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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. Modern 3D architectural design and rendering software enable architects to create 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?

Three-dimensional exterior rendering is primarily used by architects and designers to design the outer area of a building. Architects can give customers a view of the walls, foundations, and roofing of commercial and residential properties. 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 accompanying 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 take into account the various building codes, regulations, and civil details that local governments require of 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 out there for those who need to bring some realism to their next residential or commercial design. However, it can be challenging to pick the right software that works best with what you need. 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 the ability to meet project milestones much easier since the sharing of information is efficiently streamlined. Revit is a versatile and data-driven exterior rendering option that has a lot of bells and whistles. It is an excellent choice for experienced designers and clients who need a large amount of detail in their models. 


SketchUp is likely one of the most user-friendly 3D modeling options on the market. 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 likely reduce your cost while also ensuring that your designer can more efficiently move through the design process. Also, unlike many other software programs, SketchUp comes with a 3D Warehouse that includes already-made models of objects used in architectural projects. 

Again, 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. So, if you are looking for a software choice 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 out there. Maya has been used in a wide variety of 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 the integration of data specifically for architectural projects, and SketchUp is all about user-friendliness, Maya’s specialty is power and 3D animation. If you are looking to add a considerable amount of realism to your designs, Maya is a perfect choice. Since Autodesk creates it, Maya also comes with workflow efficiency capabilities as well as 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 who are interested in tackling a building project on their own. Much like SketchUp, Chief Architect takes a lot of the tedious work out of architectural design. One example of this is the software’s intuitive nature. If a designer is drawing 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 that are essential to the development of the final product. Much like SketchUp, Chief Architect can save your designer time, which can produce a more affordable project outcome. 


There is nothing like using a piece of technology that is 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 that can be 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 action 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 just some of the most widely-used and best-known, this is not an exhaustive list. It is true that there are tools in the industry that are just as powerful as Autodesk’s selections, but there are also open-source and free architectural programs that are making a splash in the industry. Our goal at Cad Crowd is to help you balance price with the features that you feel your designer is going to 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 discuss with your designer will allow you to save where you can, decide on a reasonable timeline, and decrease the costs that you have to 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, as well as the amount of 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 bells and whistles you add as far as architectural style, the more work your designer will have to do. While it is essential to stay true to your client's specifications, be upfront about the costs that come with 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, or we can launch a design contest that allows you to choose from multiple design submissions, or we can work with you to select the best design expert for an on-going project. Whatever help you need in bringing your project to life, we have a 3D exterior rendering services firm available to assist. 

Allow us to 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 available right now

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're in need of 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 Group

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