that one receives when s/he eats an apple! The same goes for Archviz industry. Visual contents are always more effective than words at securing sales, and they give the client a wide-open perspective of what they are expecting to buy.


Here is a good example of VR Archviz that can be used as a promotional or presentation tool:


The future of Archviz

Architectural visualization encompasses everything from basic sketches to more sophisticated 3D renderings and interactive virtual tours.

Before delving deep into the future of Archviz let’s quickly go through its different types.

Current Archviz outputs fall into 3 types:

  • 3D renderings

3D renderings, also known as CGI still images offer photo-realistic images of interior/exterior design of the building along with landscaping and nearby buildings.

 archviz article 3d rendering

archviz article 3d rendering home

archviz article 3d rendering building 


  • Walk-through animation

The walk-through animation is simply adding camera move to those statics scenes, showing different parts in a smooth and elegant way.

This is our smart home commercial video where we used walk-through animation:



  • VR

Imagine a walk-through experience where you are the person who takes control of the camera movement in real time. In this case, you are dealing with VR Archviz. The most common programs for creating VR Archviz are Unreal Engine, Unity and Lumion. This technology enables the user not only to see the different specs of the structure but also interact with them, such as turning the light on/off, changing the cabinet color and style, and even changing the interior design in real time. You can think of VR Archviz as a single player game where the player is you and the game is exploring and redesigning the house!

These two videos are great samples of user interaction in VR Archviz.



Here you can see the process of producing an Archviz. This is a Lumion but the process is pretty much the same in all other software.


Now that you got the hang of different types of Archviz, we can get our feet wet with the new technologies to come!

Nowadays the AR and MR technologies are going mainstream and some say it will change the way we make decisions. Currently, they are paving their way to the different industries in a fast pace and the same applies to Archviz industry. Although 3D rendering, walkthrough animation, and VR Archviz still have their places in the architecture industry, they are also witnessing a decline in popularity at the same time. We can strongly predict that in the next two years we can consider them as part of the history of tech. Due to technological advancement, people flavor changes rapidly and that is why their predecessors don’t sound that attractive as they were before. Today the audience strive for more interaction with the environment and elements on the scene and that is why things like NIRVANA VR helmet comes in to play.

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