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What is 3D exterior rendering? 

Have you ever marveled at the elegant finishing of a museum or concert hall, or have you noticed the effective reinforcement of an office building? These features are likely the result of 3D exterior rendering, and modern 3D architectural design and rendering software enables architects to create a stunningly realistic 3D representation of buildings. 

Specifically, 3D exterior rendering allows architectural design services and designers to design walls, textures, roofing, and foundational elements of a structure. Anything that can be found on the exterior of a building has the potential to be created using 3D exterior rendering. 

While it is likely that customers will be familiar with interior design software capabilities, they may not realize that exterior rendering is just as crucial. Three-dimensional exterior rendering can enable customers to visualize the completed design while also helping designers address the types of materials and building practices needed to make a building safe and functional. 

What are the uses of 3D exterior rendering?

Architects and designers primarily use three-dimensional exterior rendering to design the outer area of a building. Architects can give customers a view of commercial and residential properties' walls, foundations, and roofing. It is a way to create a digital exterior blueprint that builders and architects can efficiently follow. 

Even though the focus is on the building itself, 3D exterior rendering design professionals can also include additional features that bring realism to the project. For instance, some designs can consist of parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, fences, and even weather patterns to allow customers to see how the building will look around other physical objects and backgrounds. 

Three-dimensional exterior rendering also enables CAD drafting services to consider the various building codes, regulations, and civil details that local governments require for building projects. 3D exterior renderings can give customers and regulatory agencies a solid grasp of how your projects meet these requirements. 

Whether you're looking to design a community of homes, a mall, an office building, an apartment, a school, or a single house, our 3D exterior rendering services companies can help you find the right designer to assist in your next design project. However, before you pick your next designer, it is helpful to become familiar with some of the software currently in use.

Popular 3D exterior rendering software programs and the features that make them stand out

There are many options for those who need to bring realism to their next residential or commercial design. However, picking the right software that best fits your needs can be challenging. Before selecting a 3D exterior rendering designer, it is crucial to understand the capabilities of the designer's preferred software. The selection could mean the difference between having a photorealistic design and something more standard and less aesthetically pleasing. Here are some of the more popular 3D exterior and modeling software packages for architectural projects: 

Autodesk Revit 

Revit is a popular choice among architects and developers regarding 3D exterior rendering. Two features make Revit stand apart from many of its competitors. First, Revit makes it easy to incorporate and utilize data regarding building specifications. As a result, designers can create buildings that easily adhere to building codes and customer requirements. 

Second, Revit comes with robust Business Information Modeling (BIM) features. This offering makes collaboration, workflow processes, and meeting project milestones much easier since information sharing is efficiently streamlined. Revit is a versatile, data-driven exterior rendering option with many bells and whistles. It is an excellent choice for experienced designers and clients who need a lot of detail in their models. 


SketchUp is likely one of the market's most user-friendly 3D modeling options. The interface is easy to navigate, and the features make it easy for experienced and novice designers to create advanced designs at a faster pace. This can reduce your cost while ensuring your designer can move more efficiently through the design process. Also, unlike many other software programs, SketchUp has a 3D Warehouse that includes already-made models of objects used in architectural projects. 

This can significantly speed up the design, saving you and your designer time and money. It is also worth noting that many of the 3D models are free. If you are looking for software that can quickly and affordably produce excellent 3D exterior renderings, SketchUp is an attractive option. 


This 3D rendering software is likely one of the most powerful options. Maya has been used in various notable films, television shows, and video games. If you have seen Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Spiderman, or The Matrix, you have seen this program at work. While Revit design focuses on integrating data for architectural projects, and SketchUp is about user-friendliness, Maya's specialty is power and 3D animation. Maya is a perfect choice if you want to add considerable realism to your designs. Since Autodesk creates it, Maya has workflow efficiency capabilities and polygon modeling. 

Chief Architect 

If you're looking to blend the power of Autodesk's Maya and Revit with the ease of SketchUp, Chief Architect is an excellent option. It's popular with architects, builders, and those interested in tackling a building project independently. Like SketchUp, Chief Architect takes much of the tedious work out of architectural design. One example of this is the software's intuitive nature. If a designer draws an object, the program will automatically create a 3D rendering of the item. It will then produce a real-time list of materials so the model can give designers a glimpse into the look of the final design. 

Chief Architect can also automatically create framing plans, site plans, construction documents, and other building plans essential to the final product's development. Chief Architect can save your designer time, producing a more affordable project outcome. 


There is nothing like using a piece of technology designed by individuals who share your profession. ArchiCAD can make that claim. It's a 3D architectural rendering software package developed especially for architects by architects. It's also one of the first BIM and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) products to run on a personal computer. It's also known for its AI capabilities.

For example, to save on load times, Archicad was created to prepare for your next design in advance. This feature allows it to run more efficiently and produce a more streamlined workflow experience. Because of this program's speed, it is an excellent option for those who want to create photorealistic 3D designs quickly. 

While these five software options are some of the most widely used and best-known, this list is not exhaustive. There are indeed tools in the industry that are just as powerful as Autodesk's selections. Still, open-source and free architectural programs are making a splash in the industry. Our goal at Cad Crowd is to help you balance price with the features you feel your designer will need for your 3D exterior rendering project. 

To learn more about 3D exterior rendering styles, click here!

Things to keep in mind when discussing cost with a designer 

It is crucial to understand the factors that affect the pricing of a 3D exterior design. Knowing what to consult with your designer will allow you to save where you can, decide on a reasonable timeline, and decrease the costs you must pass on to your clients. Here are some things to keep in mind regarding 3D exterior rendering pricing: 

Be aware of the environment 

How much of the sky, horizon, or cityscape do you want to be visible in your rendering? This decision can play a considerable part in the final cost and the time it will take for the designer to complete the project. While environmental aesthetics are crucial to helping clients understand the size of the building, be sure to ask for only what you need regarding additional environmental renderings. 

Don't go overboard with styling 

How detailed are those fixtures and design elements on your residential or commercial building? The more complex the architectural style, the more work your designer will have to do. While staying true to your client's specifications is essential, be upfront about the costs of highly-detailed stylings. This conversation can allow your client to prepare for the expense of adding additional style features and may even lead to a separate discussion about the design as a whole. 

Know what views you need 

A savvy architect knows that each angle of a model can reveal new details about a project. A bird's-eye view can show how the shadow of the building may fall, while a general look can show how close the building is to another property. However, specific angles, especially bird's-eye views, can add more costs to your project because they expose more area of the image that has to be filled. Be aware of the amount of space that needs to be filled in by the designer for each view. Again, this allows you to be upfront with your clients about the costs they can expect regarding their needs. 

How can Cad Crowd help with my 3D exterior rendering project?

Cad Crowd provides on-demand assistance with your 3D modeling and CAD design projects. We are committed to connecting you with pre-qualified and experienced design experts who can help you deliver the best product to your clients. We can connect you to a designer directly, launch a design contest that allows you to choose from multiple design submissions, or work with you to select the best design expert for an ongoing project. Whatever help you need in bringing your project to life, we have a 3D exterior rendering services firm available to assist. 

Let us help you find the best talent for your next design project. We invite you to contact us for a free quote today! 

On-demand rendering and CAD design services 

At Cad Crowd, we are privileged to work with thousands of CAD designers and freelance 3D renderers. Our network of freelancers has experience working on all types of projects, including architectural design and rendering. If you require a designer for your project, let us help. Contact us today for a free quote.


Brands we've worked with

Yale University School of Medicine
Tiffany & Co.
CNOOC Limited
The Boston Consulting

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