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Are 3D Renderings Deceiving Architects and Clients?

"The Rendering View," is a monthly column on ArchDaily by PiXate Creative founder Jonn Kutyla which focuses on hints, tips, and wider discussions about architectural rendering.

Digital architectural renderings and their hand-drawn counterparts both serve the purpose of allowing clients and investors to envision a building or space well-before ground has even been broken on a project.

But while renderings can provide amazingly accurate depictions of buildings, a rendering done in the wrong style can create unrealistic expectations for the end client, leaving them disappointed with the architect and the builders, creating tension and distrust. For that reason, among others, many people in the architectural profession have condemned the use of renderings, especially digital renderings. However, renderings are simply tools and nothing more; if you ask two separate rendering artists to create a rendering for your project, the results would also depend upon the skill and vision of that person. Today I am going to show you that when used correctly, digital architectural renderings should be an architect’s best friend.

AD Essentials: Rendering

This article is part of ArchDaily Essentials, a series of articles which give you an overview of architecture's most important topics by connecting together some of our best articles from the past. To find out more about ArchDaily Essentials, click here; or discover all of our articles in the series here.

Renderpeople Releases 3D Models "Rosy" and "Dennis" for Free Use

Renderpeople, a company that produces 3D-models of people ready to be rendered in any program, has released two of their models for free, to demonstrate the effectiveness of their product. “Rosy” and “Dennis” are now available through their website, and can be used in any 3D-modeling and rendering software. Unlike other, free sites like SKALGUBBAR and Escalalatina which offer PNG images of people for use with Photoshop, Renderpeople offers detailed, life-like 3D models which can be placed directly into the modeled environments in question.

How to Render Your Building to Sell it, Not Just Show it

© PiXate Creative
© PiXate Creative

"The Rendering View," is a new monthly column on ArchDaily by PiXate Creative founder Jonn Kutyla which will focus on hints, tips, and wider discussions about architectural rendering.

As an architect you have spent countless hours designing, modifying, and refining what you believe to be the very best possible layout for a building. The numerous projects you have imagined, designed, and then seen as a finished building have given you the ability to visualize it with incredible accuracy. Unfortunately, your clients often lack the ability to visualize a space before it is built.

3D rendering seeks to solve that problem by accurately depicting what a building will look like with photo-realistic quality long before it exists – but there is a huge difference between showing your building and selling the concept of your building. Showing your building does just what the name implies: generally the camera is pulled back and the focus is on the entire building. When you want to sell the concept of a building you want to focus on a very small aspect of the building that is incredibly interesting to look at.

The Best Software Tutorials on the Web (According to ArchDaily Readers)

In a world where architects can use computers to produce representations of designs with new levels of accuracy and artistry, software fluency is becoming increasingly necessary. With that in mind, last month we asked our readers to help us develop a comprehensive list of tutorials. After studying the comments and scouring the internet for more sources, we have developed this improved list, which we hope will help you to discover new work techniques and better ways to apply different programs.

Of course, it's unlikely that any list of internet resources will ever be complete, so we're hoping to continually update this list with the web's best learning resources. If there are any tutorials sites we've missed which you found helpful, let us know in the comments!

How to Drastically Improve Your Architectural Renderings

These days, the production of architectural renderings is something of a digital arms race, as the more sophisticated visualization becomes, the more of a disservice you do to your designs if you're not able to present clients with increasingly photo-realistic imagery. In this post, originally published by ArchSmarter as the first in their "Pro Smarts" series which features tips and tricks from seasoned professionals, Jonn Kutyla from PiXate Creative describes his seven-step process for creating more realistic renders.

Creating photo-realistic architectural renderings requires careful planning and attention to detail. Adding minor details to your renderings can be time consuming, but it is certainly worthwhile. Some of the smallest details have the greatest impact on the realism of the rendering. Today we’re going to focus on the site around your building. This isn’t going to be a tutorial for specific software, but rather a guide to using nature to make your renderings more believable.

PixPlant 3: Create Custom 3D Texture Maps for Rendering

Rendering has become the ultimate tool in the architect’s arsenal for communicating designs directly to clients. But with the seemingly infinite number of real-life material options that exist today, the textures built into rendering programs often fall short. In some cases, one may be able to find appropriate texture maps for their desired materials online, but when experimenting with new materials or unique colors the need for greater customization arises. In the past, perhaps you could attempt to manually create and edit your own texture maps, but this can be a long and arduous process.

Are Computers Bad for Architecture?

In his articles for ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly often praises the value of computers and automation, a sometimes controversial viewpoint with plenty of supporters on either side. In particular, his previous post on ArchDaily, "5 Reasons Architects Should Learn to Code" provoked a significant discussion. But what is the value of this automation? In this post originally published on ArchSmarter, he expands on his view of what computers can be useful for - and more importantly, what they can't.

I write a lot about digital technology and automation here on ArchSmarter, but deep down inside, I have a soft spot for all things analog. I still build physical models. I carry a Moleskine notebook with me everywhere. I also recently bought a Crosley record player.

I can listen to any kind of music I want through Spotify. The music world is literally at my finger tips. Playing records hasn’t changed what I listen to but it has changed how I listen to music. There’s more friction involved with records. I have to physically own the record and I have to manually put it on the turntable. It’s a deliberate act that requires a lot more effort than just selecting a playlist on Spotify. And it’s a lot more fun.

Virtual Reality: Coming to an Architecture Office Near You

Virtual Reality. It’s an old term, even an old technology, but it carries new weight - and it’s coming to architecture, soon. Its prevalence will be a result of its near universal accessibility; the experience can now be powered by the modern cell phone. It’s probably on your desk, in your pocket - you may even be reading on a virtual reality engine right now. The price point to participate, thanks to Google Cardboard and a device you already own, is less than twenty dollars.

Unreal Visualizations: 3 Pros and 3 Cons of Rendering with a Video Game Engine

In recent years, we've reached a point where visualizations have become all-prevalent in the architectural profession. Whether we like it or not, stylized imagery is seen as a commodity, and ultimately, renderings win competitions and commissions. Architects have become enamored with beautiful renderings because clients understand pictures better than plans, and yet, the tools used to produce these glitzy images are changing faster than our industry can keep up. But with technology constantly evolving, we may face a new wave of visualization techniques, as the same render engines used to produce the tantalizingly realistic visuals in movies and video games are, for the first time, easily within our reach.

The lines across industries are blurring and companies behind the rendering engines for the most popular video games are now marketing their software directly to architects. This year, the original developers of the game Gears of War have made their proprietary rendering software Unreal Engine 4 free to architects, and many other video game render engines are available for less than the cost of those used by architects. Founder Tim Sweeney believes that the world of visualization is changing, telling The Verge "We’re realizing now that Unreal Engine 4 is a common language between all these common fields." Creating a common language between the presently disparate fields of architecture, film, and video games, for example, suggests that the industries themselves may begin to hybridize and learn from one another. For instance, video game developers may look to architects to understand how to construct 3D buildings, while architects may learn from the navigable virtual environment of video games in order to discover new means of representation. Add to this the fact that these software packages are capable of producing lifelike animated walkthroughs and we are left wondering, why is this not an industry standard? Read on after the break for the pros and cons of being an early adopter.

Happy 25th Birthday Photoshop; Architecture Wouldn't be the Same Without You

This past week, Adobe Photoshop turned 25 years old. That’s right: at an age where us mere mortals are often still embarrassingly reliant on our parents, Photoshop is taking the opportunity to look back on how it became one of the world’s most ubiquitous pieces of software, and how in just a quarter-century it has transformed our very conceptions of beauty and even reality itself.

Of course, to the general public Photoshop is probably best-known for the role it has played in the fashion and advertising industries. Serving up heavily processed, idealized images of anatomically dubious models, its effect in our wider culture is well-known, but Photoshop has had its impact on the architecture profession as well. Join us after the break as we look at 25 years of Photoshop in architecture.

Ask Arup: What Are the Best Ways to Use 3ds Max in Visualizations?

This article originally appeared on Arup Connect as "Ask Arup: Visualization Edition."

For our latest round of Ask ArupArchDaily reader Biserat Yesflgn requested tips for visualization software 3ds Max (formerly known as 3D Studio Max). We spoke to New York-based Arup visualization specialist Anthony Cortez to find out how he uses the program, what skills prospective visualization artists need, and how the field is evolving.

Light Matters: Can Light "Cheat" In Simulations?

In recent years the use of CAD and simulation programs has resulted in a new understanding of light in architecture. The drawing board and its lamp have given way to the self-illuminating monitor. The result is that concepts in architecture are now made of light from the very first mouse click.  In the visualisation process, luminous space now predominates.  

However, this begs the question: has the luminous impression (part and parcel of the perfect, rendered setting) become more important than the engineering or architectural concept itself? With the improved interplay of shades, contrast, and brilliance, can lighting actually obscure the point of a realistic simulation?

More Light Matters, after the break…

Rendering / CLOG

Every month, the publication CLOG takes on “a single subject particularly relevant to architecture now.” It’s not a quick look at something trendy, but rather an in-depth look, from multiple perspectives, at the issues that are affecting - and will continue to affect (and even alter) - architecture as we know it today.

CLOG: Rendering is, in my opinion, the best issue yet. Through dozens of fascinating, concise articles and a handful of illustrative, quirky images, it takes on an enormous question often over-looked in the architectural world: what is a rendering? An alluring device to win over a jury or public? A realistic depiction? Or perhaps it’s an entity unto itself...

Rendering examines how the rendering has become a means of deception - not just for the public, but for ourselves - becoming an aesthetic end-product rather than the representation of an idea in-progress. But at the same time, the rendering is our best tool for entering into the “real” world, for communicating what we do to the public at large. 

Is there a way to marry these opposing characteristics? What should the future of rendering be? CLOG takes these questions head-on. More after the break...