Creating the best architectural visualisations

Architectural visualisation has become a must-have for many involved in the design and development of all types of property.

Advanced CGI techniques enable architects, developers, house builders and housing associations to present a realistic visual of how their development will look, sometimes even before the design is started.

Neither is architectural illustration the sole preserve of the design and build team; more and more building materials companies are recognising the potential of CGI to promote their products. 3D product models enhance presentations, CGI illustrations can show products in installations that would be impossible to show photographically and CGI can even replace location and studio photography (See our article: ‘CGI offers alternative to studio & location photography‘).

Typically, CGI techniques are used to create still images for use in a variety of marketing collateral, including brochures, websites, signage and sales presentations. However, with video playing an increasingly vital role in internet marketing, animation is becoming ever more popular. For housing and property marketing, this would normally be in the form of fly-rounds or walk-throughs which provide the viewer with a virtual tour of the property. These techniques can also be employed by product manufacturers to show product details from an infinite number of viewpoints, but there is the added potential to animate mechanical components to show working models of the products themselves or their assembly and installation.

Creating the best architectural visualisations demands skill, technical knowledge, understanding and artistry. Each of these elements will be involved to a greater or lesser degree depending on what exactly is required.

For new-build or major refurbishment projects, such as housing and commercial developments, architectural drawings will be available. Supplied to the CGI artist as digital files (normally PDF, DXF, DWG or similar), these can be converted into wireframe and greyscale models for initial consideration. Material schedules are then used to incorporate the various finishes and materials into the model. Designers, architects, house builders and developers can specify virtually any type of building material, from the colour of the mortar between the bricks, to the precise type of brick, window and door frames and special materials. If the building product is not readily available in a digital library, it can be created to the client’s precise specification. Once these materials and finishes have been introduced to the model, camera angles and light effects are adjusted to arrive at the final, fully-rendered architectural illustration.

Architectural illustrations can also be created where architectural drawings are not available, for example when visualising a conceptual building or development. In such circumstances, the CGI artist’s skills move more to architectural visualisation, taking a detailed brief from the client, collating suitable references for building styles, materials and finishes, and employing artistic skills to create a CGI that meets the client’s requirements.

In other situations where architectural drawings may not be available, such as refurbishment and development of existing properties, architectural illustrations can be prepared from a variety of source materials. In most cases, photographs of the existing building will be available. These can then be used to create an initial model to which specified building materials and finishes can be applied in the same way as for a CGI created from architectural drawings.

Critical in the success of the architectural visualisation, in addition to the precision of the reference materials, is to know what the final CGI will be used for. If it is to be a simple still image, then the CGI can be created from a single camera angle. However, if the CGI is to be used in an animation, be it a fly-round or wallk-through, then the model needs to be created in true 3-D, including details of all views.

The quality of the final architectural visualisation will depend on the skills and artistry of the CGI studio.

If you’d like to find out how architectural visualisation can transform your sales and marketing presentations, whether you are an architect, house builder, property developer or building material manufacturer, contact us. Our knowledgeable, experienced staff will be able to advise you on the potential of CGI, give you ideas of what is possible for your company and guide you through the entire process.

If you already have drawings or suitable references, you can use our online CGI quotation request service (see link below) to obtain a price for an architectural illustration of your housing or property development.


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