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Architectural Visualization: What It Is & Key Steps for Success

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Architectural visualization lays the foundation for any design project. It provides the visual references that communicate a design not only to clients, but also to the teams that will build or outfit the real-world structure.

In order to work effectively, an architectural visualization must include dimensions, layout, and particular architectural features — the more detailed, the better. That’s why 3d architectural visualization has emerged as such a valuable tool.

In this blog post, we’ll delve deeper into the practicalities of architectural visualization and discuss why using a 3d format has become such a game-changer for modern design.

What is Architectural Visualization?

Architectural visualization started out as simple 2D imagery that conveyed the footprint of a planned structure. Throughout history, techniques advanced to enable the creation of more detailed layouts, blueprints, and drawings.

Today, cutting-edge technology helps architects, designers, home builders, and remodelers craft intricate 3D models representing entire building projects. Powerful software renders realistic models that can easily be fine-tuned based on client feedback. The 3D renderings can be custom-lit and viewed from any angle, quickly capturing key perspectives in just the right conditions. It’s this versatility that has made 3D visualization a preferred method to the static nature of traditional architectural drawing.

Who Uses Architectural Visualizations

Architectural visualizations are used throughout the entire building process, providing a useful point of reference for people responsible for everything from construction to decorative styling.


Architects use architectural visualizations to illustrate their design plans. From basic floor plans to complex 3D views, architects rely on visualizations to capture all of the details of their design.

Home builders and contractors

Home builders and contractors will typically reference architectural visualizations when they’re working on a construction project. These images act as a visual guide that helps them execute the design perfectly. Some design-build and custom home firms will make their own visualizations as well.


Remodelers may reference old architectural visualizations while they create new ones to reflect a fresh design. This can save them time during the design process and ensure that their renovation plans are compatible with the home’s existing structure.

Interior designers

Interior designers sometimes use a home’s existing visualizations as a framework when they plan layouts and decor. They may also craft their own visualizations to show clients a preview of how their styling will look when complete.

Why Use 3D Visualizations?

People who need to craft imagery for their design projects are increasingly choosing to do that in 3D. With home design platforms like Cedreo, it’s easy to create 3D visualizations that help clients understand how the finished project will look.

Create professional designs without a CAD background

Today’s best 3D architectural visualization software simplifies the process of design, making it possible to construct fully-detailed and to-scale models without CAD software.

There’s no need to master complicated programs. The industry’s preferred programs offer intuitive interfaces that are easy to use right at the start, saving designers time and money on what used to be unavoidable CAD training.

Create visualizations cost-effectively

Designs are easiest to create with visualization software that is made specifically for home design. The specialized nature of these platforms makes them more user-friendly than CAD and other general modeling programs, reducing the time required to draft conceptual designs. Handy shortcuts, templates, and pre-made models ready to access via in-program libraries shorten project timelines.

Being able to create visualizations in-house spares the cost of outsourcing design plans to a creative firm. Third parties will never have the first-hand knowledge of the designers themselves, so they usually require time for briefings, feedback meetings, and revisions — all of which can delay the delivery of the finished design.

Help clients visualize their dream project

Communicating with clients is always a big challenge on architectural projects. But using 3D visualization eases the friction.

Working with a 3D rendering makes it easy to show clients how design plans will look when they’re fully built, all the way down to decorative styling and even different lighting conditions. This reduces opportunities for confusion with clients, as they’ll get full visual clarity with an immersive 3D visualization.

Collect (and act on) feedback in real time

With 3D imagery, clients can give better feedback about what they want to see changed. Designers can alter their project accordingly and quickly provide another look for review, which accelerates the revision process and reduces the risk of miscommunication.

Top-tier software programs also allow for team collaboration within the platform, so project stakeholders can immediately view floor plans and 3D visualizations.

Use 3D visualizations as a sales tool

Making a pitch with well-crafted 3D visualizations is an effective strategy for winning new projects. Clients are looking for proposals that offer a clear vision, and they’re always impressed by sleek visuals.

Enhancing your presentations and proposals with detailed 3D images can drive your value proposition home, fully instilling confidence that your design is the perfect pick.

Create a competitive advantage

Being able to draft beautiful models with the right style and sense of space is a major advantage for designers looking to separate themselves from the competition.

Showcasing 3D architectural visualizations in your portfolio is one of the best ways to demonstrate the quality of your designs. It also creates immediate awareness that you offer a service that’s in high-demand among today’s clients.

Key Steps in the Architectural Visualization Process

Working with architectural visualization software is surprisingly simple when you use a quality program. The right choice will offer all the tools you need to quickly and easily take your design from a basic 2D floor plan to a photorealistic rendering of the finished home. Let’s walk through some of the most critical steps that come up in the process of drafting high quality building imagery.

1. Draw a floor plan

The first step in architectural visualization is laying the foundation for the building’s structure. Exterior walls must be drawn and adjusted to the appropriate dimensions. Then, the interior layout can be composed by adding walls and other architectural features within the space. If the home has multiple levels, floor plans will need to be made for each. The best software will automatically ensure that every level’s dimensions are compatible with each other.

UI shot Import a floor plan

Add furnishings

Furnishings transform a basic floor plan into a fully-fleshed layout that reflects the conditions of everyday living. Typically, design software has a catalog of furnishings that can be customized. Even small decorative pieces may be added to craft a compelling scene that makes the most of the space.

UI shot add furnishings

3. Adjust Interior Lighting

Lighting is integral to the creation of a quality home visualization. If the lighting conditions are unrealistic or unflattering, the imagery can fall short in impressing clients and depicting an authentic preview of the design’s final look.

A good visualization program will allow you to insert functional light fixtures that illuminate the rooms, walls, furnishings, or other structures in order to reveal textures and shadows. The result will be a true reflection of how the interior will look when lights are on.

UI adjust interior lighting

4. Customize Exterior Surface Materials

Customizing the home’s exterior materials is critical for creating personalized visualizations that make clients feel like they’re seeing their dream home. 3D design software that has a full library of materials allows you to customize roofing shingles, wall cladding, driveways, patios, and other surfaces.


5. Add Landscape Elements

No exterior visualization should go without some basic landscaping around the home model. This stage is particularly important for design projects that include patios , decks , pools, and other outdoor structures.

Ui shot set edge parameters

6. Set Sun Orientation

For the finishing touch on visualizations of a home’s exterior, set the sun orientation . Adjust the direction of the sun to show how the structure will look at different times of day. Select a nighttime view to showcase interior and exterior lighting.

UI shot sun orientation

Final Thoughts

Using the right software can make quick work of 3D architectural visualization. Cedreo is an industry favorite, thanks to its online-based platform, flexibility, and stunning rendering quality.

Drawing floor plans with Cedreo is a completely intuitive process, and Cedreo generates 3D renderings faster than any other software on the market. It’s these best-in-class features that are helping housing professionals across the globe save time and money on every project.

Start visualizing with Cedreo today!

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